Habitat Effect on the Behaviour and Condition of the Yellow-breasted Boubou (Laniarius atroflavus)
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
This project was aimed at investigating behaviour and condition of the Yellow-breasted Boubou, Laniarius atroflavus, in response to habitat differences across core, edge and riparian Afro-montane forest habitats at the Ngel Nyaki Forest Reserve, Nigeria. This species is little known and conservation effort will require direction in identifying the habitat of best quality for their survival. The determination of habitat association using correspondence analysis of census data suggested strongest association with the riparian habitat, even though this habitat held the least overall avian biodiversity as determined from a modified Shannon index. L. atroflavus appeared not to hold territories in the core habitat. Territoriality, vocalisation and time budget showed trends indicating L. atroflavus were more abundant and fared better in the riparian habitat. In this habitat, there was a greater density of territories and a smaller mean territory size, better call quality in frequency bandwidth and duration, and increased displaying and foraging time in the riparian habitat. Difference in size, colour and growth-based measures of condition showed difference between sexes, but did not show a strong habitat effect – males were larger than females, yet females appeared to have better quality of yellow breast feathers for equal carotenoid concentration. The effect of nest predation risk as a predictor of habitat quality revealed nests in the riparian habitat had the greatest daily survival probability, and within this habitat nests established at lower heights survived longest. While the evidence pointed towards the riparian habitat being most suitable for L. atroflavus, this habitat sadly continues to suffer anthropogenic disturbance and this species’ IUCN listing as Least Concern was suspected be an over-estimation.