Movements and landscape use of Eastern Imperial Eagles Aquila heliaca in Central Asia

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Capsule: We describe ecological factors associated with movements of a globally declining raptor species, the Eastern Imperial Eagle Aquila heliaca. Aims: To describe the movements, habitat associations and resource selection of Eastern Imperial Eagles marked in Central Asia. Methods: We used global positioning system (GPS) data sent via satellite telemetry devices deployed on Eastern Imperial Eagles captured in Kazakhstan to calculate distances travelled and to associate habitat and weather variables with eagle locations collected throughout the annual cycle. We also used resource selection models to evaluate habitat use of tracked birds during autumn migration. Separately, we used wing-tagging recovery data to broaden our understanding of wintering locations of eagles. Results: Eagles tagged in Kazakhstan wintered in most countries on the Arabian Peninsula, as well as Iran and India. The adult eagle we tracked travelled more efficiently than did the four pre-adults. During autumn migration, telemetered eagles used a mixture of vegetation types, but during winter and summer, they primarily used bare and sparsely vegetated areas. Finally, telemetered birds used orographic updrafts to subsidize their autumn migration flight, but they relied on thermal updrafts during spring migration. Conclusion: Our study is the first to use GPS telemetry to describe year-round movements and habitat associations of Eastern Imperial Eagles in Central Asia. Our findings provide insight into the ecology of this vulnerable raptor species that can contribute to conservation efforts on its behalf.




Poessel, S. A., Bragin, E. A., Sharpe, P. B., Garcelon, D. K., Bartoszuk, K., & Katzner, T. E. (2018). Movements and landscape use of Eastern Imperial Eagles Aquila heliaca in Central Asia. Bird Study, 65(2), 208–218.

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