Range expansion of an exotic ungulate (Ammotragus lervia) in southern Spain: ecological and conservation concerns.

Biodiversity and Conservation 13: 851. https://doi.org/10.1023/B:BIOC.0000014461.69034.78


Evidence of aoudad Ammotragus lervia expansion in the southeastern quarter of the Iberian Peninsula is provided based on recent field surveys. Aoudad has become common in a limited region of the southeast of Spain since its introduction as a game species in Sierra Espuña Natural Park in 1970. Its adaptability enabled it to colonise nearby areas in a short period. Apart from this source of expansion, the increasing number of aoudads in Spanish private game reserves provided other centres of dispersion. In addition, aoudads were introduced on La Palma Island (Canary Islands), becoming a serious threat to endemic flora. Of great conservation concern is the species' potential as a competitor against native ungulates inhabiting the peninsula. Surveys conducted in southern Spain documented rapid colonization of new areas and established viable populations, consisting of adult males and females and the unequivocal presence of nursery groups, in the provinces of Alicante, Almería, Granada and Murcia. Also, aoudads have spread throughout the north and centre of La Palma. There are two main conservational concerns: the necessity of conducting detailed and reliable surveys in all potential regions where the species might expand, and the urgent need of changing current game policies in order to establish reliable controls on big game reserves to prevent animals from escaping.


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