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Juan Carlos Alonso

Juan Carlos Alonso
Spanish National Research Council (Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas CSIC)

Research Professor

About

182
Publications
40,044
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Introduction
I am Research Professor at the CSIC (Spanish High Council for Scientific Research). My main research fields are behavioural ecology and conservation biology, and my current interests are the behavioural and ecological adaptations of strong sexual selection, the evolution of sex ratio and sexual segregation in species with extreme sexual size dimorphism, and the human-induced conservation problems of steppe birds in farmland areas.
Additional affiliations
October 1982 - present
The National Museum of Natural Sciences
Position
  • Professor
Description
  • My main research fields are behavioural ecology and conservation biology, and my current interests are the behavioural and ecological adaptations of strong sexual selection, the evolution of sex ratio and sexual segregation in birds
October 1982 - present
Spanish National Research Council
Position
  • Professor
Description
  • I have participated in 49 projects (in 43 as PI). Author or co-author of 130 papers published in scientific journals, 10 books or monographs, and over 80 contributions to international congresses or book chapters, and supervisor of 11 PhD theses.

Publications

Publications (182)
Article
Full-text available
Since 2005, the world population of Great Bustards Otis tarda has decreased at an annual rate of 3.23%. The current world total is estimated at 31,000–36,000 birds, 34% (range 30–38%) less than 16 years ago. The declines have been observed in nine of 17 countries with extant breeding populations, with highest values in China (-89%) and European Rus...
Article
Full-text available
Migratory birds typically fly long distances in response to large-scale seasonal climate variation. However, most migratory species are partial migrants, and some fly only short distances , for example to take advantage of suitable feeding conditions during the non-breeding season. In spite of their short distance, such migrations may also be fixed...
Article
Full-text available
Se han documentado por primera vez movimientos entre islas en la hubara canaria. Un macho liberado con emisor en La Graciosa a finales de 2020 voló a Lanzarote y de ahí a Fuerteventura en un periplo de varios meses. Estos desplazamientos facilitarían el intercambio genético entre las distintas poblaciones de esta subespecie endémica.
Conference Paper
Full-text available
The increase of the western populations of Common cranes (Grus grus) in the last five decades highlights the need to estimate survival rates. According to Euring databank (EDB), the oldest Common crane ever known was 27 years old in year 2017. This lifespan was obtained by means of 24,900 recoveries of 2,124 ringed cranes collected between years 19...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
In March 1988, the three-colour-code currently used to mark Common Cranes (Grus grus) was employed for the first time in Spain. This banding system had been proposed by Spanish researchers at the First Meeting of the European Crane Working Group in 1985 in Hungary, as an alternative to the harder-to-read alphanumeric rings. Between 1988 and 1992, t...
Chapter
Full-text available
Updated status of the Great Bustard in Spain
Article
Full-text available
The next reform of the EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) for the period 2021- 2027 (currently extended to 2023-2030) requires the approval by the European Commission of a Strategic Plan with environmental objectives for each Member State. Here we use the best available scientific evidence on the relationships between agricultural practices and bi...
Article
The importance of nocturnal display in diurnal birds has been neglected for a long time, owing to the difficulties in recording behaviour by night. Using loggers with an accelerometer (ACC) we studied nocturnal display in male African houbara bustards, Chlamydotis undulata, ssp. fuertaventurae. Diurnal display of male houbaras consists of a visual...
Article
Full-text available
Building trust in science and evidence-based decision-making depends heavily on the credibility of studies and their findings. Researchers employ many different study designs that vary in their risk of bias to evaluate the true effect of interventions or impacts. Here, we empirically quantify, on a large scale, the prevalence of different study des...
Preprint
Full-text available
Background: Diets combine food types according to some trade-offs, as for example maximising nutrients and minimising toxins. But some diets include elements because of their activity against the host parasites and other pathogens. This so-called medicinal role of food is under-reported in the literature, either because toxic elements in diets of l...
Article
Full-text available
Gallocanta lagoon, NE Spain, is one of the main stopover and wintering areas of Common Cranes (Grus grus) migrating through Western Europe. We investigated how the water level of the lagoon where cranes roost, precipitation, and air temperature might have influenced the species' migration and wintering patterns in this area between 1973 and 2018. O...
Article
Full-text available
Male-biased sexual size dimorphism (SSD) is common and related to male mating success in polygynous birds, but also occurs in monogamous species, in which sexual selection can be strong. In these species, SSD in morphological traits not directly related to reproductive function, such as locomotory or feeding structures, has remained difficult to ex...
Article
A simple methodology was developed to select new sex-specific primers for bird sexing from degraded and low-quantity DNA sources. The strategy was validated using highly degraded DNA extracted from Giemsa-stained blood smears of common cranes (Grus grus). The new primers allowed the accurate molecular sexing using (i) a classic approach of PCR foll...
Article
How animals use food resources according to their relative availability is essential for our understanding and predictions of ecosystem interaction. Non-linear functions between use and availability are described with the feeding functional response, a key tool to describe such functions that is still poorly understood in some cases. For example, i...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
In March 1988, the three-colour-code currently used to mark Common Cranes (Grus grus) was employed for the first time in Spain. This banding system had been proposed by Spanish researchers at the First Meeting of the European Crane Working Group in 1985 in Hungary, as an alternative to the harder-to-read alphanumeric rings. Between 1988 and 1992, t...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
The increase of the western populations of Common cranes (Grus grus) in the last five decades highlights the need to estimate survival rates. According to Euring databank (EDB), the oldest Common crane ever known was 27 years old in year 2017. This lifespan was obtained by means of 24,900 recoveries of 2,124 ringed cranes collected between years 19...
Article
Species distribution modelling may support ecologists in conservation decision-making. However, the applicability of management recommendations depends on the uncertainty associated to the modelling process. A key source of uncertainty is the underspecificity of the research question. Modelling specific questions is straightforward since they drive...
Chapter
Full-text available
Eurasian Cranes (Grus grus) started staging at Gallocanta, NE Spain, in 1973, just after waterfowl hunting was prohibited in the lake. Since then, crane numbers increased in the area each year, due to the abundant food resources provided by intensive cereal farming. During the mid-1980s, farmers started claiming compensations for the damages caused...
Article
A simple methodology was developed to select new sex-specific primers for bird sexing from degraded and low-quantity DNA sources. The strategy was validated using highly degraded DNA extracted from Giemsa-stained blood smears of common cranes (Grus grus). The new primers allowed the accurate molecular sexing using (i) a classic approach of PCR foll...
Article
Full-text available
Increase in nest predation has been identified as a major cause of decline of farmland birds. However, the interactions between agricultural intensification and predation are still poorly understood, particularly after the introduction of agri-environmental schemes (AES). We used an artificial nest predation experiment and camera trapping to examin...
Article
Sex allocation models still fail to predict the complex sex ratio patterns in broods of vertebrates. A major problem when studying motherebrood interactions is the difficulty in disentangling hypotheses involving maternal preferences from processes that do not imply maternal manipulation. We studied maternal resource allocation in mixed-sex, same-s...
Article
The main populations of several globally threatened bird species survive in Mediterranean agroecosystems. Consequently, a number of areas considered important for the conservation of these birds are currently protected by EU legislation. The European Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), conceived to increase agricultural production, has no restriction...
Article
Flight capacity is one of the most important innovations in animal evolution; it only evolved in insects, birds, mammals and the extinct pterodactyls. Given that powered flight represents a demanding aerobic activity, an efficient cardiovascular system is essential for the continuous delivery of oxygen to the pectoral muscles during flight. It is w...
Article
Full-text available
Intra-specific coloration polymorphism coupled with an ancient process of lineage differentiation in Berberomeloe maja-lis (Linnaeus, 1758) offers the opportunity to analyse the temporal scenario in which the correlation between toxicity and coloration might have evolved. Based on phylogenetic and phylogeographic analyses, we identified the timing...
Article
Species distribution models based on breeding occurrence data allow for identifying both environmental drivers and geographic areas potentially relevant for breeding. However, the interpretation of model predictions in terms of reproductive performance should be further investigated, as this information is crucial for conservation planning. We eval...
Article
Full-text available
Sexual size dimorphism (SSD) may favour physiological peculiarities in diet, behaviour and home-range size both across species and within species. Sex-specific differences in diet and behaviour have been reported in several bird species but there are fewer studies of foraging area size in sexually dimorphic bird species. Foraging area size should b...
Article
Full-text available
Context Urban sprawl and the expanding transportation infrastructure drive land consumption and landscape fragmentation, causing environmental deterioration and loss of species. Current understanding of how these drivers interact to shape landscape fragmentation is still poor. However, a strong correlation between urban sprawl and landscape fragmen...
Chapter
Full-text available
The Common crane winter counts carried out in Spain, Portugal and Morocco during the last four decades show a extraordinarily increasing trend, from the ca. 40000 birds counted in the mid 1980's to a total of 232298 birds in winter 2013/14. Such a marked increase cannot be explained as an intrinsic demographic growth alone, given juvenile productiv...
Article
A Great Bustard Otis tarda survey carried out in spring 2015 in Morocco confirmed the decline of this highly endangered population. Bustards were only seen at two of the seven leks occupied ten years ago. The total number of birds counted was 40-44, which represents a 40% decline over the last decade. The sex-ratio was still strongly female-biased...
Article
Full-text available
Habitat loss and deterioration represent the main threats to wildlife species, and are closely linked to the expansion of roads and human settlements. Unfortunately, large-scale effects of these structures remain generally overlooked. Here, we analyzed the European transportation infrastructure network and found that 50% of the continent is within...
Conference Paper
Desde mediados del s. XX están teniendo lugar procesos de cambio en el paisaje y en el clima a una velocidad sin precedentes. En este tiempo, las especies que viven en zonas agrícolas han sufrido una fuerte regresión y han pasado a encontrarse entre las más amenazadas. En este estudio 1) analizamos la existencia de retrasos en la respuesta de las a...
Article
Many bird populations have recently changed their migratory behaviour in response to alterations of the environment. We used 16-year data of the partial migratory great bustard (Otis tarda) males, including population counts and 180 lifelong radio-tracked individuals, to test for differences in survival rates between migratory and sedentary individ...
Article
Full-text available
In sexually size-dimorphic species, physiological constraints derived from differences in body size may determine different nutritional requirements and thus a trophic niche divergence between males and females. These relationships between sexual dimorphism and dietary overlap are not well understood in birds. We compared the diet of males and fema...
Article
Full-text available
The genetic diversity, population structure and gene flow of the Great Bustards (Otis tarda) living in Austria-Slovakia-West Hungary (West-Pannonian region), one of the few populations of this globally threatened species that survives across the Palaearctic, has been assessed for the first time in this study. Fourteen recently developed microsatell...
Data
Microsatellite dataset Bustards’ microsatellite genotypes in Genepop format.
Article
Full-text available
ABSTRACT: We studied the dynamics and trend of the last extant population of great bustards Otis tarda in Africa. Moroccan great bustards are the southernmost population of this species, and thus show the characteristics of a peripheral population: small size, isolation and low gene flow. Available counts indicate a severe population decline (62% i...
Article
In hot environments, where many species seek shade to decrease their heat load at midday, sexual differences in heat sensitivity could lead to different patterns of shelter use in males and females, constituting a sexual segregation mechanism. In sexually size-dimorphic species living in these areas, the larger males have more difficulties in dissi...
Article
Full-text available
Great Bustards are still vulnerable to agricultural intensification, power line collision, and other human-induced landscape changes. Their world population is estimated to be between44,000 and 57,000 individuals, showing a stable demographic trend at present in the Iberian peninsula, its mainstronghold, but uncertain trends in Russia and China, an...
Data
Table S1. Hypotheses about the potential function of blister beetle consumption in great bustards. Hypotheses were grouped by selective processes: natural selection and sexual selection. The nutritional value hypothesis explains consumption of blister beetles based on their large size, low mobility and short handling time (i.e., high rate of net en...
Article
Full-text available
We present evidence of a possible case of self-medication in a lekking bird, the great bustard Otis tarda. Great bustards consumed blister beetles (Meloidae), in spite of the fact that they contain cantharidin, a highly toxic compound that is lethal in moderate doses. In addition to anthelminthic properties, cantharidin was effective against gastro...
Article
Patterns of genetic structure and gene flow among populations help us understand population dynamics and properly manage species of concern. Matrilineal mtDNA sequence data have been instrumental in revealing genetic structure at the intraspecific level, but bi-parentally inherited markers are needed to confirm patterns at the genome level and to a...
Article
Patterns of genetic structure and gene fl ow among populations help us understand population dynamics and properly manage species of concern. Matrilineal mtDNA sequence data have been instrumental in revealing genetic structure at the intraspecifi c level, but bi-parentally inherited markers are needed to confi rm patterns at the genome level and t...
Article
Species distribution modelling (SDM) allows identification of suitable areas where the species might occur. The Grinnellian approach relates species occurrence to abiotic limiting factors, such as topography and climate, measured at present or averaged over time at large spatial scales, whilst Eltonian approaches relate processes as reproductive ra...
Article
Full-text available
Studies evaluating agri-environmental schemes (AES) usually focus on responses of single species or functional groups. Analyses are generally based on simple habitat measurements but ignore food availability and other important factors. This can limit our understanding of the ultimate causes determining the reactions of birds to AES. We investigate...
Article
Full-text available
Taxonomic classification of birds based exclusively on morphology and plumage traits has often been found to be inconsistent with true evolutionary history when tested with molecular phylogenies based on neutrally-evolving markers. Here we present cytochrome-b gene sequences for the poorly known little brown bustard (Eupodotis humilis) and analyze...
Article
Full-text available
The current distribution and recent population trends of the Great Bustard (Otis tarda) in Iran were investigated based on a literature review and unpublished data (1995–2008) followed by three years of census (2009–2011) in areas where the species is still breeding. Results suggest that Great Bustards have disappeared from a large part of their fo...
Article
Full-text available
We present evidence of a possible case of self-medication in a lekking bird, the great bustard Otis tarda. Great bustards consumed blister beetles (Meloidae), in spite of the fact that they contain cantharidin, a highly toxic compound that is lethal in moderate doses. In addition to anthelminthic properties, cantharidin was effective against gastro...
Article
Full-text available
We used next-generation sequencing (NGS) techniques to develop 14 new microsatellite loci in the great bustard (Otis tarda), an endangered steppe bird. We genotyped 22 individuals of the species in order to quantify levels of polymorphism and found that the number of alleles per locus ranged from 2 to 11 (mean = 4.21), with observed heterozygosity...
Article
Early anthropogenic impacts on the abundance and distribution of wild species are difficult to document, but can help us to understand the causes and relative importance of current declines. Genetic data can be of use in inferring historical demographic events, but the accuracy of these inferences depends on the availability and precision of demogr...
Article
Faecal sexual steroids have been used in field studies evaluating the relationships between gender and the multiple factors influencing endocrine status of individuals. The determination of faecal steroids has been also proposed as an alternative, non-invasive sexing method when other methods were deemed impractical or risky for the health of birds...
Article
Full-text available
Avian foraging activity during daytime peaks after dawn and before dusk. The relative importance of each period of intensive foraging on the accumulated intake varies by species, individual, and day. We studied the relative importance of each period from direct observation of radio-tagged Common Cranes (Grus grus) during winter at a site of stopove...
Article
Full-text available
The distinction between true lekking and resource-defense mating systems is difficult in exploded-lekking species, where resources in male territories may influence female choice. Here, we propose the use of path analysis as a way to establish the relative importance of phenotypic characteristics versus food resources on mating success and hence de...
Poster
Full-text available
Road density is being increased due to a constant development of the transport network. This fact is especially noticeable in peri-urban areas, becoming crucial the planning and management of activities. In most of the studies which analyze road effects focused on population items, the weakness of the analysis performed questions the results. We st...
Article
Full-text available
We studied the effects of female distribution, topography, and human infrastructures on lek-site selection in a ground-displaying bird, the great bustard Otis tarda. Our aim was to investigate the relative importance of maximizing visibility to females (hotspot hypothesis) versus minimizing predation risk (predation avoidance hypothesis). Using a g...
Article
Full-text available
Collision with electric power lines is a conservation problem for many bird species. Although the implementation of flight diverters is rapidly increasing, few well-designed studies supporting the effectiveness of this costly conservation measure have been published. We provide information on the largest worldwide marking experiment to date, includ...
Article
We modelled great bustard abundance patterns and their spatial structure in relation to habitat and landscape variables. We developed Generalized Linear Models (GLM) using long term data series – years 1997–2006 – during the breeding season in Madrid region, central Spain. Our main goal was to assess spatial and temporal variability effects on habi...
Article
Full-text available
Capsule Arthropods are the most important diet component of Great Bustards Otis tarda in the first months of life. Aims To determine the diet composition of young Great Bustards in Spain. Methods The diet was estimated by stomach content analysis (n = 49). Results Stomach contents' dry weight consisted of 33% arthropods, 30% green plant material...