Poster Title

Effects of Landscape and Environment on Turkey Vulture Distribution

Research Mentor(s)

John McLaughlin

Affiliated Department

Environmental Sciences

Sort Order

25

Start Date

18-5-2017 12:00 PM

End Date

18-5-2017 3:00 PM

Document Type

Event

Abstract

My research was conducted on the foraging behavior of the turkey vulture, Cathartes aura. The purpose of my survey was to determine whether or not Turkey Vultures favored farmland, forest, or urban locales as places to congregate and search for food. As scavengers of carrion, vultures fill an important role in the local ecosystem. This study helps fill a knowledge gap about the distribution of vulture activity, and how human land use impacts this distribution. I conducted field surveys of vulture activity in urban, agricultural, and forest lands in Whatcom County. I selected several accessible sites in rural, urban, and wilderness environments in the general area around Bellingham and took counts of the number of vultures seen circling or perching at each site. I compared the average number of birds seen at each type of site using single factor analysis of variance and a Tukey-Kramer test. My results show significantly greater vulture abundances in both forest and farmland environments than in urban areas. Further study is needed to determine factors that deter vultures from city environments and whether those factors affect vulture nesting, reproduction, and migration. My results reveal important impacts of rapid urbanization, which both increases the rate of carcass generation and reduces access for one of the most effective carcass scavengers.

Rights

Copying of this document in whole or in part is allowable only for scholarly purposes. It is understood, however, that any copying or publication of this documentation for commercial purposes, or for financial gain, shall not be allowed without the author's written permission.

Language

English

Format

application/pdf

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May 18th, 12:00 PM May 18th, 3:00 PM

Effects of Landscape and Environment on Turkey Vulture Distribution

Environmental Sciences

My research was conducted on the foraging behavior of the turkey vulture, Cathartes aura. The purpose of my survey was to determine whether or not Turkey Vultures favored farmland, forest, or urban locales as places to congregate and search for food. As scavengers of carrion, vultures fill an important role in the local ecosystem. This study helps fill a knowledge gap about the distribution of vulture activity, and how human land use impacts this distribution. I conducted field surveys of vulture activity in urban, agricultural, and forest lands in Whatcom County. I selected several accessible sites in rural, urban, and wilderness environments in the general area around Bellingham and took counts of the number of vultures seen circling or perching at each site. I compared the average number of birds seen at each type of site using single factor analysis of variance and a Tukey-Kramer test. My results show significantly greater vulture abundances in both forest and farmland environments than in urban areas. Further study is needed to determine factors that deter vultures from city environments and whether those factors affect vulture nesting, reproduction, and migration. My results reveal important impacts of rapid urbanization, which both increases the rate of carcass generation and reduces access for one of the most effective carcass scavengers.