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The role of ponds as feeding habitat for an umbrella species: best management practices for the black stork Ciconia nigra in Spain

Rubén Moreno-Opoa1 c1, Mariana Fernández-Olallaa2, Francisco Guila1, Ángel Arredondoa1, Rafael Higueroa1, Manuel Martína1, Carlos Soriaa1 and José Guzmána1

a1 Fundación CBD-Habitat, Gustavo Fernández Balbuena, 2 E-28002, Madrid, Spain.

a2 Escuela Técnica Superior de Ingenieros de Montes, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, Madrid, Spain

Abstract

To establish recommendations for wetland management that promote wildlife diversity in Mediterranean habitats we examined the factors that determine feeding habitat selection by the black stork Ciconia nigra in ponds. The black stork is considered an umbrella species because it is threatened, requires large foraging ranges in priority areas, is selective in its choice of diet and nesting sites, and inhabits a characteristic biological community with endemic and threatened taxa. Eighty-five ponds were monitored in central and western Spain to detect the stork feeding. At the same time, pond variables that could affect black stork feeding preferences were periodically evaluated. Generalized linear mixed models were used to analyse principal components obtained from groups of factors related to structural, location and ecological conditions. The black stork selects ponds distant from roads, with a large surface area, high water level, shallow shores, low turbidity, few traces of wild ungulates on the shores, a high diversity of fish and amphibian species, and a vegetated perimeter, in flat and open areas. Potential factors affecting feeding behaviour are discussed. We suggest measures for pond construction and management that could favour this species in particular and biodiversity in general in the Mediterranean environment.

(Received December 02 2009)

(Reviewed April 22 2010)

(Accepted August 19 2010)

(Online publication August 02 2011)

Correspondence:

c1 Fundación CBD-Habitat, Gustavo Fernández Balbuena, 2 E-28002, Madrid, Spain. E-mail ruben.moreno-opo@cbd-habitat.com

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