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Factors influencing territorial occupancy and reproductive output in the Booted Eagle Hieraaetus pennatus

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During a 7-year research project in a forested area of southeastern Spain, we studied territorial occupancy and reproductive success in a Booted Eagle Hieraaetus pennatus population. We monitored 65 territories, gathering information on 406 occupancy events and 229 breeding attempts, including those of two potential competitors, the Northern Goshawk Accipiter gentilis and the Common Buzzard Buteo buteo. Generalized linear mixed models were used to explain occupancy and productivity, by evaluating the relative contribution of three different types of variables (habitat, competition and past events) and considering territory as a random effect. We examined a set of a priori hypothesized models, together with a number of additional models, and selected the best models following an information-theoretic approach. Our best models related territorial occupancy and productivity to previous breeding success (the fledging of one or two young), which appeared to be the most important factor determining the probability of reoccupation and the reproductive output in the subsequent year. The best occupation model revealed that the probabilities of occupancy were also conditioned by a competition variable (intraspecific nearest-neighbour distance) and two habitat variables (the location of the nest on the valley slope and the distance to the nearest forest track). Unlike the best occupation model, however, the selected model for reproductive output did not incorporate any competition variable besides previous breeding success, but included another two habitat variables (the effects of trunk height and NNE orientation).
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2006-10-01

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