Analysis of spatio-temporal patterns of Red Kite Milvus milvus electrocution
Published: Volume 67.2, July 2020. Pages 247-268.
The Spanish Castilla y León region is one of the most important wintering areas in Europe for the Red Kite Milvus milvus. At the same time, the steepest population declines of Red Kite have been recorded there, electrocution by power lines being one of the main causes. Thus, knowledge about the annual spatio-temporal ecology of this raptor, and its relationship to electrocution events, is necessary to develop effective conservation measures. Distribution models for the breeding and wintering populations of the Red Kite in Castilla y león were developed, considering climate, topography and land uses, to analyse the potential spatial variation between them. Models for electrocution risk also considered the technical characteristics of the power poles to determine their impact on electrocution events in both seasons. Our results show two different areas are used seasonally: 1) an important wintering area in the centre of the region, characterised by crop zones, moderate temperatures, rubbish dump sites and human presence, and 2) a nesting area in the south of the region, in which the availability of livestock carcasses, low levels of precipitation, distance from landfills and gentle relief were the most influential variables. the electrocution risk model indicates that the most suitable areas for Red Kite reproduction are also those that are most risky, including power poles of the most dangerous types; those with straight or vaulted cross-arms. Finally, the theoretical approach presented here provides a framework for the design of management and control measures aimed at minimising red Kite electrocutions in the northern half of the Iberian Peninsula.