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Title

Solving Man-Induced Large-Scale Conservation Problems: The Spanish Imperial Eagle and Power Lines

AuthorsLópez-López, Pascual; Ferrer, Miguel ; Madero, Agustín; Casado, Eva ; McGrady, Michael
Issue Date2-Mar-2011
PublisherPublic Library of Science
CitationPLoS ONE 6(3): e17196
Abstract[Background] Man-induced mortality of birds caused by electrocution with poorly-designed pylons and power lines has been reported to be an important mortality factor that could become a major cause of population decline of one of the world rarest raptors, the Spanish imperial eagle (Aquila adalberti). Consequently it has resulted in an increasing awareness of this problem amongst land managers and the public at large, as well as increased research into the distribution of electrocution events and likely mitigation measures.
[Methodology/Principal Findings] We provide information of how mitigation measures implemented on a regional level under the conservation program of the Spanish imperial eagle have resulted in a positive shift of demographic trends in Spain. A 35 years temporal data set (1974–2009) on mortality of Spanish imperial eagle was recorded, including population censuses, and data on electrocution and non-electrocution of birds. Additional information was obtained from 32 radio-tracked young eagles and specific field surveys. Data were divided into two periods, before and after the approval of a regional regulation of power line design in 1990 which established mandatory rules aimed at minimizing or eliminating the negative impacts of power lines facilities on avian populations. Our results show how population size and the average annual percentage of population change have increased between the two periods, whereas the number of electrocuted birds has been reduced in spite of the continuous growing of the wiring network.
[Conclusions] Our results demonstrate that solving bird electrocution is an affordable problem if political interest is shown and financial investment is made. The combination of an adequate spatial planning with a sustainable development of human infrastructures will contribute positively to the conservation of the Spanish imperial eagle and may underpin population growth and range expansion, with positive side effects on other endangered species.
Publisher version (URL)http://dx.dooi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0017196
URIhttp://hdl.handle.net/10261/33173
DOI10.1371/journal.pone.0017196
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