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Green plant material versus ectoparasites in nests of Bonelli's eagle

Authors


Correspondence
Diego Ontiveros, Departamento de Biología Animal, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad de Granada, E-18071 Granada, Spain. Tel: 34 958 243082; Fax: 34 958 243238
Email: dontive@ugr.es

Abstract

The greenery and arthropod nest composition has been studied in a population of Bonelli's eagle Hieraaetus fasciatus in south-east Spain, relating them to the plant availability within territories and breeding success of pairs. Greenery was invariably from trees and shrubs, with pine and oak species accounting for 78% of the nest composition in weight. All eagle pairs with Pinus pinaster availability in territories actively selected it for nest greenery. This pine species is characterized by a high level of aromatic compounds, particularly β-pinene, highly repellent for insects. The amount of pine greenery in the nest was correlated with a lower presence of ectoparasites in that nest (blow fly larvae, Protocalliphora), and higher breeding success of pairs. We discuss whether a coevolutionary process between parasites and their hosts has guided a particular nesting strategy of the eagles to improve their breeding success.

Ancillary