Unravelling the response of diurnal raptors to land use change in a highly dynamic landscape in northwestern Spain: an approach based on satellite earth observation data

  • L. TapiaEmail author
  • A. Regos
  • A. Gil-Carrera
  • J. Domínguez
Original Article


Land use and land cover change (LULCC) is one of the main components of current anthropogenic global change. Unravelling the ecological response of biodiversity to the combined effect of land use change and other stressors is essential for effective conservation. For this purpose, we used co-inertia analysis to combine LULCC analysis of earth observation satellite data-derived maps and raptor data obtained from road censuses conducted in 2001 and 2014 at sampling unit level (10 km2 spatial resolution), in northwestern Spain (province of Ourense, c. 7281 km2). In addition, habitat suitability models were also computed using ten widely used single-modelling techniques providing an ensemble of predictions at landscape level (four spatial resolutions: 500-m, 1-km, 2-km and 5-km radius around each sighting) for each year and raptor species to analyse the habitat suitability changes in the whole study area through three niche overlap indices. The models revealed an increase in occurrence and habitat suitability of forest raptor species coupled with a strong decrease in species associated with open habitats, mainly heaths and shrub formations. Open-habitat specialist species were negatively affected by the concomitant effects of intensive forest management and a long-lasting trend of rural abandonment coupled with an unusually high frequency of wildfires. Sustainable forest management and agricultural practices should be encouraged by both public and private sectors, through, e.g. policies related to European funds for rural and regional development (FEDER and FEADER programs) to effectively protect threatened habitats and species, and to comply with current environmental legislation. The combined use of satellite imagery and ground-level biodiversity data proved to be a cost-effective and systematic method for monitoring priority habitats and their species in highly dynamic landscapes.


BIOMOD2 Co-inertia analysis Habitat suitability modelling Monitoring Raptor conservation Remote sensing 



The study was partly funded by the Consellería de Medio Ambiente and the project PGIDTO1MAM2001PR (Xunta de Galicia). Luis Tapia was supported by a post-doctoral grant from the Galician government (Plan Galego de Investigación, Innovación e Crecemento 2011–2015, Plan I2C, Xunta de Galicia). Adrián Regos was supported by EU BON (308454; FP7-ENV-2012, European Commission), FORESTCAST (CGL2014-59742) and NEWFORESTS (PIRSES-GA-2013-612645) projects, and is currently funded by the Xunta de Galicia (post-doctoral fellowship ED481B2016/084-0). We thank J. Bustamante and J. Seoane (Doñana Biological Station, Spanish Research Council, CSIC) for their suggestions about the fieldwork methods. We also thank O. Santa Cruz-Rodríguez, X. Vázquez-Pumariño, M. Romeu, L. Rodríguez-Lado, E. Rego and G. Martín for their assistance with fieldwork. We also thank to David Serrano (Doñana Biological Station, Spanish Research Council, CSIC) and two anonymous referees for their useful comments and suggestions on earlier versions of this manuscript.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • L. Tapia
    • 1
    Email author
  • A. Regos
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • A. Gil-Carrera
    • 4
  • J. Domínguez
    • 1
  1. 1.Departamento de Zooloxía, Xenética e Antropoloxía FísicaUniversidade de Santiago de CompostelaSantiago de CompostelaSpain
  2. 2.Research Center in Biodiversity and Genetic Resources, Predictive Ecology GroupCIBIO/InBIOVairãoPortugal
  3. 3.InForest Joint Research UnitCTFC-CREAFSolsonaSpain
  4. 4.GREFAMadridSpain

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