Raptor Health Scotland
Raptor Health Scotland is a collaborative project assessing the health of birds of prey as indicators for ecosystem health.
This PhD research project has built a wide range of collaborations to collect health data from wild raptors in the field and through post mortem assessment of submitted carcasses.
In order to understand how modern human practices and land management are affecting our environment, the raptor health Scotland project analyses live and dead birds of prey. These examinations allow us to assess raptor health and screen blood or tissues for over 160 chemicals including pesticides, veterinary pharmaceuticals and heavy metals. We use the data obtained on pathogens, causes of death, and toxicology to assess chemical bioaccumulation and link poor health patterns observed at the top of the Scottish food chain to anthropogenic factors.
The comparison of raptor health data with variations in land use across the environment as well as raptor population trends facilitates the development of tools to monitor ecosystem health and support land management and species conservation. The resulting change in raptor health can be used to indicate a reduced ability of an environment to support viable populations of both these predators and potentially the prey animals that support them, providing an indicator of overall environmental health.
Collaborators include Scottish Natural Heritage, SASA, the Predatory Bird Monitoring Scheme, The University of the Highlands and Islands, Scotland's Rural College, The University of Aberdeen, The University of Murcia, The University of Castilla La Mancha and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.