The PBMS team along with UKCEH colleagues have developed live online reporting of population health indices that inform us about the status of recruitment and survival, physiological stress, and nutritional status in the population.
Changes in these indices may indicate where the population is under stress and therefore highlight where we might focus our monitoring to determine if chemical exposure is contributing to the changes observed.
The PBMS receives hundreds of birds each year and we examine each one gathering information that can be used to monitor the health status of predatory bird populations. Lee Walker explains “Each bird that is submitted to the scheme is given a post-mortem examination during which many observations and measurements are made. The information gathered during this examination could potentially be used to monitor the health status of birds at the time of their death or at a particular stage of their development. This will enable us to maximize the value of the data generated by the scheme to study chemicals in our environment and general avian ecology. A minimum number of birds is required per year to calculate some of the indices so we are unable to produce health indices for more rare species, however we aim to extend this initiative to other species where possible.”
Jon Cooper (UKCEH) developed the systems necessary to automatically access and analyse the PBMS database, and present live graphs on the PBMS website as part of his work on the UK-SCAPE work package “An integrated monitoring programme for the natural environment”.
This work was supported by Natural Environment Research Council, National Capability UK-SCAPE programme [NERC grant reference number NEC06550, https://www.ceh.ac.uk/ukscape]