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Size and spatio-temporal variations of the Andean condor Vultur gryphus population in north-west Patagonia, Argentina: communal roosts and conservation

Sergio A. Lambertuccia1 c1

a1 Laboratorio Ecotono, Centro Regional Universitario Bariloche, Universidad Nacional del Comahue, INIBIOMA-CONICET, Quintral 1250, Bariloche, Argentina

Abstract

Estimations of the population sizes of threatened species are fundamental for conservation. The current estimate of the population of the Andean condor Vultur gryphus is based on limited local counts. Simultaneous censuses of 10 condor communal roosts were therefore conducted during 2006–2008 in north-west Patagonia, Argentina, to obtain a minimum population number, to estimate the size of the local population, and to describe use of the roosts by season and age classes. I fitted the data to two asymptotic models to calculate the population of condors as a function of the number of communal roosts surveyed. In an area of c. 6,300 km2 I obtained a minimum population size of 246 individuals by direct observation, and a population estimate of 296 condors (range 260–332) by applying the models. This population, the largest known of this species, comprises 68.5% adults and 31.5% immatures. Condors had large aggregations in some communal roosts and used the area seasonally, increasing in numbers from autumn to spring and decreasing in summer. Long-term monitoring of communal roosts across the Andean condor’s range is essential for the monitoring of this rare and vulnerable species.

(Received January 15 2009)

(Reviewed April 20 2009)

(Accepted May 28 2009)

Correspondence:

c1 Laboratorio Ecotono, Centro Regional Universitario Bariloche, Universidad Nacional del Comahue, INIBIOMA-CONICET, Quintral 1250, Bariloche, Argentina. E-mail slambertucci@crub.uncoma.edu.ar

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