Research and monitoring for and with raptors in Europe
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EURAPMON Summer School Naturalis, August 2014

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Final report (pdf version)

The EURAPMON Summer School on Monitoring for and with Raptors was held at the Naturalis Biodiversity Center 27-29 August 2014. The aim of the Summer School was to build capacities in Europe for research and monitoring for and with raptors. Naturalis houses one of the most important museum collections of raptor skins in the world. In the spirit of EURAPMON, the school placed an emphasis on linking contaminant monitoring with raptors, and raptor population monitoring. To make the most of the venue, attention was given during the school to the value of the outstanding Naturalis collections for historical and contemporary raptor studies.

There was a strong field of over 30 highly qualified applicants for the Summer School, all of which received careful evaluation by the evaluating committee, against the published criteria in the Announcement. Unfortunately it was not possible to accommodate all. However, thanks to support from Naturalis, the organisers were able to offer two additional places, bringing the total number of participants selected to 14. The participants, of 8 nationalities, are all active in various aspects of monitoring for and with raptors, and included masters and doctoral students, post-docs, and conservation practitioners.

The participants benefited from the presence of leading and inspirational scientists and practitioners in the field of contaminant monitoring with raptors and in the field of raptor population monitoring, including: Charles Henny, Scientist Emeritus, USGS Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center, USA; Reuven Yosef, Associate Professor, Ben Gureon University of the Negev, Israel and previously chief executive of the international bird ringing and monitoring center, Eilat, Israel; Keith Bildstein, Sarkis Acopian Director of Conservation Science, Hawk Mountain; Rene Dekker, Director of Collections, Naturalis Biodiversity Center; Peter van Geneijgen, Chairman, Dutch Peregrine Working Group; Steven van der Mije, Head of Vertebrate and Invertebrate Collections, Naturalis Biodiversity Center; Paola Movalli, founding Coordinator EURAPMON; Guy Duke, founding Chair EURAPMON, Independent Member UK Joint Nature Conservation Committee, previously responsible for EU biodiversity policy at the European Commission.

Presentations included:

  • Introduction to the Summer School and the Eurapmon Research Networking Programme (Movalli)
  • Introduction to Naturalis Biodiversity Center and the raptor collection (Dekker)
  • An overview of the raptor contaminant monitoring program at Patuxent Wildlife Research Center Maryland, a large research center with field stations scattered throughout the United States, which were the eyes and ears of what was happening with contaminants in the US (Henny)
  • A review of selected field projects on contaminant monitoring in osprey and peregrine falcon in the US, including surveys documenting the population recovery and reduced reproductive effects following a ban on DDT in 1972, using the osprey to evaluate emerging contaminants like PBDEs, and long-term monitoring of contaminants in blood of peregrines (Henny).
  • Research and education at Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, the world's first long-term raptor migration watchsite (Bildstein).
  • Research and monitoring on migratory raptors at Eilat, Israel, and the importance of landscape perspectives (Yosef).
  • Origin and population dynamics of breeding Peregrine Falcons in The Netherlands. The first 24 years after colonisation.1990-2013 (van Geneijgen).
  • The handling and sampling of museum raptor skins and fresh raptor carcasses (Movalli, van der Mije and Pepijn Kamminga ) and ptilochronology (the study of feather growth) with practical demonstration of measurement of growth and fault bars (Yosef).
  • The policy context for raptor research and monitoring in Europe (Duke).

Participants took part in a highly informative guided tour of the Flevopolder, a grand experiment in re-wilding, with Frans Vera of Staatsbosbeheer, the inspiration behind the re-wilding. The group viewed 8 species of raptor including white-tailed eagles, hen harrier and marsh harrier.

Participants and speakers enjoyed plenty of time for lively discussion including in the convivial surroundings of the local restaurant In den Doofpot.

It was a great pleasure to meet with all the young participants and to share their enthusiasm for raptor research and monitoring. Special thanks are due to our speakers for sharing with us their great experience and knowledge and enthusiasm and inspiring us for our further studies, and to Rene' Dekker, Steven van der Mije and their colleagues at Naturalis for their fascinating talks, sharing with us the wonderful collections, and their input to the practical sessions, not to mention all the organisational support.

Last but not least, thanks to Al Vrezec, Irena Bertoncelj and the Eurapmon Steering Committee for their support for this event and to ESF for rapid administration.

Dr Paola Movalli, Scientific Organiser

8 October 2014