A Conservation Project for the Red-billed Chough in Portugal
The Red-billed Chough Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax is a specialised resident corvid that the Portuguese Vertebrate Red Data Book classifies as endangered. Populations, almost throughout their Portuguese range, have suffered a marked decline over the past century, particularly in the last 20 years, to the extent that it is now extinct in many areas where it was once common.
In this context, Project Bico-Vermelho (http://flavors.me/p_pyrrhocorax), launched in 2006 by the Laboratory of Applied Ecology (LEA) at the University of Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro (UTAD) in partnership with the Institute for Nature Conservation and Biodiversity (ICNB) aims to secure a better understanding of the status of Red-billed Chough populations in Portugal with a view to assuring their future by the implementation of appropriate actions to strengthen the viability of existing breeding sites.
Monitoring of all known sites, including Serra do Gerâs (PNPG), Serra do Barroso, Parque Natural do Alvão (PNAI), Parque Natural do Douro Internacional (PNDI), Parque Natural das Serras de Aire e Candeeiros (PNSAC) and Parque Natural do Sudoeste Alentejano e Costa Vicentina (PNSACV) is providing information on the ecology of the species, its local and regional distribution, population, ethology, feeding, roosting and nesting habitats, as well as the dynamics of reproduction success and the principal threats posed by changes in human activities in terms of land use and agro-pastoral practices.
In 2012 the project is extending its objectives beyond those originally defined to collect data for new areas of study such as the analysis of genetic patterns and the physiological and physical well-being of chough populations. Analysis of the data will utilise ecological, dynamics and spatial modelling tools in order to ascertain emerging biological, ecological and distribution patterns of Red-billed Choughs in Portugal as well as simulating population trends for future decision-making and management of this endangered species.