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Diurnal activity patterns of Harwood’s Spurfowl Pternistis harwoodi in relation to habitat types and climatic conditions in the Central Highlands of Ethiopia

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Harwood’s Spurfowl Pternistis harwoodi is an endemic bird of Ethiopia. Globally, it is categorised as Vulnerable. Habitat loss and hunting are the major conservation threats to the species. This study investigated the activity patterns of Harwood’s Spurfowl in relation to biophysical variables in the Central Highlands of Ethiopia. A species focal sampling method was applied to quantify the time budget of the target species during the dry and wet seasons of 2016. The time spent by the species on various activity patterns were significantly different (p < 0.05). The mean proportion of time utilised by the species for ‘calling’, ‘feeding’, ‘preening’ and ‘resting’ activities based on habitat types and seasons were also statistically different (p < 0.05). Except for ‘resting’, most activity patterns showed bimodal patterns with peaks during the early morning and late in the afternoon. The number of Harwood’s Spurfowl (birds per hour per square metre) detected was higher during the cooler wet season. The highest bird counts occurred during low temperature, low wind speed and high relative humidity in the early morning and late afternoon. The species was recorded most in the scrubland habitat where human disturbance was low. Thus, this habitat should be conserved and managed to sustain the population.
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Keywords: Central Ethiopian highlands; Harwood’s Spurfowl; diurnal activity; time budget

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Animal, Rangeland and Wildlife Sciences, Mekelle University, Mekelle, Ethiopia 2: Department of Fisheries, Wetlands and Wildlife Management, and Blue Nile Water Institute, Bahr Dar University, Bahir Dar, Ethiopia 3: Department of Statistics, Mekelle University, Mekelle, Ethiopia

Publication date: April 3, 2018

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