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Proceedings of the International Academy of Ecology and Environmental Sciences, 2014, 4(4): 148-161
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Article

Detected foraging strategies and consequent conservation policies of the Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni in Southern Italy

Marco Gustin1, Alessandro Ferrarini2, Giuseppe Giglio1, Stefania Caterina Pellegrino1, Annagrazia Frassanito3
1LIPU (Lega Italiana Protezione Uccelli) - BirdLife International, Conservation Department, Via Udine 3, I-43100 Parma, Italy
2Department of Evolutionary and Functional Biology, University of Parma, Via G. Saragat 4, I-43100 Parma, Italy
3Alta Murgia National Park, via Firenze 10, 70024, Gravina in Puglia, Bari, Italy

Received 6 June 2014;Accepted 10 July 2014;Published online 1 December 2014
IAEES

Abstract
The reduction in both the extent and quality of foraging habitats is considered the primary cause of the Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni population decline. A proper knowledge of Lesser Kestrel's foraging habitat selection at local scale is necessary for its conservation. Using accurate GPS devices, we investigated the patterns of local movements and land-cover type selection of 9 Lesser Kestrels in the main colony in Italy (Alta Murgia National Park, Gravina in Puglia and the surrounding rural areas) during the hatching period. The goals of our work were to individuate: 1) the preferred foraging habitats, 2) the potential sexual divergences in foraging movements and in 3) foraging habitat selection, 4) the relationship between foraging movements and the spatial arrangement of land codes. We detected significant sexual divergences in foraging movements and habitat selection. Lesser Kestrels preferred pseudo-steppes and significantly avoided ligneous crops and forested areas. While males selected positively pseudo-steppes, females used both pseudo-steppes and cereals in proportion to their availability. Foraging selection was influenced by the interplay between the spatial arrangement of land codes and the sexual divergences in foraging strategies. On the basis of our results, we have been able to propose suitable local-scale conservation actions to the Alta Murgia National Park and to the local administrations: a) the enlargements of the park's boundaries; b) the purchasing of land parcels; c) the provision of suitable nesting sites near the higher quality areas; d) the optimal timing for harvesting. Our study is the first contribution to the assessment of the foraging strategies and the necessary conservation policies of the Lesser Kestrel in Southern Italy.

Keywords Alta Murgia National Park;data-loggers;foraging movements;hatching period;sexual divergences;special protection area.



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