Comparative perch selection in Southern Fiscal Lanius collaris and Fiscal Flycatcher Sigelus silens at Amakhala Game Reserve, South Africa
The Southern Fiscal Lanius collaris and the Fiscal Flycatcher Sigelus silens are common, idespread and sympatric in much of southern Africa. They are similar in plumage and ecology, which may predispose them to competition and interspecific territorial aggression but this has not been tested to date. Here we tested for evidence of competition for perch space. At Amakhala Private Game Reserve, Eastern Cape, South Africa we monitored the occurrence and perch use of both species along transects. The birds do co-occur locally but there is evidence of small-scale spatial separation possibly a result of interspecific territoriality. Perch selection differed in respect of perch type but not perch height. Both species perched prominently in the majority of observations. Southern Fiscals make greater use of Searsia and Gymnosporia trees, whereas the Fiscal Flycatcher makes near-equal use of Vachellia karroo, Searsia and Gymnosporia trees. This may be an example of niche partitioning, though it remains unclear whether the birds actively compete for perch space, or if the separation is a product of different perch preferences, territoriality and the local plant community.
Keywords: competition, interspecific territorial aggression, niche partitioning, sympatry