Integrating behaviour in the conservation management of Montagu´s harriers

Le 24 Novembre 2017
11h30 Grande Salle CEFE (1919 Rte de Mende, 1e étage, aille C)

Beatriz ARROYO
Instituto de Investigación en Recursos Cinegéticos, Ciudad-Real, Espagne

(Seminar in English)


The connections between behavioural sciences and conservation have been emphasized in recent years. Behavioural studies can play a part in solving conservation problems, and conservation actions may also lead to behavioural responses to anthropogenic disturbance arising from management. The Montagu´s harrier (Circus pygargus) is a semi-colonial ground-nesting raptor that nests mainly within crops in western Europe. Conservation efforts to protect nests and nestlings at harvest time have been carried out for decades in different European countries, sometimes at high human or economic costs. I review studies assessing the putative causal factors promoting nest clumping in this species, and how semi-colonialism influences cost-efficiency of different conservation actions. Knowledge of factors influencing the degree of coloniality in given areas, and the relationship between individual quality and social behaviour, may thus help with decision-making for management programs. Finally, recent research indicates that repeated exposure of harriers to humans selects for aggressive individuals. Therefore, “invasive” conservation management (visiting nests and manipulating nestlings to protect at harvest time) may in turn affect their social behaviour and spatial patterns. These data highlight the role animal behaviour plays in conservation practice, and I discuss the advantages of integrating data from both disciplines for developing practical and efficient conservation solutions.


Recent publications:

Arroyo B, Mougeot F & Bretagnolle V. (2017) Individual variation in behavioural responsiveness to humans leads to differences in breeding success and long-term population phenotypic changes. Ecology letters 20: 317-325.

Cardador, L., Brotons, Ll., Mougeot, F., Giralt, D., Bota, G., Pomarol, M. & Arroyo, B. (2015) Conservation traps and long-term species persistence in human-dominated systems. Conservation Letters 8: 456-462.

Santangeli, A., Di Minin, E. & Arroyo, B. (2014) Bridging the research implementation gap – Identifying cost-effective protection measures for Montagu’s harrier nests in Spanish farmlands. Biological Conservation 177: 126-133



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