Estimating the influence of overhead transmission power lines and landscape context on the density of little bustard Tetrax tetrax breeding populations

Publication Type:Journal Article
Year of Publication:2010
Authors:Silva, J, Santos, M, Queir, Leit, Moreira, F, Pinto, M, Leqoc, M, Cabral, J
Journal:Ecological Modelling
Date Published:2010
ISBN Number:0304-3800
Keywords:avoidance, displacement, Land use changes, Otididae, Stochastic Dynamic Methodology, Tetrax, Tetrax tetrax, Transmission power lines
Abstract:Collision with conductors and earth cables is a known impact generated by transmission power lines, however there is virtually no information on how these infrastructures might affect bird distribution in a landscape context. With this work we specifically hypothesise that transmission power lines may affect the occurrence of a threatened bird, the little bustard (Tetrax tetrax). To test this hypothesis we used a Stochastic Dynamic Methodology (StDM), analysing the effects of power lines in a landscape perspective and simulating population trends as a response to power line installation and habitat changes induced by agricultural shifts in southern Portugal. The data used in the dynamic model construction included relevant gradients of environmental conditions and was sampled during the breeding seasons of 2003-2006. Transmission power lines were significantly avoided by the little bustard and the developed StDM model showed that the distance to these utility structures is the most important factor determining breeding densities in sites with suitable habitat for the species, which possibly leads to displacement of populations and habitat fragmentation. The model simulations also provided the base to analyse the cumulative effects caused by the habitat degradation that can ultimately lead to the extinction of local populations. Within priority conservation sites, the dismantling of existing transmission lines should be considered whenever possible, in order to ensure adequate breeding habitat. The model is considered useful as an auxiliary tool to be used in environmental impact assessments, management and conservation studies.
Short Title:Ecological Modelling
Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith