Spatial variation in prey composition and its possible effect on reproductive success in an expanding eastern imperial eagle (aquila heliaca) population

  • Horváth M
  • Szitta T
  • Firmánszky G
 et al. 
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Abstract

Reproductive success of raptor species is significantly affected by the
quantity and/or quality of available prey. In our study we analysed prey
composition of breeding imperial eagles (Aquila heliaca) in East
Hungary, where 434 nesting events in 81 different territories had been
monitored between 1995 and 2004. We identified 1297 prey items
originating from 43 bird and 16 mammalian species (532 and 764
specimens, respectively). Three prey species, the brown hare (Lepus
europaeus), the hamster (Cricetus cricetus) and the pheasant (Phasianus
colchicus), seem to have especially important role in the diet of
imperial eagles in Hungary, although their relative frequencies varied
greatly among different regions. We found that eagles were less
productive in a region where hamster was the main prey (West Zemplen
Mts) as compared to a recently colonized hare-dominated region (Heves
Plain), suggesting that hares may provide a better food source than
hamsters. The increase of game species in the diet of imperial eagles
could generate hostility in hunters. Possible conflict between nature
conservation and small-game management may be resolved by raising public
awareness and by common projects to improve hare and pheasant habitats.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Breeding success
  • Cricetus cricetus
  • Hungary
  • Lepus europaeus
  • Phasianus colchicus
  • Raptor

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  • ISBN: 1217-8837
  • ISSN: 12178837
  • SCOPUS: 2-s2.0-77954741255
  • PUI: 359204156
  • SGR: 77954741255

Authors

  • M. Horváth

  • T. Szitta

  • G. Firmánszky

  • B. Solti

  • A. Kovács

  • C. Moskát

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