Research Article

Population ecology of Red-necked Spurfowl Pternistis afer in the coastal towns of the Eastern Cape province, South Africa


Abstract

Conserved remnants of indigenous vegetation patches and corridors are regarded as important components of the built environment for the survival of birds. Field research was conducted at Boknes and Cannon Rocks in the Eastern Cape Province, South Africa to study habitat use, movement, and dispersal of two Red-necked Spurfowl Pternistis afer subpopulations during 2004–2007. Surveys included trapping, marking, releasing, and censusing spurfowl by traversing the study area on a regular basis, as well as fixed point observations. The density of Red-necked Spurfowl varied from 0.66–1 spurfowl ha−1. The sex ratio for female to male was 1:1.28. The average home range for adult males was 6.3 ha. The results suggest that supplementary feeding does not change the population structure or dispersion, nor does it improve productivity or density. The most determining factor influencing spurfowl populations was the presence of indigenous vegetation patches and continuous corridors of coastal vegetation allowing populational interchange and outright dispersal. Conservation measures are suggested to promote the survival of Red-necked Spurfowl in coastal town biotopes. This includes the removal of free ranging chickens Gallus gallus domesticus, which could harbour contagious disease, reduced use of hazardous substances, such as insecticides and herbicides in gardens, and the conservation of well-positioned green patches and corridors.

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