Vulture Ecology and Conservation

A special issue of Animals (ISSN 2076-2615). This special issue belongs to the section "Ecology and Conservation".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 23 August 2024 | Viewed by 10568

Image courtesy of Pilar Oliva-Vidal

Special Issue Editor


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Guest Editor
1. Institute for Game and Wildlife Research, IREC (CSIC-UCLM-JCCM), Ciudad Real, Spain
2. Pyrenean Institute of Ecology (CSIC), Avda. Nuestra Señora de la Victoria, 12., 22700 Jaca, Spain
3. Division of Conservation Biology, Institute of Ecology and Evolution, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland
Interests: wildlife conservation; scavengers; vultures; habitat loss; anthropogenic threat; human-wildlife conflicts; ecosystem services; ecological modelling

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Vultures provide important ecosystem services. However, many species of vulture are threatened and are unfortunately declining worldwide, mainly because of anthropogenic factors. Their future depends on the development of wide-ranging collaborations and innovative conservation actions integrating economic, political, cultural and social realities. The aim of this Special Issue is to publish original research papers or reviews concerning vulture behavioral ecology, conservation biology, ecotoxicology, etc., to advance our knowledge and tools for managers and policymakers, allowing us to harmonize and improve conservation and management actions with human development and wellbeing.

Dr. Antoni Margalida
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • ecology
  • conservation
  • human–wildlife conflicts
  • ecosystem services
  • ecological modeling

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Research

9 pages, 1912 KiB  
Article
Survival Estimation Using Multistate Cormack–Jolly–Seber Models—The Case of the Bearded Vulture Gypaetus barbatus in Spain
by Inmaculada Navarro, Miguel Ángel Farfán, Juan Antonio Gil and Antonio Román Muñoz
Animals 2024, 14(3), 403; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani14030403 - 26 Jan 2024
Viewed by 1062
Abstract
The bearded vulture (Gypaetus barbatus) is an endangered species with a specialist osteophagous (bone) diet. We estimated the survival and productivity of this vulture in the Aragonese Pyrenees, where the main population of the species in Europe is found. We used [...] Read more.
The bearded vulture (Gypaetus barbatus) is an endangered species with a specialist osteophagous (bone) diet. We estimated the survival and productivity of this vulture in the Aragonese Pyrenees, where the main population of the species in Europe is found. We used a database covering a period of 33 years (1987–2020). To estimate the probability of survival, we used Cormack–Jolly–Seber models with a Bayesian approach. Our models estimated a survival rate of 0.90 ± 0.08 in juveniles, 0.95 ± 0.04 in subadults and 0.92 ± 0.05 in adults. The survival probability increased over the study period in adults and subadults but not in juveniles. By contrast, productivity decreased over the same period. Our study provides updated information on the status of two demographic parameters of great importance to the species and allows us to identify the most vulnerable age classes and to plan conservation actions to improve the situation of the species in a territory that is a donor of specimens for reintroduction projects. The estimated survival values suggest that more caution should be exercised when planning these feeding points according to the use the species makes of them. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Vulture Ecology and Conservation)
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20 pages, 2989 KiB  
Article
Age-Specific Demographic Response of a Long-Lived Scavenger Species to Reduction of Organic Matter in a Landfill
by Diego J. Arévalo-Ayala, Joan Real, Santi Mañosa, Joan Aymerich, Carles Durà and Antonio Hernández-Matías
Animals 2023, 13(22), 3529; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani13223529 - 15 Nov 2023
Viewed by 943
Abstract
Food availability shapes demographic parameters and population dynamics. Certain species have adapted to predictable anthropogenic food resources like landfills. However, abrupt shifts in food availability can negatively impact such populations. While changes in survival are expected, the age-related effects remain poorly understood, particularly [...] Read more.
Food availability shapes demographic parameters and population dynamics. Certain species have adapted to predictable anthropogenic food resources like landfills. However, abrupt shifts in food availability can negatively impact such populations. While changes in survival are expected, the age-related effects remain poorly understood, particularly in long-lived scavenger species. We investigated the age-specific demographic response of a Griffon vulture (Gyps fulvus) population to a reduction in organic matter in a landfill and analyzed apparent survival and the probability of transience after initial capture using a Bayesian Cormack-Jolly-Seber model on data from 2012–2022. The proportion of transients among newly captured immatures and adults increased after the reduction in food. Juvenile apparent survival declined, increased in immature residents, and decreased in adult residents. These results suggest that there was a greater likelihood of permanent emigration due to intensified intraspecific competition following the reduction in food. Interestingly, resident immatures showed the opposite trend, suggesting the persistence of high-quality individuals despite the food scarcity. Although the reasons behind the reduced apparent survival of resident adults in the final four years of the study remain unclear, non-natural mortality potentially plays a part. In Europe landfill closure regulations are being implemented and pose a threat to avian scavenger populations, which underlines the need for research on food scarcity scenarios and proper conservation measures. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Vulture Ecology and Conservation)
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20 pages, 2395 KiB  
Article
Key Factors behind the Dynamic Stability of Pairs of Egyptian Vultures in Continental Spain
by Catuxa Cerecedo-Iglesias, Joan Lluís Pretus, Antonio Hernández-Matías, Ainara Cortés-Avizanda and Joan Real
Animals 2023, 13(17), 2775; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani13172775 - 31 Aug 2023
Viewed by 1179
Abstract
Conservation science aims to identify the factors influencing the distribution of threatened species, thereby permitting the implementation of effective management strategies. This is key for long-lived species that require long-term monitoring such as the worldwide endangered Egyptian vulture (Neophron percnopterus). We [...] Read more.
Conservation science aims to identify the factors influencing the distribution of threatened species, thereby permitting the implementation of effective management strategies. This is key for long-lived species that require long-term monitoring such as the worldwide endangered Egyptian vulture (Neophron percnopterus). We studied temporal and spatial variations in the distribution of breeding pairs and examined the intrinsic and anthropic factors that may be influencing the abundance of breeding territories in continental Spain. Based on the census data of breeding pairs from 2000, 2008, and 2018, we used Rank Occupancy–Abundance Profiles to assess the temporal stability of the population and identified the spatial heterogeneity through a Local Index of Spatial Autocorrelation analysis. The GLMs showed that the abundance distribution was mainly influenced by the abundance of griffon vultures (Gyps fulvus) and cattle at a regional scale. Nonparametric comparisons showed that the presence of wind farms had a significant negative effect on local breeding pairs abundance, but that supplementary feeding stations and food resource-related variables had a positive impact. In light of these findings, we recommend a hierarchical approach in future conservation programs involving actions promoting regional-scale food resource availability and highlight the need to address the negative impact of wind farms at local levels. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Vulture Ecology and Conservation)
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7 pages, 16005 KiB  
Communication
New Insights into the Cosmetic Behaviour of Bearded Vultures: Ferruginous Springs Are Shared Sequentially
by Antoni Margalida, Ivan Almirall and Juan J. Negro
Animals 2023, 13(15), 2409; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani13152409 - 26 Jul 2023
Viewed by 1775
Abstract
Different hypotheses have been proposed to explain the function of cosmetic behaviour of bearded vultures, being the signalling individual dominance status the most accepted. However, no advances have been made in understanding this mysterious behaviour, in part due to the secrecy of this [...] Read more.
Different hypotheses have been proposed to explain the function of cosmetic behaviour of bearded vultures, being the signalling individual dominance status the most accepted. However, no advances have been made in understanding this mysterious behaviour, in part due to the secrecy of this species. With the help of camera traps and GPS devices we monitored the use of a ferruginous spring in the Pyrenees (Spain) providing new insights into this aspect of their behavioural ecology. Most of the visits (93.5%) involved a single bearded vulture and bathing behaviour only occurred when a single individual was present, confirming their secretive behaviour. A total of 50% of individuals that visited the site were non-adults, suggesting that cosmetic coloration functions as an attenuating signal that may also benefit subordinate individuals. Future studies with the help of new technologies could help to disentangle some questions about the real function of cosmetic coloration and their social relevance. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Vulture Ecology and Conservation)
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15 pages, 2173 KiB  
Article
The Influence of Age, Sex and Season on Andean Condor Ranging Behavior during the Immature Stage
by Jorgelina María Guido, Nicolás Rodolfo Cecchetto, Pablo Ignacio Plaza, José Antonio Donázar and Sergio Agustín Lambertucci
Animals 2023, 13(7), 1234; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani13071234 - 2 Apr 2023
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2517
Abstract
Immature individuals move from their natal area to the area where they settle and reproduce, and this may take several years. This process is essential for long-lived species such as vultures and condors, which spend long periods as immature and move extensively. We [...] Read more.
Immature individuals move from their natal area to the area where they settle and reproduce, and this may take several years. This process is essential for long-lived species such as vultures and condors, which spend long periods as immature and move extensively. We studied the movement behavior of 26 GPS-tagged immature Andean condors (Vultur gryphus) from northwestern Patagonia throughout the immature stage, analyzing whether these patterns differed according to age, sex and season. We found that season and age influenced home range size and flight distances, the warm season being when immature condors move most; movement patterns were greater in sub-adults than in juveniles. The age effect was associated with the sex of individuals, with males increasing their home range more than females. Our results provide the first description of how immature Andean condor movement patterns are affected by internal and external factors. This information could be key to understanding condor responses to environmental change and threats at different stages during their immature phase. Until now, condor conservation efforts have not considered the areas used by dispersing individuals. Our results increase our understanding of ranging behavior during the immature stage of this threatened bird, enabling us to improve the conservation policies and management strategies designed to protect them. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Vulture Ecology and Conservation)
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8 pages, 594 KiB  
Communication
Towards a Genetic Linkage Map of the California Condor, an Endangered New World Vulture Species
by Michael N. Romanov, Yang Da, Leona G. Chemnick, Steven M. Thomas, Sugandha S. Dandekar, Jeanette C. Papp and Oliver A. Ryder
Animals 2022, 12(23), 3266; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani12233266 - 24 Nov 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1346
Abstract
The development of a linkage map is an important component for promoting genetic and genomic studies in California condors, an endangered New World vulture species. Using a set of designed anonymous microsatellite markers, we genotyped a reference condor population involving 121 individuals. After [...] Read more.
The development of a linkage map is an important component for promoting genetic and genomic studies in California condors, an endangered New World vulture species. Using a set of designed anonymous microsatellite markers, we genotyped a reference condor population involving 121 individuals. After marker validation and genotype filtering, the genetic linkage analysis was performed using 123 microsatellite loci. This resulted in the identification of 15 linkage groups/subgroups that formed a first-generation condor genetic map, while no markers linked to a lethal chondrodystrophy mutation were found. A panel of polymorphic markers that is instrumental in molecular parentage diagnostics and other genetic studies in the California condor was selected. Further condor conservation genomics research will be focused on updating the linkage map and integrating it with cytogenetic and BAC-based physical maps and ultimately with the genome sequence assembly. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Vulture Ecology and Conservation)
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Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.

Title: Evaluating Global Human Perception Towards Vultures: A Framework to Guide Conservation Actions
Authors: Ainara Cortés-Avizanda
Affiliation: Department of Plant Biology and Ecology, Faculty of Biology, University of Seville, 10 Avenida Reina Mercedes 6, 41012 Seville, Spain
Abstract: Preserving endangered species in the Anthropocene is a major challenge, but consideration of human perception of wildlife can provide valuable insights to help achieve successful conservation policy decisions. Recent studies of human perception of wildlife are limited in that they focus on a single species or were conducted in specific areas. Here, we provide a global investigation of human perception of vultures, one of the most threatened groups of birds worldwide and key providers of ecosystem services. By scoring the positive or negative sentiment of internet text, we examined global human perception of the 23 extant vulture species. We found that perception is more negative for regions with higher GDP, more humanized landscapes, and greater development score, whereas perception is more positive in regions with active conservation measures. This research represents a novel contribution to the protection of vultures, revealing factors influencing global perceptions, guiding the development of future conservation management decisions, and promoting coexistence between stakeholders and biodiversity.

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