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Biodiversity & Conservation

, Volume 10, Issue 6, pp 851–867 | Cite as

Natural and human-mediated factors in the recovery and subsequent expansion of the Purple swamphen Porphyrio porphyrio L. (Rallidae) in the Iberian Peninsula

  • Alfonso M. Sánchez-Lafuente
  • Francisco Valera
  • Alfonso Godino
  • Francisco Muela
Article

Abstract

Instances of range contraction and population decline in bird species in Europe are more common than cases of recovery following decline. Here we report on the recovery and expansion processes of an endangered bird species in Europe, the purple swamphen (Porphyrio porphyrio L., Rallidae), with special reference to the Iberian Peninsula, its main distribution area in Western Europe. After a drastic decline during the first half of the 20th century, which restricted its range to a few areas in southern Spain, the Iberian population has recovered. Currently, the species occurs in a range similar to the one it had at the beginning of the 20th century, and has even colonized new areas. These processes seem to be the result of both human-mediated (effective protection of the species and suitable habitats; success of reintroduction programs as expansion focuses of birds colonizing nearby and distant regions [>300 km] wetlands) and natural factors (inter- and intra-seasonal cycles of wet and dry years). Thus, we found a significant relationship between rainfall and bird abundance and productivity, suggesting that such inter- and intra-seasonal cycles may have significant effects on demographic parameters that could be related to the expansion process. Finally the species shows remarkable adaptability, as proven by data on breeding success in recently colonized areas and the ability to breed shortly after reintroduction. We hypothesize that saturation of breeding habitats in established areas, a reasonable habitat continuity and favorable environmental conditions, and protection have facilitated the dispersion of birds.

conservation Iberian peninsula Porphyrio porphyrio recovery and expansive processes reintroduction programs seasonal cycles 

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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alfonso M. Sánchez-Lafuente
    • 1
  • Francisco Valera
    • 2
  • Alfonso Godino
    • 3
  • Francisco Muela
    • 4
  1. 1.Departamento de Biología Animal, Vegetal y EcologíaUniversidad de JaénJaénSpain
  2. 2.Departamento de Ecología EvolutivaMuseo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales (CSIC)MadridSpain
  3. 3.Consejería de Medio AmbienteDelegación Provincial de JaénSpain
  4. 4.Colegio Marcelo SpinolaJaénSpain

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