Skip to main content Accessibility help

The role of ponds as feeding habitat for an umbrella species: best management practices for the black stork Ciconia nigra in Spain

  • Rubén Moreno-Opo (a1), Mariana Fernández-Olalla (a2), Francisco Guil (a1), Ángel Arredondo (a1), Rafael Higuero (a1), Manuel Martín (a1), Carlos Soria (a1) and José Guzmán (a1)...


To establish recommendations for wetland management that promote wildlife diversity in Mediterranean habitats we examined the factors that determine feeding habitat selection by the black stork Ciconia nigra in ponds. The black stork is considered an umbrella species because it is threatened, requires large foraging ranges in priority areas, is selective in its choice of diet and nesting sites, and inhabits a characteristic biological community with endemic and threatened taxa. Eighty-five ponds were monitored in central and western Spain to detect the stork feeding. At the same time, pond variables that could affect black stork feeding preferences were periodically evaluated. Generalized linear mixed models were used to analyse principal components obtained from groups of factors related to structural, location and ecological conditions. The black stork selects ponds distant from roads, with a large surface area, high water level, shallow shores, low turbidity, few traces of wild ungulates on the shores, a high diversity of fish and amphibian species, and a vegetated perimeter, in flat and open areas. Potential factors affecting feeding behaviour are discussed. We suggest measures for pond construction and management that could favour this species in particular and biodiversity in general in the Mediterranean environment.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      The role of ponds as feeding habitat for an umbrella species: best management practices for the black stork Ciconia nigra in Spain
      Available formats

      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      The role of ponds as feeding habitat for an umbrella species: best management practices for the black stork Ciconia nigra in Spain
      Available formats

      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      The role of ponds as feeding habitat for an umbrella species: best management practices for the black stork Ciconia nigra in Spain
      Available formats


Corresponding author

*Fundación CBD-Habitat, Gustavo Fernández Balbuena, 2 E-28002, Madrid, Spain. E-mail


Hide All
Abrahams, M.V. & Kattenfeld, M.G. (1997) The role of turbidity as a constraint on predator–prey interactions in aquatic environments. Behavioural Ecology and Sociobiology, 40, 169174.
Akaike, H. (1973) Information theory as an extension of the maximum likelihood principle. In Second International Symposium on Information Theory (eds Petrov, B.N. & Csaki, F.), pp. 267281. Akademiai Kiado, Budapest, Hungary.
Akasaka, M., Takamura, N., Mitsuhashi, H. & Kadono, Y. (2010) Effects of land use on aquatic macrophyte diversity and water quality of ponds. Freshwater Biology, 55, 909922.
Almeida, J., Catry, P., Encarnaçao, V., Franco, C., Granadeiro, J.P., Lopes, R. et al. . (2005) Ciconia nigra. In Livro Vermelho dos Vertebrados de Portugal (eds Cabral, M.J., Almeida, J., Almeida, P.R., Dellinger, T., Ferrand de Almeida, N., Oliveira, M.E. et al. ), pp. 179180. Instituto da Conservaçao da Natureza, Lisboa, Portugal.
Balmford, A., Crane, P., Dobson, P., Green, R.E. & Mace, G.M. (2005) The 2010 challenge: data availability, information needs and extraterrestrial insights. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of Biological Sciences, 360, 221228.
Begon, M., Harper, J.L. & Townsend, C.R. (1999) Ecologia. Omega, Barcelona, Spain.
Bernardos, S., García-Barriuso, M., Sánchez-Anta, M.A. & Amich, F. (2007) Composition, geographical affinities and endemism of the Iberian Peninsula orchid flora. Nordic Journal of Botany, 25, 227237.
Bilton, D.T., McAbendroth, L., Bedford, A. & Ramsay, P.M. (2006) How wide to cast the net? Cross-taxon congruence of species richness, community similarity and indicator taxa in ponds. Freshwater Biology, 51, 578590.
BirdLife International (2004) Birds in Europe: Population Estimates, Trends and Conservation Status. BirdLife Conservation Series No. 12. BirdLife International, Cambridge, UK.
BirdLife International (2009) Ciconia nigra. In IUCN Red List of Threatened Species v. 2010.4. [accessed 16 February 2011].
Blumstein, D.T., Fernández-Juricic, E., Zollner, P.A. & Garity, S.C. (2005) Inter-specific variation of avian responses to human disturbance. Journal of Applied Ecology, 42, 943953.
Brainwood, M. & Burgin, L. (2009). Hotspots of biodiversity or homogeneous landscapes? Farm dams as biodiversity reserves in Australia. Biodiversity and Conservation, 18, 30433052.
Cano, L.S., Franco, C., Pacheco, C., Reis, S., Rosa, G. & Fernández, M. (2006) The breeding population of black stork Ciconia nigra in the Iberian peninsula. Biota, 7, 1523.
Chevallier, D., Baillon, F., Robin, J.P., Le Maho, Y. & Massemin-Challet, S. (2008) Prey selection of the black stork in the African wintering area. Journal of Zoology, 276, 276284.
Costillo, E., Corbacho, C., Morán, R. & Villegas, A. (2007) The diet of the black vulture Aegypius monachus in response to environmental changes in Extremadura (1970–2000). Ardeola, 54, 197204.
Cramp, S. (1998) The Birds of the Western Palaearctic on CD-ROM. Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK.
Crawley, M.J. (2007) The R Book. John Wiley, New York, USA.
Dallinga, J.H. & Schoenmakers, S. (1987) Regional decrease in the number of white stork Ciconia ciconia in relation to food resources. Colonial Waterbirds, 10, 167177.
Declerck, S., De Bie, T., Ercken, D., Hampel, H., Schrijvers, S. & Van Wichelen, J. (2006) Ecological characteristics of small farmland ponds: associations with land use practices at multiple spatial scales. Biological Conservation, 131, 523532.
Del Hoyo, J., Elliot, A. & Sargatal, J. (1992) Handbook of the Birds of the World. Vol. 1. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.
Delibes-Mateos, M., Delibes, M., Ferreras, P. & Villafuerte, R. (2008) Key role of European rabbits in the conservation of the Western Mediterranean basin hotspot. Conservation Biology, 22, 11061117.
Domínguez, L., González, J.L., González, L.M., Garzón, J. & Llandres, C. (1985) Datos sobre la alimentación de la cigüeña negra Ciconia nigra en España centro occidental. Alytes, 3, 5156.
Egan, R.S. & Paton, P.W.C. (2004) Within-pond parameters affecting oviposition by wood frogs and spotted salamanders. Wetlands, 24, 113.
Elvira, B. (1995) Conservation status of endemic freshwater fish in Spain. Biological Conservation, 72, 129136.
Fernández-Juricic, E., Jiménez, M.D. & Lucas, E. (2002) Factors affecting intra- and inter-specific variations in the difference between alert and flight distances in forested habitats. Canadian Journal of Zoology, 80, 12121220.
Ferrero, J.J. & Pizarro, V.M. (2003) La cigüeña negra en Extremadura. Junta de Extremadura, Mérida, Spain.
Finn, D.S., Bogan, M.T. & Lytle, D.A. (2009) Demographic stability metrics for conservation prioritization of isolated populations. Conservation Biology, 23, 11851194.
Fleishman, E., Blair, R.B. & Murphy, D.D. (2001) Empirical validation of a method for umbrella species selection. Ecological Applications, 11, 14891501.
Galatowitsch, S.M., Whited, D.C., Lehtinen, R., Husveth, J. & Schik, K. (2000) The vegetation of wet meadows in relation to their land-use. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 60, 121144.
Gallego-Fernández, J.B., García-Mora, M.R. & García-Novo, F. (1999) Small wetlands lost: a biological conservation hazard in Mediterranean landscapes. Environmental Conservation, 26, 190199.
García-Jalón, D. & Schmidt, G. (1995) Manual práctico para la gestión sostenible de la pesca fluvial. AEMS, Madrid, Spain.
Gómez-Rodríguez, C., Díaz-Paniagua, C., Serrano, L., Florencio, M. & Portheault, A. (2009) Mediterranean temporary ponds as amphibian breeding habitats: the importance of preserving pond networks. Aquatic Ecology, 43, 11791191.
González-Gajardo, A., Sepúlveda, P.V. & Schlatter, R. (2009) Waterbird assemblages and habitat characteristics in wetlands: influence of temporal variability on species–habitat relationships. Waterbirds, 32, 225233.
Griffiths, R.A., Sewell, D. & McCrea, R.S. (2010) Dynamics of a declining amphibian metapopulation: survival, dispersal and the impact of climate. Biological Conservation, 143, 485491.
Hampl, R., Bures, S., Baláz, P., Bobek, M. & Pojer, F. (2005) Food provisioning and nestling diet of the black stork in the Czech Republic. Waterbirds, 28, 3540.
Hancock, J.A., Kushlan, J.A. & Kahl, M.P. (1992) Storks, Ibises and Spoonbills of the World. Academic Press, London, UK.
Herrero, J., García-Serrano, A., Couto, S., Ortuño, V.M. & García-González, R. (2006) Diet of wild boar Sus scrofa L. and crop damage in an intensive agroecosystem. European Journal of Wildlife Research, 52, 245250.
Holm, T.E. & Clausen, P. (2006) Effects of water level management on autumn staging waterbird and macrophyte diversity in three Danish coastal lagoons. Biodiversity and Conservation, 15, 43994423.
Jakob, C., Poizat, G., Veith, M., Seitz, A. & Crivelli, A.J. (2003) Breeding phenology and larval distribution of amphibians in a Mediterranean pond network with unpredictable hydrology. Hydrobiologia, 499, 5161.
Jiguet, F. & Villarrubias, S. (2004) Satellite tracking of breeding black storks Ciconia nigra: new incomes for spatial conservation issues. Biological Conservation, 120, 153160.
Kadoya, T., Suda, S. & Washitani, I. (2004) Dragonfly species richness on man-made ponds: effects of pond size and pond age on newly established assemblages. Ecological Research, 19, 461467.
Kahl, M.P. (1971) Spread-wing postures and their possible functions in the Ciconidae. The Auk, 88, 715722.
Keller, M. & Profus, P. (1992) Present situation, reproduction and food of the Black Stork in Poland. In The Storks of Europe. Proceeding of the International Conference, 1991 (eds Meriaux, J.L., Schierer, C., Tombal, C. & Tombal, J.C.), pp. 227236. Institut Européen d'Ecologie, Metz, France.
Knutson, M.G., Richardson, W.B., Reineke, D.M., Gray, B.R., Parmelee, J.R. & Weick, S.E. (2004) Agricultural ponds support amphibian populations. Ecological Applications, 14, 669684.
Lambeck, R.J. (1997) Focal species: a multi-species umbrella for nature conservation. Conservation Biology, 11, 849856.
Larsen, F.W., Bladt, J. & Rahbek, C. (2007) Improving the performance of indicator groups for the identification of important areas for species conservation. Conservation Biology, 21, 731740.
Laurence, W.F. & Useche, D.C. (2009) Environmental synergisms and extinctions of tropical species. Conservation Biology, 23, 14271437.
Lesbarreres, D., Fowler, M.S., Pagano, A. & Lode, T. (2010) Recovery of anuran community diversity following habitat replacement. Journal of Applied Ecology, 45, 148156.
Lôhmus, A. & Sellis, U. (2003) Nest trees: a limiting factor for the black stork population in Estonia. Aves, 40, 8491.
Maheswaran, G. & Rahmani, A.R. (2002) Foraging behaviour and breeding success of the black-necked stork Ephippiorhynchus asiaticus in Dudwa National Park, Uttar Pradesh, India. Journal of Zoology, 258, 189195.
Manly, B.F.J., MacDonald, L.L. & Thomas, D.L. (1993) Resource Selection by Animals. Statistical Design and Analysis for Field Studies. Chapman & Hall, London, UK.
Ministry of the Environment (1999) Strategic Plan for the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Wetlands in Spain. Spanish Ministry of the Environment, Madrid, Spain.
Ministry of Environment, Rural and Marine Affairs (2011) Royal Decree 139/2011, of 4th February, for the development of the […] Spanish Catalogue of Endangered Species. BOE46: 20912–20951.
Moreno-Opo, R., Arredondo, A., Soria, C., Guil, F., Higuero, R. & Guzmán, J. (2009) La cigüeña negra Ciconia nigra en concentraciones postnupciales y migratorias ibéricas: fenología, actividad y estructura de edades. Ecología, 22, 127134.
Newton, I. (1998) Population Limitation in Birds. Academic Press, London, UK.
Oertli, B., Auderset, D., Castella, E., Juge, R., Cambin, D. & Lachavanne, J.B. (2002) Does size matter? The relationship between pond area and biodiversity. Biological Conservation, 104, 5970.
Oertli, B., Biggs, J., Céréghino, R., Grillas, P., Joly, P. & Lachavanne, J.B. (2005) Conservation and monitoring of pond biodiversity: introduction. Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems, 15, 535540.
Oertli, B., Céréghino, R., Hull, A. & Miracle, R. (2009) Pond conservation: from science to practice. Hydrobiologia, 634, 19.
Paiva, V., Ramos, J., Martins, J., Almeida, A. & Carvalho, A. (2007) Foraging habitat selection by little terns Sterna albifrons in an estuarine lagoon system of southern Portugal. Ibis, 150, 1831.
Paracuellos, M., Castro, H., Nevado, J.C., Oña, J.A., Matamala, J.J., García, L. & Salas, G. (2002) Repercussions of the abandonment of Mediterranean saltpans on waterbird communities. Waterbirds, 25, 492498.
Pinto-Cruz, C., Molina, J.A., Barbour, M., Silva, V. & Espírito-Santo, M.D. (2009) Plant communities as a tool in temporary ponds conservation in SW Portugal. Hydrobiologia, 634, 1124.
Putman, R.J. & Moore, N.P. (2002) Impact of deer in lowland Britain on agriculture, forestry and conservation habitats. Mammal Review, 28, 141164.
R Development Core Team (2008) R: A Language and Environment for Statistical Computing, Reference Index Version 2.8.0. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna, Austria.
Rannap, A., Lôhmus, A. & Briggs, L. (2009) Restoring ponds for amphibians: a success story. Hydrobiologia, 634, 8795.
Ritcher, S.C., Crother, B.I. & Broughton, R.E. (2009) Genetic consequences of population reduction and geographic isolation in the critically endangered frog Rana servosa. Copeia, 4, 799806.
Roberge, J.M. & Angelstam, P. (2004) Usefulness of the umbrella species concept as a conservation tool. Conservation Biology, 18, 7685.
Rodríguez-Prieto, I. & Fernández-Juricic, E. (2004) Effects of direct human disturbance on the endemic Iberian frog Rana iberica at individual and population levels. Biological Conservation, 123, 19.
Rosenvald, R. & Lôhmus, A. (2003) Nesting of the black stork Ciconia nigra and white-tailed eagle Haliaeetus albicilla in relation to forest management. Forest Ecology and Management, 185, 217223.
Ruiz, E. (2008) Management of Natura 2000 Habitats. 3170 Mediterranean Temporary Ponds. Technical Report 2008 07/24. European Commission.
Schneider-Jacoby, M. (1999) Breeding distribution and ecology of the black stork Ciconia nigra in Sava alluvial wetlands, Croatia. Acrocephalus, 20, 167176.
Sebastián-González, E., Sánchez-Zapata, J.A. & Botella, F. (2010) Agricultural ponds as alternative habitat for waterbirds: spatial and temporal patterns of abundance and management strategies. European Journal of Wildlife Research, 56, 1120.
Seddon, P.H. & Leech, T. (2008) Conservation short cut, or long and winding road? A critique of umbrella species criteria. Oryx, 42, 240245.
Semlitsch, R.D. (2000) Principles for management of aquatic-breeding amphibians. Journal of Wildlife Management, 64, 615631.
Simberloff, D. (1998) Flagships, umbrellas and keystones: is single-species management passé in the landscape era? Biological Conservation, 83, 247257.
Simôes, J.R., Arruda, C. & Simberloff, D. (2009) Introduction of non-native freshwater fish can certainly be bad. Fish and Fisheries, 10, 98108.
Simon, J.A., Snodgrass, J.W., Cassey, R.E. & Sparling, D.W. (2009) Spatial correlates of amphibian use of constructed wetlands in an urban landscape. Landscape Ecology, 24, 361373.
Suter, W., Graf, R.F. & Hess, R. (2002) Capercaillie Tetrao urogallus and avian biodiversity: testing the umbrella-species concept. Conservation Biology, 16, 778788.
Taft, O.W., Colwell, M.A., Isola, C.R., & Safran, R.J. (2002) Waterbird responses to experimental drawdown: implications for the multispecies management of wetland mosaics. Journal of Applied Ecology, 39, 9871001.
Uchida, Y. & Nioue, M. (2009) Fish species richness in spring-fed ponds: effects of habitat size versus isolation in temporally variable environments. Freshwater Biology, 55, 983994.
Vlachos, C.G., Bakaloudis, D.E., Alexandrou, O.G., Bontzorlos, V.A. & Papakosta, M.A. (2008) Factors affecting the nest site selection of the black stork Ciconia nigra in the Dadia-Lefkimi-Soufli National Park, north-eastern Greece. Folia Zoologica, 57, 251257.
Williams, D., Acevedo, P., Gortázar, C., Escudero, M.A., Labarta, J.L., Marco, J. & Villafuerte, R. (2007) Hunting for answers: rabbit Oryctolagus cuniculus population trends in north eastern Spain. European Journal of Wildlife Research, 53, 1928.
Young, J., Watt, A., Nowicki, P., Alard, D., Clitherow, J. & Henle, K. (2005) Towards sustainable land use: identifying and managing the conflicts between human activities and biodiversity conservation in Europe. Biodiversity and Conservation, 14, 16411671.
Zacharias, I., Dimitriou, E., Dekker, A. & Dorsman, E. (2007) Overview of temporary ponds in the Mediterranean region: threats, management and conservation issues. Journal of Environmental Biology, 28, 19.
Zuberogoitia, I., Martínez, J.E., Martínez, J.A., Zabala, J., Calvo, J.F. & Castillo, I. (2006) Influence of management practices on nest site habitat selection, breeding and diet of the common buzzard Buteo buteo in two different areas of Spain. Ardeola, 53, 8398.


The role of ponds as feeding habitat for an umbrella species: best management practices for the black stork Ciconia nigra in Spain

  • Rubén Moreno-Opo (a1), Mariana Fernández-Olalla (a2), Francisco Guil (a1), Ángel Arredondo (a1), Rafael Higuero (a1), Manuel Martín (a1), Carlos Soria (a1) and José Guzmán (a1)...


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed