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Habitat features of settlement areas used by floaters of Bonelli’s and Golden Eagles

  • JESÚS CARO (a1), DIEGO ONTIVEROS (a1), MANUEL PIZARRO (a1) and JUAN M. PLEGUEZUELOS (a1)

Summary

Bonelli’s Eagle Hieraaetus fasciatus and Golden Eagle Aquila chrysaetos are two declining species, in which floaters tend to be located outside of breeding territories during the dispersal period, in so-called settlement areas. We studied settlement areas for both these long-lived raptors in the southern Iberian Peninsula, to gain a better understanding of the ecological requirements of the eagles during their long pre-adult stage, a period accounting for around 80% of the species’ mortality. Eagle abundance was calculated by road censuses, and habitat characteristics of settlement and non-settlement areas compared by General Discriminant Analysis (GDA) and Logistic Regression (LR). The best model of GDA and LR incorporated the abundance of main prey for eagles (rabbits, partridges) and orchard surface area, and explained 100% of eagle presence; the best model selected by GDA also included habitat heterogeneity. Both eagles tended to share settlement areas in the southern Iberian Peninsula and, when they did not, the mean annual temperature and slope appeared to explain the segregation between the two species. Management measures for the conservation of both threatened species during the dispersal period should be focused on identifying settlement areas, maintaining high prey densities and maximum habitat heterogeneity.

El Águila Perdicera Hieraaetus fasciatus y el Águila Real Aquila chrysaetos son dos especies en declive, cuyos inmaduros tienden a localizarse fuera de los territorios de los reproductores durante el período de dispersión, en zonas conocidas como áreas de asentamiento. Hemos estudiado estas áreas para ambas rapaces en el sur de la Península Ibérica, con el fin de comprender mejor las necesidades ecológicas durante su prolongada etapa preadulta, un periodo en el que en torno al 80% de los individuos mueren. Mediante censos en carriles se calculó la abundancia de las dos águilas, y se midieron las características del hábitat en áreas de asentamiento y no asentamiento comparándose mediante un Análisis Discriminante General (ADG) y una Regresión Logística (RL). El mejor modelo del ADG y RL incluye la abundancia de las presas principales de las águilas (conejos, perdices) y el porcentaje de cultivos arbóreos, explicando el 100% de la presencia de las águilas, y el mejor modelo seleccionado por el ADG también incluyó la heterogeneidad de hábitats. Ambas águilas tendieron a compartir las zonas de asentamiento en el sur de la Península Ibérica y, cuando esto no ocurrió, la temperatura media anual y la pendiente parecían explicar la segregación entre las dos especies. Las medidas de gestión para la conservación de ambas especies amenazadas durante el periodo de dispersión deben centrarse en la identificación de las áreas de asentamiento, el mantenimiento de altas densidades de presas y de alta heterogeneidad de hábitats en estas áreas.

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*Author for correspondence; e-mail: jcaro@ugr.es.

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Habitat features of settlement areas used by floaters of Bonelli’s and Golden Eagles

  • JESÚS CARO (a1), DIEGO ONTIVEROS (a1), MANUEL PIZARRO (a1) and JUAN M. PLEGUEZUELOS (a1)

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