Known and predicted African winter distributions and habitat useof the endangered Basra reed warbler (Acrocephalus griseldis)and the near-threatened cinereous bunting (Emberiza cineracea)

Cinereous Bunting (Emberiza cineracea) Science Article 1


The Basra reed warbler (Acrocephalus griseldis) and the cinereous bunting (Emberiza cineracea) are the only two Western Palearctic passerine bird species that overwinter in East Africa and are classified by BirdLife International as endangered and near-threatened, respectively. To refine the African wintering ranges of these two species, we made an effort to collect as much distributional data as possible. We then used the available point-locality data to predict the wintering distributions using a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) based inductive modelling technique called BIOCLIM. For this purpose, we developed four environmental GIS layers that are presumed to reflect the environmental preferences of migrant birds. Our data showed that the known winter distribution of the Basra reed warbler was concentrated in Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi and Mozambique, where it was usually found in dense vegetation growing in coastal scrub, woodland thickets, swamps, marshes, flooded pools and grasslands, and along ditches and edges of rivers, ponds, lagoons and lakes. The predicted winter distribution of this species includes most of East Africa but, given the habitat preferences of this species, is probably limited to lowlying areas near the coastline. The known winter distribution of the cinereous bunting is so far limited to Eritrea, where the species has been observed in October, November, February and March, in sparsely vegetated, sandy or rocky habitats on coastal plains and deserts. The predicted winter distribution of this species includes the plains and hills along the Red Sea coasts in southern Egypt, Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia and Sudan, as well as a few inland areas in Sudan, Ethiopia and Kenya.

Bruno A. Walther, Mary S. Wisz, Carsten Rahbek, J Ornithol (2004) 145: 287-299

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