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Application of a predictive model to detect long-term changes in nest-site selection in the Bearded Vulture Gypaetus barbatus: conservation in relation to territory shrinkage

AuthorsMargalida, Antoni ; Donázar, José A. ; Bustamante, Javier ; Hernández, Francisco José; Romero-Pujante, Mariló
Conspecific attraction
Despotic competition
Habitat quality
Issue Date2008
PublisherBritish Ornithologists' Union
John Wiley & Sons
CitationIbis 150(2): 242–249 (2008)
AbstractIn this study we examined long-term variation in the selection of nesting cliffs for the recovering population of the Bearded Vulture Gypaetus barbatus inhabiting the Spanish Pyrenees. We focussed on variables indicating a high probability of cliff occupancy as determined by a previously published model. Although the breeding population increased from 53 to 93 territories between 1991 and 2002, the breeding range expanded only slightly. New and old nesting cliffs had similar habitat features in relation to topography, altitude and degree of human influence, but the distance between occupied cliffs was reduced (from 11.1 to 8.9 km). Thus the probabilities of occupation predicted by the model were lower for newly colonized locales. Our study shows that territory compression may occur without serious modification of nesting habitat quality. These results may arise from the lack of strong territorial behaviour by Bearded Vultures and the availability of high-quality cliffs. The relatively low quality of sites in adjacent mountains may prevent the expansion of the breeding range, but conspecific attraction may also play a role. Our study confirms that monitoring changes in key variables important to habitat selection is useful in determining long-term trends in settlement patterns in heterogeneous environments. The results also suggest that the available nest-site selection model may accurately predict cliff occupancy by Bearded Vultures in those areas where the distance to the nearest neighbour is not a limiting factor. In particular, the model may be useful in establishing priority areas for reintroduction
Publisher version (URL)https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1474-919X.2007.00768.x
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