Comparing habitat preferences of a set of waterbird species wintering in coastal wetlands of North Africa: implication for management

Open access


Every year, the Coastal wetlands of North Africa support an important wintering waterbird population of many Palearctic and sub-Saharan species of various contrasting habitat requirements. In this study, we describe the habitat use by24 water-obligate species wintering in a coastal wetland of the Northeastern Algeria (the wetland of Lake Tonga), highlighting thereby the ecological mechanisms that support their coexistence and their resources partitioning. The analysis of resource exploitation (Relative frequency, Feinsinger niche breadth, Pianka niche overlap and Ivlev’s electivity indexes) showed that waterbird species inhabiting the lake wetland have several similarities in using the different habitat categories, which lead us to cluster them into 5 guilds (G1: one rails, two grebes and eight ducks; G2: five wading species and one gull; G3: three herons; G4: cormorants, mallards, and on gull; finally, G5: only one species Cattle egret (Bubulcus ibis).Almost all the species were specialists in resource utilization patterns (narrow niche breadths, both under 0.3) and therefore, vulnerable to fluctuations in resources, particularly the feeding habitats. Mean niche overlaps for all the pairs of species ranged from 0.05 to 0.68. The overall pattern in the community was higher niche overlaps between the species of a particular guild than those between other species. According to Ivlev’s electivity index, we found that only three microhabitats from seven were the most important for the discussed species, open water body was the most attractive, followed by meadows, muddy areas and floating- leafed vegetation. Similarities on habitat requirements derived from our region can provide important and optimal wetland management at multi-species assemblage level for this wetland and similar area around the African coast.

Arzel, C. & Elemberg J. (2004). Time use, foraging behaviour and microhabitat use in a temporary guild of springstaging dabbling ducks (Anas spp.). Ornis Fenn., 81, 157-168.

Battisti, C., Boano, A., Cento, M., Circosta, A. & Muratore S. (2015). Waders (Aves, Charadriiformes) in a Mediterranean remnant wetland, a year-round pilot study evidences contrasting patterns in diversity metrics. Rivista Italiana di Ornitologia - Research in Ornithology, 85(1), 61-66. DOI : 10.4081/rio.2015.136.

Benoit, L.K. & Askins R.A. (1999). Impact of the spread of Phragmites on the distribution of birds in Connecticut tidal marshes. Wetlands, 19, 194-208. DOI : 10.1007/BF03161749.

Birand, A., Vose, A. & Gavrilets S. (2012). Patterns of species ranges, speciation, and extinction. Am. Nat., 179(1), 1−21. DOI : 10.1086/663202.

BirdLife International (2004). Birds in Europe: population estimates, trends and conservation status. BirdLife Conservation Series No.12. Cambridge.

Borges, S.D. & Shanbhag A.B. (2008). Food resources partitioning among waterbirds wintering on the Diwar wetland in the Mandovi estuary of Goa, India. In M. Sengupta & R. Dalwani (Eds.), Proceeding of Taal 2007, The 12th World Lake Conference (pp. 124−130). India.

Both, C., Van Turnhout, C.A., Bijlsma, R.G., Siepel, H., Van Strien, A.J. & Foppen RP. (2010). Avian population consequences of climate change are most severe for long- distance migrants in seasonal habitats. Proc. R. Soc. B, 277, 1259-1266. DOI : 10.1098/rspb.2009.

Boumezbeur, A. (1993). Ecologie et biologie de la reproduction de l’Erismature a tete blanche (Oxyura leucocephala) et du Fuligule nyroca (Aythya nyroca) sur le lac Tonga et le lac des oiseaux (Est algérien). (Mesures de protection et de gestion du lac Tonga). Doctorat, Universite des hautes etudes Montpellier.

Brazner, J. & Hoffman J. (1991). Resource use patterns of the wading bird communities at two intertidal salt marshes on Sapelo Island. Final report. Problems in Oceanography, 750, 12/16/91.

Burger, J., Niles, L. & Clark K.E. (1997). Importance of beach, mudflat and marsh habitats to migrant shorebirds on Delaware Bay. Biol. Conserv., 79, 283-292. DOI : 10.1016/S0006-3207(96)00077-8.

Campbell, A.M., Zim, H.S. & Nelson A.L. (1961). American wildlife &plants :a guide to wildlife food habits : the use of trees, shrubs, weeds, and herbs by birds and mammals of the United States. Courier Corporation.

Colwell, R.K. & Futuyma D.J. (1971). On the measurement of niche breadth and overlap. Ecology, 52(4), 567−576. DOI : 10.2307/1934144.

Duncan, P. & d’Herbes J.M. (1982). The use of domestic herbivores in the management of wetlands for waterbirds in the Camargue, France. In D.A. Scott (Ed.), Managing wetlands and their birds (pp. 51−66). Slimbridge: International Waterfowl Research Bureau.

Elafri, A., Halassi, I. & Houhamdi M. (2016). Diversity patterns and seasonal variation of the waterbird community in Mediterranean wetlands of Northeastern Algeria. Zoology and Ecology, 26(2), 85−92. DOI : 10.1080/21658005.2016.1163865.

Elmberg, J., Nummi, P., Poysa, H., Sjoberg, K., Gunnarsson, G., Clausen, P., Guillemain, M., Rodrigues, D. & Vaananen V.M. (2006). The scientific basis for new and sustainable management of migratory European ducks. Wildl. Biol., 12, 121-127. DOI : 10.2981/0909-6396(2006)12[121:TSBFNA ]2.0.CO ;2.

Feinsinger, P., Spears, E.E. & Poole R.W. (1981). A simple measure of niche breadth. Ecology, 62, 27-32. DOI : 10.2307/1936664.

Fouzari, A., Samraoui, F., Alfarhan, A.H. & Samraoui B. (2015). Nesting ecology of Ferruginous DuckAythya nyroca in north-eastern Algeria. Afr. Zool., 50, 299-305. DOI : 10.1080/15627020.2015.1108165.

Green, A.J. (1998). Comparative feeding behaviour and niche organization in a Mediterranean duck community. Can. J. Zool., 76, 500-507. DOI : 10.1139/z97-221.

Green, A.J. & Hamzaoui M.E. (2000). Diurnal behaviour and habitat use of non-breeding Marbled Teal (Marmaronetta angustirostris). Can. J. Zool.,78, 2112−2118. DOI : 10.1139/z00-152.

IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature)(2012). 2012 IUCN Red list of threatened species. Available at [accessed 18 may 2016].

Jacobs, J. (1974). Quantitative measurements of food selection. A modification of the forage ratio and Ivlev’s electivity index. Oecologia, 14, 413-417. DOI : 10.1007/BF00384581.

Jaksic, F.M. & Medel R.G. (1990). Objective recognition of guilds, testing for statistically significant species clusters. Oecologia, 82, 87-92. DOI : 10.1007/BF00318537.

King, R.S. & Wrubleski D.A. (1998). Spatial and diel availability of flying insects as potential duckling food in prairie wetlands. Wetlands, 18, 100-114. DOI : 10.1007/BF03161448.

Krebs, C.J. (1999). Ecological methodology. Menlo Park: Addison-Wesley Publishers.

Lazli, A., Boumezbeur, A., Moali-Grine, N. & Moali A. (2011). Evolution de la population nicheuse de l’erismature a teteblanche (oxyura leucocephala) sur le lac Tonga (Algerie). Rev. Écol. (Terre Vie), 66, 173-181.

Liordos, V. (2010). Foraging guilds of waterbirds wintering in a Mediterranean Coastal Wetland. Zool. Stud., 49, 311-323.

Ma, Z., Cai, Y., Li, B. & Chen J. (2010). Managing wetland habitats for waterbirds: an international perspective. Wetlands, 30(1), 15−27. DOI : 10.1007/s13157-009-0001-6.

Meziane, N., Samraoui, F. & Samraoui B. (2014). Status and diurnal activity budget of non-breeding White-headed Ducks (oxyura leucocephala)in Algeria. Ostrich, 85, 177-184. DOI : 10.2989/00306525.2014.964790.

Ntiamoa-Baidu, Y., Piersma, T., Wiersma, P., Poot, M., Battley, P. & Gordon Ch. (1996). Water depth selection, daily feeding routines and diets of waterbirds in coastal lagoons in Ghana. Ibis, 140, 89-103. DOI : 10.1111/j.1474- 919X.1998.tb04545.x.

Paracuellos, M. (2006). How can habitat selection affect the use of a wetland complex by waterbirds? Biodivers. Conserv., 15, 4569-4582. DOI : 10.1007/s10531-005-5820-z.

Pérez-Crespo, M.J., Fonseca, J., Pineda-Lopez, R., Palacios, E. & Lara C. (2013). Foraging guild structure and niche characteristicsof waterbirds in an epicontinental lake in Mexico. Zool. Stud., 52, 54. DOI : 10.1186/1810-522X-52-54.

Pianka, E.R. (1973). The structure of lizard communities. Ann. Rev. Ecol. Syst., 4, 53−74. DOI : 10.1146/annurev. es.04.110173.000413.

Rajpar, M.N. & Zakaria M. (2011). Bird species abundance and their correlationship with microclimate and habitat variables at natural wetland reserve, Peninsular Malaysia. International Journal of Zoology, 2011, 17. DOI : 10.1155/2011/758573.

Rizzo, E. & Battisti C. (2009). Habitat preferences of Anatidae (Aves, Anseriformes) in a Mediterranean patchy wetland (central Italy). Ekológia (Bratislava), 28, 66-73.

Samraoui, B. & Samraoui F. (2008). An ornithological survey of the wetlands of Algeria, Important Bird Areas. Ramsar sites and threatened species. Wildfowl, 58, 71-98.

Schmieder, K., Werner, S. & Bauer H.G. (2006). Submersed macrophytes as a food source for wintering waterbirds at Lake Constance. Aquat. Bot., 84, 245-250. DOI : 10.1016/j.aquabot.2005.09.006.

Shine, C. & Klemm C. (1999). Wetlands, water and the law, using law to advance wetland conservation and wise use. Gland: IUCN.

Sulphey, M.M. & Safeer M.M. (2014). Introduction to environment management. PHI Learning Private Limited.

Tellería, J.L. (2016). Wildlife habitat requirements, concepts and research approaches. In R. Mateo, B. Arroyo & J.T. Garcia (Eds.), Current trends in wildlife research (pp. 79-95). Springer. DOI : 10.1007/978-3-319-27912-1_4.

Van Rees-Siewert, K.L. & Dinsmore J.J. (1996). Influence of wetland age on bird use of restored wetlands in Iowa. Wetlands, 16, 577-582. DOI : 10.1007/BF03161348.

Wood, K.A. & Stillman R.A. (2014). Do birds of a feather flock together? Comparing habitat preferences of piscivorous waterbirds in a lowland river catchment. Hydrobiologia, 738, 87-95. DOI : 10.1007/s10750-014-1921-6.

Ekológia (Bratislava)

The Journal of Institute of Landscape Ecology of Slovak Academy of Sciences

Journal Information

CiteScore 2018: 0.77

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2018: 0.283
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2018: 0.534


All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 251 135 4
PDF Downloads 101 73 4