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Man-induced activities modify demographic parameters in a long-lived species: Effects of poisoning and health policies

AuthorsMargalida, Antoni ; Colomer, Mª Àngels; Oro, Daniel
KeywordsBearded Vulture
Breeding parameters
European sanitation policies
Gypaetus barbatus
Health regulations
Life history
Pyrenees, Catalonia, Spain
Supplementary feeding
Issue DateApr-2014
PublisherEcological Society of America
CitationEcological Appplications 24(3): 436-444 (2014)
AbstractRecent changes in sanitary policies within the European Union (EU) concerning disposal of carcasses of domestic animals and the increase of non-natural mortality factors, such as illegal poisoning, are threatening European vultures. However, the effects of anthropogenic activities on demographic parameters are poorly studied. Using a long-term study (1994-2011) of the threatened Pyrenean Bearded Vulture Gypaetus barbatus population, we assess the variation in the proportion of breeding pairs, egg-laying dates, clutch size, breeding success, and survival following a sharp reduction in food availability in 2005 due to the application of restrictive sanitary policies decreasing livestock carcass availability. We found a delay in laying dates and a regressive trend in clutch size, breeding success, and survival following policy change. The maintenance of specific supplementary feeding stations for Bearded Vultures probably reduced the negative effects of illegal poisoning and food shortages, which mainly affected subadult survival. A drop in food availability may have produced changes in demographic parameters and an increase in mortality due to an increased exposure to contaminated food. As a result, supplementary feeding as a precautionary measure can be a useful tool to reduce illegal poisoning and declines in demographic parameters until previous food availability scenarios are achieved. This study shows how anthropogenic activities through human health regulations that affect habitat quality can suddenly modify demographic parameters in long-lived species, including those, such as survival, with high sensitivity to population growth rate.
Publisher version (URL)http://dx.doi.org/10.1890/13-0414.1
Identifiersdoi: 10.1890/13-0414.1
issn: 1051-0761
Appears in Collections:(IMEDEA) Artículos
(IREC) Artículos
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