New study reveals the critical impact of human-caused mortality on migratory birds


A new study carried out by an international team of scientists involving the Institut Mediterrani d'Estudis Avançats (CSIC-UIB) has revealed the alarming extent of human activity on migratory bird mortality in the African-Eurasian flyway. 

During the research period, which runs from 2003 to 2021, 1704 bird mortality records were collected and analyzed, providing a detailed view of the threats facing these migratory species.

One of the most striking findings of the study is the prevalence of bird mortality caused by human activities as opposed to natural causes, observed across a wide range of taxonomic groups, geographic regions and ages. In particular, three main causes of human mortality were highlighted: electrocution, illegal hunting and poisoning. Together, these causes account for a considerable loss of migratory birds over the period studied.

It is of particular concern that, despite conservation efforts over the past decades, no decline in human-induced mortality has been observed in the African-Eurasian flyway. This finding highlights the urgent need for more effective and proactive conservation measures to address these persistent threats and protect endangered migratory bird populations.

‘Migratory birds cross countries and continents regardless of political boundaries. This means that efforts to protect them in Europe will not be enough if we ignore the dangers they face in Africa. That is why global cooperation and international agreements are crucial to truly protect these amazing travelers,’ says Andrea Santangeli, one of the study's signatories. 

Furthermore, the study highlights the critical importance of addressing the impacts of energy infrastructure on bird mortality. With nearly half of all human mortality events related to this infrastructure, it is clear that careful planning and mitigation measures are required to avoid further losses of migratory birds in the future.

The results of this research not only provide a deeper understanding of the threats facing migratory birds in the African-Eurasian corridor, but also have significant implications for biodiversity conservation globally. By providing essential data for policy review and stimulating international cooperation on conservation projects, this research represents a valuable opportunity to protect these vulnerable species and preserve the survival of the ecosystems that depend on them.

Related News
Cover image: Balearic shearwater, Puffinus mauretanicus. Author: Miquel Gomila