Between 1998 and 2002 we carried out five spring censuses of the Great Bustard population of Madrid region. The average count was 1148 individuals (337 males and 811 females) distributed in 13 leks. The species´ distribution is highly fragmented, due to the presence of urban areas and infrastructures. Comparison with earlier censuses suggests that the cessation of hunting in 1980 could have favoured a recovery of the population and probably a concentration of birds at the habitat patches less disturbed by urban development. Throughout the last five years numbers have remained approximately stable, with slight oscillations that have affected much more the males than the females. Male mortality is high in Madrid as compared with populations with a more favourable conservation status. The Great Bustard population in Madrid is still highly vulnerable and some leks could be threatened with extinction in a near future, if strict conservation measures are not implemented urgently.
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