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Biogeographical and anthropogenic determinants of landscape-scale patterns of raptors in West African savannas

Buij, R., Croes, B. M. & Komdeur, J., Jul-2013, In : Biodiversity and Conservation. 22, 8, p. 1623-1646 24 p.

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Strong raptor population declines have recently been reported in sub-Saharan West Africa, where the pressure on wildlife and their supporting habitats is particularly high. This makes it imperative to understand the role of land-use on landscape-scale patterns of raptors and to define priority areas for conservation. We examine landscape-scale community patterns of raptors in biogeographical zones with different degrees of anthropogenic land-use and assess the role of protected areas in maintaining such patterns. We recorded raptors along road transects in Cameroon's savannas, covering four years and 7,340-7,700 km in wet and dry seasons, in three biogeographical zones: the relatively well-preserved Inundation and Guinea zones to the north and south of the heavily exploited Sudan zone. The Inundation zone had the largest species pool and Palearctic raptor richness and abundance. The Guinea zone had the largest Afrotropical raptor species pool, while raptor diversity and richness were higher there than in the Sudan zone. The abundance of only one species (Fox Kestrel) peaked in the Sudan zone and only one large-bodied raptor (Hooded Vulture) with a Sudan-centered distribution was more common there than in the other zones. Our results suggest that land-use as determined by protected areas and human exploitation may override the role of biogeographical zonation in shaping raptor assemblages. Comparable patterns of raptor richness and diversity inside and outside protected areas suggest that both protected areas and partly cultivated peripheral zones act as important foraging and source areas, ensuring the preservation of diverse raptor assemblages at the landscape scale. Finally, our data illustrate the comparatively high richness of Cameroon's and West Africa's savanna raptor communities on a continental and global scale, underlining their importance for raptor conservation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1623-1646
Number of pages24
JournalBiodiversity and Conservation
Volume22
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Jul-2013

    Keywords

  • Biogeographical zones, Raptor community patterns, Conservation, Falconiformes, Cameroon, LONG-TERM ASSESSMENT, PROTECTED AREAS, LAND-USE, BIODIVERSITY CONSERVATION, SPECIES RICHNESS, TOP PREDATORS, CENTRAL KENYA, DECLINE, ABUNDANCE, PERFORMANCE

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