Factors affecting diet, habitat selection and breeding success of the African Crowned Eagle Stephanoaetus coronatus in a fragmented landscape

  • Christopher J Swatridge
  • Ara Monadjem
  • David J Steyn
  • Garth R Batchelor
  • Ian CW Hardy

Abstract

This study aimed to identify variables that affect habitat selection and nesting success of the African Crowned Eagle Stephanoaetus coronatus, the largest forest raptor, in north-eastern South Africa. A preference for nesting in the Northern Mistbelt Forest vegetation type was established and 82% of all nests were located in indigenous trees. Nest abandonment was less common when distances to the nearest neighbour were greater. The diet of this species was investigated by examination of prey remains beneath nests and verified by comparison with museum specimens. In total, 156 remains were found, representing a minimum of 75 prey individuals. The diet of African Crowned Eagles constituted almost entirely mammals (99%), which were predominantly antelopes (61%) and monkeys (25%). It was also found that the proportion of primates in the diet correlates with latitude: populations in equatorial latitudes have a higher proportion of primates in their diets, whereas further south antelopes are a much more common diet component.

Keywords: African Crowned Eagle, breeding success, diet, geographical variation, habitat fragmentation

OSTRICH 2014, 85(1): 47–55

Author Biographies

Christopher J Swatridge
School of Biosciences, University of Nottingham, Sutton Bonington Campus, Loughborough, Leicestershire, UK
Ara Monadjem
All Out Africa Research Unit, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Swaziland, Kwaluseni, Swaziland; Mammal Research Institute, Department of Zoology and Entomology, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
David J Steyn
PO Box 509, Kenton-on-Sea, South Africa
Garth R Batchelor
13 Neil Street, Nelspruit, South Africa
Ian CW Hardy
School of Biosciences, University of Nottingham, Sutton Bonington Campus, Loughborough, Leicestershire, UK
Published
2014-05-14
Section
Articles

Journal Identifiers


eISSN: 1727-947X
print ISSN: 0030-6525