Biasotto, L.D., Moreira, F., Bencke, G.A., D'Amico, M., Kindel, A. & Ascensao, F. (2022) Risk of bird electrocution in power lines: a framework forprioritizing species and areas for conservation and impactmitigation.Animal Conservation, 25(2), 285-296. DOI:10.1111/acv.12736 (IF2022 3,4; Q1 Biodiversity Conservation)
Electrocution on power lines is an important human-related cause of bird mortality and an important conservation issue worldwide. Besides impacts on bird populations, electrocutions cause power outages, resulting in damage to power line network integrity. However, there is a general lack of knowledge on the risk of bird electrocution, especially in developing countries. Generating information over large scales without resorting to local mortality data can be useful for the development of regional management strategies, particularly in countries where electrocution is poorly documented. Here, we developed a framework to model the risk of bird electrocution as an interaction between the species-specific exposure to power lines (pole density within a species distribution range) and susceptibility (morphological and behavioral traits associated with electrocution hazards). We applied this framework to Brazil, identifying 283 species that face a risk of electrocution, of which 38 were classified as higher risk, mostly raptors (76%). The Pantanal (a large wetland biome) concentrates the greatest cumulative susceptibility due to the high number of species vulnerable to electrocution (i.e. large species using power lines for perching or nesting), while the Atlantic Forest region has a higher risk for electrocution, due to the spatial overlap between the presence of vulnerable species and high exposure to power lines. Furthermore, our study identified spatial patterns of bird electrocution, highlighting priority areas for electrocution susceptibility and electrocution risk to be further investigated, and where measures to mitigate bird electrocutions should be applied on new and existing power lines. Our framework allows a preliminary assessment aimed at identifying areas of higher risk of electrocution, to highlight species vulnerable to this threat and to improve power line routing. This approach can be replicated to other understudied areas of the world where the same information is available.