A new scientific paper published in the journal "Diversity" examines the changes in the diet of the globally endangered Imperial eagle and its adaptive capacity. Large raptor species can change their diet mainly in response to habitat alteration and depletion of main food resources. Understanding the adaptive capacity of the species and how it responds to such changes is key to its conservation.
The study investigates the dietary pattern of the Imperial eagle, a species facing long-term and large-scale changes. Variations in the abundance of its profitable prey, the European souslik, and how this affects eagle population trajectories in a regional and temporal context are investigated. A change in the diet of the species was found, expressed in a significant reduction of traditional victims such as the European souslik and brown hare, which was compensated by alternative sources such as northern white-breasted hedgehogs, white storks, reptiles, and pigeons.
The Imperial eagle population has adapted successfully where alternative prey is available in sufficient quantity, and significant increases have been observed across most of distribution area.
The article also provides concrete conservation guidelines, important in decision-making and planning a future conservation strategy, both for the protection of the Imperial eagle and for the accompanying species associated with it in the single ecosystem.
The research was partially funded by the LIFE project "Restoration and sustainable management of Imperial Eagle’s foraging habitats in key Natura 2000 sites in Bulgaria (LIFE14 NAT/BG/001119)”.
You can download the article “Does Temporal and Spatial Diet Alteration Lead to Successful Adaptation of the Eastern Imperial Eagle, a Top Predator?” from HERE.