Habitat preference of the eastern population of the Short-clawed Lark Certhilauda chuana in the Limpopo province, South Africa
The southern African endemic Short-clawed Lark Certhilauda chuana has two geographically isolated populations. Little is known about the smaller eastern population, which is restricted to the Polokwane Plateau, South Africa. To provide input for a conservation strategy for the eastern population, this study evaluated its habitat preference. Territories previously supporting Short-clawed Lark (1995–2005) were visited in the 2008/09 breeding season. Biophysical habitat parameters were measured at each site to determine the differences between active territories and those no longer active. Active territories had significantly less grass cover, more bare ground, shorter grass, smaller trees and had burned more recently. Bush encroachment and a reduction in the fire frequency were identified as serious threats to the Short-clawed Lark. However, overgrazing and harvesting of wood in rural areas may benefit the species.
Keywords: bush encroachment, Certhilauda chuana, fire frequency, habitat preference, Short-clawed Lark