Steppe bird sampling and target species tagging with GPS transmitters

With the aim of better understanding the movement patterns and habitat selection of steppe species before photovoltaic solar plants come into operation and after their construction, a total of 48 indiviuals have been tagged with a GPS transmitter during the spring of 2022 and 2023 in four study areas (Zaragoza, Madrid, Toledo and Seville). Specifically, species such as the Little bustard (Tetrax tetrax), Montagu’s harrier (Circus pygargus), and Lesser kestrel (Falco naumanni) have been equipped with emitters of different models. Pin-tailed sandgrouse (Pterocles alchata), Black-bellied sandgrouse (Pterocles orientalis) and Common curlew (Burhinus oedicnemus).

These devices have already provided more than a million localisations, expanding the existing knowledge about the spatial ecology of these declining species, allowing us to evaluate the degree to which they are affected by the inclusion of photovoltaic parks in the agricultural landscape.

Furthermore, with the aim of evaluating the impact of photovoltaic parks on the bird community, the Steppe Forward Chair carries out annual censuses in winter and spring. These surveys are carried out in an area of 5 kilometers around the implementation area, paying special attention to the following species: Great bustard (Otistarda), Little bustard, Montagu’s harrier, Pin-tailed sandgrouse, Black-bellied sandgrouse and Common curlew.

Simultaneously, a mapping of the following potential habitats—fallows, tilled lands and wastelands—for these species is carried out. Knowing their proportion and distribution within the agricultural landscape provides information on the level of intensification in the region and the quality of the steppe habitat.


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