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Protected areas do not fulfil the wintering habitat needs of the trans-Saharan migratory Montagu’s harrier

AuthorsLimiñana, Rubén ; Soutullo, Álvaro; Arroyo, Beatriz ; Urios, Vicente
Land uses
Circus pygargus
Ecological niche modelling
Issue Date2012
CitationBiological Conservation 145(1): 62-69 (2012)
AbstractPopulations of migratory birds can be affected by events happening at both breeding and wintering grounds. The Sahel is a vast region holding a large number of wintering trans-Saharan migratory European birds, and current land-use changes there may represent a threat for these species. We used satellite tracking data from the migratory Montagu's harrier to evaluate habitat use of the species during the wintering season, and whether the current network of protected areas is effective to provide their habitat needs during that season. We also developed an ecological niche model for the species in Western-Central Sahel to check if the most suitable sites are included within current protected areas. Tracked harriers occupied a large region encompassing a total of eight countries. The most preferred habitats during winter were croplands and some natural vegetation habitats, especially grasslands. Protected areas only covered a small proportion of the overall wintering grounds of tracked harriers and the most suitable areas for the species in Western-Central Sahel. Increasing the extent of preferred natural habitats within protected areas should benefit the conservation of this and probably other insect-eating raptors. However, substantial increases in extent and number of protected areas in sub-Saharan Africa are very unlike to occur. Conservation actions in the region should therefore be mostly focused on improving land use planning and management outside protected areas, specially enhancing agricultural practices to make biodiversity conservation compatible with poverty alleviation. These can be chiefly targeted at an area of <20,000km 2 of very suitable habitat for these species.
Publisher version (URL)https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2011.10.009
Identifiersdoi: 10.1016/j.biocon.2011.10.009
issn: 0006-3207
Appears in Collections:(IREC) Artículos
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