Knowledge of the factors determining species distributions is essential for developing conservation strategies. Sandgrouse Pterocles alchata and P. orientalis are threatened in Spain, the stronghold of European populations. Spatial modelling was used to: (1) assess the relative importance of abiotic, anthropogenic and geographical factors in the distribution of both sandgrouse species, (2) determine the most important anthropogenic predictors for each species occurrence, and (3) identify areas where conservation efforts should be prioritized. Abiotic and anthropogenic factors explained most of the variation in sandgrouse distributions. Both species were associated with arid flatlands, arable land cover being the most important anthropogenic variable determining their distribution. The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is the main driver of agricultural management in Europe, and may thus have a direct effect on sandgrouse distributions. P. orientalis exhibited broader habitat tolerance than P. alchata; the latter species tolerates warmer climates. Consequently, the network of core and marginally suitable areas identified for each species differs, and connectivity between the populations of these areas seems unlikely. Potential future changes in sandgrouse distribution will probably be directed principally by the synergistic effects of climate change and expected land-use transformations resulting from the new CAP and ongoing population growth, urbanization and infrastructure development.
Author(s), editor(s), contributor(s):
BENÃTEZ-LÃPEZ, ANA JAVIER VIÃUELA ISRAEL HERVÃS FRANCISCO SUÃREZ JESÃS T. GARCÃA