Stochastic computer simulations are used to evaluate the sensitivity of Little bustard population parameters, estimating the survival probabilities of the seven endangered Little bustard populations of central-western France for which conservation actions are currentlybeing or have been implemented. Different scenarios of parameter compensation for those nuclei to establish parameter levels assuring population viability are discussed. Adult survival, productivity per female, initial population size and carrying capacity were the most sensitive parameters in a hypothetical, isolated population. Juvenile survival also affected population survival, although its sensitivity was lower. Sex ratio did not have a linear effect on population survival, but probability of extinction increased for extreme values. Productivity per female and initial population size, varied strongly among the populations studied, determining their average time of extinction and growth rate. When a metapopulation scenario was simulated, the survival probabilities of each population and the metapopulations stayed close to 1.0 if no mortality was associated to migration. When mortality during migration was included in the simulations, the metapopulation's probability of survival significantly decreased under 90%. This approach may help managers to correctly address conservation measures and design effective strategies, which should be directed mainly to improve productivity, enhance female survival, and minimise mortality during migration (e.g. promoting insect-rich nesting substrates, avoiding female killing and nest destruction at harvesting, reducing the risk of collision with powerlines, or controlling poaching).
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