20 June 2022

Researcher from REN Chair in Biodiversity” wins Doctoral Prize in Ecology

The winners of the 2022 edition of the Doctoral Prize in Ecology - Amadeu Dias Foundation, organised by SPECO - Sociedade Portuguesa de Ecologia [Portuguese Ecological Society], are already known. The 1st prize in this edition was awarded to Joana Bernardino, a researcher from CIBIO - Centro de Investigação em Biodiversidade e Recursos Genéticos (Research Centre in Biodiversity and Genetic Resources) of the University of Porto, whose doctoral thesis focused on the problem of bird collision with power lines.

Joana Bernardino developed her PhD project as part of the 'REN Chair in Biodiversity' team, created in the context of a protocol established between CIBIO, REN, and FCT - Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (Foundation for Science and Technology).

During her PhD, the researcher tried to identify which ecological, environmental, and infrastructure-related factors explain the collision of birds with overhead power lines. She also carried out a collection and meta-analysis of studies worldwide that have assessed the effectiveness of signalling power line cables as a means of increasing their visibility to birds and reducing the risk of collision. For the first time, in addition to the global assessment of the performance of anti-collision devices, this meta-analysis assessed the factors that may influence their effectiveness, namely the line typology, the habitat it crosses (as a proxy for the species present therein), and the characteristics of the devices themselves. She also carried out two studies that increased the understanding of the environmental and methodological factors responsible for biases in the quantification of bird mortality in power lines.

The findings of the conducted research have immediate application in the practices of REN and other energy companies, as regards choosing the best solutions to mitigate the impacts of their projects on avifauna, as well as for their monitoring. An example of this is the inclusion of the findings in the new 'Manual for Monitoring the Impacts of Very-High-Voltage Lines on Avifauna and Assessing the Effectiveness of Mitigation Measures'. This manual of good practices resulted from collaborative work between CIBIO, REN, and ICNF - Instituto da Conservação da Natureza e Florestas (Institute for Nature Conservation and Forests).

The three prize-winners of the 2022 edition of the Doctoral Prize in Ecology will receive the award and present their work at the 21st National Ecology Meeting, which this year will be held from 4 to 9 July at the University of Aveiro, as part of the 2nd SIBECOL - Sociedade Ibérica de Ecologia (Iberian Ecological Society) Conference.

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