Monitoring of Spanish Imperial Eagle (Aquila adalberti)

Monitoring of Spanish Imperial Eagle (Aquila adalberti) populations in Doñana, Cádiz y Sierra Morena

Spanish Imperial Eagle is one of four most endangered species of raptors in the world and the rarest eagle in Europe. The species suffered a dramatic reduction of its population due to human persecution during the first half of the XX century. The situation of its population was really alarming in the 70s because of the introduction of myxomatosis, that causes the decrease of rabbits, the main prey of this species, and the emergence of a new death cause: electrocution on distribution power lines (15-45 kv). By 1970, it had disappeared from Portugal and Morocco and its distribution was limited to the southwestern quadrant of Spain. Spanish Imperial Eagle populations were small size, fragmented and medium-low exchange ratio; which makes them unstable and susceptible to extinction.

In order to strengthen the Doñana population and to create a stable population in Cádiz, that would facilitate the exchange between the different subpopulations, a Reintroduction Project by hacking started in 2002. The Applied Ecology group of Doñana Biological Station (CSIC) was the scientific supervisor of the Project and currently we continue working in the Spanish Imperial Eagle monitoring.

The use of satellite GSM/GPS and GPS datalogger transmitters is increasingly common and it helps us to locate both new settlements in the Iberian Peninsula and Morocco and threats associated with them (power lines with dangerous pylons, poisoning, shooting, troubles in the breeding season, habitat alteration). Although the species has a positive population trend in recent years, its situation and conservation stage is still worrying. The new population in Cádiz has 4 breeding pairs, but it is necessary to continue with the Reintroduction Project until the population stabilization. Our group is taking over these tasks in collaboration with the Environmental Administration of Andalusia and Migres Foundation.

Nowadays, we are working in the development of the Spanish Imperial Eagle Virtual Laboratoty, conceived as a collaborative space for research that will improve the Scientific-Technical Infrastructures of Doñana Biological Reserve (ICTS-EBD).

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