Conservation biology of the Bonelli´s Eagle in Spain: research and management
Published: Volume 51(2), December 2004. Pages 461-470.
Original Title: Biología de la conservación del Águila Perdicera Hieraaetus fasciatus en España: Investigación científica y gestión
In the last two decades, the Bonelli´s Eagle had suffered one of the most severe population declines in Spain. This paper reviews the results of the studies on conservation biology of the Bonelli´s eagle Spanish populations and synthesises the management implications for the recovery and conservation of the species which can be extracted from them, in order to make them accessible to regional and national wildlife agencies. From that compilation, it is concluded that the following actions must be undertaken: i) Adult mortality need to be reduced, mainly by mitigating electrocution and eliminating direct persecution, both near the nesting-site and within the full home range area. This involves close partnership and collaboration between administrations, power companies, hunters, and pigeon fanciers. ii) In Spain, the Bonelli´s eagle is a mainly cliff-nesting raptor; therefore, the preservation of occupied and unoccupied nest-cliffs free from human disturbances is essential to avoid territory abandonment, decrease adult mortality, and maintain a high breeding success. Particular attention must be given to pairs breeding on low or accessible cliffs, or those with no alternative nest-cliffs available. These areas must be kept free from infrastructures and human presence. iii) To locate the settlement areas of juvenile individuals in each region, to ensure the correct population dynamics and conservation of the Spanish Bonelli´s Eagle population. In this way, it is necessary to minimise non-territorial eagle mortality (which is mainly caused by electrocution and direct persecution), and to implement sensible hunting management practices. iv) Increasing prey availability in breeding territories is necessary in populations where prey scarcity is limiting breeding success. It would be a suitable measure for northern Spanish populations, avoiding extensive forest plantations and favouring the presence of open lands in territories, through the promotion of traditional land uses and sensible game management.