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The Northern Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe in the Sahel of West Africa: distribution, seasonal variation in abundance and habitat associations

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Author(s)

J.M. Wilson, Will Cresswell

School/Research organisations

Abstract

Palearctic migrant birds are declining, including the Northern Wheatear, and some of the causes of these declines are likely to be operating on their wintering grounds in Africa. We examined seasonal and spatial variation in wintering densities of Northern Wheatears in northern Nigeria, and explored the species’ habitat associations on the wintering grounds to assess the likely effects of habitat change in the Sahel on this species. Densities of Northern Wheatears across northern Nigeria were calculated from point count data gathered during two winters (2000 and 2001) using Distance software, and the relationships between Wheatear presence and habitat variables collected from the same points were explored using general linear models. During mid-winter and early spring, densities of Northern Wheatears peaked, with significantly more birds present in western than eastern study sites. The probability of wheatear occurrence was correlated with Balanites and Salvadora tree density and mean tree height. The Northern Wheatear may benefit from the conversion of woodland habitats in the Sahel to more open savanna. However, sites with very low tree densities showed low probabilities of Northern Wheatears being present, suggesting excessive tree clearance may have a negative effect upon the species.
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Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)115-121
Number of pages7
JournalOstrich
Volume81
Issue number2
Early online date8 Jul 2010
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2010

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