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Evaluating European LIFE conservation projects: Improvements in survival of an endangered vulture

AuthorsBadia-Boher, Jaume Adrià; Sanz-Aguilar, Ana ; Riva, Manuel de la; Gangoso, Laura ; Overveld, Thijs van; García-Alfonso, Marina; Luzardo, Octavio P.; Suárez-Pérez, Alejandro; Donázar, José A.
Issue Date2019
PublisherBlackwell Publishing
CitationJournal of Applied Ecology 56: 1210- 1219 (2019)
AbstractLong-lived avian scavengers are threatened worldwide and thus, are common targets of conservation plans. However, scientific evidence of both the factors limiting populations and effectiveness of management actions are greatly needed in order to develop more efficient and successful conservation strategies. We assessed the effectiveness of conservation actions applied within a LIFE-Nature project aimed at improving the long-term survival of the critically endangered Canarian Egyptian vulture: including education campaigns for public awareness and control of illegal poisoning and the modification of power lines to reduce the risk of accidents. We formulated a multievent capture–mark–recapture model to obtain estimates of survival for juvenile, subadult and adult birds accounting for probabilities of resight, recovery and losses of metal and colour rings. Models supported a substantial enhancement in survival for subadult and adult birds and a moderate improvement for juveniles after the implementation of LIFE actions. Ring loss probabilities became notably high in the middle to long term. Poisoning events became very rare after LIFE was implemented, suggesting a positive effect of environmental education and awareness campaigns. Entanglements and collisions in power lines were also efficiently mitigated. Instead, electrocutions became the most identified cause of death in the post-LIFE stage. Synthesis and applications. Our results highlight the improvement of survival in a threatened island vulture population after the implementation of a European LIFE conservation project. On small islands, with small human populations and few stakeholders, education and awareness campaigns can be especially effective for biodiversity conservation. We also demonstrate the need to complement conservation programmes with long-term monitoring, which is essential to evaluate the effectiveness of actions, especially for long-lived species.
Identifiersdoi: 10.1111/1365-2664.13350
issn: 1365-2664
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