Towards understanding habitat use patterns of an endangered galliform subspecies, Pternistis bicalcaratus ayesha: implications for conservation
Determination of factors affecting habitat selection is a major topic in avian ecology, with strong implications for conservation purposes. Studies dealing with the impacts of ecological factors on breeding spurfowls, especially the Critically Endangered Double-spurred Spurfowl Pternistis bicalcaratus ayesha, are scarce. Here, we used auditory detection during transect surveys of calling males to locate breeding birds. Generalised linear models were used to test the relevance of ecological factors in predicting the probability of presence of these spurfowls within two forest reserves in north-western Morocco. The best-supported model of the species’ occurrence included the height of the herbaceous layer together with the interaction effect between the forest reserve and tree cover, tree density, and height of shrubs. This study highlights a common pattern in habitat use in relation to tree cover and height of the herbaceous layer and a differential pattern related to tree density and height of shrubs. Further studies are needed to confirm these patterns established from only two sites. Multi-scale studies will be valuable in improving our understanding of the effects of biotic factors on the processes of habitats selection by this endemic subspecies.
Keywords: Double-spurred Spurfowl, ecological factors, forest, habitat selection, Morocco