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Population models used in: Method to assess potential magnitude of terrestrial European avian population reductions from ingestion of lead ammunition

Cite this dataset

Meyer, Carolyn; Walker, Timothy; Morrison, Emily (2022). Population models used in: Method to assess potential magnitude of terrestrial European avian population reductions from ingestion of lead ammunition [Dataset]. Dryad.


Current estimates of terrestrial bird losses across Europe from ingestion of lead ammunition are based on uncertain or generic assumptions. A method is needed to develop defensible European-specific estimates compatible with available data that does not require long-term field studies. We propose a 2-step method using carcass data and population models. The method estimates percentage of deaths diagnosed as directly caused by lead poisoning as a lower bound and, as an upper bound, the percentage of possible deaths from sublethal lead poisoning that weakens birds, making them susceptible to death by other causes. We use these estimates to modify known population-level annual mortality. Our method also allows for potential reductions in reproduction from lead shot ingestion because reductions in survival and reproduction are entered into population models of species with life histories representative of the most groups of susceptible species. The models estimate the sustainability and potential population decreases from lead poisoning in Europe. Using the best available data, we demonstrate the method on two taxonomic groups of birds: gallinaceous birds and diurnal raptors. The direction of the population trends affects the estimate, and we incorporated such trends into the method. Our midpoint estimates of the reduction in population size of the European gallinaceous bird (< 2%) group and raptor group  (2.9 – 7.7%) depend on the species life history, maximum growth rate,  population trend, and if reproduction is assumed to be reduced. Our estimates can be refined as more information becomes available in countries with data gaps. We advocate use of this method to improve upon or supplement approaches currently being used. As we demonstrate, the method also can be applied to individual species of concern if enough data across countries are available.


These population models were used to evaluate effect of lead ammunition on terrestrial avian populations in Europe. The models were calibrated on a red kite population in Wales, a common buzzard population in Germany, a bearded vulture population in the French/Spanish Pyrenees, and grey partridge in continental Europe. They are used to evaluate effects of lead ammunition ingestion using exposure to the four individual species and exposure to all susceptible raptor species (using 3 raptor models) or gallinaceous species (using partridge model) that have similar population trends (stable or decreasing, increasing). Bearded vulture model represents large-bodied raptors such as eagles and vultures, other raptor models are for small-bodied raptors.These models are constructed in R programming language (R core team). The data used in them are in the manuscript and supplementary files.

Usage notes

R (R core team 2021)


Arcadis (Czechia)

World Forum on Shooting Activities