Lado, LR; Tapia, L (2012). SUITABLE BREEDING HABITAT FOR GOLDEN EAGLE (AQUILA CHRYSAETOS) IN A BORDER OF DISTRIBUTION AREA IN NORTHWESTERN SPAIN: ADVANTAGES OF USING REMOTE SENSING INFORMATION VS. LAND USE MAPS. VIE ET MILIEU-LIFE AND ENVIRONMENT, 62(2), 77-85.
We developed predictive models of suitable breeding habitat potential for Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos), in an area of 13500 km(2) in Northwestern Spain. We used 48 locations of well-known nesting territories as response variable and 27 environmental parameters, in the form of raster maps, as predictors. These parameters are mainly related to land use, degree of anthropic disturbance, terrain irregularity and habitat heterogeneity. Automated techniques were developed to estimate the potential distribution of locations suitable for nesting within the study area, using the DOMAIN algorithm and implemented in the statistical environment R. The raster maps, at 250 meter resolution, included topographic variables (i.e. altitude, slope, insolation, etc), remote sensing information (MODIS Enhanced Vegetation Index), land use maps, temperature, biodiversity indexes, habitat fragmentation estimates and human influence. The study revealed that suitable areas for nesting are characterized by altitude ranges between 255-1443 m.a.s.I., steep slopes, Mediterranean climatic influence and low human pressure. This study also shows the advantages of using remote sensing information instead of traditional land use maps in this kind of studies. The results are consistent with the ecological requirements of the species and reveal that the locations with highest habitat suitability for nesting in the study area. This analysis constitutes a useful conservation tool for the implementation of management actions for this endangered species in this transitional ecological area in the Northwest of the Iberian Peninsula.