Climate, Landscapes and Vultures
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This chapter examines the relationship between vultures and environmental factors. These include temperature, rainfall, thermals, wind and seasonal climate change. Climatic and weather variables are crucial for the survival of vultures in all their life activities and are directly related to vulture physiology, form and behavior. The most important variables are air movements in orographic lift and thermals, that control soaring fl ight; temperature, which infl uences migration; and rainfall which may affect foraging. Sea and river proximity also affect vulture foraging possibilities, in terms of food sources and migration possibilities. Relief (mostly cliffs for nesting) and vegetation (mostly the distinction between open rocky terrain, grassland, savanna and mixed tree-grass environments, and closed forest vegetation for foraging and trees for nesting) are also important. Vegetation infl uences foraging, as open landcover is necessary for sighting carcasses. Unless the vulture has a sense of smell or can follow other species that do have a sense of smell, dense vegetation is unsuitable for foraging. The evidence presented so far points to the environment as crucial to vulture survival and lifestyles, to determine or infl uence foraging, nesting and survival outcomes for both New and Old World vultures.