10 Oct 2012
Historical distribution, contemporary status and cooperative breeding in the Madagascar Fish Eagle: implications for conservation

BRANTA — Ruth E. Tingay

Historical distribution, contemporary status and cooperative breeding in the Madagascar Fish Eagle: implications for conservation

Institution: University of Nottingham, UK
Details: PhD 2005 (Completed)

Current Address: Natural Research Ltd, Burn O'Bennie Road, Banchory, Kincardineshire, Scotland AB31 5ZU, UK (Jul 2007) Email

Subject Keywords: Conservation status, co-operative breeding, polyandry, historical distribution
Species Keywords: Madagascar fish eagle Haliaeetus vociferoides



The island endemic Madagascar Fish Eagle Haliaeetus vociferoides is considered critically endangered, based on a perceived notion of a historical and continuing population decline during the last fifty years. This thesis critically evaluates the hypothesis of population decline by utilising historical and contemporary documents and museum specimens. The results suggest that the population has not suffered a recent decline but rather the population is naturally small. This thesis also investigates the types and distribution of cooperative breeding strategies and assesses their role in the species' population structure and dynamics. The unusually high diversity of reproductive strategies includes cooperative polyandry and potentially polygyny, polygynandry and homosexuality, which are restricted to within one area of releatively high population density in western madagascar. The evolution of cooperative breeding in this species remains undetermined as these results challenge the traditional hypotheses used to explain cooperative breeding in other avian species. The social organisation of cooperative groups is examined and results suggest that, unusually, the role of dominance in the male social hierarchy is not associated with paternity assurance or limited ecological resources, but rather with social prestige. Finally, the species' iucn conservation status is re-assessed and it is proposed that the madagascar fish eagle should now be downlisted from critically endangered to endangered.


Published Papers

Tingay, R.E., Culver, M. & Watson, R.T. (2007). Using molecular sexing to assess field-based sexing techniques in the Madagascar fish eagle. Journal of Raptor Research 41: 45-49.
Tingay, R.E., Dawson, D.A., Pandhal, J., Clarke, M.L., David, V.A., Hailer, F. & Culver, M. (2007). Isolation of 22 new Haliaeetus microsatellite loci and their characterisation in the critically endangered Madagascar fish eagle (Haliaeetus vociferoides) and three other Haliaeetus species. Molecular Ecology Notes 7: 711-715.
Tingay, R.E., Clarke, M.L., Watson, R.T., Thorstrom, R. & Kalavah, L. (2004). Survival and behaviour of a one-footed Madagascar Fish Eagle in the wild. Journal of Raptor Research 38: 85-88.
Tingay, R.E., Culver, M., Hallerman, E.M., Fraser, J.D. & Watson, R.T. (2002). Subordinate males sire offspring in Madagascar fish eagle polyandrous breeding groups. Journal of Raptor Research 36: 280-286.

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