, Volume 48, Issue 8, pp 900–912 | Cite as

Probing into farmers’ perceptions of a globally endangered ecosystem service provider

  • Marina García-AlfonsoEmail author
  • Zebensui Morales-Reyes
  • Laura Gangoso
  • Willem Bouten
  • José A. Sánchez-Zapata
  • David Serrano
  • José A. Donázar
Research Article


Society’s perception of ecosystem services is a key issue in conservation, particularly for endangered species providing services linked to human activities. Misperceptions may lead to wildlife–human conflicts with the risk of disappearance of the species involved. We contrasted farmers’ perceptions with highly accurate quantitative data of an endangered vulture species, which provide ecosystem services. We combined surveys of 59 farmers with data from 48 GPS-tagged Canarian Egyptian vultures (Neophron percnopterus majorensis endemic to the Spanish Canary Islands) to disentangle factors influencing consistency between farmers’ awareness of vulture occurrence on their properties and vulture behavior. Egyptian vultures were perceived as the main providers of scavenging services and the most beneficial avian scavenger. Consistency between farmers’ perceptions (surveys) and vulture use of their farms (GPS data) was higher in the morning, in older males, and at farms with lower livestock numbers, located near vulture communal roosts, and visited more frequently by vultures. Our results underline the potential influence of modern livestock husbandry in disconnecting people from ecosystems, and how appreciation could be even lower for scarce or threatened ecosystem service providers.


Biodiversity conservation Canary Islands Egyptian vultures GPS tracking Local ecological knowledge Social perception 



We thank Manuel de la Riva, Julio Roldan, Walo Moreno, Margarita Yécora, Isabel Baños, and Juan Ramírez for their help with fieldwork, and Mathijs van Overveld for helpful comments. Funding was provided by the Dirección general de Protección de la Naturaleza (Viceconsejería de Medio Ambiente, Gobierno de Canarias), the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness and EU/FEDER (projects CGL2012-40013-C02-02 and CGL2015-66966-C2-1-R), the Severo Ochoa Excellence Award from the Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad (SEV-2012-0262) and ENDESA (Convenio EBD(CSIC)-ENDESA). Z.M.-R and M.G.-A were supported respectively by a pre-doctoral grant (FPU12/00823) and a contract from “Programa de FPU del Ministerio de Educación, Cultura y Deporte” (FPU13/05429).

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (PDF 339 kb)


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Copyright information

© Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Conservation BiologyEstación Biológica de Doñana (CSIC)SevilleSpain
  2. 2.Department of Applied BiologyMiguel Hernández UniversityElcheSpain
  3. 3.Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem DynamicsUniversity of AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands

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