Demographic collapse threatens the long-term persistence of Andean condors in the northern Andes
PADRÓ, JULIÁN; VARGAS, FÉLIX HERNÁN; LAMBERTUCCI, SERGIO A.; PERRIG, PAULA L.; PAULI, JONATHAN N.; ORTEGA, ANDRÉS; KOHN, SEBASTIÁN; NAVARRETE, JORGE; HEREDIA, SHADY; NARVÁEZ, FABRICIO; ANDRADE-BRITO, DIEGO; CHAVES, JAIME A.
ELSEVIER SCI LTD
Año: 2023 vol. 285
Determining the conservation status of long-lived and highly mobile species is particularly challenging due to their long generational time and the spatio-temporal scale at which they interact with their landscape. Vultures are not only extremely vagile and long-lived but are also some of the most threatened species globally. However, the genetic status and connectivity patterns of most vulture species of the southern hemisphere remain poorly understood. Herein, we studied the patterns of neutral genetic variability in both the captive and remnant wild populations of Andean condors (Vultur gryphus) from the equatorial Andes and assessed their movement dynamic to infer current connectivity, as well as identify conservation corridors in one of the most critical areas for the conservation of the species. We found that the demographic collapse of condors in the region has severely affected their effective population size, which might lead to an extinction vortex in the near future. However, our results indicated that the captive population still harbors substantial genetic variation that could be harnessed to strengthen wild populations. Although our landscape resistance models revealed that the northern Andean corridor provides a continuum of suitable habitat for condors, our connectivity assessment identified important spatial disruptions, likely driven by anthropogenic processes. We discuss the implications of our findings to the conservation plan of Andean condors, while highlighting the importance of integrating multiple data sources to identify extinction risks in other species exhibiting high dispersal capabilities and long generational times.