Long-term decline despite conservation efforts questions Eurasian Stone-curlew population viability in intensive farmlands

Abstract : Agricultural intensification over the past decades has led to a generalized decline in farmland biodiversity. Farmland birds are particularly exposed to rapid changes in habitat and reduced food resources or availability. Understanding how farmland specialists can be preserved and their populations enhanced are major challenges for this century. Based on a long-term (19-year) study of a Eurasian Stone-curlew Burhinus oedicnemus population , we estimated the demographic parameters, including clutch size, egg volume, hatching success, survival rate and apparent population size. Demographic rates found for this French population were, on average, comparable to those found elsewhere in Europe. However, all demographic parameters showed negative trends, including a dramatic decline in the local population (26% decline over 14 years) and a 10% decline in adult survival rate over 11 years. Such a long-term decline, despite ongoing conservation efforts, calls into question the overall sustainability of arable Stone-curlew populations. We infer some of the possible causes of this decline, in particular food shortage, and discuss how this pattern could be reversed through conservation measures applicable at very large spatial scales.
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Elie Gaget, Rémi Fay, Steve Augiron, Alexandre Villers, Vincent Bretagnolle. Long-term decline despite conservation efforts questions Eurasian Stone-curlew population viability in intensive farmlands. Ibis, Wiley, 2018, 161 (2), pp.359-371. ⟨10.1111/ibi.12646⟩. ⟨hal-02013687⟩

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