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Habitat Selection by Immature Spanish Imperial Eagles During the Dispersal Period

Miguel Ferrer and Mariska Harte
Journal of Applied Ecology
Vol. 34, No. 6 (Dec., 1997), pp. 1359-1364
DOI: 10.2307/2405253
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2405253
Page Count: 6
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Habitat Selection by Immature Spanish Imperial Eagles During the Dispersal Period
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Abstract

1. The Spanish imperial eagle Aquila adalberti is the most endangered bird of prey in Europe, with less than 150 pairs remaining alive, and it is one of the most endangered species in the world. The densest Spanish imperial eagle population is located in the Donana National Park, south-western Spain and is made up of 15-16 breeding pairs. Since 1973, a variety of management techniques have been implemented to increase productivity in the breeding population. Despite this, eagles have not colonized the surrounding area. 2. Studies were carried out to provide a quantitative description of the habitats selected by immature Spanish imperial eagles during their dispersal period. The exact locations of the 23 temporary settling areas were determined by radio-tracking from the ground and periodic checks by light aircraft. 3. To evaluate available but unused habitats, coordinates of the same number of random points were generated and compared to actual locations. The results indicated that young eagles select areas with pasture or cultivated farmland covered by scattered Quercus spp. trees (Oak savanna) and avoid irrigated fields and paved roads. 4. The ecological data provided by this study can be used to predict those areas where changing land use would have the greatest, and least effects on dispersing eagles and, in consequence, on the stability of the breeding population. Management recommendations for those areas include modification of power lines to avoid electrocution during the dispersal phase, presumption against construction of new power lines or roads, presumption against any increase in tree plantations, and financial incentives to maintain existing management regimes in preferred areas, i.e. non-irrigated fields, pastures and cultivated farmland with a scattered distribution of Quercus spp. and Olea spp.

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