Spatial distribution of male display sites in a North African population of Houbara Bustard Chlamydotis undulata undulata
Understanding the effect of habitat characteristics on the distribution of threatened species are fundamental in conservation planning and management. Here, we explore the spatial distribution pattern of display site by the North African Houbara Bustard Chlamydotis undulata undulata males. For this purpose, we examined 81 sites in an area of 255 km2 located in the Jbil National Park. We hypothesised that in such an area, displaying males prefer sites that may ensure maximum survival, to find a mate and reproduce. We showed that the maximum display-sites density did not exceed 0.04 adult males km−2 with significant patterns of non-random distribution. The fact that display sites exhibit significant positive spatial autocorrelation, as indicated by Moran’s I, is consistent with a lek mating system. We also found a significant relationship between the selection of display sites and the following environmental variables: perennial species covers, annual species covers, percentage of gravel, percentage of other soil surface, plant height, and elevation. Moreover, simultaneous autoregressive models suggest that the inclusion of spatial autocorrelation globally gives better estimates of the regression coefficients.
Keywords: display-sites selection, habitat cues, Jbil National Park, Houbara Bustard, North Africa, spatial autocorrelation