Arthropod abundance in most places across Europe has suffered a dramatic decline induced by modifications in agricultural practices, and this could induce changes in the selection of breeding habitat and foraging behaviour of several endangered raptor species. We studied a 6,500 ha Special Protection Area (SPA) in Spain created for the benefit of its important steppe bird populations and examined the patterns of land-use selection and use of vegetation structure by the Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni in relation to prey-capture success. We also studied the spatial relationship between foraging sites and the location of colonies in that breeding area. The type of land-use most frequently used by foraging Lesser Kestrels was unploughed fallow (positively selected) while kestrels significantly avoided areas with cereal crops. The relationship between foraging sites and colonies (kestrels forage preferentially in areas close to the colonies) indicates that not only is farmland management important, but also the spatial relationships between foraging areas and breeding sites. Maintaining the Spanish traditional rotation of cultivation (called barbechos) may improve the correct habitat management for Lesser Kestrels in agricultural areas in Spain.
- European agricultural policies
- habitat selection