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Raptor research during the COVID-19 pandemic provides invaluable opportunities for conservation biology

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Author(s)

Petra Sumasgutner, Ralph Buij, Christopher J.W. McClure, Phil Shaw, Cheryl R. Dykstra, Nishant Kumar, Christian Rutz

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Abstract

Research is underway around the world to examine how a wide range of animal species have responded to reduced levels of human activity during the COVID-19 pandemic. In this perspective article, we argue that raptors are particularly well-suited for investigating potential ‘anthropause’ effects, and that the resulting insights will provide much-needed impetus for global conservation efforts. Lockdowns likely alter many of the extrinsic factors that normally limit raptor populations. These environmental changes are in turn expected to influence – mediated by behavioral and physiological responses – the intrinsic (demographic) factors that ultimately determine raptor population levels and distributions. Using this framework, we identify a range of research opportunities and conservation challenges that have arisen during the pandemic. The COVID-19 anthropause allows raptor researchers to address fundamental and applied research objectives in a large-scale, quasi-experimental, well-replicated manner. Importantly, it will be possible to separate the effects of human disturbance and anthropogenic landscape modifications. We explain how high-quality datasets, accumulated for a diverse range of raptor species before, during, and after COVID-19 lockdowns, can be leveraged for powerful comparative analyses that attempt to identify drivers of particular response types. To facilitate and coordinate global collaboration, we are hereby launching the ‘Global Anthropause Raptor Research Network’ (GARRN). We invite the international raptor research community to join this inclusive and diverse group, to tackle ambitious analyses across geographic regions, ecosystems, species, and gradients of lockdown perturbation. Under the most tragic of circumstances, the COVID-19 anthropause has afforded an invaluable opportunity to significantly boost global raptor conservation.
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Original languageEnglish
Article number109149
JournalBiological Conservation
VolumeIn press
Early online date28 Apr 2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 28 Apr 2021

    Research areas

  • Anthropause, Before-after-control-impact (BACI), Birds of prey, Human disturbance, Human-wildlife interactions, Lockdown, Natural experiment, COVID-19

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