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Effect of Habitat Types on Breeding Bird Assemblages in the Sidi Reghis Forests (Oum El Bouaghi, North-Eastern Algeria)

PJZ_51_2_433-447

 

 

Effect of Habitat Types on Breeding Bird Assemblages in the Sidi Reghis Forests (Oum El Bouaghi, North-Eastern Algeria)

Abderraouf Chouaib Rebbah1, Mohcen Menaa2,*, Salah Telailia3, Menouar Saheb1 and Mohamed Cherif Maazi2

1Department of Natural and Life Sciences, Faculty of Sciences, University of Oum El Bouaghi, Constantine Road, Oum El Bouaghi, Algeria

2LEAT Laboratory, Department of Biology, Faculty of Natural and Life Sciences, University of Souk-Ahras, Annaba Road, Souk-Ahras, Algeria

3Faculty of Sciences, University of El Tarf, El Tarf, Algeria

ABSTRACT

This study was set in three forest habitats of Sidi Reghis Mountain within the province of Oum El Bouaghi (north-eastern Algeria). We conducted the first bird survey in this area using the point count method to describe the composition of woodland breeding avifauna and to analyze the spatial distribution among habitat types (oak woodlands, pine woodlands and oak-pine mixed woodlands). A total of 69 species were observed. One species was recorded only in mixed oak-pine forests, six were found exclusively in oak woodlands and 17 species were found only in pine woodlands. We noted 20 protected species, only one endangered species, and five endemic species to the Maghreb and/or to North Africa. The presence of these species with patrimonial value reinforces the importance of the conservation of Sidi Reghis avifauna. Bird abundance, species richness and species diversity were significantly higher in pure pine woodlands than in mixed oak-pine and oak forests. According to PERMANOVA and ANOSIM tests, and the NMDS plot, the avian assemblages of Sidi Reghis Mountain varied significantly between different habitats. Further, SIMPER test indicated that six of the seven species were responsible for the mean of 50% of dissimilarity between sampled habitats. The dissimilarity between pine woodlands and mixed oak-pine forests was about 50%, in general, and produced by differences in abundance of Common Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs, European Serin Serinus serinus, House Sparrow Passer domesticus, European Greenfinch Chloris chloris, Spotted Flycatcher Muscicapa striata, and Common Blackbird Turdus merula. The differences between pine woodlands and oak woodlands (about 60%) and oak-pine mixed woodlands and oak woodlands (about 50%) were mainly produced by species that were present in just one sampled area, most with preference for pine woodlands. The differences related to pine woodlands are the results from Moussier’s Redstart Phoenicurus moussieri and European Turtle Dove Streptopelia turtur presence.


Article Information

Received 12 March 2018

Revised 23 May 2018

Accepted 13 June 2018

Available online 29 January 2019

Authors’ Contribution

ACR and MM did bird survey, analyzed the data and wrote the article. ST, MS and MCM helped in bird surveys and in writing of the manuscript.

Key words

Sidi Reghis forests, Point count, Avian assemblages, Habitat types, Community parameters.

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.17582/journal.pjz/2019.51.2.433.447

* Corresponding author: m.menaa@univ-soukahras.dz

0030-9923/2019/0002-0433 $ 9.00/0

Copyright 2019 Zoological Society of Pakistan



Introduction

Birds are one of the most attractive life forms on Earth, with their ability to fly and wonderful coloration. They are found in different habitat types across the globe and provide numerous ecosystem services for the suite of species that live alongside them (Sekercioglu, 2006; Whelan et al., 2008). Birds are often used as a wildlife tool for a variety of purposes that facilitate the development of management strategies in avian protection and their effective implementation in nature conservation practices (Titeux, 2006).

Avian scientists have long been interested in the role that environmental characteristics play in avian-habitat relationships. Habitat features have been shown to greatly influence the structure and composition of bird assemblages, as well as the range and occurrence of bird species (MacArthur and MacArthur, 1961; MacArthur, 1964; Cody, 1985; Wiens, 1989). Research indicates that distribution patterns of forest bird assemblages are related to the availability of resources such as food, and niche space, which are in turn affected by habitat diversity and composition (MacArthur and MacArthur, 1961; MacArthur, 1964; Cody, 1985; Wiens, 1989). Also, many biologists have considered floral composition as the secondary determinant factor affecting bird community assemblages (Holmes and Robinson, 1981; Wiens and Rotenberry, 1981; Robinson and Holms, 1984; Rotenberry, 1985; Benyakoub, 1993; Bellatreche, 1994). Other factors such as foliage volume (Buchanan et al., 1999), tree age (Sallabanks et al., 2006), plant productivity (Cody, 1981), structure of the shrub stratum (Reid et al., 2004; Díaz, 2006), plant succession and stand management (Sweeney et al., 2010), size and configuration of patchy habitats, connectivity (Henderson et al., 1985) and edge effects (McGarigal and McComb, 1995; Turner et al., 2001) have also been revealed to impact avian assemblages.

Multiple studies on Algerian water birds in aquatic environments have produced species lists that are useful descriptors for distributional patterns (Houhamdi and Samraoui, 2002; Samraoui and Samraoui, 2008), but there are only a few avian studies associated with Algerian forest environments that have analyzed how bird community composition varies with habitat characteristics across ecological gradients (Benyacoub, 1993; Bellatreche, 1994; Mostefai, 2011; Menaa et al., 2016). These and other descriptive studies (Bensizerara et al., 2013) have dealt with the breeding ecology of bird communities in forested habitats (Bensouilah et al., 2014; Boudeffa et al., 2015).

The mountain of Sidi Reghis is located in a mountainous region of Algeria. Due to the size of its land surface area and altitude, which varies between 800 m and 1635 m above sea level (a.s.l.), the mountain is characterized by higher rainfall and a unique vegetation cover, both of which differ vastly from the climatic conditions and plant assemblages that occur in the semi-arid lowlands that surround it (Mosbah, 2007). These contrasting bioclimatic zones are clearly mirrored in the variance of the vegetation structure, which boasts diverse plant species, and consequently habitats. Natural processes, such as soil erosion from water and wind, as well as temporal changes affect plant succession on Sidi Reghis. Floral assemblages are additionally impacted by anthropogenic disturbance factors (FAO, 2012), due to the proximal location of well-developed human settlements at the base of the mountain. Anthropological impacts through the exploitation of wood, over-grazing, fires, reforestation, and the uncontrolled dumping of garbage (Mosbah, 2007), all affect the biodiversity of forested patches.

In this study, the aim is to inventory the forest avifauna of Sidi Reghis, and to explore the effects of habitat types on avian assemblages by studying community parameters (abundance, species richness and occurrence frequency); to determine the intensity of habitat selection by each species. In addition, this study also aimed to providing management recommendations that encourage forest avifauna to live and breed in different forest types of the Sidi Reghis Mountain.


 

Materials and methods

Study site

This study was carried out in the mountain of Sidi Reghis in Northeastern Algeria near the town of Oum El Bouaghi. The study area covers approximately 4106 ha and forms a part of the Hracta forest (Fig. 1), which belongs to the forest zone of the Algerian-Tunisian border and extends over more than 26,000 ha (Boudy, 1955). The central locality of the Sidi Reghis Mountain is located at 35° 54’ 10.27” N and 7° 7’ 26.58” E. The main soil types are clay, calcareous-clay, and ferruginous soils, of which calcareous-clay soil dominates (BNEDER, 1997). The climate is semi-arid, with a seven-month dry season from May to November, and a rainy season from December to April. Mean annual precipitation ranges from 267.91 mm to 435.88 mm, and average monthly temperatures are 4.8°C in December and 34.33 °C in July (ONM, 2016).

According to Mosbah’s (2007) description, there are two main parts in the Sidi Reghis forest; native (indigenous) tree species (Quercus ilex) and reforested (non-native) tree species (Pinus halepensis). The forest includes three major habitat types that are classified according to the dominant tree species: holm oak (Quercus ilex) forests, Aleppo pine (Pinus halepensis) stands and mixed oak and pine stands.

Bird surveys

Birds were surveyed using a point count or IPA method (Indices Ponctuels d’Abondance; see Blondel et al., 1970; Bibby et al., 1992), with two bird surveys undertaken over the breeding season in 2014, 2015 and 2016 (Drapeau et al., 1999). One survey took place from mid-March to mid-April for early breeders and the second from mid-May to mid-June for species that arrived later.

The census technique involved a count of all birds seen or heard inside or outside a 100 m radius circular plot during a 15 min period. Birds that flew over and did not land in trees or on the ground were recorded but not included in the data analysis because point counts were not considered a suitable method for these taxa (Bibby et al., 2000). Surveys were restricted to good weather conditions (no rain and wind speed lower than 20 km/h) and occurred within the four hours of sunrise, when vocal activities of diurnal birds began (Frochot and Roché, 1990). We established 126 point count stations that were distributed systematically across the entire study area. Each point count was separated by at least 250 m from all other points to minimize the probability of sampling the same bird more than once because, in forested areas, the loudest song can be heard at a maximum distance of approximately 250 m (Foucès, 1995). We used the maximum abundance of each bird species per survey point from the replicate counts, because these counts are closer to the real number of individuals and species present in each plot (Sánchez et al., 2012).

Data analyses

Bird species composition

To compare diversity between habitat types, a variety of community parameters were used. The Shannon-Wiener index (diversity: H’) was calculated with the parameters that affect this index, such as species richness (S), relative abundance (A), and frequency of occurrence (F%) (Anjos et al., 2010). Observed distribution of these community parameters was tested for normality using Shapiro-Wilk test (Shapiro and Wilk, 1965) and the Fligner-Killeen test (Fligner and Killeen, 1976) for homogeneity of variance among habitats. Then, one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) tests were used to test for differences in species richness, relative abundance, and species diversity among the three main surveyed habitats (oak stands, pine stands, oak-pine mixed forests). When a significant difference was detected, Tukey’s Honestly Significant Difference post-hoc tests (Kramer, 1956; Keselman and Rogan, 1977) were used to determine individual mean differences (α = 0.05).

Comparison of bird assemblages among habitat types

We used non-metric multi-dimensional scaling (NMDS) to test for differences between avian assemblages and habitat types. The NMDS was constructed using a matrix of ecological dissimilarity among habitat types (Legendre and Legendre, 1998), and a probability value that was calculated based on 10,000 Monte Carlo simulations. An advantage of using NMDS is that it is based on ranked distances, which tends to linearize the relationship between environmental distance and biological distance (Legendre and Legendre, 1998). The amount of stress can be used for judging the goodness of fit of NMDS. Kruskal (1964) provided an interpretation of the stress value with respect to the goodness of fit of NMDS, indicating that a small stress value highlights a good fit (lower than 0.2). Whereas; a high value points towards a weak fit (higher than 0.2). Although, the amount of stress is informative, it has been generally accepted that stress levels only offer a vague indication of goodness of fit (Oksanen, 2013).

To analyze the differences in bird assemblage composition between habitats a Permutational Multivariate Analysis of Variance procedure (PERMANOVA) was used (Anderson, 2001). This procedure acts as a matrix-based non-parametric analysis of variance. PERMANOVA analyses and segments sums of squares using semi-metric and metric distance matrices using permutation methods (Anderson, 2005). When differences were detected, a one-way Analysis of Similarity (ANOSIM) was used to further investigate whether bird community structure (a single data matrix composed of the relative abundance of all species detected at each point count) differed among the possible pairwise combinations in the three sampled habitats (Minchin, 1987). This was done because ANOSIM tests whether the dissimilarities identified in the assembly composition are larger between groups than within groups or not; this also produces an estimated p-value based on 10,000 Monte Carlo simulations (Clarke, 1993). In addition, a Similarity Percentage (SIMPER) test was conducted to estimate overall dissimilarity among habitat types. The SIMPER test also allows to assess the relative contribution of each species to the assembly composition, both in respect of contribution to the average similarity within a group (i.e. which species at what abundance tends to characterize groups); and average dissimilarity between groups (i.e. which species at what abundance tends to separate groups) (Clarke, 1993). A Bray-Curtis pairwise distance coefficient was used in all cases to express similarities as it is less sensitive to differences among rare species, and 10,000 Monte Carlo permutations were conducted to generate the random test statistics (Bray and Curtis, 1957).

All analyses were undertaken in R (R Development Core Team, 2014) with the Community Ecology Package ‘vegan’ (Oksanen et al., 2010).

 

Results

Bird species composition

During the breeding periods of 2014, 2015 and 2016, we conducted 252 visits (252 partials IPA). A total of 1276 pairs of birds in 53 genera and 69 species were recorded. Fifty three species were Passeriformes and the remainder (16) were non-Passeriformes. Sixty one bird species were found in pine woodlands, fifty one in oak woodlands and 34 in mixed oak-pine forests (Table I).

 

Table I.- Bird species/families/orders and avian distribution recorded in the mountain of Sidi Reghis during the breeding period of 2014, 2015 and 2016.

No.

Scientific name/ Common English name

Habitat

Abundance

F (%)

IUCN red list status 2015

National protection status 2012

Order: Ciconiiformes

Family: Ciconiidae

1.

Ciconia ciconia/ White stork

Pine

6.5

4.76

LC

P

Order: Pelecaniformes

Family: Ardeidae

2.

Bubulcus ibis/ Western cattle egret

Pine

11.5

4.76

LC

UP

Order: Accipitriformes

Family: Accipitridae

3.

Neophron percnopterus/ Egyptian vulture

Oak/Pine

6.5

6.35

EN *

UP

4.

Gyps fulvus/ Griffon vulture

Oak

0.5

0.79

LC

P

5.

Hieraaetus pennatus/ Booted eagle

Oak/Mix

3.5

5.56

LC

P

6.

Milvus migrans/ Black kite

Oak/Mix

8.5

9.52

LC

P

7.

Buteo rufinus cirtensis/ Long-legged buzzard

Oak/Mix

5.5

7.14

LC

P

Order: Columbiformes

Family: Columbidae

8.

Columba livia/ Rock dove

Pine

20.5

9.52

LC

UP

9.

Streptopelia turtur/European turtle dove

Mix/Oak/Pine

45.5

33.33

LC

UP

10.

Streptopelia decaocto/Eurasian collared dove

Pine

19

14.29

LC

UP

Order: Strigiformes

Family: Strigidae

11.

Bubo ascalaphus/ Pharaoh eagle-owl

Oak

0.5

0.79

LC

P

12.

Athene noctua/ Little owl

Pine

1

1.59

LC

P

Order: Apodiformes

Family: Apodidae

13.

Apus apus/ Common owift

Pine

49

5.56

LC

UP

Order: Coraciiformes

Family: Meropidae

14.

Merops apiaster/ European bee-eater

Pine

2.5

2.38

LC

P

No.

Scientific name/ Common English name

Habitat

Abundance

F (%)

IUCN red list status 2015

National protection status 2012

Order: Bucerotiformes

Family: Upupidae

15.

Upupa epops/ Eurasian hoopoe

Mix/Oak/Pine

15.5

15.87

LC

P

Order: Falconiformes

Family: Falconidae

16.

Falco tinnunculus/ Common kestrel

Oak/Mix

6

7.94

LC

P

Order: Passeriformes

Family: Laniidae

17.

Lanius meridionalis/ Southern grey shrike

Oak/Pine

2

2.38

NE *

UP

18.

Lanius senator/ Woodchat shrike

Mix/Oak/Pine

13.5

15.87

LC

UP

Family: Corvidae

19.

Corvus corax/ Northern raven

Mix/Oak/Pine

20.5

25.4

LC

UP

Family: Paridae

20.

Periparus ater/ Coal tit

Mix/Oak/Pine

4

3.97

LC

UP

21.

Cyanistes teneriffae/ African blue tit

Mix/Oak/Pine

17.5

16.67

LC

UP

22.

Parus major/ Great tit

Mix/Oak/Pine

18

13.49

LC

UP

Family: Alaudidae

23.

Lullula arborea/ Woodlark

Oak/Pine

5.5

4.76

LC

UP

24.

Alauda arvensis/ Eurasian skylark

Pine

8.5

3.17

LC

UP

25.

Galerida macrorhyncha/ Maghreb lark

Oak/Pine

10.5

10.32

LC

UP

26.

Melanocorypha calandra/ Calandra lark

Pine

8

5.56

LC

UP

Family: Pycnonotidae

27.

Pycnonotus barbatus/ Common bulbul

Pine

0.5

0.79

LC

UP

Family:Hirundinidae

28.

Hirundo rustica/ Barn swallow

Oak/Pine

9.5

3.97

LC

UP

29.

Ptyonoprogne rupestris/ Eurasian crag martin

Oak/Pine

4.5

2.38

LC

UP

30.

Delichon urbicum/ Common house martin

Pine

6

3.17

LC

UP

Family: Phylloscopidae

31.

Phylloscopus trochilus/ Willow warbler

Mix/Oak/Pine

6

7.14

LC

UP

32.

Phylloscopus collybita/ Common chiffchaff

Mix/Oak/Pine

18.5

16.67

LC

UP

33.

Phylloscopus bonelli/ Western Bonelli's warble

Mix/Oak/Pine

7

7.14

LC

UP

Family: Sylviidae

34.

Sylvia atricapilla/ Eurasian blackcap

Mix/Oak/Pine

2

2.38

LC

UP

35.

Sylvia borin/ Garden warbler

Mix/Oak/Pine

9.5

8,73

LC

UP

36.

Sylvia hortensis/ Western orphean warbler

Mix/Oak/Pine

11.5

13.49

LC

UP

37.

Sylvia deserticola deserticola / Tristram's warbler

Oak/Pine

6

3.97

LC

UP

38.

Sylvia cantillans/ Subalpine warbler

Mix/Oak/Pine

11

8.73

LC

UP

39.

Sylvia melanocephala/ Sardinian warbler

Mix/Oak/Pine

13

13.49

LC

UP

Family: Regulidae

40.

Regulus ignicapilla/ Common firecrest

Oak/Pine

3

3.17

LC

P

Family: Troglodytidae

41.

Troglodytes troglodytes/ Eurasian wren

Oak/Pine

1.5

2.38

LC

UP

Family: Certhiidae

42.

Certhia brachydactyla/ Short-toed treecreep

Pine

1.5

2.38

LC

UP

Family: Sturnidae

43.

Sturnus vulgaris/ Common starling

Pine

5

1.59

LC

UP

Family: Turdidae

44.

Turdus merula/ Common blackbird

Mix/Oak/Pine

116

76.19

LC

UP

45.

Turdus viscivorus/ Mistle thrush

Oak/Pine

1

0.79

LC

UP

No.

Scientific name/ Common English name

Habitat

Abundance

F (%)

IUCN red list status 2015

National protection status 2012

Family: Muscicapidae

46.

Cercotrichas galactotes/ Rufous-tailed scrub robin

Pine

1

0.79

LC

UP

47.

Muscicapa striata/ Spotted flycatcher

Mix/Oak/Pine

91.5

52.38

LC

P

48.

Erithacus rubecula/ European robin

Mix/Oak/Pine

17.5

12.7

LC

UP

49.

Luscinia megarhynchos/ Common nightingale

Pine

2

2.38

LC

UP

50.

Ficedula speculigera/ Atlas pied flycatcher

Oak/Pine

2

3.17

LC

P

51.

Ficedula albicollis/ Collared flycatcher

Pine

2.5

3.97

LC

P

52.

Phoenicurus ochruros/ Black redstart

Mix/Oak/Pine

2.5

2.38

LC

P

53.

Phoenicurus moussieri/ Moussier's redstart

Mix/Oak/Pine

39

30.95

LC

P

54.

Monticola saxatilis/ Common rock thrush

Mix/Oak/Pine

7.5

5.56

LC

P

55.

Monticola solitarius/ Blue rock thrush

Mix/Oak/Pine

11.5

11.11

LC

UP

56.

Oenanthe oenanthe/ Northern wheatear

Mix/Oak/Pine

3.5

3.17

LC

UP

57.

Oenanthe hispanica/ Black-eared wheatear

Mix/Oak/Pine

4.5

4.76

LC

UP

58.

Oenanthe leucura/ Black wheatear

Oak/Pine

9

8.73

LC

UP

Family: Passeridae

59.

Passer domesticus/ House sparrow

Pine

74.5

14.29

LC

UP

Family: Motacillidae

60.

Motacilla alba/ White wagtail

Mix/Oak/Pine

13

9.52

LC

UP

Family: Fringillidae

61.

Fringilla coelebs/ Common chaffinch

Mix/Oak/Pine

155.5

73.81

LC

UP

62.

Chloris chloris/ European greenfinch

Mix/Oak/Pine

111.5

65.87

LC

UP

63.

Linaria cannabina/ Common linnet

Mix/Oak/Pine

13

14.29

LC

UP

64.

Loxia curvirostra/ Red Crossbill

Mix/Oak/Pine

13.5

11.9

LC

P

65.

Carduelis carduelis/ European goldfinch

Oak/Pine

1

0.79

LC

P

66.

Serinus serinus/ European serin

Mix/Oak/Pine

151.5

80.16

LC

P

67.

Spinus spinus/ Eurasian siskin

Mix

0.5

0.79

LC

UP

Family: Emberizidae

68.

Emberiza cia/ Rock bunting

Oak/Pine

4

3.97

LC

UP

69.

Emberiza cirlus/ Cirl bunting

Oak/Pine

1

0.79

LC

UP

Oak, oak woodlands; Mix, mixed oak-pine forests; Pine, pine woodlands. P, protected; UP, unprotected (according to the National Protection status 2012); NE, not evaluated; LC, least concern; EN, endangered (according to the IUCN Red List status 2015).

 

One species was recorded only in mixed oak-pine forests (Eurasian Siskin Spinus spinus; at one point count), six species were found only in oak woodlands and 17 species were found only in pine woodlands (Table I). The six most commonly detected species in the mountain of Sidi Reghis were Common Chaffinch (155.5 pairs), European Serin (151.5 pairs), Common Blackbird (116 pairs), European Greenfinch (111.5 pairs), Spotted Flycatcher (91.5 pairs), and European Turtle Dove (45.5 pairs). These six species accounted for over half (52.62%) of all detections (Table I).

The family with the highest species richness was Muscicapidae (13 species), followed by Fringillidae (seven species), Sylviidae (six species), Accipitridae (five species) and Alaudidae (four species). These five families alone represented more than 50% of the total species richness of the community. The family that dominated the population in number of pairs was Fringillidae (446.5 pairs), followed by Muscicapidae (194 pairs), Turdidae (117 pairs), Columbidae (85 pairs), and Passeridae (74.5 pairs). They represented more than 70% of the total abundance of the entire population (Table II).

Results from the one-way ANOVA analysis for the effect of forest type on bird species richness (S), abundance (A) and diversity (H’) indicated that forest bird abundance and species richness significantly differed among the three forest types (abundance: F2.123 = 6.205, p < 0.01, adjusted R2 = 0.076; species richness: F2.123 = 6.059, p < 0.01, adjusted R2 = 0.074). Abundance and species richness were significantly higher in pure pine woodlands than in mixed oak-pine forests and oak woodlands (Tukey’s HSD post-hoc test: p < 0.01) (Fig. 2A, B; Table III).

Species diversity also differed significantly among the three forest types (F2.123 = 5.108; p < 0.01, adjusted R2 = 0.063), with significantly higher species diversity in pure pine woodlands than in mixed oak-pine forests and oak woodlands (Tukey’s HSD post-hoc test: p < 0.01) (Fig. 2C; Table III).


 

Table II.- The composition of avian families according to their species number and their relative abundance.

No.

Family

Species

P (%)

Abundance

P (%)

1.

Ciconiidae

1

1.45

6.5

0.51

2.

Ardeidae

1

1.45

11.5

0.90

3.

Accipitridae

5

7.25

24.5

1.92

4.

Falconidae

1

1.45

6

0.47

5.

Columbidae

3

4.35

85

6.66

6.

Strigidae

2

2.90

1.5

0.12

7.

Apodidae

1

1.45

49

3.84

8.

Meropidae

1

1.45

2.5

0.20

9.

Upupidae

1

1.45

15.5

1.21

10.

Alaudidae

4

5.80

32.5

2.55

11.

Hirundinidae

3

4.35

20

1.57

12.

Motacillidae

1

1.45

13

1.02

13.

Pycnonotidae

1

1.45

0.5

0.04

14.

Troglodytidae

1

1.45

1.5

0.12

15.

Muscicapidae

13

18.84

194

15.20

16.

Turdidae

2

2.90

117

9.17

17.

Sylviidae

6

8.70

53

4.15

18.

Phylloscopidae

3

4.35

31.5

2.47

19.

Regulidae

1

1.45

3

0.24

20.

Paridae

3

4.35

39.5

3.10

21.

Certhiidae

1

1.45

1.5

0.12

22.

Laniidae

2

2.90

15.5

1.21

23.

Corvidae

1

1.45

20.5

1.61

24.

Passeridae

1

1.45

74.5

5.84

25.

Fringillidae

7

10.14

446.5

34.99

26.

Emberizidae

2

2.90

5

0.39

27.

Sturnidae

1

1.45

5

0.39

Total

69

100%

1276

100%

 

Table III.- Summary of statistics (p-values of Tukey’s HSD post-hoc test) for the effects of forest type on bird indices richness (S), abundance (A) and diversity (H’).

p adjusted

Oak-Mix

Pine-Mix

Pine-Oak

Abundance (A)

0.5319272

0.045359*

0.0024044**

Species richness (S)

0.1397081

0.7761908

0.0019996**

Species diversity (H’)

0.5509712

0.3508092

0.0065755**

Oak, oak woodlands; Mix, mixed oak-pine forests; Pine, pine woodlands; *, p<0.05; **, p<0.01; ***, p<0.001.

 

Comparison of bird assemblages among habitat types

Avian assemblages in Sidi Reghis Mountain varied significantly between the different habitats (PERMANOVA: F2.58 = 5.572, p < 0.001). Further, differences in bird species composition among the possible pairwise combinations in the three sampled habitat types were confirmed by the ANOSIM test (Table IV). These results were supported by the nonmetric multidimensional scaling (NMDS) analysis, which produced a good fit (0.185 stress) with a clear positive linear relationship between the observed dissimilarity and the ordination distances (for linear fit: r2 = 0.835; Fig. 3).


 

Table IV.- ANOSIM (Analysis of Similarities, R value) for bird assemblages among the possible pair wise combinations in the three sampled habitats: Pine woodlands (Pine), oak woodlands (Oak) and mixed oak-pine forests (Mix).

R

p

Oak-Mix

0.1616

0.005**

Pine-Mix

0.1879

0.001***

Pine-Oak

0.2958

0.001***

p = significance based on 1,000 randomizations.

 

The NMDS plot revealed that some species were entirely restricted to a given habitat type, which shared different complements of its avifauna with other habitat types (Table V; Fig. 4). The most marked contrast in species composition was between oak woodlands and pine woodlands, with only 14 species in common (Table V; Fig. 4). They diverged considerably in their bird assemblage composition, being distinctly separated at opposite ends of the ordination diagram. The mixed oak-pine sites were similarly different, with 30 species in common with oak woodlands and/or pine woodlands (Table V), appearing to cluster between oak woodlands and pine woodlands (Fig. 4). Considering the overlapping of oak woodlands and oak-pine forests, pine woodlands hosted the most dissimilar community (Table V).

 

Table V.- Cumulative contributions of most influential species in the mean dissimilarity among the possible pair wise combinations in the three sampled habitats: Pine woodlands (Pine), oak woodlands (Oak) and mixed oak-pine forests (Mix). Av. a and av. b, average abundances per group (habitat types).

Species

Contribution

av. a

av. b

Contribution %

Cumulative contribution %

Pine-Mix

Fringilla coelebs

0.0710478

1.35897

1.11111

9.968095

9.968095

Serinus serinus

0.0607794

1.19872

1.05556

8.527431

18.495526

Passer domesticus

0.0571555

0.40385

0.97222

8.018988

26.514514

Chloris chloris

0.0539133

0.86538

0.88889

7.564105

34.078619

Muscicapa striata

0.0524917

0.76282

0.77778

7.364657

41.443276

Turdus merula

0.0507155

0.79487

0.94444

7.115447

48.558723

Streptopelia turtur

0.0334066

0.37179

0.41667

4.686992

53.245715

Phoenicurus moussieri

0.0234303

0.28846

0.27778

3.287297

56.533012

Columba livia

0.0189194

0.04487

0.41667

2.654414

59.187426

Parus major

0.0168982

0.10256

0.30556

2.370835

61.558261

Corvus corax

0.0158162

0.13462

0.19444

2.219036

63.777297

Sylvia hortensis

0.0153507

0.04487

0.19444

2.153721

65.931018

Melanocorypha calandra

0.0152900

0.05769

0.13889

2.145212

68.07623

Sylvia melanocephala

0.0132557

0.08333

0.19444

1.859785

69.936015

Phylloscopus collybita

0.0131953

0.15385

0.11111

1.851323

71.787338

Pine-Oak

Fringilla coelebs

0.0727977

1.35897

0.98333

10.25581

10.25581

Serinus serinus

0.0657735

1.19872

1.30000

9.26622

19.52203

Chloris chloris

0.0568835

0.86538

0.93333

8.01379

27.53582

Turdus merula

0.0551641

0.79487

1.23333

7.77157

35.30739

Muscicapa striata

0.0505925

0.76282

0.60000

7.12751

42.4349

Passer domesticus

0.0471794

0.40385

0.85000

6.64667

49.08157

Phoenicurus moussieri

0.0321247

0.28846

0.38333

4.52575

53.60732

Streptopelia turtur

0.0286978

0.37179

0.30000

4.04297

57.65029

Erithacus rubecula

0.0220475

0.05769

0.35000

3.10607

60.75636

Corvus corax

0.0170339

0.13462

0.21667

2.39975

63.15611

Streptopelia decaocto

0.0154303

0.08333

0.35000

2.17384

65.32995

Motacilla alba

0.0154296

0.03846

0.31667

2.17373

67.50368

Phylloscopus collybita

0.0134489

0.15385

0.15000

1.8947

69.39838

Columba livia

0.0134167

0.04487

0.31667

1.89015

71.28853

Mix-Oak

Passer domesticus

0.0627180

0.97222

0.85000

8.376758

8.376758

Serinus serinus

0.0619996

1.05556

1.30000

8.280806

16.657564

Fringilla coelebs

0.0573192

1.11111

0.98333

7.655677

24.313241

Chloris chloris

0.0502815

0.88889

0.93333

6.715706

31.028947

Turdus merula

0.0501594

0.94444

1.23333

6.699395

37.728342

Muscicapa striata

0.0421844

0.77778

0.60000

5.634244

43.362586

Streptopelia turtur

0.0285359

0.41667

0.30000

3.81132

47.173906

Phoenicurus moussieri

0.0274056

0.27778

0.38333

3.660355

50.834261

Columba livia

0.0249577

0.41667

0.31667

3.333402

54.167663

Erithacus rubecula

0.0221259

0.13889

0.35000

2.955184

57.122847

Corvus corax

0.0170531

0.19444

0.21667

2.277655

59.400502

Streptopelia decaocto

0.0162399

0.11111

0.35000

2.169037

61.569539

Sylvia hortensis

0.0158538

0.19444

0.15000

2.117466

63.687005

Parus major

0.0158203

0.30556

0.15000

2.112991

65.799996

Sylvia borin

0.0156559

0.19444

0.13333

2.091041

67.891037

Motacilla alba

0.0139006

0.02778

0.31667

1.856602

69.747639

Melanocorypha calandra

0.0134747

0.13889

0.03333

1.79971

.547349



 

Six of the seven species were responsible for the mean of 50% of dissimilarity between sampled habitats (Table V). The dissimilarity between pine woodlands and mixed oak-pine forests was about 50%, in general, and produced by differences in abundance of common chaffinch, European serin, house sparrow, European greenfinch, spotted flycatcher and common blackbird. The differences between pine woodlands and oak forests (about 60%) and between oak-pine mixed and oak woodlands (about 50%) were mainly produced by species that were present in just one sampled area, most with preference for pine woodlands.

The differences related to pine woodlands are the results from Moussier’s redstart and European turtle dove presence.

 

Discussion

Bird species composition

According to Isenmann and Moali (2000), 406 species of birds are found in Algeria, thus the species recorded at the mountain of Sidi Reghis correspond to 17% of the Algerian avifauna.

In addition, about 25% of birds occurring in the mountain of Sidi Reghis are “protected” (JORDAP, 2012): white stork Ciconia ciconia, Griffon vulture Gyps fulvus, booted eagle Hieraaetus pennatus, black kite Milvus migrans, long-legged buzzard Buteo rufinus cirtensis, Pharaoh eagle-owl Bubo ascalaphus, little owl Athene noctua, European bee-eater Merops apiaster, Eurasian boopoe Upupa epops, common kestrel Falco tinnunculus, common firecrest Regulus ignicapilla, spotted Flycatcher, Atlas Pied Flycatcher Ficedula speculigera, collared flycatcher Ficedula albicollis, flack redstart Phoenicurus ochruros, Moussier’s redstart, common rock thrush Monticola saxatilis, red crossbill Loxia curvirostra, European goldfinch Carduelis carduelis and European serin. Nonetheless, among the 69 species recorded in this study, only one is considered as “endangered” (IUCN, 2016): Egyptian vulture, and another “not evaluated”: southern grey shrike. Five species are endemic to the Maghreb and/or to North Africa (Balsac and Mayaud, 1962; Etchecopar and Hüe, 1964; Howard and Moore, 1991): Maghreb lark, Atlas pied hlycatcher, African blue tit, Tristram’s warbler, long-legged wuzzard.

The presence of numerous protected, endangered and endemic species confirms the importance of the mountain of Sidi Reghis as a key habitat for the conservation of rare and endemic avifauna. Black kite Milvus migrans, Egyptian vulture Neophron percnopterus, common kestrel falco tinnunculus, booted eagle Hieraaetus pennatus, long-legged buzzard, on the other hand, have been taken into account because some of the pairs nest in the heart of the mountain of Sidi Reghis and feed there.

The most abundant species at the Mountain of Sidi Reghis is common chaffinch, which is a typical forest bird in North Africa and temperate Europe (Cherkaoui et al., 2007; Dronneau, 2007; Mostefai, 2011; Menaa, 2016). Muller (1985) demonstrated that this sparrow occupies the first place in all types of forests, whether hardwoods, conifers or mixed stands.

Interestingly, several species nesting in Sidi Reghis forests are mainly subservient to open areas (Calandra lark Melanocorypha calandra, Maghreb lark, Wood lark Lullula arborea, Eurasian skylark Alauda arvensis, Cirl bunting Emberiza cirlus and rock bunting Emberiza cia) and urban land (white stork Ciconia ciconia, rock dove Columba livia, European turtle dove barn swallow Hirundo rustica, common house hartin Delichon urbicum and house sparrow). This is easily explained because the Sidi Reghis Mountain contains forest edges influenced by anthropological impacts and the proximal location of well-developed human settlements at the base of the mountain (around the mountain there is a large urban agglomeration, especially in the south).

Our results also support the conclusions of Camprodon and Brotons (2006). We have suggested that the presence of species of grassland and open areas beside purely forest species is due to the mosaic structure of the Sidi Reghis forests (presence of clearings and scrubland) and the clearing in agro-forestry habitats that also support grassland species (because the grasslands are located adjacent to the mountain).

Comparison of bird assemblages among habitat types

Using diversity indices is one of the most important challenges in ecological studies aiming at understanding patterns of biodiversity and their underlying causes (Colwell and Coddington, 1994).

Increases in vegetation structure complexity and floristic composition are quite often related to enrichment of bird communities (Wiens, 1989; Hobson and Bayne, 2000a, b; Shochat et al., 2001; Laiolo, 2002; Machtans and Latour, 2003). However, relative abundance, species richness and species diversity of forest birds in the mountain of Sidi Reghis were on average higher in pine woodlands than oak woodlands and mixed oak-pine forests, contrary to our expectation.

On the other hand, several authors found lower species richness in coniferous compared to broadleaved forests (James and Wamer, 1982; Barbaro et al., 2005; Gil-Tena et al., 2007) or a greater association of bird communities with the latter (Berg, 1997). Nonetheless, results from previous studies are often contradictory and dependent on the scales and study areas.

Similarly, Hobson and Bayne (2000a) could not associate higher species richness to coniferous or deciduous forests. Studies conducted in the Iberian Peninsula regarding the environmental patterns associated with the distribution of forest avian communities have also pointed out this uncertainty (Tellería and Santos, 1994; Carrascal and Díaz, 2003).

Consequently, the significant increase in bird species richness in pine forests is likely to be the result of the assemblage of bird species from urban land and open area. In contrast, the significant decrease in bird species richness in mixed oak-pine forests is likely to be the result of the loss and degradation of native vegetation by land management practices in Sidi Reghis Mountain, where the native holm oak have been replaced by the introduced Aleppo pine. Because native vegetation is important for many species, numerous authors have equated ‘habitat’ with ‘native vegetation’ (Andrén, 1994). Hence, the loss of native vegetation at landscape and regional scales has been linked to the loss of native species around the world (Andrén, 1994; Kerr and Deguise, 2004). Similarly, the loss of native vegetation at the local scale tends to reduce native species richness, which is in accordance with our results.

Our study revealed some resemblance of bird communities among habitat types. These three habitats are geographically close to each other, while the whole of this mountain allows a sparse evolution of the vegetation. Each elevation stage has its own type of flora. The lower elevation is composed of an Aleppo pine plantation (introduced for reforestation during the last two centuries) which develops to the detriment of other species. The intermediate elevation is composed of mixed woodlands of Aleppo pine and holm oak. Finally, the higher elevation consists of holm oak, the autochthonous species which is typical of the Mediterranean region (Djema and Messoudène, 2009).

In contrast, strong dissimilarity between bird communities among habitats was found in Sidi Reghis Mountain. This is probably due to the geographical (altitude) and ecological characteristics. Most of the differences are found between the lower mountain altitude part (pine woodlands) and the higher mountain altitude part (oak woodlands). In the lower altitude part, the pine woodlands connect with open areas (grasslands) and urban lands, allowing a wider range for species movement. In higher altitude, bird community of oak woodlands has its own forest characteristics which are specific to altitudes above 1500 m. The hostility of the climate and the poverty of the soil yield poor vegetation cover in this part of the mountain: the holm oak only occupies rocky spaces providing shelter from the wind (Mosbah, 2007).

 

CONCLUSION

The results obtained in this study significantly contribute to knowledge of breeding birds in the Sidi Reghis Mountain; help further assessing the effects of habitat types on the integrity of bird communities. This information will help also in planning future conservation activities to maintain the biodiversity in this forest ecosystem by providing a short list of some management recommendations, according to Fischer and Lindenmayer (2007): 1) Forest landscape management should focus on maintaining forest heterogeneity in order to provide a diversity of habitat types that are useful to a range of different bird species; 2) Especially for bird species which depend on native vegetation, it is very important to restore large and structurally complex patches of native vegetation in order to provide core habitat for these species and 3) Provide habitat for many species throughout the woodstands, by maintaining and/or restoring a matrix that is structurally similar to native vegetation.

 

Acknowledgements

We are extremely grateful to Mr. Youcef Khoudja Nazih (Forest Conservation District of Oum El Bouaghi) for providing us stock maps and other information. We would like to thank all the staff of Tour du Valat research institute, and particularly to Dr. Patrick Grillas, Ms. Roberta Fausti, Dr. Thomas Galewski, Mr. Anis Guelmami and Mr. Antoine Arnaud, for their help and support. We would like to acknowledge the valuable comments and suggestions of Dr. Paul Acker, which have improved the quality of this paper. We also thank all the members of the Algerian National Association of Ornithology (ANAO).

 

Statement of conflict of interest

Authors have declared no conflict of interest.

 

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Pakistan Journal of Zoology

February

Vol. 51, Iss. 1, Pages 1-398

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