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  • Wild ponies in mountain heathlands landscapes in the Xistral Mountains, NW Spain

    Fagúndez J, Lagos L, Muñoz-Barcia C, Blanco-Arias C, Díaz-Varela R

  • Wild ponies are part of the Galician mountains landscape

  • The traditional management is declining for different

    reasons

  • Wild ponies live in extensive mountain rangeland areas

    throughout the region

  • Wild ponies have a prominent role in the maintenance of

    semi-natural habitats like dry and wet heaths

  • Higher levels of plant species richness and diversity in

    areas with wild ponies in wet heaths

  • Wet heathlands are among the most threatened habitats

    in the region

  • LIFE IN COMMON LAND is a LIFE+ Project aimed to

    preserve wet heaths, blanket and raised bogs in the

    “Serra do Xistral” Natura 2000 site of special interest

  • We are investigating the spatial ecology, diet and human

    use of wild ponies as basic information for promoting a

    sustainable management for conservation

    • GPS collars

    • Field monitoring of bands with collared mares

    • Interviews about pony management

    • Diet evaluation by observations

    • Stable isotopes of plants and ponies

    0

    0

    0

    6F

    7

    0

    6C

    0

    0

    7

    0

    6C

    0

    0

    6C 0 0

    0

    5CG

    7

    5A-G

    4B+CG

    5B+C

    6A-5CG

    5B+C

    0

    0

    1.000 500 0 1.000 m

    ¯

    Galicia

    Study area (Montouto)

    Serra do Xistral

    Score

    0

    1

    2

    3

    4

    5

    6

    7

  • GPS collars to understand the social behaviour of the

    bands

  • Calculating the home

    range

    GPS location data

    HOME RANGE Minnimum Convex

    Polygon 95%

    HOME RANGE

    Kernel Density

    Estimation (95%

    light blue, 50%

    dark blue)

  • We calculate the home range from the density of points

    Home

    range

    Core area

  • Two mares may belong to the same band

  • Two mares may belong to the same band

  • Home range overlapping

  • Home range overlapping Home ranges

    AC182 AC209 AC213 AC21

    4 AC225

    AC182 1,00 0,53 0,39 0,10 0,31

    AC209 0,60 1,00 0,43 0,09 0,34

    AC213 0,44 0,42 1,00 0,57 0,00

    AC214 0,13 0,10 0,65 1,00 0,00

    AC225 0,32 0,31 0,00 0,00 1,00

    Miñotos: traditional

    management, heathlands and

    bogs, Galician ponies (collars in

    the same bands deleted)

  • Core areas

    Home range overlapping

    AC182 AC209 AC213 AC21

    4 AC225

    AC182 1,00 0,53 0,39 0,10 0,31

    AC209 0,60 1,00 0,43 0,09 0,34

    AC213 0,44 0,42 1,00 0,57 0,00

    AC214 0,13 0,10 0,65 1,00 0,00

    AC225 0,32 0,31 0,00 0,00 1,00

    Miñotos: traditional

    management, heathlands and

    bogs, Galician ponies (collars in

    the same bands deleted)

  • Home range overlapping Home ranges

    AC053 AC189 AC191 AC200 AC053 1,00 0,72 0,87 0,81

    AC189 0,96 1,00 0,92 0,86 AC191 0,89 0,71 1,00 0,89 AC200 0,90 0,72 0,97 1,00

    Frexulfe: managed to maintain

    improved pastures, Galician

    ponies - Hispano-Breton horses

    mixtures.

  • Core areas

    Home range overlapping

    AC053 AC189 AC191 AC200 AC053 1,00 0,72 0,87 0,81

    AC189 0,96 1,00 0,92 0,86 AC191 0,89 0,71 1,00 0,89 AC200 0,90 0,72 0,97 1,00

    Frexulfe: managed to maintain

    improved pastures, Galician

    ponies - Hispano-Breton horses

    mixtures.

  • Seasonality

    June July August September October November December

    Dashed line =

    managed bands

    (artificially moved

    between pastures)

  • Seasonality. Do ponies use blanket bogs?

    Do ponies use blanket bogs?

    N=17

    Yes

    100%

    Year round

    13.3%

    Summer

    86.7%

    Cooler environment

    60%

    To feed on new Molinia

    26.7%

    No

    0%

  • Diet. Field observations

    n = 28 collared mares, 581 min 14 sec of focal observations (august 2018-june 2019)

  • Diet

  • Diet

  • Diet

  • Diet. Answers by owners

    n = 16 interviews

  • Diet. Field observations

    n = 28 collared mares, 581 min 14 sec of focal observations (august 2018-june 2019)

  • Diet. Results from stable Isotopes

  • Diet. Results from stable Isotopes

  • Diet. Results from stable Isotopes

  • Diet. Results from stable Isotopes

  • Diet. Results from stable Isotopes

  • Diet. Results from stable Isotopes

  • Diet. Results from stable Isotopes

  • Diet. Results from stable Isotopes

  • Conclusions

    • 1500 – 2000 ponies in the Xistral mountains (study area)

    • c. 150 owners, mainly commoners of 11 commons • Decline of c.50% of the ponies population in about 50

    years • The traditional management (free roaming, large

    areas) has partly changed when transformation to improved pastures in the 90s

  • Conclusions

    • Ponies form bands with one stalion and several mares and foals (7-32 individuals)

    • Home range of 107-317 ha • Density of 17-20 ponies per 100 ha. • Overlapping low. 13-30% in traditional management • About 60% of the foals killed by wolves

  • Conclusions

    • Ponies feed on different species but mainly grasses and gorse

    • Gorse represents about 20% of the diet • Other elements in the diet include heathers, bracken,

    holly, bramble… • Diet changes through the year, gorse is mainly

    consumed in winter

  • • www.lifeincommonland.eu

    Thank you for your attention