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Influence of climate on Bonelli's eagle's (Hieraaetus fasciatus V. 1822) breeding success through the Western Mediterranean

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Abstract Aim 

To assess the impact of certain climatic variables on the breeding success of some populations of Bonelli's eagle (Hieraaetus fasciatus V. 1822) throughout its latitudinal distribution range, in order to account for recent and differential declines in populations. Location 

Western Mediterranean, from southern Morocco to southern France. Methods 

Seven populations were considered for the latitudinal distribution range of the species. Data from 1052 breeding attempts were taken from the literature and, for each population, breeding success was measured as the mean number of fledglings per pair per year. Breeding success, as a dependent variable, was related to five geographical and climatic variables (latitude, mean annual temperature, mean minimum temperature of the coldest month, mean maximum temperature of the hottest month and mean annual precipitation) as independent variables, through some regression models, which take into account the multicolinearity of the variables. Results 

All the analyses agreed that average annual temperature was an important factor associated with the breeding success of the species in each region, and accounted for up to 97% of the variance of the breeding success throughout a latitudinal gradient in the study area. Main conclusions 

The low breeding success of the northern populations (probably because of climatic constraints) and the tendency of juveniles to disperse southwards, diminishes recruitment in those populations. Therefore, as human pressure and habitat destruction causes high adult and pre-adult mortality of the species throughout its entire latitudinal range, disturbances in the northern populations have more profound effects, thereby explaining observed population declines.
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Keywords: Bonelli's eagle; Western Palearctic; breeding success; climate

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Departamento de Biología Animal y Ecología, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad de Granada, E-18071 Granada, Spain

Publication date: May 1, 2003

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