Marcelino, J., Moreira, F., Mañosa, S., Cuscó, F., Morales, M.B., García de la Morena, E.L., Bota, G., Palmeirim, J.M. & Silva J.P. (2017) Long term tracking study of the little bustard in Iberia shows high anthropogenic mortality.Bird Conservation International, Online early, . DOI:10.1017/S095927091700051X (IF2016 1,088; Q1 Ornithology)
The Little Bustard Tetrax tetrax (Linnaeus, 1758) is a medium-sized, ‘Near Threatened’ steppe bird, whose Iberian population has been alarmingly declining over recent decades. Although this population loss has been mainly attributed to agricultural intensification, there is no information on Little Bustard adult mortality levels and their drivers. Based on a joint effort combining all the tracking data on adult Little Bustards collected over a period of 12 years by all research teams working with the species in Iberia, we found that annual anthropogenic mortality is likely to have a critical impact on the species, with values almost as high as the mortality attributed to predation. Collision with power lines was found to be the main anthropogenic threat to the adult population (3.4–3.8%/year), followed by illegal killing (2.4–3%/year), which had a higher impact than initially foreseen. Our work shows how poorly understood and previously unknown threats are affecting the survival of the most important Little Bustard population in Europe.