Thursday, 10 October 2019

Proximity to paths and roads is a burden for white-tailed sea eagles

Date: October 7, 2019
Source: Forschungsverbund Berlin

The white-tailed sea eagle is known for reacting sensitively to disturbances. However, research into which factors have which effects on the animals and how these impacts influence breeding success has so far only just begun. A research team led by Dr. Oliver Krone from the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW) has now measured concentrations of the hormone corticosterone and its metabolic products in white-tailed sea eagles in northern Germany and correlated these values with potential causes of "stress." They found that the levels of corticosterone in the birds' urine are higher the closer a breeding pair's nest is to paths or roads. From this, the scientists derive implications for the management and protection of white-tailed sea eagles, in particular for protection zones around the nests. The study was published in the journal General and Comparative Endocrinology.

Important areas of distribution of the sea eagle in Germany -- such as the Mecklenburg Lake District or the Baltic Sea coast -- are also attractive tourist regions. As a result, visitor numbers in core breeding areas are high and continue to rise. Since typical tourist activities -- hiking, cycling, and water sports -- focus on experiencing nature, researchers see a potential conflict between visitors and the sensitive animals. "In order to either confirm or refute this assumption, we measured the level of the hormone corticosterone in urine samples of 52 white-tailed sea eagles in the Usedom Island Nature Park in spring and early summer," explains Dr. Oliver Krone of Leibniz-IZW, head of the study.


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