domingo, 12 de febrero de 2017


Supplanting ecosystem services provided by scavengers raises greenhouse gas emissions

Sustituir el servicio al ecosistema que aportan los  carroñeros no solo aumenta la emisión de gases invernadero, sino que supone importantes e innecesarios costes medioambientales y económicos…

Paper in NATURE by ten spanish scientists from Elche, Sevilla, Madrid, Lleida, Berna (CH) Universities and Estación Biológica de Doñana (CSIC). January 2015

Global warming due to human-induced increments in atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases (GHG) is one of the most debated topics among environmentalists and politicians worldwide.

After the outbreak of bovine spongiform encephalopathy in Europe, the sanitary regulation required that livestock carcasses were collected from farms and transformed or destroyed in authorized plants, contradicting not only the obligations of member states to conserve scavenger species but also generating unprecedented GHG emission.

In Spain (home of 95% of European vultures), supplanting the natural removal of dead extensive livestock by scavengers with carcass collection and transport to intermediate and processing plants meant the emission of 77,344 metric tons of COeq. to the atmosphere per year, in addition to annual payments of ca. $50 million to insurance companies.

First to find a carcass in the field, crows and ravens cries and feather reflections will soon attract vultures.

Blue magpies are a frequent visitor of carcasses where they will eat small and soft bits before vultures arrive.

Once the flying griffons are sure the land is quiet and secure, they will gregariously sink down to the ground.

A frenetic race for the best meal occurs in the first minutes, including pushes and pick attacks.

With satisfied stomachs, it’s time for some individuals to relax and bask their wings to the sun, while leaving their place to other colleagues.

Feeding griffons keep their attention alert to the suspect shadow of some intruder wanting to share the meal.

Vultures and eagles share the meal without queries. They just want to eat and there’s enough for everyone.

A near pine tree lodges satisfied vultures and others not having decided yet to drop down to the carcass.

Black vultures are attracted to the meal too.

Time has passed, meal is finished and it’s time for vultures to regain their sleeping grounds.

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