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Long-Term Changes in Game Species Over a Long Period of Transformation in the Iberian Mediterranean Landscape



Agricultural change has transformed large areas of traditional farming landscapes, leading to important changes in the species community assemblages in most European countries. We suspect that the drastic changes in land-use that have occurred in Andalusia (southern Spain) over recent decades, may have affected the distribution and abundance of game species in this region. This article compares the distribution of the main game species in Andalusia during the 1960s and 1990s, using data from maps available from the Mainland Spanish Fish, Game and National Parks Service and from recent datasets on hunting yield distributions, respectively. Big-game and small-game species were significantly segregated in southern Spain during the 1990s, as two clearly independent chorotypes (groups of species whose abundances are similarly distributed) were obtained from the classification analysis. In contrast, big-game and small-game species were not significantly segregated several decades ago, when there was only one chorotype consisting of small-game species and wild boar. The other three ungulates did not constitute a significant chorotype, as they showed positive correlations with some species in the group mentioned above. These changes seem to be a consequence of the transformations that have occurred in the Iberian Mediterranean landscape over the last few decades. The abandoning of traditional activities, and the consequent formation of dense scrubland and woodland, has led to an expansion of big-game species, and a decrease of small-game species in mountain areas. Moreover, agricultural intensification has apparently depleted small-game species populations in some agricultural areas. On the other hand, the increasingly intensive hunting management could be artificially boosting this segregation between small-game and big-game species. Our results suggest that the conservation and regeneration of traditional agricultural landscapes (like those predominating in the 1960s) should be a priority for the conservation of small-game species.



Environmental ManagementSpringer Journals

Published: Jun 1, 2009

DOI: 10.1007/s00267-009-9297-5

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