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Is commercial Protea farming causing a change in the seasonal range of Gurney's Sugarbird Promerops gurneyi in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands, South Africa?

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Species worldwide are threatened due to various factors including habitat transformation and degradation. The Gurney's Sugarbird Promerops gurneyi is a bird species endemic to southern Africa. It is a nectarivorous species that is highly dependent on Protea woodland areas in the eastern parts of southern Africa and makes seasonal migrations between these localities. Although many of these habitats have been destroyed by human development activities, the start of commercial Protea farms in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands may provide alternative habitat and year-round food resources for sugarbirds. Presence/absence of Gurney's Sugarbird on seven KwaZulu-Natal Protea farms were recorded monthly for one year (2006–2007) and compared to past distributions from 1980 and 1992. Sugarbirds were found to be resident for the entire year on some farms and breeding. The total distribution of Gurney's Sugarbird has extended with the development of Protea farms, as has its seasonal distribution and its breeding range. Our results also highlight the reliance that sugarbirds have on Protea whether indigenous or exotic species. More research on the interactions between Gurney's Sugarbirds and the commercial Protea farms is needed.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 1, 2008

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