Contacts Centre for Environmental Biology


Main Research Interests

My main research line has focused on the behaviour, ecology and conservation of scavengers and how the presence of carcasses in the wild shapes other components of the ecosystem. I have been especially interested on the ecological implications of the predictability of carrion resources. During the last years of studying this fascinating system I have progressively interested on the ecosystem services that avian scavengers may provide. While these species are charismatic and offer both cultural and ecosystem services (ecotourism and fast elimination of carcasses) they also have to face the progressive abandon of traditional agro-grazing practices (main food source). Currently, I am involved in the study of how the abandonment of farmland areas can be considered as a key opportunity for restoring past biodiversity (rewilding). I am particularly interested in how to reconcile the conservation of charismatic endangered species but also sensitive to human presence (e.g. long-lived birds of prey) with cultural ecosystem services of rewilded farmlands.


Academic Qualifications

- 2013 - Ongoing Postdoc Research Theoretical Ecology and Biodiversity Change Group  •    Centro Biologia Ambiental-Faculdade de Ciencias da Universidade de Lisboa.

- 2011 - Postdoc Research Contract at Department of Ecological Modelling (ÖSA) – UFZ, Leipzig, Germany.

- 2011 - PhD Thesis (Doctor Europaeus) “The ecological and Conservation effects of trophic resource predictability: carcasses and vertebrate communities” at Estación Biológica Doñana (CSIC, National Research Council) / Universidad Autónoma Madrid, Spain. "Extraordinary Doctorate Award (top prize for doctoral dissertations in the Spanish universities)"

- 2006 - Advanced Studies Research in Ecology “Effectiveness of supplementary Feeding stations for avian scavengers’ conservation: effects of design, food availability and competence processes within the guild”. Estación Biológica Doñana (CSIC, National Research Council) / Universidad Autónoma Madrid.

- 2002 - BSc in Biology at the University of Navarra, Spain.


Recent Publications

Cortés-Avizanda A., Jovani R., Donazar J.A. & Grimm V. 2014. Bird sky networks: How do avian scavengers use social information to find carrion? Ecology 95(7):1799-1808.

Carrete M., Bortolotti G.R., Sánchez-Zapata J.A., Delgado A., Cortés-Avizanda A., Grande J. M. & Donázar J.A. 2013. Stressful conditions experienced by endangered Egyptian vultures on African wintering areas. Animal Conservation 16(3):353-358.

García-Heras M.S., Cortés-Avizanda A. & Donázar J.-A. 2013. Who Are We Feeding? Asymmetric Individual Use of Surplus Food Resources in an Insular Population of the Endangered Egyptian Vulture Neophron percnopterus. Plos One 8(11):e80523.

Sebastián-González E., Sánchez-Zapata J.A., Donázar J.A., Selva N., Cortés-Avizanda A., Hiraldo F., Blázquez M., Botella F. & Moleón M. 2013. Interactive effects of obligate scavenger and community richness on lagomorph carcass consumption patterns. Ibis 155:881-885.

Cortés-Avizanda A., Jovani R., Carrete C. & Donázar J.A. 2012. Resource unpredictability promotes species diversity and coexistence in an avian scavenger guild: a field experiment. Ecology 93(12):2570-2579.

Selva N., Hobson K.A., Cortés-Avizanda A., Zalewski A. & Donázar J.A. 2012. Mast Pulses Shape Trophic Interactions between Fluctuating Rodent Populations in a Primeval Forest. Plos One 7(12):e51267.

Cortés-Avizanda A., Almaraz P., Carrete M., Sánchez-Zapata J.A., Delgado A., Hiraldo F. & Donázar J.A. 2011. Spatial heterogeneity in resource distribution promotes facultative sociality in two trans-Saharan migratory birds. Plos One 6(6):e21016.

Margalida A., Oro D., Cortés-Avizanda A., Heredia R. & Donázar J.A. 2011. Misleading estimates: biases and consistency of visual surveys and matrix modelling in the endangered bearded vulture. Plos One 6(6):e26784.

Cortés-Avizanda A., Carrete M. & Donázar J.A. 2010.  Managing supplementary feeding for avian scavengers:guidelines for optimal design using ecological criteria. Biological Conservation 143:1707-1715.

Donázar J.A., Cortés-Avizanda A. & Carrete M. 2010. Dietary shifts in two vultures after the demise of supplementary feeding stations: consequences of the EU sanitary legislation. European Journal of Wildlife Research 56:613-621.

Cortés-Avizanda A., Ceballos O., Urmeneta A. & Donázar J.A. 2010. First case of albinism in Egyptian vultures. Journal of Raptor Research 44(4):325-330.

Cortés-Avizanda A., Carrete M., Serrano D. & Donázar J.A. 2009. Carcasses increase the probability of predation of ground nesting birds: a caveat regarding the conservation value of vulture restaurants. Animal Conservation 12(1):85-88.

Cortés-Avizanda A., Selva N., Carrete M. & Donázar J.A. 2009. Effects of carrion resources on herbivore spatial distribution are mediated by facultative scavengers. Basic and Applied Ecology 10(3):265-272.

Cortés-Avizanda A., Ceballos O. & Donázar J.A. 2009. Long-term trends in population size and breeding success in the Egyptian vulture (Neophron percnopterus) in Northern Spain. Journal of Raptor Research 43(1):43-49.

Margalida A., García D. & Cortés-Avizanda A. 2007. Factors influencing the breeding density of bearded vultures, Egyptian vultures and griffons vultures in Catalonia (NE Spain): management implications. Animal Biodiversity and Conservation 30(2):189-200.

Other Information


  • Journal of Raptor Research (2008: 1; 2010: 2)
  • Sylvia (2010:1)
  • Biological Conservation (2010:1; 2011:1)
  • Wildlife Biology in Practice (2010:1)
  • Bird Conservation International (2011:1; 2013:1)
  • Wildlife Research (2012:1)
  • The Condor (2012:1)
  • The Auk (2012:1)