Factors regulating colony size and breeding success of the White Stork in Algeria

Si Bachir, A., Chenchouni, H., Djeddou, N., Barbraud, C., Céréghino, R. & Santoul, F. (2013). Using self-organizing maps to investigate environmental factors regulating colony size and breeding success of the White Stork (Ciconia ciconia). Journal of Ornithology 154(2): 481-489.
doi: 10.1007/s10336-012-0915-2


We studied variations in the size of breeding colonies and in breeding performance of White Storks Ciconia ciconia in 2006–2008 in north-east Algeria. Each colony site was characterized using 12 environmental variables describing the physical environment, land-cover categories, and human activities, and by three demographic parameters: the number of breeding pairs, the number of pairs with chicks, and the number of fledged chicks per pair. Generalized linear mixed models and the self-organizing map algorithm (SOM, neural network) were used to investigate effects of biotic, abiotic, and anthropogenic factors on demographic parameters and on their relationships. Numbers of breeding pairs and of pairs with chicks were affected by the same environmental factors, mainly anthropogenic, which differed from those affecting the number of fledged chicks per pair. Numbers of fledged chicks per pair was not affected by colony size or by the number of nests with chicks. The categorization of the environmental variables into natural and anthropogenic, in connection with demographic parameters, was relevant to detect factors explaining variation in colony size and breeding parameters. The SOM proved a relevant tool to help determine actual dynamics in White Stork colonies, and thus to support effective conservation decisions at a regional scale.

Nesting of Black-winged Stilt and Collared Pratincole on a Moroccan coastal wetland

El Malki, S., Hanane, S. Joulami, L. & El Hamoumi, R. 2013. Nesting performance of the Black-winged Stilt and Collared Pratincole on a Moroccan coastal wetland: a comparison between natural and artificial habitats. Wader Study Group Bulletin 120 (1): 47–52.
PDF in ResearchGate.net


In 2011, we investigated the breeding performance of two wader species, Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus and Collared Pratincole Glareola pratincola in a natural habitat, marshes, and in an artificial one, salinas (saltpans), in the Sidi Moussa-Walidia wetland complex on the Atlantic coast of Morocco. Data on nest-placement, clutch-size, egg-dimensions, nest-density, egg-laying chronology and hatching-success were collected from 117 nests: 31 of Black-winged Stilt (25 in marshes and 6 in salinas) and 86 of Collared Pratincole (36 in marshes and 50 in salinas). The results show no consistent differences in nest-density, clutch-size, egg-dimensions or nesting success between the two habitats. However, in both habitat types and species, variations were found in the distribution of nest initiation over the breeding season. Both habitats appeared to provide similar nesting conditions for Black-winged Stilts and Collared Pratincoles. Nonetheless, further research is needed to determine the combined effects of human disturbances and local predators on nest site selection and reproductive performance on these species in the two habitats. These studies will also facilitate management decisions aimed at maximising both gains to avian biodiversity and enhancing the welfare of people.

Assessing bird ecological status at Salt Lake Djendli, North-east Algeria

Bensizerara, D., Chenchouni, H., Bachir, A. S., & Houhamdi, M. (2013). Ecological status interactions for assessing bird diversity in relation to a heterogeneous landscape structure. Avian Biology Research 6(1): 67-77. PDF 


Avian diversity is used to assess the functionality of diverse types of habitats around Salt Lake Djendli, North-east Algeria. The landscape is stratified into five habitat types in a gradient from wetland to forested mountains. Bird species found in these habitats can be classified into four ecological groups with decreasing degrees of aquatic specialisation and increasing forest specialisation. For each surveyed species, five ecological status were assigned. Overall, there was lower species richness in urban areas compared to other “natural” habitats. Birds have a biogeographical affinity to the western Palaearctic according to the dominant faunal types. Interactions of ecological status with phenological traits reveal that water birds are different from non-aquatic species because most of them are migrants. Moreover, overall, there is no worrying conservation status for surveyed birds. Bird diet is dependent on the ecological status that differentiate bird groups from each other due to differences in the food resources of the habitats they frequent. Phenological categories tend to link together birds of urban and open-lands. These two groups are affected by seasonal human activities. Our findings emphasise the importance of using combinations within the birds’ ecological status, which would give information on the actual state of avifauna. This approach is relevant for future programmes and conservation actions.

Habitats utilisés par le Tadorne casarca dans la zone humide d’Aguelmam Sidi Ali, Moyen Atlas, Maroc

Khaffou, M., Chahlaoui, A. & Samih, M. (2013). Les habitats utilisés par le Tadorne casarca (Tadorna ferruginea) dans la zone humide d’Aguelmam Sidi Ali – Site Ramsar – Moyen Atlas – Maroc. Int. J. Biol. Chem. Sci. 7 (2): 598-606.
doi: 10.4314/ijbcs.v7i2.16 (Abstract & PDF)

Résumé :

Les habitats utilisés par le Tadorne casarca Tadorna ferruginea dans la zone humide d’Aguelmam Sidi Ali ont été étudiés durant la période allant du mois d’octobre 2010 au mois de septembre 2011. Ces habitats sont divisés en 5 types, selon leurs caractéristiques: les bords des lacs, les eaux profondes, les prairies avec ruisseaux de Taânzoulte, les marécages temporaires et la cédraie. Les prairies avec ruisseaux, les marécages et les bords des lacs qui sont riches en ressources alimentaires, facilement accessibles, sont les préférés par le Tadorne casarca. Les eaux profondes constituent un refuge en cas de dérangement et aussi pour la sauvegarde des poussins. La forêt du cèdre est devenue l’unique endroit pour sa nidification. Une délimitation des endroits pour chaque activité humaine, en tenant compte des habitats est à prévoir pour réduire les menaces humaines sur le Tadorne casarca au niveau de la zone d’étude.

Phylogeographic history of the Houbara–Macqueen’s bustard complex as revealed by mitochondrial DNA

Korrida, A. and Schweizer, M. (2014). Diversification across the Palaearctic desert belt throughout the Pleistocene: phylogeographic history of the Houbara–Macqueen’s bustard complex (Otididae: Chlamydotis) as revealed by mitochondrial DNAJournal of Zoological Systematics and Evolutionary Research 52 (1): 65-74. doi: 10.1111/jzs.12036


Studies on the influence of Pleistocene climatic fluctuations and associated habitat changes on arid-adapted bird species living in the Holarctic region are comparatively rare. In contrast to temperate species, the populations of arid-adapted avian species might be characterized by low genetic differentiation because periods of population isolation were associated with the short interglacial periods, while population expansion events might have occurred during the longer glacial periods when steppe-like vegetation might have been prevalent. In this study, we tested this hypothesis in a widespread arid-adapted taxon of the Palaearctic desert belt, the Houbara–Macqueen’s bustard complex. The later includes the Houbara bustard Chlamydotis undulata, comprising the North African subspecies Chlamydotis u. undulata and Chlamydotis u. fuertaventurae from the Canary Islands, and the Asian Macqueen’s bustard Chlamydotis macqueenii. A long fragment (1042 bp) of the Cyt-b gene was investigated in 39 representatives of the two species to assess phylogenetic and phylogeographic patterns, and demographic history and to compute divergence time estimates using a Bayesian relaxed molecular clock approach based on different coalescent priors. While the two species are genetically distinct, we found little intraspecific genetic differentiation. The divergence time of the two species falls within a period of extreme aridity at around 0.9 million years ago, which most likely resulted in an east–west vicariance along the Arabo-Saharan deserts. Differentiation within Houbara and Macqueen’s bustard occurred later during the Middle to Upper Pleistocene, and as we have predicted, periods of range expansion were associated to the last glacial period at least in the Macqueen’s bustard.

Breeding performance of blue tits in relation to lead pollution and nest failure rates in Algeria

Brahmia, Z., Scheifler, R., Crini, N., Maas, S., Giraudoux, P., & Benyacoub, S. (2013). Breeding performance of blue tits (Cyanistes cæruleus ultramarinus) in relation to lead pollution and nest failure rates in rural, intermediate, and urban sites in Algeria. Environmental Pollution 174: 171-178.


The breeding parameters and the egg and nestling morphology of Cyanistes caeruleus populations from rural, intermediate, and urban sites in Algeria and the relationships of those variables with lead contamination were studied during three consecutive years. Breeding success was explained only by predation and vandalism rates. Predation was higher in the rural area, whereas vandalism was higher in the urban site. The other measured breeding parameters and egg characteristics were relatively insensitive to study site. The morphology of urban nestlings exhibited a trend toward smaller body size and mass compared to individuals from intermediate and rural sites. Although lead concentrations were higher in the tissues of urban birds than in intermediate and rural individuals, we did not detect a clear influence of this variable on nestling morphology. We conclude that urbanization influenced blue tit breeding parameters through predation and vandalism and nestling morphology through mechanisms other than lead pollution.


► Life history traits in relation to lead contamination were studied in blue tits from rural, industrial and urban sites.

► The study took place in Annaba, the fourth most populated city of Algeria, during 3 consecutive years.

► Breeding success depended on predation and vandalism, which were high in the rural and urban sites, respectively.

► Urban nestlings exhibited a trend toward smaller body size and mass, which was not explained by lead contamination.

► Urbanization influences breeding success and nestling morphology in blue tits through other mechanisms than lead pollution.

Increase in Yelkouan Shearwater population in Zembretta (Tunisia) following ship rat eradication

Bourgeois, K., Ouni, R., Pascal, M., Dromzée, S., Fourcy, D., & Abiadh, A. (2013). Dramatic increase in the Zembretta Yelkouan shearwater breeding population following ship rat eradication spurs interest in managing a 1500-year old invasion. Biological Invasions 15 (3) : 475-482.   DOI: 10.1007/s10530-013-0419-x


The ship rat (Rattus rattus) was introduced 1,500 years ago to the Zembra Archipelago (Tunisia) and was eradicated in October–November 2009 on two of its islands, Zembretta and Zembrettina. This eradication was performed 2 years after the discovery of a small colony of Yelkouan Shearwaters (Puffinus yelkouan), a species recently up-listed to the vulnerable IUCN extinction risk category. For 2 years before and 3 years after rat eradication, the Zembretta Yelkouan shearwater breeding colony was checked yearly at the end of the breeding season. The number of recorded breeding pairs reaching 176 and 145, respectively, increases of 10.4 and 8.5-fold two and 3 years after rat eradication. This experiment shows that eradication of an ancient introduced ship rat population has dramatically improved the Zembretta Yelkouan Shearwater breeding population very quickly. This result suggests that managing even long-introduced populations might well be fruitful.

Yelkouan Shearwaters (Puffinus yelkouan) ringed and released at the entry of its burrow, Zembra, Tunisia

Yelkouan Shearwaters (Puffinus yelkouan) ringed and released at the entry of its burrow, Zembra, Tunisia (photo: Awatef Abiadh / Initiative PIM)

Distribution et écologie de la reproduction de la Cigogne blanche en Algérie

Moali-Grine, N., Moali, L., & Moali, A. (2013). Distribution et écologie de la reproduction de la Cigogne blanche (Ciconia ciconia) en Algérie. Revue d’écologie 68 (1): 59-69.

Résumé :

La Cigogne blanche Ciconia ciconia niche communément dans la partie méditerranéenne de l’Algérie, des plaines du littoral jusque aux hauts-plateaux steppiques. Des recensements nationaux ont été effectués dans le cadre d’un projet d’étude de la dynamique des populations d’oiseaux en Algérie. En 2007, 6601 couples nicheurs ont été recensés. Dans les régions de l’Est (d’El-Tarf à Oum-El-Bouaghi), de 1855 nids occupés en 1995 l’effectif est passé à 4411 en 2007 soit 70 % du total des effectifs nicheurs pour les deux recensements. Dans les régions du centre (de Béjaïa à Blida), respectivement 701 (26 %) et 1817 (27,5 %) couples nicheurs ont été dénombrés en 1995 et 2007. Dans les régions de l’Ouest (de Tipasa à Ain-Temouchent), seulement 123 couples nicheurs (5 %) ont été observés en 1995 et 373 (5,6 %) en 2007. Les couples qui nichent en dehors des agglomérations font souvent leurs nids en colonies sur des arbres. Les types de supports choisis pour l’emplacement des nids montrent clairement les changements qui ont eu lieu dans la préférence des sites de nidification. Bien que les villes aient augmenté en taille et que beaucoup de maisons aient perdu leur aptitude à offrir des supports de nidification pour la Cigogne blanche, certains couples ont adopté les nouveaux bâtiments pour nicher, les structures artificielles (toits des maisons, poteaux et pylônes électriques) représentent toujours plus de la moitié des supports de nids. L’essor démographique de la population de Cigognes blanches algériennes est particulièrement remarquable dans les régions de l’Est à El-Tarf et Mila et dans les régions du Centre à Sétif où les effectifs des couples nicheurs ont augmenté respectivement de 263 %, 137 % et 312 % entre 1995 et 2007. Même si certains facteurs tels que la pression de l’urbanisation et la détérioration de la qualité des habitats ont toujours un impact négatif sur les populations de Cigogne blanche, nous estimons que les améliorations climatiques sur les lieux d’hivernage et de reproduction, et l’adoption des terres cultivées irriguées et des décharges d’ordures ménagères pour se nourrir dans certaines régions ont largement contribué à l’augmentation récente de la population.

Nests of White Storks (Ciconia ciconia)

Nests of White Storks (Ciconia ciconia), Salamanca, Spain (Wikipedia)

Increasing Lesser Kestrel (Falco naumanni) populations in Morocco

Cherkaoui, I., Bouajaja, A. & Hanane, S. 2013. Evidence of increasing Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni populations in Morocco (North Africa): a confirmation of “Least Concern” conservation status. Bird Study 60: 423-427. doi: 10.1080/00063657.2013.810190
PDF in ResearchGate.net


The number of Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni breeding pairs in Morocco has varied significantly and positively over thirteen years (1998–2010), between six colonies and over the 13-year period at each colony. The mean growth rate was λ = 1.13 ± 0.02. This positive trend is consistent with the current Least Concern conservation status of the species in the IUCN Red List.

Male and female Lesser Kestrels (Falco naumanni)

Male and female Lesser Kestrels Falco naumanni (public domain, Wikipadia)

Biodiversité de l’avifaune aquatique des zones humides sahariennes (Algérie)

Bensaci, E., Saheb, M., Nouidjem, Y., Bouzegag, A., & Houhamdi, M. (2013). Biodiversité de l’avifaune aquatique des zones humides sahariennes: cas de la dépression d’Oued Righ (Algérie). Physio-Géo. [En ligne] (Volume 7). DOI: 10.4000/physio-geo.3198

Résumé :

L’éco-complexe de zones humides de la dépression d’Oued Righ (Sahara septentrional algérien) comporte trois vastes chotts (Sidi Slimane, Chott Melghir et Chott Merouane) d’intérêt international selon la convention de Ramsar et une vingtaine de dépressions qui ne sont en eau que durant les années très pluvieuses tels les Chotts Hamraïa, Tighdidine et Tindla, et deux sites permanents : le lac Ayata et le lac d’Oued Khrouf. Ces milieux aquatiques, répartis entre les wilayas d’El-Oued, de Biskra et d’Ouargla, présentent une grande diversité biologique en raison de leur superficie, leur salinité et leur substrat. Avec une superficie totale de 900000 ha, ces zones humides demeurent très peu étudiées en Algérie et leur rôle biologique et écologique reste encore inconnu.

La diversité de l’avifaune du complexe de zones humides de la dépression d’Oued Righ est très riche et compte 53 espèces appartenant à 15 familles. Ces peuplements sont dominés par le flamant rose Phoenicopterus roseus, le canard souchet Anas clypeata, le tadorne casarca Tadorna ferriginea et la sarcelle d’hiver Anas crecca crecca. L’effectif de certaines espèces peut être important et atteindre 42700 individus comme c’est le cas pour le flamant rose. Certaines espèces sont classées menacées et vulnérables sur la liste rouge de l’UICN (sarcelle marbrée Marmaronetta angustirostris, fuligule nyroca Aythia nyroca.). Le suivi régulier des effectifs de cette avifaune a permis de définir le statut et la phénologie de toutes ces espèces.

Les zones humides de la dépression d’Oued Righ sont exploitées par les oiseaux pour y hiverner, y stationner à l’occasion des migrations, ou s’y reproduire.


The wetlands complex of Oued Righ (Algerian Northern Sahara) includes a series of sites of undeniable importance. This eco-complex contains three very large salt pans (Chott Melghir, Chott Merouane and Chott Sidi Slimane), classified as wetlands of international importance according to the Ramsar convention and other small temporary wetlands such as: Chott Hamraïa, Chott Tighdidine and Chott Tindle, and two permanent sites: Ayata and Oued Khrouf lakes. These aquatic ecosystems divided between wilayas of El-Oued, Biskra and Ouargla, have a great biological diversity due to their size, salinity and substrate. With a total area of 900000 ha, these wetlands remain very poorly studied in Algeria and their biological and ecological roles remain unknown.

The bird fauna of wetlands complex of Oued Righ is very rich, where 53 species representing 15 families were assessed. They are dominated by the Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus roseus, the Shoveler Anas clypeata, the Ruddy Shelduck Tadorna ferriginea, and the Teal Anas crecca crecca. Some species were observed with relatively large numbers (the Greater Flamingo, 42700) and other species are listed as endangered and vulnerable following the IUCN Red List such as: Marbled Teal Marmaronetta angustirostris, Ferruginous duck Aythya nyroca. Regular monitoring of this bird fauna allowed as defining the status and phenology of these species.

Overall, the wetlands of Oued Righ depression are exploited as wintering grounds, stopover during migration journeys and breeding sites for several waterbirds species.

Lac d'Oued Khrouf

Lac d’Oued Khrouf. [Photo: E. Bensaci, 10 juin 2010]