Multiscale analysis of habitat selection by Bonelli’s eagle (Aquila fasciata) in NE Spain

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The habitat selection of 14 individual breeding Bonelli’s eagles equipped with satellite tracking devices was evaluated using a multiscale approach during different periods of the annual cycle over 8 years. We studied whether habitat structure and prey availability influence habitat use through the use of vegetation templates and censuses of potential prey. The results showed heterogeneous selection of wooded, rocky, and scrub areas alternating with agricultural areas at a regional scale. At the home range scale, forests and scrubland were mainly selected over the entire year, except during the breeding season, when, surprisingly, humanized areas were selected. Although Bonelli’s eagle is considered a forest raptor, during the breeding season they select other types of habitat (i.e., urban areas and dense scrub). This may be related to the high prey availability (especially pigeons) in these areas. Because habitat selection differs at different scales, understanding the effects of this plasticity may be necessary to establish protected areas including urban areas and implement habitat management actions.
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