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REN

REN Chair in Biodiversity objectives and evaluation of one year and a half of activity

What are the advantages and disadvantages for storks of compatibility with the electricity transport and distribution infrastructure?

The white stork (Ciconia ciconia) is an iconic species that often uses man-made structures as a nesting site, including house roofs, chimneys, telephone poles, power line pylons, etc. There was a large decrease in the European population of storks from the start of the 20th century until the 1980s, due to many reasons, including climatic issues (extensive droughts in the wintering areas in Africa). During this period, the Portuguese population of storks reached a minimum of less than 2000 pairs. However, there was a recovery in the population from the 1980s, which increased exponentially to reach about 12,000 pairs in 2014 (date of the last census).

Throughout this process of recovery of the stork population (caused by more favourable climatic conditions in Africa, as well as an improvement of feeding conditions in Portugal), a very peculiar behavioural change took place: trees and the roofs of houses and churches were the structures most used by most of the storks (more than 95%) until the 1980s to build their nests. However, from the 1980s onwards the recovering population began to use power line pylons more and more, so that by 2014 more than 25% of the Portuguese population of storks nested on the REN and EDP power lines pylons.

What are the advantages and disadvantages for storks of compatibility with the electricity transport and distribution infrastructure? It is these and other questions that the Chairs in Biodiversity of REN and EDP (CIBIO, University of Porto) propose to answer, with the help of the technicians and employees of the two companies.

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