The final results of the conducted study on species composition and abundance of key small mammal prey species, which are part of the diet of the Lesser Spotted Eagle, as an indicator for assessing the impact of various habitat management practices on the species’ feeding grounds, are now available. The study was carried out over two consecutive years (2021 and 2022) within the boundaries of the protected areas “Sakar,” “Derventski vazvishenia,” “Zapadna Strandzha,” and “Strandzha.”
Within the study area, three species of voles from the genus Microtus are present, with two of them being the most likely (potential) prey for the Lesser Spotted Eagle – the Harting’s Vole (Microtus hartingi) and the Eastern European Vole (M. rossiaemeridionalis). The third species – the European pine vole (M. subterraneus) – is rarer and more patchily distributed in this part of the country, usually found in mountainous regions. The Harting’s Vole is mainly found in Strandzha and Derventski vazvishenia. In the other surveyed territories, the Eastern European Vole is prevalent.
In recent years, the practice of clearing pastures of shrubs, mainly through shredding, has been introduced in the Sakar and Strandzha regions. This practice has had several unfavorable effects on a significant portion of the vertebrate fauna, including direct killing of individuals (tortoises, hedgehogs, rabbits, etc.) and loss of shelter and nesting sites for birds.
The study was conducted as part of the LIFE project “LIFE for Eagle’s Habitats”.