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Assessing the impact of removal scenarios on population viability of a threatened, long-lived avian scavenger

AuthorsMargalida, Antoni CSIC ORCID ; Colomer, M. Àngels; Oro, Daniel CSIC ORCID ; Arlettaz, Raphaël; Donázar, José A. CSIC ORCID
Issue Date23-Nov-2015
PublisherNature Publishing Group
CitationScientific Reports 5: 16962 (2015)
AbstractThe removal of eggs or chicks from wild populations to create captive populations, reinforce free-ranging populations or reintroduce species into the wild is a restoration tool that requires an assessment of potential detrimental effects upon the donor population. This is an absolute prerequisite when wild donor populations are scarce and small. Here, we forecast the population trend of the largest European population of the bearded vulture (Gypaetus barbatus) over the next 30 years under different demographic and management scenarios (removal of eggs, chicks or fledglings). Projections derived from the combination of a PDP model (Population Dynamic P-system) and a Box-Behnken design would lead to a decline in 77% of all 57 scenarios analysed. Among the 13 scenarios predicting a population increase, only 4 seem realistic in terms of growth rate (0.04%– 1.01%), at least if current age at first breeding and productivity would remain constant over time. Our simulations thus suggest that most extraction scenarios would have detrimental effects on the demography of the donor population. Release of captive-born young or removal of only the second hatched chick for subsequent captive rearing and translocation into the wild appear to represent much better supplementation and reintroduction options in this threatened species
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