Donázar, J.A., Cortés-Avizanda, A., Ceballos, O., Arrondo, E., Grande, J.M., Serrano, D. 2020. Epizootics and sanitary regulations drive long-term changes in fledgling body condition of a threatened vulture. Ecological Indicators, vol. 113. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecolind.2020.106188
Abstract: Epizootics and deliberate changes in policies affecting the environment
may affect large groups of species and the functioning of entire
ecosystems. Although these effects often overlap in time, their
simultaneous effect is rarely examined despite their importance as
causes of current biodiversity loss. Here, based on the monitoring of an
Egyptian vulture (Neophron percnopterus) population over
thirty-three years (1986–2018), we increase our knowledge about the
effects of anthropogenic-induced changes in food availability, both
direct (sanitary policies limiting livestock carcass disposal) and
indirect (a wild rabbit epizootic), on brood size and body condition of
fledglings at nests. We compared the body mass of fledglings of broods
with one chick (Single) and two chicks (within which we distinguished First and Second-hatched). The mass of Second-hatched
chicks decreased after the plummet in rabbit populations (in the year
1990) and the regulations limiting carcass disposal (2005), reaching
minimum values during the period with lowest food availability (i.e.
2005–2013). Recent sanitary legislation allowing carcass disposal by
farmers coincides with a slight recovery in the observed body masses.
Overall, this study shows that environmental changes of disparate origin
can have synergistic effects on individual condition. Conservation of
endangered vultures will require multi-targeted conservation plans aimed
at ensuring nutritional requirements, in addition to detailed long-term
monitoring, in order to detect obscure/masked drivers that affect body
condition of fledglings.
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