LIFE Project Cover Photo

Conservation measures to assist the adaptation of Falco eleonorae* to climate change

Reference: LIFE13 NAT/GR/000909 | Acronym: LIFE ElClimA

PROJECT DESCRIPTION

BACKGROUND

Eleonoras falcon (Falco eleonorae) is a migratory species that breeds in the Mediterranean (Algeria, Croatia, Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Spain, Tunisia and Turkey) and Atlantic islands off the northwest coast of Africa (Canary Islands, Morocco). The global population size is estimated at around 15 000 breeding pairs, with the vast majority 12 299 pairs or over 85% breeding in Greece. The breeding period of this species is synchronised with the autumn flux of migratory passerines, which fly over the colonies and constitute its main food source. Nesting sites are located on uninhabited islets and rocky coasts in the Mediterranean. The Greek breeding colonies are widely distributed in more than 300 islands and islets, mainly in the Aegean Sea, while a few can also be found in the Ionian Sea. The first global census of the species (2004-2006) showed that the population is stable, but also provided valid indications for a northward shift in the species distribution in the Aegean. The reasons appear to be related to rising maximum summer air temperatures in the Eastern Mediterranean, which affect egg thermoregulation and lead to increased egg infertility, the predation of eggs and nestlings by rats, and a possible mismatch of the species breeding period with the changing passerine migratory flux over its colonies (also possibly attributable to climate change).


OBJECTIVES

The objective of LIFE ElClimA was to facilitate the adaptation of Eleonoras falcon to ongoing and future climate change. The project partners planned to implement a series of targeted conservation actions to improve the species breeding performance, and the quality and availability of its foraging areas. The aim was to conduct monitoring actions to provide an updated report on the species population and breeding status, and to assess the birds foraging behaviour and habitat quality, as well as the impact on the habitats of land use changes and climate change. To improve the birds breeding performance the project team aimed to construct artificial nests, and to eradicate rats from key islet complexes to reduce the predation of eggs and chicks. To improve the quality and availability of food for the falcon another aim was to plant fruit trees and bushes, as well as to cultivate cereals and legumes at identified stopover sites for passerines.


RESULTS

LIFE ElClimA improved the breeding and foraging habitat of Eleonoras falcon (Falco eleonorae) in Greece, which hosts more than 85% of the species' global breeding population. The project therefore had a significant impact on the species at the global level.

The project team eradicated rats in a series of operations to improve the falcons breeding success, by reducing predation of eggs and chicks. This was done in two island complexes on a total area of over 700 ha, hosting 6% of the species national breeding population. These were the largest-ever rat eradication attempts in Greece and the Eastern Mediterranean, and used methods with minimal risk to non-target species. Following rat eradication, there were indications of recovery of native plant species and also Chukar partridge populations. By constructing and maintaining more than 1 000 artificial nests for Eleonoras falcon, the project improved the availability and quality of nesting sites on 12 islets at 5 sites, hosting 19% of the species national breeding population. This large-scale operation focused primarily on colonies in the southern parts of the Aegean Sea, an area most likely to be affected by climate change.

The project partners purchased 1 ha of land on Antikythira Island, where an innovative refuelling oasis for migratory passerines, the main prey of the falcon during the breeding season, was created and maintained. This oasis was established in one of the birds key colony sites in Greece and in the Mediterranean. The vegetation (e.g. fruit trees) planted in the oasis was determined by a systematic assessment of the requirements of migratory passerines on the island.

An update of baseline information for Eleonoras falcon (population size and breeding performance), at 8 project sites in the Aegean Sea, followed-up the first national census conducted during the previous LIFE project Conservation measures for Falco eleonorae* in Greece (LIFE ElClimA improved the breeding and foraging habitat of Eleonoras falcon (Falco eleonorae) in Greece, which hosts more than 85% of the species' global breeding population. The project therefore had a significant impact on the species at the global level.

The project team eradicated rats in a series of operations to improve the falcons breeding success, by reducing predation of eggs and chicks. This was done in two island complexes on a total area of over 700 ha, hosting 6% of the species national breeding population. These were the largest-ever rat eradication attempts in Greece and the Eastern Mediterranean, and used methods with minimal risk to non-target species. Following rat eradication, there were indications of recovery of native plant species and also Chukar partridge populations. By constructing and maintaining more than 1 000 artificial nests for Eleonoras falcon, the project improved the availability and quality of nesting sites on 12 islets at 5 sites, hosting 19% of the species national breeding population. This large-scale operation focused primarily on colonies in the southern parts of the Aegean Sea, an area most likely to be affected by climate change.

The project partners purchased 1 ha of land on Antikythira Island, where an innovative refuelling oasis for migratory passerines, the main prey of the falcon during the breeding season, was created and maintained. This oasis was established in one of the birds key colony sites in Greece and in the Mediterranean. The vegetation (e.g. fruit trees) planted in the oasis was determined by a systematic assessment of the requirements of migratory passerines on the island.

An update of baseline information for Eleonoras falcon (population size and breeding performance), at 8 project sites in the Aegean Sea, followed-up the first national census conducted during the previous LIFE project Conservation measures for Falco eleonorae* in Greece (

ADMINISTRATIVE DATA


Reference: LIFE13 NAT/GR/000909
Acronym: LIFE ElClimA
Start Date: 01/08/2014
End Date: 30/09/2019
Total Budget: 1,206,201 €
EU Contribution: 898,632 €
Project Location:
Project Website: http://www.upatras.gr

CONTACT DETAILS


Coordinating Beneficiary: University of Patras Research Committee
Legal Status: PAT
Address: University Campus, 26500, Rio Patras, Ellas
Contact Person: Sinos Giokas
Email: sinosg@upatras.gr
Tel: 302610969218
Fax: 302610969218


LIFE Project Map

ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES ADDRESSED

THEMES

  • Natural resources and ecosystems
  • Birds

KEYWORDS

  • migratory species
  • nature conservation
  • endangered species

TARGET EU LEGISLATION

  • Directive 79/409 - Conservation of wild birds (02.04.1979)
  • Directive 2009/147 - Conservation of wild birds - Birds Directive (codified version of Directive 79/409/EEC as amended) (30.11.2009)

TARGET HABITAT TYPES

  • 0 - Non applicable (i.e.species project)

SPECIES

  • Falco eleonorae

NATURA 2000 SITES

Type Code Name
SPA GR4320011 DIONYSADES NISOI
SCI GR3000008 ANTIKYTHIRA - PRASONISI KAI LAGOUVARDOS
SCI GR4220013 MIKRES KYKLADES: IRAKLEIA, SCHOINOUSSA, KOUFONISIA, KEROS, ANTIKERIA KAI THALASSIA ZONI
SPA GR4220021 NISOS IRAKLEIA, NISOI MAKARES, MIKROS KAI MEGALOS AVELAS, NISIDA VENETIKO IRAKLEIAS
SCI GR4320006 VOREIOANATOLIKO AKRO KRITIS: DIONYSADES, ELASA KAI CHERSONISOS SIDERO (AKRA MAVRO MOURI - VAI - AKRA PLAKAS) KAI THALASSIA ZONI
SCI GR4340001 IMERI KAI AGRIA GRAMVOUSSA - TIGANI KAI FALASARNA - PONTIKONISI, ORMOS LIVADI - VIGLIA
SPA GR3000012 NISOS ANTIKYTHIRA KAI NISIDES PRASONISI, LAGOUVARDOS, PLAKOULITHRA KAI NISIDES THYMONIES
SPA GR4110008 NISIDES KAI VRACHONISIDES LIMNOU: NISOS SERGITSI KAI NISIDES DIAVATES, KOMPIO, KASTRIA, TIGANI, KARKALAS, PRASONISI
SPA GR4210024 NISOS TILOS KAI NISIDES: ANTITILOS, PELEKOUSA, GAIDOURONISI, GIAKOUMIS, AGIOS ANDREAS, PRASOUDA, NISI
SPA GR4340017 CHERSONISOS GRAMVOUSSAS KAI NISIDES IMERI KAI AGRIA GRAMVOUSSA, PONTIKONISI

BENEFICIARIES

Name Type
University of Patras Research Committee Coordinator
NCC(Nature Conservation Consultants Ltd), Greece Participant
HOS(Hellenic Ornithological Society), Greece Participant

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