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Application of central-place foraging theory shows the importance of Mediterranean dehesas for the conservation of the cinereous vulture, Aegypius monachus

AuthorsCarrete, Martina ; Donázar, José A.
Issue Date2005
CitationBiological Conservation 126: 582- 590 (2005)
AbstractThe dehesa (oak woodland) is an extensive agro-pastoral ecosystem characteristic of the Western Mediterranean countries which is suffering a great transformation process since 1950. Although its distribution largely overlaps with several endangered species, there is scarce information on how they use this human-transformed habitat. We studied the foraging habitat selection of one of them, the cinereous vulture Aegypius monachus. We radio-tracked 14 cinereous vultures in one of the largest European colonies from 1998 to 2000. Used and available habitats were compared at two scales using compositional analysis. Moreover, we developed a distance-based GLMM for assessing habitat selection in this central-place forager species, by taking into account the spatial distribution of habitat patches in relation to the location of the colony. Home ranges overlapped over a total surface of 592,527 ha around the colony, and both individual home ranges and travel foraging distances (mean 27.86 km, maximum 86 km) were larger during the breeding season. All cinereous vultures avoided agricultural lands within their home ranges throughout the year. Habitat use in relation to the distance to the colony pointed out that dehesas were positively selected in spite of being on average far away from the colony than other habitats, a result that was consistent among individuals and seasons. The cinereous vulture thus depends for its conservation not only on the protection of breeding areas, as has been so far considered, but also on the maintenance of well-conserved dehesas close to the colonies. Preserving the cinereous vultures could contribute to the economic sustainability of dehesas by attracting PAC funds for their traditional low-intensity exploitation. Although other species may also benefit from this study since cinereous vulture could be a >flagship> for the large-scale conservation of Mediterranean oak woodlands and associated biodiversity, more fine local management guidelines should be performed on the basis of studies on more sensitive species. © 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Identifiersdoi: 10.1016/j.biocon.2005.06.031
issn: 0006-3207
Appears in Collections:(EBD) Artículos
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