New publication! GPSs track the flight of Cory's shearwater fledglings from their nests to lit areas
In this study we used GPS data-loggers to track the flights of Cory’s shearwater Calonectris diomedea fledglings from nest-burrows to ground, and to evaluate the light pollution levels of overflown areas on Tenerife, Canary Islands, using nocturnal, high-resolution satellite imagery. Birds were grounded at locations closer than 16 km from colonies in their maiden flights, and 50% were rescued within a 3 km radius from the nest-site. Most birds left the nests in the first three hours after sunset. Rescue locations showed radiance values greater than colonies, and flight distance was positively related to light pollution levels. Breeding habitat alteration by light pollution was more severe for inland colonies. We provide scientific-based information to manage dark refuges facilitating that fledglings from inland colonies reach the sea successfully.
Rodríguez, A. et al. (2015) GPS tracking for mapping seabird mortality induced by light pollution. Scientific Reports 5, 10670; doi: 10.1038/srep10670
Petrels are among the most threatened group of birds. On top of facing predation by introduced mammals and incidental bycatch, these seabirds have to deal with an emerging threat, light pollution. Fledglings are disoriented and attracted to artificial lights in their maiden night flights from their nests to the sea. Once grounded, they are exposed to multiple threats leading to high mortality. We report on numbers of three petrel species (Balearic shearwater, Scopoli’s shearwater, and European storm-petrel) grounded by artificial lights on the Balearic Islands during a 15-year period. At least 304 fledgling birds were found stranded due to attraction to artificial lights, fatally affecting 8.5 % of them. The proportion of grounded fledglings was lower than 1 % of the fledglings produced annually. The body mass of Balearic and Scopoli’s shearwater fledglings decreased with rescue date. Light-induced mortality increased during the fledging period for Scopoli’s shearwaters. Although impact seems to be low for all species, urban development and, consequently, the increase in light pollution in the proximity of the colonies should be taken into account to reduce as much as possible this emerging source of mortality.
Rodríguez et al. (2015) Artificial lights and seabirds: is light pollution a threat for the threatened Balearic petrels? Journal of Ornithology DOI: 10.1007/s10336-015-1232-3
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