Wire marking results in a small but significant reduction in avian mortality at power lines: A baci designed study

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Abstract

Background: Collision with electric power lines is a conservation problem for many bird species. Although the implementation of flight diverters is rapidly increasing, few well-designed studies supporting the effectiveness of this costly conservation measure have been published. Methodology/Principal Findings: We provide information on the largest worldwide marking experiment to date, including carcass searches at 35 (15 experimental, 20 control) power lines totalling 72.5 km, at both transmission (220 kV) and distribution (15 kV-45 kV) lines. We found carcasses of 45 species, 19 of conservation concern. Numbers of carcasses found were corrected to account for carcass losses due to removal by scavengers or being overlooked by researchers, resulting in an estimated collision rate of 8.2 collisions per km per month. We observed a small (9.6%) but significant decrease in the number of casualties after line marking compared to before line marking in experimental lines. This was not observed in control lines. We found no influence of either marker size (large vs. small spirals, sample of distribution lines only) or power line type (transmission vs. distribution, sample of large spirals only) on the collision rate when we analyzed all species together. However, great bustard mortality was slightly lower when lines were marked with large spirals and in transmission lines after marking. Conclusions: Our results confirm the overall effectiveness of wire marking as a way to reduce, but not eliminate, bird collisions with power lines. If raw field data are not corrected by carcass losses due to scavengers and missed observations, findings may be biased. The high cost of this conservation measure suggests a need for more studies to improve its application, including wire marking with non-visual devices. Our findings suggest that different species may respond differently to marking, implying that species-specific patterns should be explored, at least for species of conservation concern. ? 2012 Barrientos et al.

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Barrientos, R., Ponce, C., Palacín, C., Martín, C. A., Martín, B., & Alonso, J. C. (2012). Wire marking results in a small but significant reduction in avian mortality at power lines: A baci designed study. PLoS ONE, 7(3). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0032569

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