Mining citizen science data to explore stopover sites and spatiotemporal variation in migration patterns of the red-footed falcon

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Bounas A., Solanou M., Panuccio M., Barisic S., Bino T., Erciyas-Yavuz K., ...More

CURRENT ZOOLOGY, vol.66, no.5, pp.467-475, 2020 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 66 Issue: 5
  • Publication Date: 2020
  • Doi Number: 10.1093/cz/zoaa008
  • Journal Name: CURRENT ZOOLOGY
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, BIOSIS, CAB Abstracts, Veterinary Science Database, Directory of Open Access Journals
  • Page Numbers: pp.467-475
  • Keywords: distribution modeling, eBird, Maxent, Mediterranean, opportunistic data, raptors, AUTUMN MIGRATION, BIRD POPULATIONS, AVIAN MIGRATION, VESPERTINUS, CONSERVATION, MORPHOLOGY, DISTANCE, RAPTORS, MODELS, AREAS
  • Ondokuz Mayıs University Affiliated: Yes


Citizen science data have already been used to effectively address questions regarding migration, a fundamental stage in the life history of birds. In this study, we use data from eBird and from 3 additional regional citizen science databases to describe the migration routes and timing of the red-footed falcon Falco vespertinus in the Mediterranean region across 8 years (2010-2017). We further examine the seasonal and yearly variation in migration patterns and explore sites used during the species migration. Our results suggest that the autumn passage is spatially less variable and temporally more consistent among years than in spring and that birds migrate faster in spring than in autumn. The species seems to be more prevalent along the Central Mediterranean during spring migration, probably as a result of the clockwise loop migration that red-footed falcons perform. There was a high variation in annual median migration dates for both seasons as well as in migration routes across years and seasons. Higher variation was exhibited in the longitudinal component thus indicating flexibility in migration routes. In addition, our results showed the species' preference for lowlands covered with cropland and mosaics of cropland and natural vegetation as stopover sites during migration. Stopover areas predicted from our distribution modeling highlight the importance of the Mediterranean islands as stopover sites for sea-crossing raptors, such as the red-footed falcon. This study is the first to provide a broad-scale spatiotemporal perspective on the species migration across seasons, years and flyways and demonstrates how citizen science data can inform future monitoring and conservation strategies.