About this Research Topic
Birds of prey, or raptors, are highly effective indicators of ecosystem health that provide numerous critical lessons in animal conservation. Studies focused on raptors have produced major breakthroughs in fundamental animal ecology and conservation science, including the banning of DDT and other organochlorine pesticides, successful high-profile species reintroductions and recovery programs, and a global increase in public wildlife experiences. Many of the earliest long-term studies and surveillance and monitoring techniques in animal ecology arose from work based on raptors.
More recently, research involving rapidly developing telemetry techniques are quickly advancing our understanding of their global movements, migration patterns, home-range use, and survival. Knowledge of critical age and sex differences in raptors is emerging as pivotal in understanding their population dynamics. Relationships among species are shedding new light on intra-guild predation, competition, dispersion, and population limitation in many species. Recent research on parasitic diseases in birds of prey has the potential to offer new insights on the extent to which this factor affects regional populations of birds of prey. Concurrently, major breakthroughs have occurred in the siting and design of power lines and wind turbines that can enhance ongoing conservation efforts. Improved techniques in raptor husbandry and release into the wild are enhancing our ability to ensure successful species introduction and reintroduction programs. Techniques in molecular ecology are rapidly improving our understanding of the genetics of the group as well as population turnover, individual survivorship, and the viability of populations. Forensic specialists working in wildlife crime are also employing these developments. Recent investigations into the collapse of vulture populations in southern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa reveal new threats to facultative and obligate scavenging raptors, including veterinary drugs, expanding toxic control of mammalian predators, and focused poisoning of scavengers by poachers. Importantly, the development of socio-biological and co-produced, evidence-based techniques are now being devised to help resolve human-wildlife conflicts and many of these approaches have a direct bearing on current raptor conservation work.
Today, this charismatic trophic assemblage faces many conservation challenges, including the construction and maintenance of large energy infrastructures such as wind turbines and overhead electrical wires, misuse of agricultural chemicals and other toxins that contaminate food webs, and intentional and unintentional direct human persecution. We are looking for cutting-edge, evidence-based work on birds of prey that continues to provide exceptional insights into their ecology and conservation biology. We are interested in advances in movement and bio-tracking technology, as well as in population ecology, molecular ecology, intra-guild predation modeling, police forensics, and socio-biological conflict resolution approaches.
A non-exhaustive list of topics is as follows:
• Natural factors limiting raptor populations
• Movement ecology using satellite tracking
• Responses to global change
• Raptor physiology, health, blood biochemistry, and disease
• Toxic contaminants, including agricultural pesticides and lead poisoning
• Human-wildlife conflict resolution
• Power lines, wind turbines and other human infrastructures
• Reinforcement and translocation programs
• Reintroduction and release programs
• Persecution, forensics and tackling wildlife crime
• Breeding in captivity
• Looking ahead - where next for raptors in and for society?
Keywords: Raptors, active conservation, population dynamics, dispersion, reintroductions
Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.