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A demographic description of the recovery of the Vulnerable Spanish imperial eagle Aquila adalberti

  • Enric Ortega (a1), Santi Mañosa (a1), Antoni Margalida (a2), Roberto Sánchez (a3), Javier Oria (a4) and Luis Mariano González (a5)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 01 January 2009

The population of the Vulnerable Spanish imperial eagle Aquila adalberti has experienced a gradual recovery from 38 pairs (1974) to 198 (2004). We analysed the spatial and temporal variation of the demographic parameters for 1981–2004. Annual productivity was 1.19–1.32 chicks per female and adult survival rate 0.918–0.986. Survival during the post-fledging period was 0.894 and the annual survival rate of the dispersing individuals was 0.561. Three phases of population evolution were distinguished: growth (1981–1993), stability or slight decrease (1994–1999) and growth (2000–2004). Variation in adult survival seems to explain this pattern for the first two periods. However, a large disparity between the observed growth rate and the modelled population growth in 2000–2004 is best explained if we assume that a decrease in the age of recruitment took place. This is supported by the recent increase in the frequency of non-adult birds in breeding pairs. The survival of unpaired eagles in dispersal areas is becoming more important for the maintenance of current population growth. Spatial variation of adult survival and breeding success is not congruent with the observed growth rate of the population, which suggests the existence of an important flow of individuals between populations. These results highlight the importance of addressing the conservation of the species from a global perspective and the need to focus on adult survival in breeding territories and on non-adult survival in dispersal areas.

Corresponding author
*Bearded Vulture Study & Protection Group, Apdo. 43, E-25520 El Pont de Suert, Lleida, Spain. E-mail
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