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Biology, ecology and status of Iberian ibex Capra pyrenaica: a critical review and research prospectus

AuthorsAcevedo, Pelayo ; Cassinello, Jorge
Iberian Peninsula
Spain ibex
Issue DateJan-2009
CitationMammal Review 39(1):17-39 (2009)
AbstractThe Iberian ibex Capra pyrenaica is endemic to the Iberian Peninsula and of the four subspecies originally recognized, recent extinctions mean that only two now persist. Recent genetic analyses have cast doubt on the generally accepted taxonomy of the species, where four subspecies were distinguished by coat colour and horn morphology, and propose the distinction of two subspecies based on their mitochondrial DNA sequence polymorphism. These analyses make clear the need for a comprehensive revision that integrates genetic and morphological approaches resulting in a definitive description and differentiation of the subspecies. Studies of ibex behavioural ecology and health status are scarce and generally descriptive. They should be implemented in an integrative way, taking into account the ecological requirements of the species, current population status, the presence of other sympatric wild and domestic ungulates, and the type of hunting regime and management in their distribution areas. A natural expansion of the species is currently taking place. Ibexes are present and well established in all the main mountain ranges of the Spanish Iberian Peninsula, and have recently expanded their range into the north of Portugal. Other authors estimated a total population of more than 50 000 individuals 10 years ago, distributed over more than 60 000 km2, with an average population density of 2.7 ibex/km2. However, these estimates were obtained prior to the species' recovery from recent epizootics of sarcoptic mange and should be updated. Survey methods, mainly direct count-based methods, should be adjusted to suit mountainous conditions, where it is difficult to estimate accurately the surveyed surface. A series of threats to ibex conservation have been identified, such as population overabundance, disease prevalence and potential competition with domestic livestock and invasive ungulates, along with negative effects of human disturbance through tourism and hunting. Applied ecological issues focused on the proper management of populations should be prioritized, along with the identification of current threats based on empirical, ecological data obtained from populations living in various ecological conditions in different regions.
Publisher version (URL)http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2907.2008.00138.x
Appears in Collections:(IREC) Artículos
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