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Fire response of Bonelli’s eagle

September 30th, 2022 Leave a comment Go to comments

There is still little information on the response of many animals to fire [1, 2], and this limited knowledge is even more important for large predators (e.g. raptors) as their behavior in relation to fire are not easy to observe. We studied the fire response to a Bonelli’s eagle (Aquila fasciata) thanks to a serendipity event: a wildfire (Artana fire; eastern Spain) occurred in an area where friends of mine had an eagle being tracked by a GPS/GMS [3]. This allowed us to follow their behavior during the fire, compare it with both before and after the fire (during two years), and with other neighbor eagles that were also being tracked [3].

The results suggest that despite the fire affected most of the eagle’s core home-range, including the nest site, its activity was hardly affected by the fire. During the fire, the eagle moved away from the fire but did not leave its home-range; she was back to the center of the home-range when the fire was still burning (at low intensity). The minor movements during the fire were probably due to the smoke or/and to the firefighters activity (which include planes). And during the two following years, the behavior of the eagle was similar the behavior when the landscape was not burned. This suggest that the eagles prey (rabbits, pigeons, small mammals) were also little affected by the fire.

An animations of the movements of the eagle in relation to the home-range and the burned area is available here.  

Bonelli’s eagle (Aquila fasciata) feeding in the Artana burned area (eastern Spain). Photo: Pascual López

References

[1] Pausas J.G., Parr C.L. 2018. Towards an understanding of the evolutionary role of fire in animals. Evol. Ecol. 32: 113–125. [doi | pdf]

[2] Pausas J.G. 2019. Generalized fire response strategies in plants and animals. Oikos 128: 147-153 [doi | pdf | blog1 blog2 blog3 | cover image]

[3] Morollón S. Pausas J.G., Urios V., López-López P. 2022. Wildfire response of GPS-tracked Bonelli’s eagles in eastern Spain. Int. J. Wildland Fire 31: 901-908 [ doi | ijwf | pdf | animation]

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