Habitat variables associated with encounters of Hottentot Buttonquail Turnix hottentottus during flush surveys across the Fynbos biome
The Hottentot Buttonquail Turnix hottentotus is an endangered terrestrial turnicid and is endemic to the Fynbos biome, South Africa. Due to its secretive nature and apparent rarity almost nothing is known about the species, but its range has been subject to anthropogenic modification, invasion by alien plant species and is vulnerable to climate change. To model covariates associated with the presence of Hottentot Buttonquail we undertook flush surveys across the Fynbos biome, covering 275 km. Habitat variables at encounter sites were recorded in vegetation plots, as well as locations without encounters. There was a critical number of observers needed during a flush survey in order to account for buttonquail presence, with no encounters with less than five participants. After accounting for this, we found probability of encounters decreased with increasing time-since-fire. Probability of encounters were also negatively associated with increasing percentage grass and other vegetation cover. We also found no association between percentage cover of Restionaceae plants and encounter probability, considered previously to be the best indicator of Hottentot Buttonquail presence. This information will be of use to those interested in managing habitat for this species and should inform future conservation efforts.