Djilali, K., Sekour, M., Souttou, K., Ababsa, L., Guezoul, O., Denys, C. & Doumandji, S. (2016). Diet of Short-eared Owl Asio flammeus (Pontoppidan, 1763) in desert area at Hassi El Gara (El Golea, Algeria). Zoology and Ecology 26: 159–165. doi: 10.1080/21658005.2016.1184907 PDF
The diet of the Short-eared Owl Asio flammeus was analysed in an arid environment in Hassi El Gara located in the southeast of El Golea (Ghardaia, Algeria). The diet was determined by analysing 138 pellets. Our data showed that the diet was dominated by mammals (Chiroptera and Rodentia). Based on relative biomass, birds were the main prey species. Mammals were the second most important prey. Mammals were the major food item throughout the seasons and their contribution to the diet ranged from 50.7% in spring to 73.6% in summer. Birds were the second numerous prey with 8.1% in summer and 29.6% in spring. The dominant prey species was Myotis sp., making up 37.8%. It was followed by Gerbillus nanus (5.4%), Columba livia (4.3%) and Bufo mauritanicus (4.1%).
Ait Belkacem, A., Gast, O., Stuckas, H., Canal, D., LoValvo, M., Giacalone, G. & Päckert, M. (2016). North African hybrid sparrows (Passer domesticus, P. hispaniolensis) back from oblivion – ecological segregation and asymmetric mitochondrial introgression between parental species. Ecology and Evolution 15: 5190–5206. doi: 10.1002/ece3.2274 (Open Access)
A stabilized hybrid form of the house sparrow (Passer domesticus) and the Spanish sparrow (P. hispaniolensis) is known as Passer italiae from the Italian Peninsula and a few Mediterranean islands. The growing attention for the Italian hybrid sparrow and increasing knowledge on its biology and genetic constitution greatly contrast the complete lack of knowledge of the long-known phenotypical hybrid sparrow populations from North Africa. Our study provides new data on the breeding biology and variation of mitochondrial DNA in three Algerian populations of house sparrows, Spanish sparrows, and phenotypical hybrids. In two field seasons, the two species occupied different breeding habitats: Spanish sparrows were only found in rural areas outside the cities and bred in open-cup nests built in large jujube bushes. In contrast, house sparrows bred only in the town centers and occupied nesting holes in walls of buildings. Phenotypical hybrids were always associated with house sparrow populations. House sparrows and phenotypical hybrids started breeding mid of March, and most pairs had three successive clutches, whereas Spanish sparrows started breeding almost one month later and had only two successive clutches. Mitochondrial introgression is strongly asymmetric because about 75% of the rural Spanish sparrow population carried house sparrow haplotypes. In contrast, populations of the Italian hybrid form, P. italiae, were genetically least diverse among all study populations and showed a near-fixation of house sparrow haplotypes that elsewhere were extremely rare or that were even unique for the Italian Peninsula. Such differences between mitochondrial gene pools of Italian and North African hybrid sparrow populations provide first evidence that different demographic histories have shaped the extant genetic diversity observed on both continents.
Hamlaoui, B., Rouaiguia, M., Zebsa, R., Kafi, F., Haddad, S., Lahlah, N. & Houhamdi, M. (2016). On the breeding ecology of House Martins Delichon urbica (Linnaeus 1758) in Northeast Algeria. Zoology and Ecology26: 77–84. doi: 10.1080/21658005.2016.1149350 PDF
The study of the reproductive biology of House Martins Delichon urbica was carried out in the cities of Guelma and Hammam Debagh, Northeast Algeria during two years 2013 and 2014. Birds of this species produce two broods per year and per breeding pair. At both study sites, the egg-laying period lasted for almost four months. Egg weight and volume differed between broods and years. The mean clutch size was 3.87 ± 1.29, 4.19 ± 1.02 in Guelma and 3.93 ± 1.13, 3.64 ± 1.30 in Hammam in 2013 and 2014, respectively, with a seasonal decline. Hatching success reached 69 and 74.25% in Guelma, and 74.20 and 63.39% in Hammam in 2013 and 2014, respectively. Fledging success was 64.57 and 72.62% in Guelma, whereas, in Hammam it was 72.22 and 58.16% in 2013 and 2014, respectively. Hatching failure was the main cause of mortality. The breeding parameters and morphometrics of the House Martin’s eggs in Algeria determined during our study differed from those reported in previous studies carried out in different parts of Europe.
Halassi, I., Elafri, A., Belhamra, M. & Houhamdi, M. (2016). Répartition et abondance de l’Érismature à tête blanche Oxyura leucocephala dans les zones humides du nord-est algérien. Alauda 84: 25–34. PDF in ResearchGate
Status of the White-headed Duck Oxyura leucocephala in Northeast Algeria. The globally threatened White-headed Duck is one the most rare duck species in the Western Palearctic. Its distribution in Algeria is mainly restricted to the northeastern part of the country and the Hauts-Plateaux. In 2013 and 2014, 694 individuals were counted. The studied sites harboured distinct numbers in winter and in summer of the two years. The p-values (Kruskal Wallis test) were lower than 0.05. The Lake Tonga showed the highest numbers in winter and the Boussedra wetland in summer. The results indicated a stable occurrence in the studied areas without any difference between the two years. The PCA analysis showed a significant correlation between the distribution of this species and three following main factors: vegetation, surface area and water depth at the Boussedra wetland, Lake Tonga and Garaet Hadj-Taher. The lower occurrence in other parts of the studied areas, particularly on the Hauts-Plateaux, is mainly the consequence of drying out process and habitat degradation.
Menaa, M., Maazi, M. C., Telailia, S., Saheb, M., Boutabia, L., Chafrour, A. & Houhamdi, M. (2016). Richness and Habitat Relationships of Forest Birds in the Zeen Oak Woodland (Forest of Boumezrane, Souk-Ahras), Northeastern Algeria. Pakistan J. Zool. 48: 1059–1069. PDF in ResearchGate
Boumezrane’s forest is a significant center for biodiversity. Since last year the forest is facing destruction and degradation. Although the forest is recognized as an important area for avian diversity, it has never received ornithological attention. Many studies have been conducted on the relationship of birds with habitat features, however their associations are not completely understood. Hence we need information on the relationship between occurrence of birds and structural components of zeen oak habitats. We examined relative bird abundance by using the point count method and its relationship to environmental descriptors. A total of 68 visits of 39 bird species were recorded in the zeen oak stands. Avian species richness at each point count ranged between four and 14 species. The most dominant families in number of pairs are Paridae (121 pairs), Turdidae (115.5 pairs), Sylviidae (57.5 pairs), Picidae (55.5 pairs), and Fringillidae (43.5 pairs). They cater for more than 70% of the total abundance of the entire community. Using principal component analysis and canonical correspondence analysis methods, we determined that the size of trees with the height of shrub layer is an important criterion for differentiation of the avifauna of Boumezrane. The second criterion is the volume of tree stratum.
Djerdali, S., Guerrero-Casado, J. & Tortosa, F. S. (2016). Food from dumps increases the reproductive value of last laid eggs in the White Stork Ciconia ciconia. Bird Study 63: 107–114. doi: 10.1080/00063657.2015.1135305
Capsule: Accessing extra food from waste dumps increases egg volume and hatching mass in White Storks.
Aim: To test how White Storks vary their investment in egg size, especially in last laid eggs, in relation to food availability, and to improve our understanding of the importance of extra feeding on intra-clutch variation.
Methods: The study was carried out in three White Stork breeding colonies in northern Algeria. Breeding performance was recorded in 70 nests over three years. White Stork colonies situated close to chicken farms were considered to be part of a ‘pseudo experiment’ where parents had access to extra food. Egg volume, laying order, hatching order and hatching weight were recorded.
Results: Egg volume and hatching mass in White Storks was significantly greater when they had access to extra food. The reproductive value of last laid eggs (fourth and fifth) doubled when females had access to extra food.
Conclusion: Laying smaller last eggs within a clutch provides a mechanism to facilitate early brood reduction in the White Stork, and so should be advantageous when food is scarce. On the contrary, when females had access to extra food, last laid eggs were as big as first eggs which suggests egg size variation is adaptable to local conditions.
Amount and quality of resources may be variable and generally poor in habitats of marginal avian populations living at the edge of species breeding range. We studied variation in egg traits (length, breadth, volume and shape) in three populations of the African Blue TitCyanistes caeruleus ultramarinus inhabiting degraded habitats in highlands of Algerian Saharan Atlas at mean altitudes 1328–1437 m a.s.l. We found high within-clutch repeatability of all the egg traits studied. As theoretically expected in peripheral parts of the species geographic range, there was considerable variation in egg-size traits among the study populations, with eggs being distinctly smaller and more elongated at a site characterised by most human-modified habitat composed of maquis scrubland with rare Pistacia trees. Egg length and shape tended to be affected by the altitude of nest site and by clutch size, but not laying date. We found some effects of egg traits on hatching and fledging success, suggesting that fitness advantage of egg sizes is dependent of egg shape. We conclude that the above patterns of variation in egg size and shape of the African Blue Tit populations have influence of fitness. Our finding of considerable variation in egg traits between separate peripheral populations confirms the theoretical expectation and seems to be a novel result.
Bouriach, M., Samraoui, F., Souilah, R., Houma, I., Razkallah, I., Alfarhan, A. H. & Samraoui, B. (2015). Does core-periphery gradient determine breeding performance in a breeding colony of White Storks Ciconia ciconia?Acta Ornithologica 50: 149–156. doi: 10.3161/00016454AO2015.50.2.003 PDF in ResearGate.net
The timing of breeding and nest location in colonial birds may have fitness consequences. In particular, it has been demonstrated that peripheral breeders perform less well than core breeders. To determine whether environmental factors such as date of breeding and nest position influence reproductive success, we studied the breeding ecology of a large colony of White Stork Ciconia ciconia at Dréan, northeast Algeria, during 2011 and 2012. Mean egg-laying dates varied significantly between years and differed between core and peripheral nests with more precocious laying occurring in the center. Egg-laying in larger nests started earlier than in smaller ones in the core area but neither nest size nor nest position along the core-periphery gradient had any influence on studied breeding parameters i.e. clutch size, hatching success and chick productivity. There was no yearly difference in clutch size which averaged 4.7 ± 0.7 eggs (N = 156 clutches). Mean chick productivity was higher in 2012 (2.85 ± 1.21 chicks) than in 2011 (2.29 ± 2.28 chicks) and was marginally associated with egg-laying date. In contrast, nesting success declined with delayed onset of breeding. Results suggest that a low predation rate, abundant resources and a possible trade-off between fitness components may confound adaptive breeding-habitat selection in White Stork.
The status of waterbirds breeding in protected areas in North Africa needs constant monitoring because of a naturally fluctuating environment and permissive attitudes towards illegal activities likely to negatively affect population dynamics of threatened species. We present the results of a study conducted at a protected site, Lake Tonga, north-eastern Algeria, on a breeding population of Ferruginous Duck Aythya nyroca, a Near-Threatened duck subjected to considerable pressure from egg-pilfering and illegal hunting. Two distinct habitats within the lake were used by Ferruginous Duck: an Alder carr (Alnus glutinosa) and floating islets across the lake. The mean clutch size was 9.51±1.84 eggs (N = 51 clutches) with hatching rate of 80.7% for successful clutches. Breeding success was low (37%) with predation (33%) and clutch desertion (17%) accounting for the majority of failed nests. The probabilities of nest failure and nest desertion increased with a delayed onset of egg laying. Predation was not significantly associated with egg laying date and vegetation cover, but late breeders nesting in dense vegetation seemed to suffer less predation. Conspecific brood parasitism was positively associated with nest size, whereas interspecific brood parasitism was marginally associated with water depth. We discuss different hypotheses concerning nest desertion, and argue that illegal hunting and disturbance may best explain why birds desert their nests.