Urban waste disposal explains the distribution of Black Vultures (Coragyps atratus) in an Amazonian metropolis: management implications for birdstrikes and urban planning

Giase M. de Araujo, Carlos A. Peres, Fabricio B. Baccaro, Rafael S. Guerta

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Collision rates between aircraft and birds have been rising worldwide. The increases in both air traffic and population sizes of large-bodied birds in cities lacking urban planning result in human-wildlife conflicts, economic loss and even lethal casualties. Black Vultures (Coragyps atratus) represent the most hazardous bird to Brazilian civil and military aviation on the basis of their flight behavior, body mass and consequently physical damage to aircraft following collisions. This study investigated how storage apparatus and type of organic residue discarded in public street markets modulate the spatial distribution and abundance of urban Black Vultures in the largest city in the Amazon (Manaus, Brazil). We estimated Black Vulture abundance in relation to the type of solid human waste (animal or plant), the type of waste storage containers and market sizes in terms of the number of vendor stalls at 20 public markets. We also visually quantified the abundance of Black Vultures in urban markets in relation to air traffic. Our results suggest that urban solid waste storage procedures currently used (or the lack thereof) are related to the occurrence and abundance of Black Vultures. Moreover, storage type and the proportion of animal protein (red meat and fish) within rubbish bins directly affects foraging aggregations in vultures. We recommend that policymakers should invest more efforts in building larger and more resistant closable waste containers to avoid organic solid waste exposure. We also identified five outdoor markets as urgent priorities to improve waste disposal. Finally, our waste management guidelines would not only reduce aviation collision risks but also benefit human health and well-being in most cities.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere5491
Publication statusPublished - 14 Sep 2018

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