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Varying Land-Use Has an Influence on Wattled and Grey Crowned Cranes' Abundance and Distribution in Driefontein Grasslands Important Bird Area, Zimbabwe.


ABSTRACT: Three species of cranes are distributed widely throughout southern Africa, but little is known about how they respond to the changes in land-use that have occurred in this region. This study assessed habitat preference of the two crane species across land-use categories of the self contained small scale commercial farms of 30 to 40 ha per household (A1), large scale commercial agriculture farms of > 50 ha per household (A2) and Old Resettlement, farms of < 5 ha per household with communal grazing land in Driefontein Grasslands Important Bird Area (IBA), Zimbabwe. The study further explored how selected explanatory (environmental) habitat variables influence crane species abundance. Crane bird counts and data on influencing environmental variables were collected between June and August 2012. Our results show that varying land-use categories had an influence on the abundance and distribution of the Wattled Crane (Bugeranus carunculatus) and the Grey Crowned Crane (Belearica regulorum) across Driefontein Grasslands IBA. The Wattled Crane was widely distributed in the relatively undisturbed A2 farms while the Grey Crowned Crane was associated with the more disturbed land of A1 farms, Old Resettlement and its communal grazing land. Cyperus esculentus and percent (%) bare ground were strong environmental variables best explaining the observed patterns in Wattled Crane abundance across land-use categories. The pattern in Grey Crowned Crane abundance was best explained by soil penetrability, moisture and grass height variables. A holistic sustainable land-use management that takes into account conservation of essential habitats in Driefontein Grasslands IBA is desirable for crane populations and other wetland dependent species that include water birds.

SUBMITTER: Fakarayi T 

PROVIDER: S-EPMC5119732 | BioStudies | 2016-01-01

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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