Tellería, J. L., Fandos, G., López, J. F., Onrubia, A., & Refoyo, P. (2014). Winter Distribution of Passerine Richness in the Maghreb (North Africa): A Conservation Assessment. Ardeola 61: 335–350. doi: 10.13157/arla.61.2.2014.335
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This paper studies the factors affecting passerine (Order Passeriformes) species richness in the Western Maghreb, a region at the southwestern border of the Palearctic reputed as a primary wintering ground for many common European birds. The effect of productivity, temperature, landscape structure and geographical location on bird richness was explored at 220 localities across Morocco. The models resulting from multivariate analyses supported the effects of productivity, temperature and landscape cover on bird richness, with higher numbers of species occurring in warm farmlands of the northwest. The most suitable areas for birds avoided the cold and arid expanses of the Atlas Mountains and the Sahara and overlapped with the most human-impacted sectors. Within these areas, we detected an interspersed distribution of sectors of high bird richness and low human incidence. These sectors can be used as priority targets for conservation programmes of common birds during the winter.
Alaya-Ltifi, L., & Selmi, S. (2014). Passerine abundance and diversity in a polluted oasis habitat in south-eastern Tunisia. European Journal of Wildlife Research, 60: 535–541. doi:10.1007/s10344-014-0817-0
Gabès region, in south-eastern Tunisia, is nowadays considered as one of the most remarkable pollution hotspots in the Mediterranean due to the emissions of the Gabès-Ghannouche factory complex of phosphate treatment. However, because of the lack of detailed studies, the impact of such pollution on the terrestrial wildlife inhabiting this area still remains unknown. In this work, we checked whether the proximity to Gabès-Ghannouche factory complex was associated with a decreased abundance of passerines breeding in the neighbouring oasis habitat. Overall, passerine abundance was found to decrease in the proximity of the factory complex, but this decrease was more pronounced in insectivorous species than in granivorous ones. The latter species seemed to be more dependent on vegetation structure. Moreover, we found that in the sites close to the factory complex, the studied passerine community was dominated by the Sparrow Passer domesticus × hispaniolensis, which seemed to be the less sensitive species to pollution. However, in the more distant sites, passerine abundance was more equitably distributed among species due to the increase in the densities of pollution-sensitive ones. Our findings give support to those reported in polluted European forest habitats and stress once again the usefulness of passerines as reliable biomonitors of polluted terrestrial environments.