Date of this Version
Pfeiffer, M.B., J.D. Kougher, and T.L. DeVault. 2018. Civil airports from a landscape perspective: A multi-scale approach with implications for reducing bird strikes. Landscape and Urban Planning 179:38-45. doi: 10.1016/j.landurbplan.2018.07.004
Collisions between birds and aircraft are a global problem that jeopardizes human safety and causes economic losses. Although landscape features have been suggested as one of a number of factors contributing to bird strikes, no evidence exists to support this suggestion. We investigated the effects of landscape structure on the adverse effect (AE) bird strike rate at 98 civil airports in the United States. The number of reported AE bird strikes was standardized by air carrier movements between 2009 and 2015. Land use structure and composition were quantified within 3, 8, and 13 km radii extents from airports. We predicted large amounts and close arrangements of aquatic habitat, open space, and high landscape diversity would positively influence the AE strike rate based on the habitat requirements of many species hazardous to aviation. The rate of AE bird strikes was positively influenced by large areas and close proximity of wetlands, water, and cultivated crops at the 8- and 13- km extents. Within 3 km of an airport, increasing landscape diversity and the amount of crop area increased the strike rate. We conclude that landscape structure and composition are predictors of the AE bird strike rate at multiple spatial scales. Our results can be used to promote collaborative management among wildlife professionals, airport planners, and landowners near airports to create an environment with a lower probability of an AE bird strike. Specific priorities are to minimize the area of crops, especially corn, and increase the distances between patches of open water.