Eurasian buzzard and tawny owl highlighted as suitable sentinels of environmental pollution across Europe

Chemicals are centrally regulated across the European Union. To understand the effectiveness of EU regulations and limitations on chemical pollution, we need to monitor environmental contaminant concentrations at a pan-European scale. Monitoring using the carcasses of raptors found dead is an ideal way of tracking changes in pollutant concentrations over large areas.   

The PBMS is a lead organisation in a review of the suitability of different raptor species for biomonitoring contaminants across Europe. The conclusions are that the Eurasian buzzard (Buteo buteo) and the tawny owl (Strix aluco) are two of the most suitable species for monitoring a range of contaminants but have not been widely studied to date. The paper argues for increased and harmonised chemical monitoring in these species across Europe.

The open-access paper (Badry et al., 2020. Towards harmonisation of chemical monitoring using avian apex predators: Identification of key species for pan-European biomonitoring. Science of the Total Environment, 731, 139198. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.139198) can be downloaded using the doi or from the PBMS scientific papers page.

The work was supported by funding from European Raptor Biomonitoring Facility (ERBF) and from the LIFE APEX project.