Understanding the extent of animal mortality, the where and when mortality occurs, is paramount to implement effective conservation actions and secure the persistence of animal populations. Unfortunately, so far our understanding of animal survival (which is the inverse of mortality) is very limited to a small fraction of species, and largely biased towards the breeding season of species life-cycle. This lack of knowledge is particularly striking for threatened species, such as most vultures. SURVIVALIST has the ambitious objective of filling this knowledge gap for the four European vultures. Based on a large collaborative network, SURVIVALIST will collate a uniquely large dataset of high-resolution vulture tracking data. These will be analysed using novel approaches to quantify survival in time across the species annual cycle (e.g. during the breeding and non-breeding season) and life-stages (juvenile, immature, adults; Objective 1). SURVIVALIST also aims to identify the factors (e.g. human density and land-use, presence of protected areas) underpinning vulture mortality (Objective 2). For example, does mortality occur disproportionately more often outside than inside protected areas? or in highly man-dominated landscapes? Finally, SURVIVALIST aims to identify hotspots of vulture mortality in space (also part of Objective 2), that is, does mortality concentrate in some specific areas compared to others? The results will provide the evidence-base for guiding the implementation of conservation actions for vultures in Europe. The outcomes will have relevance towards achieving the goals of the European Union Biodiversity Strategy for 2030, Birds Directive, Convention on Migratory Species targeting raptors. Ultimately, as vultures play a key role in keeping the balance of ecosystems (e.g. removing carcasses and preventing the spread of diseases to wildlife and humans), their conservation has relevance towards several United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
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