Conservation Biology Group

Threats and solutions

New project of the Conservation Biology Group for the conservation of the Bonelli’s Eagle

On the 2014 the Swiss MAVA Foundation granted the Conservation Biology Group of the University of Barcelona and the Barcelona Provincial Council a project aimed to establish the conservation targets to ensure the viability of the Bonelli’s Eagle population in Catalonia. Thus, this project promotes the creation of synergies between all parts of the society involved in the conservation of this species to guarantee the long-term sustainability of the conservation measures.

One of the main assets of this project is the joint work of researchers and managers, so scientific knowledge about the species and the implementation of the conservation actions in the field are combined. One of the results of the project will be the generation of guidelines for the management of the relevant issues related to the conservation of Bonelli’s Eagle populations, as well as various time scales (short-term and long-term scales) and spatial scales (Bonelli’s Eagle territories, Natural Parks, municipalities, regions, etc.). 

During this first year, tasks were focused on estimating the key demographic parameters to understand the population dynamics and to perform a Population Viability Analysis (PVA) of the population of this emblematic species in Catalonia. To do so, the long-term monitoring of the Bonelli’s Eagle population in Catalonia carried out by the Conservation Biology Group since the 80s, including the marking of chicks since 2008, was continued. In this way, more than 250 chicks have already been marked and during these years we have obtained information of about the 30% of the marked individuals. This high amount of marked individuals resightings has allowed to obtain a first estimate of the pre-adult survival rate for the Bonelli's Eagle in Catalonia. Juvenile Bonelli’s Eagle dispersal patterns were also determined with more precision that were previously known, corroborating a noticeable exchange of individuals with neighbouring populations. The PVA has revealed that the Catalan population of Bonelli's Eagle is not currently self-sustaining, so that the slight recovery in the number of pairs observed in recent years (73 breeding pairs) seems to be caused by a net inflow of individuals from nearby Iberian populations. This knowledge is essential to optimize conservation measures that will have a greater positive impact on the population.
The Swiss MAVA Foundation is one of Europe’s main environmental foundations and a major donor to global conservation. Its aim is to promote the protection and sustainable management of nature, biodiversity and natural resources.

The slight recovery in the number of pairs observed in recent years seems to be caused by a net inflow of individuals from nearby Iberian populations Photo: Àlex Ollé.

During 2015 it is expected an intense collaboration between the different parts involved in the conservation of the species to develop the bulk of the protocols and conservation guidelines. These documents will have to facilitate the future implementation of conservation measures aimed at improving the conservation status of the Bonelli's Eagle in Catalonia and other areas where this species is threatened.