Marques, A.T., Martins, R.C., Silva, J.P., Palmeirim, J.M. & Moreira., F. (2020) Power line routing and configuration as major drivers of collision risk in two bustard species.Oryx, , 1-10. DOI:10.1017/S0030605319000292 (IF2020 2,693; Q2 Biodiversity Conservation)
Collision with power lines is a major cause of mortality for many bird species. Understanding the biotic and abiotic factors that increase collision risk is therefore important for implementing mitigation measures to minimize mortality, such as power line rerouting or wire marking. Here, we used collision events registered during 2003–2015 along 280 km of transmission power lines in southern Portugal to analyse spatio-temporal patterns and collision risk factors in two sympatric, threatened, and collision-prone species: the great bustard Otis tarda and the little bustard Tetrax tetrax. The occurrence of collisions was not uniform across space and time, and variations could be explained by the species' ecological requirements, distribution patterns and behaviour. Although both species fly considerable distances between areas of suitable habitat, collisions were far more likely in power line sections with > 20% (for the little bustard) or > 50% (for the great bustard) of open farmland habitat in the surroundings. Power line configuration was also important: taller pylons and those with a higher number of wire levels posed a higher risk for both species. Wire marking had a small but significant effect for the little bustard, reducing collisions risk. There was, however, no similar effect for the great bustard, possibly a result of limited data. Mitigation measures should be implemented to prevent bustard collisions, including adequate route planning, ideally avoiding areas with > 20% of open habitat. Line configuration and wire marking are particularly important where such localities cannot be avoided and power lines cross areas with a high proportion of bustard habitat, including outside protected areas.