Threats in the Airspace

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New research is shaping what we know about airspace as vital habitat for birds. Photo by iiphevgeniy/Shutterstock
Threats in the Airspace

Knowing how birds use the airspace already helps drive ABC’s work to minimize the dangers posed by wind turbines and communications towers. Aeroecology can help researchers and conservationists understand what happens to those birds in the air and how easy or safe it is to move from one location to another, an idea sometimes called “habitat connectivity.”

For Birds, The Sky Isn’t Just Empty Airspace. It’s Habitat.

Look up. All that empty space over our heads isn’t so empty. Many birds, bats, and insects spend a good part of their lives up in the air, foraging, mating, and migrating. Aerial insectivores such as swallows and swifts feed almost exclusively on the wing.

It doesn’t look like habitat, but for these animals, the airspace is home. It’s where they spend much of their lives. And as researchers are learning, what happens there carries life-or-death consequences.

Aeroecology, as it’s sometimes called, has come into its own as a field of research. This study of airspace as habitat is enabled by new technologies, by a rapidly expanding understanding of the complex ways animals interact with their environments, and by a growing interest in how human activities affect those environments. And it could have important implications for how conservation groups, including American Bird Conservancy (ABC), focus their work in coming years…..

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