Background of the research group
led by Juan Carlos Alonso, Research Professor, CSIC
Our group has investigated the behaviour and ecology of birds over the last 30 years. Our research interests centred originally on the socio-ecology of gregarious birds and evolved from the relationships between food availability and social parameters in foraging flocks to the study of more complicated social relationships, such as ideal free distribution with influence of phenotypic limitations, parent-offspring conflicts, or interactions between individuals at leks, and how dispersal shapes the structure of the metapopulation.
From the start our interest was to acquire a profound knowledge of the species and systems studied, which could later be applied to their conservation. Our focus was on the relationships between individual behaviour, population ecology and conservation biology. Therefore, the method of study has been always long-term studies of individually marked birds, which has required an enormous amount of effort in capturing and marking birds, as well as tracking them to obtain significant samples of their behavioural features and life histories. This has been possible thanks to a high commitment and cooperation among all team members (see PhD theses and post-doctoral students supervised).
Since we have mostly used endangered species as study subjects (cranes, storks, bustards, raptors), our interest has also focused on conservation biology, and our results have helped implementing better programs for monitoring and managing some of these species in Spain and other European, African and Asian countries. The group leader is an internationally ackonowledged expert on great bustard and common crane, and currently advises several regional, national, and foreign environmental administrations and bird conservation groups.