Bioinspired models for assessing the importance of transhumance and transboundary management in the conservation of European avian scavengers.

The assessment of temporal and spatial availability of food resources is an important prerequisite in developing improved management tools for effective conservation action. It is especially useful in the conservation of avian scavengers inhabiting regions where livestock move on a regular basis (transhumance). Important management decisions can be taken on the basis of theoretical analyses that need to be regularly checked. In this case study, we consider models of Griffon vulture Gyps fulvus, Egyptian vulture Neophron percnopterus, and bearded vulture Gypaetus barbatus populations in a part of Spain with one of the highest densities of scavenging birds, and where traditional farming practices remain. We applied bioinspired Population Dynamic P System models (PDP) to assess these species' population trends against the distribution, quantity and availability of carrion for food. We show asymmetries in the availability of food resources, which are substantially higher in summer due to transhumant movements. In the study area, a lack of food resources in winter leads to a seasonal reduction in food supplies to levels unable to meet the energetic requirements of the most abundant vulture species, the Griffon vulture. Our results suggest that regardless of active management (e.g. supplementary feeding sites) and the birds’ use of other potential food resources not included in the model, Griffon vultures are able to find important alternative food resources in more remote areas. We show the importance of variations at spatiotemporal scales in the objective forecasting of population trends, and in the correct application of management actions. Because of the importance of robust assessments for management applications, we discuss the advantages and limitations of ecological modelling for avian scavengers, highlighting the importance of transhumance processes and transboundary approaches.

Margalida, A., Oliva-Vidal, P., Llamas, A. & Colomer, M.A. 2018. Bioinspired models for assessing the importance of transhumance and transboundary management in the conservation of European avian scavengers
Biological Conservation 228: 321-330.

SHARE