• DNA-fingerprinting;
  • microtransponders;
  • radiotags;
  • raptors;
  • survival;
  • sustainability models

Abstract: Sustainable use of wildlife is crucial to ensuring persistence of natural resources. We used age-specific survival and breeding data to parameterize a demographic model for a harvested Kazakh saker falcon (Falco cherrug) population by radiotagging juveniles and estimating adult turnover with DNA-fingerprinting during 1993–1997. We gathered similar data during 1990–1998 to model populations of British buzzards (Buteo buteo), and during 1980–1998 to model populations of Swedish goshawks (Accipiter gentilis). Leg-bands and implanted microtransponders provided ways to test for bias and to estimate the harvest of sakers for falconry. Despite an estimated minimum first-year survival of only 23%, the observed productivity of 3.14 young per clutch would sustain a saker population (i.e., λ = 1) with a breeding rate (at laying) of only 0.63 for adults or with a residual juvenile yield of 37% if all adults breed. Higher first-year survival rates for goshawks and buzzards correlated with juvenile yields of up to 71%, but no more than half as many individuals if adults also were harvested. An annual population decline of 40% for sakers in southern Kazakhstan could be explained by observed productivity of only 0.71 young per clutch if there was also an estimated harvest of 55% of adults. This study shows that demographic models such as these can now be built rapidly if nestlings are fitted with reliable and safe radiotags and adult turnover is estimated from genetic analyses or other techniques.