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

M. Horváth, T. Szitta, G. Firmánszky, B. Solti, A. Kovács, C. Moskát

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

11 Citations (Scopus)

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 Zemplén 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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)187-200
Number of pages14
JournalActa Zoologica Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae
Volume56
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2010

Keywords

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

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology

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