Next Article in Journal
Pleistocene Aquatic Refuges Support the East–West Separation of the Neotropical Catfish Trichomycterinae (Siluriformes: Trichomycteridae) and High Diversity in the Magdalena, Guiana, and Paraná-Paraguay Basins
Previous Article in Journal
What Do Butterflies Tell Us about an Intermediate Disturbance in a Dry Tropical Forest Context?
Previous Article in Special Issue
Responses of Bird Communities to Habitat Structure along an Aridity Gradient in the Steppes North of the Sahara
 
 
Font Type:
Arial Georgia Verdana
Font Size:
Aa Aa Aa
Line Spacing:
Column Width:
Background:
Article

Range Contraction and Population Decline of the European Dupont’s Lark Population

by 1,2,*, 3, 3, 4, 4, 5, 6, 1,2, 7, 1,2, 8, 7, 1,2, 9, 9, 9, 9, 6, 9, 1,2,3, 8, 10, 1,2, 11, 1,2 and 1,2add Show full author list remove Hide full author list
1
Terrestrial Ecology Group (TEG-UAM), Department of Ecology, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, 28049 Madrid, Spain
2
Centro de Investigación en Biodiversidad y Cambio Global (CIBC-UAM), Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, 28049 Madrid, Spain
3
Ecology Department, Alicante University, 03690 Alicante, Spain
4
General Directorate of the Natural Environment, Ministry of Environment, Mar Menor, Universities and Research, Region of Murcia, 30510 Yecla, Spain
5
Servicio de Biodiversidad, Departamento de Agricultura, Ganadería y Medio Ambiente, Gobierno de Aragón, 50001 Zaragoza, Spain
6
Dirección General de Medio Natural y Biodiversidad, Consejería de Desarrollo Sostenible, Junta de Castilla-La Mancha, 45071 Toledo, Spain
7
Conservation Biology Group, Landscape Dynamics and Biodiversity Programme, Forest Science and Technology Center of Catalonia (CTFC), 25280 Solsona, Spain
8
Servicio de Espacios Naturales, Flora y Fauna, Dirección General de Patrimonio Natural y Política Forestal, Consejería de Medio Ambiente, Vivienda y Ordenación del Territorio, Junta de Castilla y León, 47014 Valladolid, Spain
9
Consejería de Sostenibilidad, Medio Ambiente y Economía Azul, Junta de Andalucía, 41013 Seville, Spain
10
Sociedad Aragonesa de Gestión Agroambiental, 50018 Zaragoza, Spain
11
Department of Conservation Biology, Estación Biológica de Doñana (EBD-CSIC), 41092 Sevilla, Spain
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Diversity 2023, 15(8), 928; https://doi.org/10.3390/d15080928
Submission received: 28 June 2023 / Revised: 21 July 2023 / Accepted: 25 July 2023 / Published: 14 August 2023
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Conservation of Farmland Birds)

Abstract

:
The Dupont’s lark (Chersophilus duponti) is an endangered passerine typical of Mediterranean shrub-steppes, whose European distribution is restricted to Spain. Here, we update the population size and distribution range of the species at a European scale and evaluate (i) the current status; (ii) the change in population size and distribution range of the species from 2004 to 2009 to the current period (2017–2022); and (iii) the effectiveness of the current network of special protection areas (SPAs) for protecting the Dupont’s lark. The European Dupont’s lark population showed a decrease of 29.9%, declining from ca. 3267 to 2289 territorial males from 2004 to 2009 to the current period. Moreover, the species has suffered a contraction in its distribution range of 35.9%, with only 39.3% of the species’ territories located within the current network of SPAs. Our findings agree with the previously described decline of the Dupont’s lark in Europe. The population decline was even larger in peripheral regions, which suggests that the species is suffering a centripetal process of contraction and extinction. These results indicate that if there is no change in present-day declining forces, several peripheral populations will reach extinction in a few decades and the overall population size of the species will continue decreasing. Our study should be considered as a last call for action and used for implementing urgent conservation measures to protect the species and its habitat. Future studies should focus on analyzing and managing the factors driving the species’ extinction and future actions for the conservation of the species should focus on increasing the percentage of the Dupont’s lark territories within protected areas, since the data are alarmingly low for a species that is facing clear risk of extinction.

1. Introduction

Global diversity has largely declined during the last decades [1,2] and the population abundance of many bird species has accordingly declined worldwide [3,4]. However, local trends of abundance and diversity differ among regions and taxonomic groups, demonstrating that biodiversity changes are often complex [5]. For example, specialist birds are declining more rapidly than generalist species [6]. Currently, grassland and steppe birds are among the groups of birds showing the greatest population declines [7,8,9], and they are threatened mainly due to agricultural intensification and land use changes [10,11,12].
In the case of open habitats such as grasslands and steppes, habitat fragmentation and land use changes are the main drivers of habitat loss and degradation [13,14,15,16]. In the Iberian steppes, specifically, agricultural intensification and the abandonment of extensive grazing have been documented as the main threats to these rare and valuable habitats, and to steppe-specialist species [17]. The Dupont’s lark (Chersophilus duponti) is a steppe bird of particular concern, being among the most threatened European birds [18] and included within the 65 priority bird species inhabiting steppes [19]. The Dupont’s lark is catalogued as “Vulnerable” at a European level [20] even though Spain is the only European country that the species inhabits, and in Spain the species has recently been declared as “Endangered” (BOE Orden TED/339/2023). This species is a medium sized passerine (ca. 38 g) with strict habitat requirements, as it selects flat natural treeless shrub-steppes (<40 cm) with a slope of less than 15% [21]. This habitat selectivity of the Dupont’s lark for semi-natural steppes makes it a highly sensitive species to alterations of these habitats, as well as an indicator species for habitat quality. In recent years, a substantial proportion of the species’ potential habitat is being occupied by wind turbine installations as part of initiatives aimed at establishing power plants for the generation of renewable electricity. The adverse impact of these installations on the species and its habitat has already been substantiated by previous studies [13], leading to population loss and isolation.
The Dupont’s lark population in Spain was estimated during the II National Census (2004–2007) to be around 3463–4452 males, which means 2200–2800 breeding pairs considering the sex-ratio of 0.61 [22]. Later, other studies documented the extinction of tens of populations [23] and an average annual decline of 3.9% has been estimated for 92 Spanish localities surveyed between 2004 and 2015 [18], together with a significant range contraction (ca. 40%, [24]) and a loss of genetic variability [25]. Moreover, a recent study revealed that the extreme snowstorm “Filomena”, which occurred in Spain in January 2021, led to a 66.5% average decline in seven populations monitored the year before and after the snowstorm, which may have also had a great impact on the population dynamics of the species [26]. Although the declining status of the species is well described, the current population size and magnitude of the downward trend for the whole Spanish population are unknown. Moreover, the declining process is not homogeneous through the species’ distribution range, with larger declines and local extinctions occurring more often in peripheral populations, while in the core area population size and distribution range trends seem to be more stable [16,18,27]. Indeed, it has been recently predicted that the species could be suffering a process of centripetal contraction due to insufficient connectivity in the most isolated and peripheral populations [24]. Recently, [24] estimated a probability of extinction in 20 years of app. 84% for the whole Spanish metapopulation, and therefore there is an urgent need for an updated and rigorous assessment about the current situation of the species.
In a context where species’ threat classifications consider both the status of the populations and the species distribution, as the main criteria at a national and UICN level, it is important to analyze both aspects together to evaluate the status of the species. Thus, in this study, we aim to gather and analyze the most updated information available on the population size and distribution of the Dupont’s lark in Spain, both at a provincial, regional (i.e., per autonomous community) and national level, aiming to update the current status of the species. Here, we present the most updated data of population size and distribution range in Spain, accompanied by an updated cartography that aims to promote the conservation of the species. More specifically, we aim to: (i) evaluate the change in the estimated number of territorial males between the II National Census (2004–2007) and the current period (2017–2022), and to (ii) evaluate present day and changes in the distribution range. We have also performed a gap analysis aiming to (iii) assess the effectiveness of the current national protected area network in protecting the populations of the Dupont’s lark.

2. Material and Methods

2.1. Data Collection

The Dupont’s lark censuses data from the II National Census (II NC; hereinafter) were obtained from 2004 to 2007 depending on the studied province (see [21] for details) and were accessed by the work team. For this work, a re-estimation of the data from Suárez 2010 has been carried out in order to reunify the criteria between the past and the current status of the Dupont’s lark. Recent data (hereinafter Current Status, CS) were compiled from the Autonomous Communities regional governments where the species is present (1), or by performing species-specific censuses during the breeding period (2). In both cases, CS Dupont’s lark data were gathered between 2017 and 2022, except for Aragón, for which 2016 data were also included, because around 5000 ha with the presence of the species were not censused after 2016. Only 106 out of 223 population localities known to date in Aragón were censused in the period 2016–2022 (47% of the localities, representing 64% of the known area). Since 2017, data have only been available for 99 localities (44%) representing 60% of the area. Thus, we decided to include 2016 in the CS in the case of Aragón to avoid considering as absences of Dupont’s lark almost 5000 ha censused that year. Despite this, there are still 41 localities that have not been surveyed since 2007 or earlier (18% of known locations, representing 14% of the area), which is indicative of the need to increase the monitoring effort in this region. This dataset comprises information for all the autonomous communities inhabited by the species [28]. Updated cartographic data of special protection areas (SPAs) [29] were used to estimate the current population and range included within the Natura 2000 network.

2.2. Census Methodology

The birds were counted by linear transects (500 m inner belt width) or by territory mapping, with both methods reaching similar population estimates [30]. All censuses were carried out during the hour before dawn, the period of maximum singing activity [31] and were always performed under adequate weather conditions (e.g., no rain, low wind) and at constant speed. The length of transects (mean ± SD) during the II NC was longer than in the CS (II NC: 2638.6 ± 1461.2 m, CS: 1809.3 ± 491.3 m). In the following, the results obtained by both census methods will be referred to as the number of territorial males.

2.3. Subpopulation and Population Definition

Following the classification proposed by [28], all territories separated by less than 5 km were considered to belong to the same subpopulation. Those subpopulations separated by less than 20 km were classified to be part of the same population (see [28] for more information on criteria for the definition of subpopulations and populations).

2.4. Range Distribution

The locations of Dupont’s lark males during both the II NC and the CS were mapped in grids of 1 × 1 km. When a grid cell included two different provinces (or autonomous communities), we considered the species to occur in both provinces, so the sum of the grid cells at the province or autonomous community level may be slightly greater than the total number of cells occupied at the national level.

2.5. Statistical and Gap Analyses

We used the same approach as [26] to estimate the population change between the two periods. The average annual population change was estimated following the formula:
A n n u a l   p o p u l a t i o n   c h a n g e = N p N i 1 Y e a r 1
where Np is the estimated population size (number of territorial males) in the CS, Ni is the estimated population size in the same area during the II NC, and Year is the number of years elapsed between both periods. We then multiplied the estimate by 100 to yield growth rates in percent.
To determine the annual population change at a province level, we calculated the number of years between the II NC and the CS for each monitored population. To estimate the current population size of the Dupont’s lark, we used the most recent data (Supplementary Table S1). When (sub)populations of the same province were counted in different years, we employed the median year of census or, when just two years were censused, we considered the one with the largest number of populations monitored (Supplementary Table S1). The interval of years that elapsed between the II NC and the CS per Autonomous Community was estimated by averaging the interval of years of the provinces of each autonomous community (Table 1).
The percentage of change for population size, distribution range and change in grid cells included within the protected areas (gap analysis) was estimated following the formula:
P e r c e n t a g e   c h a n g e = ( C u r r e n t   v a l u e I n i t i a l   v a l u e ) I n i t i a l   v a l u e
where Current value is the data from the CS and the Initial value is extracted from the II NC. This value was multiplied by 100 to yield the growth rates in percent. This formula was used to calculate the percentages of change at the provincial, autonomous community and national levels.
To carry out the gap analysis, we considered both SPAs in general and SPAs that considered the Dupont’s lark as a conservation target species. This was carried out for both the number of males and the number of grid cells (1 × 1 km). We considered a grid cell to occur in protected areas when at least 30% of the grid surface was within an SPA (for a similar approach, see [32]).

3. Results

3.1. Population Size and Change

The estimated current male population size of the Dupont’s lark in Spain is (a minimum of) 2289 territorial males. This CS estimation means a decrease of 29.9% from the 3267 territorial males estimated during the II NC (Table 1), and a 2.3% annual population decline. At the regional level, the main population of the Dupont’s lark in Europe has changed from being in Aragón during the II NC to Castilla y León currently. Considering the male-biased adult sex ratio, the estimated overall current effective population size should be between 608 (0.79 sex ratio [33]) and 1463 breeding pairs (0.61 sex ratio [22]).
At a regional level, the regressive trend of the species was the maximum in the Región de Murcia with almost 90% of the decline, Comunidad Valenciana with 77%, Andalucía with 63% and Aragón with 55% of the decline (Table 1). In Cataluña, no territorial males were recorded during the II NC (Table 1) when the species was considered extinct. In 2015 a “recolonization” event occurred and up to 7–8 males were estimated for the period 2017–2019, but this drastically reduced to only 2 males in 2022 after the Filomena snowstorm. In Castilla y León, the population of the species showed slight positive annual growth of around 1% between both periods.
At the province level, the Dupont’s lark seems to have become extinct in Zamora, Palencia and Toledo (Figure 1); and almost extinct in Burgos, Cuenca, Albacete and Granada (Figure 1). In contrast, there seems to be an attempt of (re)colonization in the province of Alicante, since one male was detected between 2020 and 2022. A detailed table showing the annual and total population change between periods at the province level can be found in Supplementary Table S2.

3.2. Distribution Range and Change

The CS distribution of the Dupont’s lark is restricted to 624 1 × 1 km grid cells. This means a range contraction of 36.4%, since the species was distributed over 981 grid cells during the II NC. The updated cartography of the current range distribution of the species in a 1 × 1 km grid cell can be found in GitHub at https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.8172291 (accessed on 21 July 2023). From an administrative point of view, the species is restricted to eight Autonomous Communities, but with an extremely constrained distribution (<20 1 × 1 km grid cells) in five of them: Cataluña, Comunidad Valenciana, Región de Murcia, Andalucía and Comunidad Foral de Navarra (Table 2).
At the regional level, the decline in distribution range follows a similar pattern to the one described for the population size, with this decline being particularly high in Región de Murcia (75.0%, Table 2), Comunidad Valenciana (66.7%, Table 2) and Andalucía (50.0%, Table 2). A detailed table showing the distribution and change rate per province can be found in Supplementary Table S3.
According to the criteria proposed by [28], the CS distribution of the Dupont’s lark covers 22 populations (Table 3, Figure 1) and 95 subpopulations (Supplementary Table S4).

3.3. Gap Analysis

The percentage of males currently located within SPAs was 39.2%, of which 90.5% were found in SPAs whose conservation plan includes the Dupont’s lark (Table 4). The percentage of males located within SPAs during the II NC was 52%, of which 93.7% were within SPAs with Dupont’s lark as a target species. Therefore, the total percentage of males within SPAs has decreased between the II NC and the current period. The decline is greater within SPAs than outside in some communities, such as Aragón (67.5% decline within and 39.9% outside, Table 4) or Castilla—La Mancha (48.4% within, 5.9% outside, Table 4).
The current number of occupied 1 × 1 km grid cells included within SPAs at a national level was 257 out of 624 (41.2%), while it was 447 out of 981 (45.6%) during the II NC. The decline in the species’ distribution range was greater within SPAs than outside in some autonomous communities such as Murcia (−100.0% within, −73.3% outside), Valencia (−77.8% within, −33.3% outside), Castilla la Mancha (−43.7% within, 15.7% outside) and Aragón (−54.8% within, −44.26% outside). To see the distribution range and change per SPA and Autonomous Community, see Supplementary Table S5.

4. Discussion

Here, we provide the most exhaustive and updated information on the population size and distribution range of the European population of the Dupont’s lark. We also provide a gap analysis showing the percentage of males included in protected areas. Our results highlight the dramatic decline of this threatened species. However, the described decline is lower than that previously described by [23] (mean annual decline rate of 5.6% between 1997 and 2005 and 2005 and 2013) and [18] (mean annual decline rate of 3.9% between 2004 and 2015) after monitoring 33 and 92 localities, respectively. The lower decline found here is likely explained by a higher sampling effort during the current period in our study (see the next paragraph). Our results also showed the low number of Dupont’s lark territories located within protected areas, which highlights the worrying conservation situation of the species. Indeed, the percentage of territories included within the special protection areas might be even lower considering that the sampling effort made within protected areas was probably greater than in unprotected ones, and therefore there is a higher chance of undetected territories in unprotected areas.
The species has suffered a strong decrease in population size and distribution range at both a regional and national (European) level between the two considered periods. That decline is not homogeneous among regions, showing a larger decrease in the peripheral regions, such as Andalucía, Comunidad Valenciana and Región de Murcia, than in the core area, i.e., the Iberian System, where populations remain more stable (see the populations extinct between periods in Figure 1). The last census carried out in the three cited regions was conducted following the snowstorm Filomena, which provoked a decrease of around 66.7% in the number of males between the year before and following Filomena [26], which may also partly explain these larger declines. In this sense, in those populations for which we do not have post-snowstorm Filomena data, the estimates of the current status of the Dupont’s lark may be overestimated. Therefore, the male and effective population may even be lower than the one calculated in this work. Nonetheless, the data considered in that study for these three regions are among the most updated ones, and therefore are representative of the current situation of the species in these peripheral areas. Indeed, the further the location of a province from the core of the Iberian distribution, the larger the decline (−83.16% for peripherical provinces; −12.92% for core provinces; see Supplementary Table S2). These results agree with the ones described by [34], who proposed that the Dupont’s lark suffers a centripetal process of contraction and isolation following habitat fragmentation. The larger decline in peripheral populations is likely related to a greater degree of isolation among patches and, usually, smaller population size than in the core area [24]. Individual displacements from the declining peripheral populations towards areas with a larger population size due to social attraction in the species may also play a minor role in population dynamics [35,36].
Surprisingly, the number of Dupont’s larks in the Autonomous Community of Castilla y León increased between both periods, although it is likely related to the increase in sampling effort during the current period. During the years 2017–2021 several populations of Castilla y León were intensively monitored during the LIFE-Ricoti project (LIFE15-NAT-ES-000802) while the rest of populations were subject of a species-specific regional census carried out in 2019 [37]. In both cases, the line transects performed during the current period were shorter than those carried out during the II NC (see census methodology section), which may increase the probability of detecting the vocalizing males during its period of maximum activity, which is very time restricted (ca. 30 min, see [32]). Likewise, the use of autonomous sound recorders was also employed during the current period in several regions (e.g., Castilla—La Mancha, Castilla y León, Valencia, Andalucía), which has contributed to the discovery of around 20 previously unknown populations [38]. This suggests that the described decline might be considered as a minimum due to the higher sampling effort carried out during the current period, much higher than during the II NC. On the contrary, the large decline detected in Aragón could be partially explained by the reduced sampling effort during the recent period, as many areas were censused for the last time in the year 2015, and therefore not considered in the current study, while others have not been counted since the II NC (2007).
Our results show a range contraction of 36.4% between both periods considered, since it varied from the previous estimations of 981 km2 occupied by the species during the II NC to just 624 km2 during the current period. Indeed, the amount of habitat occupied by the species would have been even lower if applying more conservative criteria to consider a grid cell to be occupied by the species. For instance, [39] clipped the 1 × 1 km grid cells with suitable habitat and slope layers to build the final layer.
During the II NC more than half of the territories (52.04%, Table 4) were within SPAs, decreasing to a 44.7% in 2019 [39]. Currently, only 39.2% of the remaining territories of Dupont’s lark are within SPAs, despite that more than 90% of these males being included in SPAs whose management plans consider this species as a conservation target. Similar results have been found for other grassland species, such as the little bustard in Spain [32]. This result suggests that inadequate management is being carried out in these areas, or that protected areas have been declared reactively in already threatened or fragmented areas or where natural predation is exceptionally high [40], so that their populations would be experiencing a greater decline at the moment of the declaration (see for example [41]). Something similar occurs with the range distribution (see Supplementary Table S5).

5. Conclusions and Management Implications

Our study corroborates the worrying status of the Dupont’s lark in Europe. As a consequence of this decline, the species has recently been declared “Endangered” in Spain (BOE Orden TED/339/2023), which commits the competent administrations to draw up and approve a recovery plan for the species in a relatively short period of time. Since the Spanish population is the only one in Europe, the Dupont’s lark should be re-categorized as “Endangered” also at a European level.
The declining trend of the species, both in population size and distribution range, highlights the urgent need for the effective conservation and management of the Dupont’s Lark and its habitat. Habitat loss and habitat transformation, owing to human activity, such as ploughing steppe habitats, wind farm development within and around occupied sites and afforestation are among the main drivers behind the declining status of the species [13,16,18]. However, the steep decline in extensive grazing, mainly by sheep [17], seems also to have strong consequences by decreasing the habitat quality [42]. Thus, increasing both the habitat quantity (through restoration measures) and quality (by the promotion of extensive grazing and tree/shrub clearance) is critical for the species conservation.
In the case of populations located in peripheral areas, i.e., in the southern Iberian range, isolation by distance seems an additional driving factor for extinction [43]. If no additional conservation measures are urgently adopted, we predict a near-future distribution restricted to the current metapopulation core in the Iberian System and the Ebro valley (Figure 1, ids: 11, 12, 22, 23 and 24). The lack of viability of the peripheral populations suggests the possibility of urgently undertaking population reinforcement measures, which should be complemented with active habitat management to improve the quality of the steppes.
The current network of SPAs is insufficient for the effective conservation of the species, since the percentage of territories within protected areas decreases; in addition, during the current period there are an additional 120,000 ha of protected areas in Spain than in 2006 [29]. However, that increase has not improved the conservation status of semi-natural open habitats and, therefore, of steppe birds. Conservation and management measures implemented within the protected areas are not adequately correcting the main conservation problems of the Dupont’s lark. Traditional activities that may favor the settlement of the species, such as tree-cutting, stubble-burning, grass and shrub reduction by grazing, etc. could be limited within protected areas, partly explaining the large decrease found in these areas.
SPAs declaration must be accompanied by active management to maintain the quality of the shrub steppes habitats. This type of action has already been implemented in communities such as Castilla y León, Castilla—La Mancha, Andalucía, Valencia and Aragón, although a pre- and post-monitoring has not been carried out in all of them to evaluate the effectiveness of the measures. Since there is little published information on the success of the conservation measures already implemented for the species, it is clearly limiting to carry out evidence-based management actions [41]. Therefore, future studies should focus on analyzing the effectiveness of conservation measures for the steppes and the study species (see [44]). In this sense, a greater effort is needed from public administrations to conserve the Iberian steppes in a good condition and protect the biodiversity they hold, as stated in the recently approved National Strategy for the Conservation of Steppe Birds and their habitats.
Currently, the conservation of Dupont’s lark and steppe habitats in general is facing a particularly important challenge due to the massive implementation of renewable energy facilities, especially wind farms [45]. Given the abundance of individuals outside SPAs, the selection of preferential areas for the implementation of renewable energy (Go-to areas; [46]) cannot be based on avoiding SPAs, but specific monitoring should be carried out to avoid irreversible effects on this and other endangered species.

Supplementary Materials

The following supporting information can be downloaded at: https://www.mdpi.com/article/10.3390/d15080928/s1, Table S1: Interval of years between the II National Census (2004–2007) and the data used for the Current Status (2017–2022) for the Dupont’s lark. The asterisk (*) indicates those cases where data were collected in different years for each province; Table S2: Number of territorial males per province and population change between the II National Census and the Current Status. Number of years elapsed between both periods is shown in Supplementary Table S1. The last column indicates those provinces further from the core of the Iberian distribution. Table S3: Number of 1 × 1 grids with a presence of the Dupont’s lark during the II National Census and the Current Status per province. The last column indicates the percentage change in 1 × 1 grids. Table S4: Extant subpopulations for the Current Status of the Dupont’s lark. They are shown in alphabetical order of province. Table S5: Number and percentage of Dupont’s lark occupied 1 × 1 km grid cells located within SPAs (with Dupont’s lark as conservation species target or not) by Autonomous Community and in Spain (total), and the percentage change (%) between de II NC and CS in and out SPAs, both in the II National Census and the Current Status.

Author Contributions

Conceptualization, methodology, formal analysis and writing original draft M.R., C.P.-G., G.M.L.-I. and J.T.; Validation M.R., A.B., G.B., D.B.-d.l.R., D.G., J.G.-C., P.S.-G., A.S.-T., J.Z. and J.T.; resources and review & editing, all authors. All authors have read and agreed to the published version of the manuscript.

Funding

This study was partially funded by the LIFE programme (LIFE Ricotí LIFE15-NAT-ES-000802 and LIFE Connect Ricotí LIFE20-NAT-ES-000133), by the European Commission, Levantina y Asociado de Minerales, S.A., with the project “Estudios de investigación aplicado a la conservación de las poblaciones de alondra ricotí (Chersophilus duponti) en el entorno del municipio de Vallanca”, by the Dirección General de Política Forestal y Espacios Naturales de la Junta de Comunidades de Castilla La Mancha with the project “SSCC/046/2017 Censo de Alondra ricotí en la provincia de Guadalajara. Año 2017” and by the Junta de Castilla y León with the project “Estudio para la Mejora del Conocimiento de las Poblaciones de Alondra Ricotí Chersophilus duponti en Castilla y León”. Censuses in Catalonia were carried out with the support of the Generalitat of Catalonia. CPG acknowledges the support from the Ministerio de Educación y Formación Profesional through the Beatriz Galindo Fellowship (Beatriz Galindo—Convocatoria 2020). JGC is funded by a Margarita Salas postdoctoral fellowship (CA4/RSUE/2022-00205) provided by the Spanish Ministry of Universities and Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (Spain).

Institutional Review Board Statement

Not applicable.

Data Availability Statement

Data of Dupont’s lark range distribution in 1x1 km grid cells can be found in https://zenodo.org/record/8172291. Data of territories of Dupont’s lark males is unavailable due to privacy or ethical restrictions.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

References

  1. Maxwell, S.L.; Fuller, R.A.; Brooks, T.M.; Watson, J.E.M. Biodiversity: The Ravages of Guns, Nets and Bulldozers. Nature 2016, 536, 7615. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [Green Version]
  2. Cowie, R.H.; Bouchet, P.; Fontaine, B. The Sixth Mass Extinction: Fact, Fiction or Speculation? Biol. Rev. 2022, 97, 640–663. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  3. Rosenberg, K.V.; Dokter, A.M.; Blancher, P.J.; Sauer, J.R.; Smith, A.C.; Smith, P.A.; Stanton, J.C.; Panjabi, A.; Helft, L.; Parr, M.; et al. Decline of the North American Avifauna. Science 2019, 366, 120–124. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  4. Li, Y.; Miao, R.; Khanna, M. Neonicotinoids and Decline in Bird Biodiversity in the United States. Nat. Sustain. 2020, 3, 1027–1035. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  5. Pilotto, F.; Kühn, I.; Adrian, R.; Alber, R.; Alignier, A.; Andrews, C.; Bäck, J.; Barbaro, L.; Beaumont, D.; Beenaerts, N.; et al. Meta-Analysis of Multidecadal Biodiversity Trends in Europe. Nat. Commun. 2020, 11, 1. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  6. Correll, M.D.; Strasser, E.H.; Green, A.W.; Panjabi, A.O. Quantifying Specialist Avifaunal Decline in Grassland Birds of the Northern Great Plains. Ecosphere 2019, 10, e02523. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  7. Birdlife International. BirdLife International State of the World’s Birds: Taking the Pulse of the Planet; Birdlife International: Cambridge, UK, 2018. [Google Scholar]
  8. European Environment Agency. The European Environment—State and Outlook 2020. Knowledge for Transition to a Sustainable Europe. 2019. Available online: https://www.eea.europa.eu/publications/soer-2020 (accessed on 21 July 2023).
  9. Keller, V.; Herrando, S.; Voríšek, P.; Franch, M.; Kipson, M.; Milanesi, P.; Martí, D.; Anton, M.; Klvanová, A.; Kalyakin, M.V.; et al. European Breeding Bird Atlas 2: Distribution, Abundance and Change; Lynx Edicions/European Bird Census Council (EBCC): Barcelona, Spain, 2020; p. 967. ISBN 9788416728381. [Google Scholar]
  10. Stanton, R.L.; Morrissey, C.A.; Clark, R.G. Analysis of Trends and Agricultural Drivers of Farmland Bird Declines in North America: A Review. Agric. Ecosyst. Environ. 2018, 254, 244–254. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  11. Hallmann, C.A.; Foppen, R.P.B.; van Turnhout, C.A.M.; de Kroon, H.; Jongejans, E. Declines in Insectivorous Birds Are Associated with High Neonicotinoid Concentrations. Nature 2014, 511, 341–343. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  12. Rigal, S.; Dakos, V.; Alonso, H.; Auniņš, A.; Benkő, Z.; Brotons, L.; Chodkiewicz, T.; Chylarecki, P.; de Carli, E.; Carlos del Moral, J.; et al. Farmland Practices Are Driving Bird Population Decline across Europe. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 2023, 120, e2216573120. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  13. Gómez-Catasús, J.; Garza, V.; Traba, J. Wind Farms Affect the Occurrence, Abundance and Population Trends of Small Passerine Birds: The Case of the Dupont’s Lark. J. Appl. Ecol. 2018, 55, 2033–2042. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  14. Traba, J.; Morales, M.B. The Decline of Farmland Birds in Spain Is Strongly Associated to the Loss of Fallowland. Sci. Rep. 2019, 9, 9473. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [PubMed] [Green Version]
  15. Reverter, M.; Gómez-Catasús, J.; Barrero, A.; Traba, J. Crops Modify Habitat Quality beyond Their Limits. Agric Ecosyst. Environ. 2021, 319, 107542. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  16. Tella, J.L.; Vögeli, M.; Serrano, D.; Carrete, M. Current Status of the Threatened Dupont’s Lark Chersophilus Duponti in Spain: Overestimation, Decline, and Extinction of Local Populations. Oryx 2005, 39, 90–94. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [Green Version]
  17. Traba, J.; Pérez-Granados, C. Extensive Sheep Grazing Is Associated with Trends in Steppe Birds in Spain: Recommendations for the Common Agricultural Policy. PeerJ 2022, 10, e12870. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  18. Gómez-Catasús, J.; Pérez-Granados, C.; Barrero, A.; Bota, G.; Giralt, D.; López-Iborra, G.M.; Serrano, D.; Traba, J. European Population Trends and Current Conservation Status of an Endangered Steppe-Bird Species: The Dupont’s Lark Chersophilus Duponti. PeerJ 2018, 2018, e5627. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [Green Version]
  19. Burfield, I.J.; Van Bommel, F. Birds in Europe: Population Estimates, Trends and Conservation Status; BirdLife International: Cambridge, UK, 2004. [Google Scholar]
  20. BirdLife International. European Red List of Birds; Publications Office of the European Union: Luxembourg, 2021. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  21. Suárez, F. La Alondra Ricotí (Chersophilus Duponti). In Dirección General para la Bio-Diversidad; Ministerio de Medio Ambiente y Medio Rural y Marino: Madrid, Spain, 2010. [Google Scholar]
  22. Suárez, F.; García, J.; Carriles, E.; Calero-Riestra, M.; Agirre, A.; Justribó, J.H.; Garza, V. Sex-Ratios of an Endangered Lark after Controlling for a Male-Biased Sampling. Ardeola 2009, 56, 113–118. [Google Scholar]
  23. Pérez-Granados, C.; López-Iborra, G.M. Por Qué La Alondra Ricotí Debe Catalogarse Como ‘En Peligro de Extinción’? Quercus 2014, 337, 19–25. [Google Scholar]
  24. García-Antón, A.; Traba, J. Population Viability Analysis of the Endangered Dupont’s Lark Chersophilus Duponti in Spain. Sci. Rep. 2021, 11, 19947. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  25. Bustillo-de la Rosa, D.; Traba, J.; Calero-Riestra, M.; Morales, M.B.; Barrero, A.; Viñuela, J.; Pérez-Granados, C.; Gómez-Catasús, J.; Oñate, J.J.; Reverter, M.; et al. Recent Changes in Genetic Diversity, Structure, and Gene Flow in a Passerine Experiencing a Rapid Population Decline, the Dupont’s Lark (Chersophilus Duponti). Diversity 2022, 14, 1120. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  26. Pérez-Granados, C.; Bota, G.; Gómez-Catasús, J.; Pla, M.; Barrero, A.; Sáez-Gómez, P.; Reverter, M.; López-Iborra, G.M.; Giralt, D.; Bustillo-De La Rosa, D.; et al. Short-Term Impact of an Extreme Weather Event on the Threatened Dupont’s Lark Chersophilus Duponti. Bird Conserv. Int. 2023, 33, e53. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  27. Pérez-Granados, C.; López-Iborra, G.M. Census of Breeding Birds and Population Trends of the Dupont’s Lark Chersophilus Duponti in Eastern Spain. Ardeola 2013, 60, 143–150. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  28. García-Antón, A.; Garza, V.; Traba, J. Connectivity in Spanish Metapopulation of Dupont’s Lark May Be Maintained by Dispersal over Medium-Distance Range and Stepping Stones. PeerJ 2021, 9, e11925. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  29. Ministerio de Transición Ecológica y Reto Demográfico. MITERD Natura 2000 Network. Available online: https://www.miteco.gob.es/es/biodiversidad/servicios/banco-datos-naturaleza/informacion-disponible/red_natura_2000_inf_disp.html (accessed on 20 November 2022).
  30. Pérez-Granados, C.; López-Iborra, G.M. Assessment of Counting Methods Used for Estimating the Number of Territorial Males in the Endangered Dupont’s Lark. Ardeola 2017, 64, 5–14. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  31. Pérez-Granados, C.; Osiejuk, T.S.; López-Iborra, G.M. Dawn Chorus Interpretation Differs When Using Songs or Calls: The Dupont’s Lark Chersophilus Duponti Case. PeerJ 2018, 2018, 5241. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [Green Version]
  32. Traba, J.; Morales, M.B.; Faria, N.; Bretagnolle, V.; Moreira, F.; Bota, G. Little Bustard and Humans: Conservation and Management. In Little Bustard: Ecology and Conservation; Bretagnolle, V., Traba, J., Morales, M.B., Eds.; Springer Nature: Basel, Switzerland, 2022; pp. 273–302, Wildlife Research Monographs; ISBN 978-3-030-84901-6. [Google Scholar]
  33. Vögeli, M.; Serrano, D.; Tella, J.L.; Méndez, M.; Godoy, J.A. Sex Determination of Dupont’s Lark Chersophilus Duponti Using Molecular Sexing and Discriminant Funtions. Ardeola 2007, 54, 69–79. [Google Scholar]
  34. Méndez, M.; Vögeli, M.; Tella, J.L.; Godoy, J.A. Joint Effects of Population Size and Isolation on Genetic Erosion in Fragmented Populations: Finding Fragmentation Thresholds for Management. Evol. Appl. 2014, 7, 506–518. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [Green Version]
  35. Laiolo, P.; Tella, J.L. Social Determinants of Songbird Vocal Activity and Implications for the Persistence of Small Populations. Anim. Conserv. 2008, 11, 433–441. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [Green Version]
  36. Pérez-Granados, C.; Sáez-Gómez, P.; López-Iborra, G.M. Breeding Dispersal Movements of Dupont’s Lark Chersophilus Duponti in Fragmented Landscape. Bird Conserv. Int. 2022, 32, 53–63. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  37. Traba, J.; Garza, V. Estudio Para La Mejora Del Conocimiento de Las Poblaciones de Alondra Ricotí Chersophilus Duponti En Castilla y León. Doc. Final 2021, II, 183. Available online: https://www.jcyl.es/junta/cma/20220314_Ricoti_CyL_INFORME_FINAL_FICHAS_Volumen_II.pdf. (accessed on 20 November 2022).
  38. Pérez-Granados, C.; Bustillo-de la Rosa, D.; Gómez-Catasús, J.; Barrero, A.; Abril-Colón, I.; Traba, J. Autonomous Recording Units as Effective Tool for Monitoring of the Rare and Patchily Distributed Dupont’s Lark Chersophilus Duponti. Ardea 2018, 106, 139–146. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  39. García-Antón, A.; Garza, V.; Justribó, J.H.; Traba, J. Factors Affecting Dupont’s Lark Distribution and Range Regression in Spain. PLoS ONE 2019, 14, e0211549. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  40. Tryjanowski, P. Changes in Breeding Populations of Some Farmland Birds in W Poland in Relation to Changes In Crop Structure, Weather Conditions And Number Of Predators. FOLIA ZOOLOGICA-PRAHA- 2000, 49, 305–315. [Google Scholar]
  41. Pérez-Granados, C.; López-Iborra, G.M. The Conservation Research–Practice Gap: A Case Study of a Threatened Bird. Oryx 2022, 56, 241–248. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  42. Gómez-Catasús, J.; Reverter, M.; Bustillo-de la Rosa, D.; Barrero, A.; Pérez-Granados, C.; Zurdo, J.; Traba, J. Moderate Sheep Grazing Increases Arthropod Biomass and Habitat Use by Steppe Birds. Agric. Ecosyst. Environ. 2023, 354, 108556. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  43. Bustillo-de la Rosa, D. Ecología Molecular y Genética de La Conservación de La Amenazada Alondra de Dupont (Chersophilus Duponti); Universidad Autónoma de Madrid: Madrid, Spain, 2023. [Google Scholar]
  44. Pérez-Granados, C.; Traba, J. Testing the Conspecific Attraction Hypothesis with Dupont’s Larks, a Resident Species of Songbird in Central Spain. J. Field. Ornithol. 2019, 90, 277–285. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  45. Serrano, D.; Margalida, A.; Pérez-García, J.M.; Juste, J.; Traba, J.; Valera, F.; Carrete, M.; Aihartza, J.; Real, J.; Mañosa, S.; et al. Renewables in Spain Threaten Biodiversity. Science 2020, 370, 1182–1183. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  46. European Commission. REPowerEU: Joint European Action for More Affordable, Secure and Sustainable Energy. Eur. Comm. 2022. Available online: https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/%5Beuropa_tokens:europa_interface_language%5D/ip_22_1511 (accessed on 13 August 2023).
Figure 1. Current distribution of the 22 populations of the Dupont’s lark. The grey circles identify populations extinct between the II National Census and the Current Status. Numbers correspond to the population id as shown in Table 1.
Figure 1. Current distribution of the 22 populations of the Dupont’s lark. The grey circles identify populations extinct between the II National Census and the Current Status. Numbers correspond to the population id as shown in Table 1.
Diversity 15 00928 g001
Table 1. Number of Dupont’s lark territorial males estimated per Autonomous Community during the II National Census and the Current Status. The last columns indicate the annual and total population change between periods and the interval of years elapsed between the I NC and the CS.
Table 1. Number of Dupont’s lark territorial males estimated per Autonomous Community during the II National Census and the Current Status. The last columns indicate the annual and total population change between periods and the interval of years elapsed between the I NC and the CS.
Autonomous CommunityII National CensusCurrent StatusAnnual Population Change (%)Total Population Change (%)Interval of Years
Andalucía3011−6.47−63.3315
Aragón1541695−5.94−54.913
Castilla—La Mancha677508−2.18−24.9613
Castilla y León87710231.0316.6515
Cataluña-2--18
Comunidad Foral de Navarra5735−3.98−38.612
Comunidad Valenciana4711−8.19−76.617
Región de Murcia384−13.94−89.4715
Spain32672289−2.34−29.94
Table 2. Number of 1 × 1 grid cells with the presence of the Dupont’s lark during the II National Census and the Current Status. Last column indicates the percentage of change in the number of 1 × 1 km grid cells occupied between periods. The same interval of years as Table 1 was used.
Table 2. Number of 1 × 1 grid cells with the presence of the Dupont’s lark during the II National Census and the Current Status. Last column indicates the percentage of change in the number of 1 × 1 km grid cells occupied between periods. The same interval of years as Table 1 was used.
Autonomous CommunityII National CensusCurrent StatusPercentage Change (%)
Andalucía147−50.00
Aragón463235−49.24
Castilla—La Mancha176152−13.64
Castilla y León307220−28.34
Cataluña01-
Comunidad Foral de Navarra161812.50
Comunidad Valenciana124−66.67
Región de Murcia164−75.00
Spain981624−36.39
Table 3. Current population size (number of males) of the 22 European Dupont’s lark populations, all restricted to Spain. They are shown in alphabetical order of province. The id label identifies each population as shown in Figure 1.
Table 3. Current population size (number of males) of the 22 European Dupont’s lark populations, all restricted to Spain. They are shown in alphabetical order of province. The id label identifies each population as shown in Figure 1.
idProvincePopulation NameCurrent Population Size
1AlbaceteHoya Gonzalo3
2AlicanteVillena1
3AlmeríaCabo de Gata5
4Almería, GranadaSierra de Baza6
5Burgos, SegoviaHoces y Corcos118
6CuencaUclés—Saelices2
7CuencaZafra de Záncara3
8CuencaCarboneras de Guazaón—Cardenete12
9Cuenca, Teruel, ValenciaAdemuz37
10Guadalajara, SoriaSistema Ibérico Oeste1103
11Guadalajara, Teruel, ZaragozaSistema Ibérico Este316
12HuescaBajo Cinca9
13LleidaAlfés2
14MurciaCieza4
15NavarraBardenas35
16Navarra, ZaragozaAblitas—Campo de Borja33
17SoriaGolmayo28
18SoriaMoncayo—Gómara Norte4
19Soria, ZaragozaMoncayo—Gómara53
20TeruelPozondón14
21TeruelAltiplano90
22ZaragozaValle del Ebro—Altiplano411
Table 4. Number and percentage of Dupont’s lark territorial males located within SPAs (with Dupont’s lark as a conservation species target or not) by Autonomous Community and in Spain (total), and the percentage change (%) between the II NC and CS in and out SPAs, both in the II National Census and the Current Status.
Table 4. Number and percentage of Dupont’s lark territorial males located within SPAs (with Dupont’s lark as a conservation species target or not) by Autonomous Community and in Spain (total), and the percentage change (%) between the II NC and CS in and out SPAs, both in the II National Census and the Current Status.
II National CensusCurrent StatusPercentage Change (%)
SPAsSPA TargetSPAsSPA Target
N%N%N%N%Within SPAsOutside SPAs
Andalucía413.334100.00545.455100.0025.00−76.92
Aragón83754.32837100.0027239.14272100.00−67.50−39.91
Castilla—La Mancha30444.9019764.8015730.917849.68−48.36−5.90
Castilla y León52159.41521100.0045344.2844798.68−13.0560.11
Cataluña0-0-2100.002100.00--
Comunidad Foral de Navarra00.0000.0000.0000.00-−38.60
Comunidad Valenciana3472.3434100.00872.738100.00−76.47−76.92
Región de Murcia00.0000.0000.0000.00-−89.47
Total170052.04159393.7189739.1981290.52−47.24−11.17
Disclaimer/Publisher’s Note: The statements, opinions and data contained in all publications are solely those of the individual author(s) and contributor(s) and not of MDPI and/or the editor(s). MDPI and/or the editor(s) disclaim responsibility for any injury to people or property resulting from any ideas, methods, instructions or products referred to in the content.

Share and Cite

MDPI and ACS Style

Reverter, M.; Pérez-Granados, C.; López-Iborra, G.M.; García-Mellado, A.; Aledo-Olivares, E.; Alcántara, M.; Aranda, A.; Barrero, A.; Bota, G.; Bustillo-de la Rosa, D.; et al. Range Contraction and Population Decline of the European Dupont’s Lark Population. Diversity 2023, 15, 928. https://doi.org/10.3390/d15080928

AMA Style

Reverter M, Pérez-Granados C, López-Iborra GM, García-Mellado A, Aledo-Olivares E, Alcántara M, Aranda A, Barrero A, Bota G, Bustillo-de la Rosa D, et al. Range Contraction and Population Decline of the European Dupont’s Lark Population. Diversity. 2023; 15(8):928. https://doi.org/10.3390/d15080928

Chicago/Turabian Style

Reverter, Margarita, Cristian Pérez-Granados, Germán M. López-Iborra, Amparo García-Mellado, Emilio Aledo-Olivares, Manuel Alcántara, Antonio Aranda, Adrián Barrero, Gerard Bota, Daniel Bustillo-de la Rosa, and et al. 2023. "Range Contraction and Population Decline of the European Dupont’s Lark Population" Diversity 15, no. 8: 928. https://doi.org/10.3390/d15080928

Note that from the first issue of 2016, this journal uses article numbers instead of page numbers. See further details here.

Article Metrics

Back to TopTop