Action on multiple fronts, illegal poisoning and wind farm planning, is required to reverse the decline of the Egyptian vulture in southern Spain
Large body-sized avian scavengers, including the Egyptian vulture (Neophron percnopterus), are globally threatened due to human-related mortality so guidelines quantifying the efficacy of different management approaches are urgently needed. We used 14 years of territory and individual-based data on a small and geographically isolated Spanish population to estimate survival, recruitment and breeding success. We then forecasted their population viability under current vital rates and under management scenarios that mitigated the main sources of non-natural mortality at breeding grounds (fatalities from wind farms and illegal poisoning). Mean breeding success was 0.68 (SD = 0.17) under current conditions. Annual probabilities of survival were 0.72 (SE = 0.06) for fledglings and 2 yr old non-breeders, 0.73 (SE = 0.04) for non-breeders older than 2 yrs old and 0.93 (SE = 0.04) for breeders. Probabilities of recruitment were 0 for birds aged 1–4, 0.10 (SE = 0.06) for birds aged 5 and 0.19 (SE = 0.09) for older birds. Population viability analyses estimated an annual decline of 3–4% of the breeding population under current conditions. Our results indicate that only by combining different management actions in the breeding area, especially by removing the most important causes of human-related mortality (poisoning and collisions on wind farms), will the population grow and persist in the long term. Reinforcement with captive breeding may also have positive effects but only in combination with the reduction in causes of non-natural mortality. These results, although obtained for a focal species, may be applicable to other endangered populations of long-lived avian scavengers inhabiting southern Europe.
Ana Sanz-Aguilar, José Antonio Sánchez-Zapata, Martina Carrete, José Ramón Benítez, Enrique Ávila, Rafael Arenas, José Antonio Donázar
Dept of Conservation Biology, Estación Biológica de Doñana (CSIC), Sevilla; Population Ecology Group, Instituto Mediterráneo de Estudios Avanzados (CSIC-UIB), Islas Baleares; Área de Ecología, University Miguel Hernández, Alicante; Universidad Pablo de Olavide, Sevilla; Línea de Geodiversidad y Biodiversidad, Agencia de Medioambiente y Agua, Junta de Andalucía, Sevilla; and Gestión del Medio Natural, Dirección Provincial de Córdoba, Consejería de Medio Ambiente, Junta de Andalucía, Córdoba, Spain
Biological Conservation 187 (2015) 10–18. doi: 10.1016/j.biocon.2015.03.029
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