Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 16, Issue 4, pp 841–856 | Cite as

Population trends and spatial synchrony in peripheral populations of the endangered Lesser grey shrike in response to environmental change

  • David Giralt
  • Francisco Valera
Original Paper


Regional synchronization in species dynamics as well as particular ecological and demographic characteristics of peripheral populations poses special challenges for conservation purposes, particularly under the current scenario of global climate change. Here, we study the population trend and spatial synchrony of several peripheral populations of the endangered Lesser grey shrike Lanius minor at the western limit of its breeding range (southern France and northeast Spain). In an attempt to ascertain the effect of environmental change on the decline of the species we also look for evidence of climate changes in the breeding and wintering area of this shrike and related effects on vegetation by using the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI). We found that the interannual fluctuations of the peripheral populations in France and Spain are strongly correlated, therefore suggesting that their decline can be under the influence of a common factor. We obtained clear evidence of climatic change (an increased thermal oscillation) in one peripheral population that could have resulted in a decrease of the NDVI index in the area. Our study finds correlational evidence that climatic variables in the breeding area may account for fluctuations in abundances of some populations and that environmental conditions experimented by some population could influence the fate of the neighboring populations. Our results indicate that the studied peripheral populations are spatially synchronized, so that conservation efforts should be applied at a large-scale encompassing all the isolated populations at the western border of the range of the species in the Mediterranean area.


Lanius minor Mediterranean region Population trend Range periphery Spatial synchrony 



We are indebted to J.J. Sanz for helping us with NDVI data and for providing useful advises and improving earlier versions of this work. We also thank P. Isenmann, X. Rufray, N. Lefranc, F. Labouyrie, J.C. Albero, J.L. Rivas, J. Estrada and Natural Park of Aiguamolls staff (J. Martí, E. Streich and S. Romero) for kindly providing us unpublished information and to Arco van Strien for his very kind assistance concerning the use of TRIM. Anders P. Møller, T. Szep, M. Herremans, L. Brotons and S. Mañosa provided valuable suggestions and unpublished information. We thank J. Castelló, A. Bonan and L. Juliá for their assistance in the field and G. Bota for his collaboration at the beginning of the project. Two anonymous referees contributed to improve the manuscript. We are grateful to the owners of the properties for all the facilities given and to the people who offered information about the past and current distribution of the species. This research has been funded by the Departament de Medi Ambient i Habitatge (Generalitat de Catalunya) (2001–2002), REGSEGA (2003–2004) and the Fundació Territori i Paisatge (1999). FVH was supported by a I3P contract funded by the European Union and by the Programa de Ayudas para el Retorno de Investigadores de la Junta de Andalucía.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre Tecnològic Forestal de CatalunyaSolsonaSpain
  2. 2.Departament de Biología AnimalUniversitat de Barcelona, Facultat de BiologíaBarcelonaSpain
  3. 3.Estación Experimental de Zonas Áridas (CSIC)AlmeriaSpain

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