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Demographic Consequences of Poison-Related Mortality in a Threatened Bird of Prey

AuthorsTenan, Simone; Adrover, Jaume; Muñoz-Navarro, Antoni; Sergio, Fabrizio ; Tavecchia, Giacomo
Issue Date14-Nov-2012
PublisherPublic Library of Science
CitationPLoS ONE 7(11): e49187 (2012)
AbstractEvidence for decline or threat of wild populations typically comes from multiple sources and methods that allow optimal integration of the available information, representing a major advance in planning management actions. We used integrated population modelling and perturbation analyses to assess the demographic consequences of the illegal use of poison for an insular population of Red Kites, Milvus milvus. We first pooled into a single statistical framework the annual census of breeding pairs, the available individual-based data, the average productivity and the number of birds admitted annually to the local rehabilitation centre. By combining these four types of information we were able to increase estimate precision and to obtain an estimate of the proportion of breeding adults, an important parameter that was not directly measured in the field and that is often difficult to assess. Subsequently, we used perturbation analyses to measure the expected change in the population growth rate due to a change in poison-related mortality. We found that poison accounted for 0.43 to 0.76 of the total mortality, for yearlings and older birds, respectively. Results from the deterministic population model indicated that this mortality suppressed the population growth rate by 20%. Despite this, the population was estimated to increase, albeit slowly. This positive trend was likely maintained by a very high productivity (1.83 fledglings per breeding pair) possibly promoted by supplementary feeding, a situation which is likely to be common to many large obligate or facultative European scavengers. Under this hypothetical scenario of double societal costs (poisoning of a threatened species and feeding programs), increasing poison control would help to lower the public cost of maintaining supplementary feeding stations. © 2012 Tenan et al.
Publisher version (URL)http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0049187
Identifiersdoi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0049187
issn: 1932-6203
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