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El milano real en Molise: seguimiento en dormideros y estima de la población nidificante. 3. Red Kite in Molise: Monitoring of roosts and estimates of breeding population. Davide De Rosa, Lorenzo De Lisio, Anna Loy, Andrea Senese, Camilla Bucci & Guido Ceccolini.
Red Kite (Milvus milvus) in Molise:
Monitoring of roosts and estimates of breeding population
De Rosa Davide1,3, De Lisio Lorenzo2, Loy Anna1, Senese Andrea3, Bucci Camilla1
e Ceccolini Guido4
1 Environmetrics Lab Dipartimento di Bioscienze and Territorio DiBT - Universit del Molise, 86090 Pesche (IS)
2 WWF Molise Via SS Cosma e Damiano 1, 86100 Campobasso
3 ARDEA Associazione per la Ricerca, la Divulgazione e lEducazione Ambientale, Via Ventilabro n.6,80126 Napoli
4 Associazione CERM Centro Rapaci Minacciati ONLUS, Via Santa Cristina, 6 58055 Rocchette di Fazio (GR)
Along with Basilicata and Abruzzo, Molise is one of Italys regions of strategic importance for breeding and wintering Red Kites (Milvus milvus). Between 2009 and 2011, as part of a study carried under an agreement between the Molise
regional administration and the Italian Zoological Union for the implementation of the Management Plans for Natura 2000 sites, we conducted the first simultaneous region-wide census of Red Kites in Molise. The data, collected through most of
the species range in the region (Lago di Guardialfiera-Foce Fiume Biferno, Vallone Santa Maria, Bosco la Difesa Colle Lucina La Romana and Pantano Zittola - Feudo Valcocchiara), related primarily to the breeding season.
Since 2011, we have located and monitored Molises three main wintering roosts in the months of December and January. Roost attendance generally declines in January (about -55%). The maximum number of Red Kites was counted in winter
2012/13 with 318 birds in December and 144 in January.
In 2015, we surveyed the province of Isernia in more detail, using transects and a KIA (Kilometric Index of Abundance) in order to obtain more thorough data on the entire region and arrive at a more accurate estimate of the breeding population.
These efforts helped confirm the estimate of 50-70 breeding pairs in Molise made in 2014. This is an increased compared to the estimate made 2009 (30-50 breeding pairs), and reflects increased survey efforts during the breeding season.
Our surveys also detected birds with wing tags and GPS data loggers from the reintroduction effort in Tuscany (Save the Flyers LIFE project).
We conclude that the breeding population in Molise is stable, although in some important areas, such as SCI " La Montagnola di Frosolone ", there has been a sharp decline in the number of pairs, probably due to the high number of wind farms
present. Starting in December 2015, we will study the movements of Red Kites by using GPS-datalogers, and we will have a clearer idea of which conservation efforts to apply and where.
The Red Kite is an high conservation concern species, included in Annex I of Directive 79/409/EEC and Annex
II of the Bonn Convention on migratory species. It also considered Near Threatened by the IUCN due to the
general decline which is occurring in many European countries. Population estimate is 20,000-26,000 breeding
pairs in Europe mainly concentrated in Germany; significant populations are also present in Switzerland, Spain
In Italy Red Kite breeding population estimate was 393-403 pairs (Allavena et al., 2007), then Sar et al. (2009),
with a survey on a national scale, confirmed this values (314-426 pairs), equivalent approximately to 1.5% of the
European breeding population.
In 2014 Nicola Cillo has collected updated data on breeding population in Italy in the final conference of LIFE
Project Save the Flyers; currently in Italy the estimate is 425-525 pairs, divided in different ways in central and
The national population is concentrated mainly in Basilicata, Abruzzo and Molise (82%). Small populations are
also present in Calabria, Apulia, Sicily, Lazio, Campania, Tuscany and Marche (in the latter two regions there are
active reintroduction projects). In new Italian Red List of breeding birds, its status improved from Endangered to
Vulnerable (Bulgarini et al., 1998; Peronace et al., 2012).
Molise region is divided almost equally between mountainous areas (55.3%) and hilly areas (44.7%). The
mountainous area extends between the Apennines of Abruzzo and the Samnite Apennines. The meeting point of
the border between Molise, Abruzzo and Lazio is represented by Meta mountains (2,241 m), and along the
border with Campania are the Matese Mountains that reach an altitude of 2,050 meters with Mount Miletto. To
the east, the area of the Sub-Apennines (Frentani) slopes down to the sea with very steep hills and rounded
shapes. The flat areas are few and small, the main ones are the plain of Bojano and western plain of Venafro.
MATERIALS AND METHODS
Since December 2011 a national survey was conducted with two main objectives: to provide an update of
knowledge on quantity and distribution of roosts and also to develop a methodology that could be replicated over
time so to start a monitoring on the wintering population of Red Kite.
The project involved 10 regions, in which roosts were already known: Tuscany, Marche, Lazio, Abruzzo, Molise,
Campania, Puglia, Basilicata, Calabria and Sicily. For Molise supervisor are Lorenzo De Lisio and Davide De
The census has been divided into two periods: the first week of December (corresponding to the first part of
winter to lower latitudes) and first decade of January (which corresponds to the central point of the winter in
accordance with the european census).
During the days before the census we conducted preliminary surveys in appropriate areas, to check the exact
location of the roosts and the possible appearance of new ones. Censuses started from early in the afternoon
(14.00), in order to assess the possible presence of subjects that went in other directions, until the dusk. The
counts have been completed after the sunset, when the light conditions did not allow to make further
observations and all the kites were laid on the trees.
For the census of breeding pairs, from 2009 to 2011, thanks to the study carried out as part of an agreement
between the Region of Molise and Italian Zoological Union for the implementation of the Management Plans of
Natura 2000 sites, we collected the first data simultaneously on the presence of the species in a significant
portion of the region (Lago di Guardialfiera-Foce Fiume Biferno, Vallone Santa Maria, Bosco la Difesa Colle Lucina La Romana and Pantano Zittola - Feudo Valcocchiara) (Fig. 1).
In 2015 the province of Isernia was investigated in more detail with transects to perform KIA (Kilometric Index
of Abundance) (Fig. 2). The sampling was carried out driving a car at a constant speed of 40-60 km/h, during the
month of June, only in clear weather conditions and good visibility. During the journey the identification of the
birds was done without binoculars except for uncertain identification.
Since December 2011, data were collected continuously until January 2015 (Tab. 1) in the three main sites used as
During the field research we also identified other small roosts but they were used occasionally and therefore not
shown in the table.
As regards the breeding season, in 2009 in Molise 30-50 breeding pairs were estimated (De Rosa, 2011), but thanks
to the investigations carried out in detail in the province of Isernia, the current estimate is 50-70 breeding pairs.
This estimate is based on data obtained in censuses from 2009 to 2011 in the province of Campobasso and the KIA
carried out in the province of Isernia in 2015 (Table 2).
The surveys were conducted for 241.7 km divided into 4 transects of different lengths. The obtained result is 7.45
3.72 (n individuals / 100 km).
During a survey in the province of Campobasso (7 May 2011), at Montenero di Bisaccia an individual with wing
markings was sighted and photographed; it came from the repopulation project ongoing in Tuscany (Fig. 3). Later
another subject with gps-logger called Vincent spent three days in October 2013 in southern Italy through Molise,
Puglia and Campania (Fig. 4).
The census data obtained at roosts in winter, as shown in the table 1, point out that in January there is a decline in
attendance (about -55%), probably due to climatic conditions; in fact, recent surveys carried out by unusual weather
conditions, lack of snow and temperatures above the average showed higher number of Kites in the roosts.
Comparing the current breeding population estimate instead of the previous one (2011), it would seem that the Red
Kite is undergoing strong expansion; such a result, however, depends only on the increased sampling effort.
Comparing the KIA made in Molise with the Basilicata one (Pandolfi, 2006), there is a distinct difference between
the two regions (KIA annual average of 15.9 1.1), although Pandolfi results come from a one year survey; whereas if we make a comparison with the few data in the literature concerning only the breeding period, the value
of Molise is slightly higher than that recorded in Navarra by Viuela et al. in 1999 (6.7 individuals / 100 km).
Probably breeding population of Red Kite in Molise is still underestimated because the area of the province of
Isernia should be investigated further and next year KIA will be carried out in the whole region.
From this winter 8 Red Kites will be equipped with GPS-data logger, thus the behaviour of the species in this
region will be studied in a more accurate way, to understand the habitat use in different periods of the year, the
average home range of breeding pairs and the relationship with the threats recorded during these years.
Fig. 1 Preliminary investigation area of breeding pairs Fig. 2 One of the IKA transect in Isernia Province
Roost dec-11 jan-12 dec-12 jan-13 jan-14 dic-14 jan-15 Roost 1 100 22 234 85 36 37 25
Roost 2 50 32 50 35 25 Np 0
Roost 3 26 25 34 24 30 30 42 Total 176 79 318 144 91 67 67
Table 1. Results of the roosts censed December-January 2011/2015 in Molise
Transect Km Red Kite KIA
T1 34,6 1 0,03
T2 17,5 1 0,06
T3 85,3 4 0,05
T4 104,3 12 0,12
Tot km 241,7 18 0,07
Table 2. KIA transects in the province of Isernia in 2015
Fig. 3 Subject marked from Tuscany and observed in Molise Fig. 4 Vincent trip in southern Italy
De Rosa Davide, Carafa Marco, Corso Andrea, De Lisio Lorenzo, Di Marzio Mirko & Fracasso Carlo. Status e distribuzione dei rapaci diurni in dieci si ti della rete NATURA 2000 in Molise. In: Tinarelli R., Andreotti A., Baccetti N., Melega L., Roscelli F., Serra L., Zenatello M. (a cura di) Atti del XVI Convegno Italiano di Ornitologia. Cervia (RA) 22-25 settembre 2011. Scritti, Studi e Ricerche di Storia Naturale della Repubblica di San Marino: 157-159.
Pandolfi M., 2006. Monitoraggio e valutazione dello status della popolazione di Nibbio reale nel Parco Nazionale del Pollino. In Allavena S., Andreotti A., Angelini J., Scotti M. (eds), 2006. Atti del Convegno Status e Conservazione del Nibbio reale Milvus milvus e del Nibbio bruno Milvus migrans in Italia e in Europa meridionale Serra S. Quirico (AN): pp. 10-12.
Viuela J., Mart R., Ruiz A. (Eds.). 1999. El Milano Real en Espaa. Monografia n 6. Seo/BirdLife, Madrid.