Juan Traba Díaz, tenured professor at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid
Manuel Borja Morales Prieto; Juan José Oñate Rubalcaba; César A. López Santiago; Vicente Garza Villegas; Eladio Luis García de la Morena; Julia Gómez Catasús, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid.
Universidad Autónoma de Madrid
The Dupont’s lark (‘Chersophilus duponti’) is one of Spain and Europe’s most threatened birds. Its European populations are confined to continental Spain while their size is reckoned at between 1,300 and 2,800 pairs. Population trends have been starkly declining in recent years. Classified as a species “at risk of extinction” in the Spanish Red List of Birds, it figures in Annex I of the Birds Directive, and is considered a priority species by the Ornis Committee.
The project’s mission is twofold. Firstly, to learn more about the importance of food availability and vegetation structure in the generation of quality habitats and its dependence on extensive grazing, through traditional grazing and the use of remote sensing (drones). Secondly, to get local communities involved in the conservation of the Dupont’s lark by means of public participation. Active conservation of the species could also open up new rural development opportunities, monetizing the activity of livestock farmers and shepherds.
Specific goals are:
1.- A study of habitat quality (availability of food and vegetation structure) in contrasting scenarios of lark density and presence of livestock, and the monetizing of grazing as a habitat management tool.
2.- Assessment of the Dupont’s lark habitat quality on a major scale, using remotely piloted aerial systems (drones).
3.- Involvement of the local community in conservation strategies by means of public participation processes. The anticipated duration of the project is 3 years (36 months), given the need to cover two full annual grazing cycles, and to conduct the subsequent field assessment of its effects on habitat quality and bird communities.