Long-term persistence of conservation-reliant species: challenges and opportunities

Joao Gameiro, Aldina Franco, Teresa Catry, Jorge M. Palmeirim, Inês Catry

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“Conservation-reliant species” – those fully dependent on continued management actions – are booming and, with limited conservation budgets, securing funds to sustain their long-term viability is becoming overwhelming. This study assesses the degree of dependence on conservation actions of two obligatory cavity-nesters, the Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni and the European Roller Coracias garrulus, whose populations in Europe were recently recovered through artificial nest-site provisioning. Using long-term monitoring data and population surveys conducted in their main Portuguese stronghold, we examined temporal changes in the availability and use of semi-natural (cavities in rural abandoned buildings) and artificial nest-sites. We further assessed the financial costs of nest-site provisioning and evaluated the potential use of tourism revenues as a conservation funding source. Following the implementation of conservation projects, the Lesser Kestrel and Roller populations have been increasing but more than 65% of all breeding pairs currently nest in artificial nest-sites. Semi-natural nest-sites remain suitable for approximately 30 years and are expected to disappear by the end of this century. Lesser Kestrels and Rollers will thus become fully dependent on artificial nest-sites and sustaining their current population sizes is estimated to cost 4500€ per year. This represents less than 1% of the region’s lodging income, largely supported by nature-based tourism. Our findings suggest that reactive conservation measures can be very effective at recovering endangered populations but can make them fully reliant on the perpetuation of those measures. This demands long-term funding, which can be alleviated by tourism revenues in areas with high nature capital values.
Original languageEnglish
Article number108452
Number of pages10
JournalBiological Conservation
Early online date18 Feb 2020
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2020


  • Artificial nests
  • Conservation
  • European Roller
  • Funding
  • Lesser Kestrel
  • Tourism

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