Behavioral evidence of hunting and foraging techniques by a top predator suggests the importance of scavenging for preadults

Margalida, Antoni; Colomer, M. Àngels; Sánchez, Roberto; Sánchez, Francisco Javier; Oria, Javier; González, Luis Mariano (2017). Behavioral evidence of hunting and foraging techniques by a top predator suggests the importance of scavenging for preadults. Ecology and evolution, 7(12), pp. 4192-4199. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 10.1002/ece3.2944

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Scavenging may be a regular feeding behavior for some facultative raptor species occupying low quality habitats and/or with little experience in hunting techniques. However, its importance has been largely underestimated due to methodological limitations in identifying the real proportion in the diet. Here, through direct observations, we assessed the hunting and foraging success of the threatened Spanish imperial eagle Aquila adalberti determining the influence of age, sex, breeding status, habitat quality, prey type, and landscape characteristics. From 465 observations, Spanish imperial eagles used hunting in flight (42%), scavenging (30%), hunting from a perch (16%) and kleptoparasitism (12%). Our model suggests that Prey size and Prey type best explain hunting success, followed by Landscape and Sex. Our findings suggest that Spanish imperial eagles increase hunting success with age, with scavenging and kleptoparasitism regularly used as juveniles. The absence of relationships with any of the variables considered suggests that kleptoparasitism is an opportunistic behavior used sporadically. Scavenging is also independent of habitat quality and landscape characteristics. Accordingly, low prey density is not a driver of carrion use for preadult individuals, suggesting that a lack of hunting ability obliges this age-class to use this alternative feeding technique regularly. As a result, the threatened Spanish imperial eagle population is also prone to mortality related to the illegal use of poison baits and, potentially, veterinary drugs (i.e., diclofenac).

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Ecology and Evolution (IEE)
08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Ecology and Evolution (IEE) > Conservation Biology

UniBE Contributor:

Margalida, Antoni

Subjects:

500 Science > 570 Life sciences; biology
500 Science > 590 Animals (Zoology)

ISSN:

2045-7758

Publisher:

John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Language:

English

Submitter:

Olivier Roth

Date Deposited:

18 Apr 2018 09:03

Last Modified:

27 Oct 2019 15:56

Publisher DOI:

10.1002/ece3.2944

BORIS DOI:

10.7892/boris.110739

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/110739

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