Factors influencing species-richness of breeding waterbirds in Moroccan IBA and Ramsar wetlands

Cherkaoui, S. I., Hanane, S., Magri, N., El Agbani, M.-A. & Dakki, M. (2015). Factors influencing species-richness of breeding waterbirds in Moroccan IBA and Ramsar wetlands: a macroecological approach. Wetlands 35(5): 913–922.
doi: 10.1007/s13157-015-0682-y


Since 2005, Morocco has designated 28 Important Bird Areas (IBA) and Ramsar wetlands for waterbirds, yet little is known about how waterbird communities are changing over time and space, within and between sites. We assessed the relationships between species numbers of overall breeding waterbirds, as well as those of Anatidae, Rallidae and Podicipedidae, and geographical, topographical and macrohabitat factors. Species richness of overall waterbirds and Anatidae were positively correlated with: (i) extent of emergent vegetation, (ii) number of plant species present, and (iii) altitude. Species richness of Rallidae was positively correlated with: (i) latitude, and (ii) different beds of emergent vegetation, while that of Podicipedidae was exclusively correlated with altitude. These results suggest that breeding waterfowl are significantly related to habitat characteristics, most importantly vegetation structure, and altitude. Our findings give support to the idea that large mountain wetlands protected areas provide valuable habitat to breeding waterbirds in this region, by providing larger buffer zones with fewer human activities, such as hunting, urbanization and tourism disturbance. This study provides a platform from which we can advance the scientific research on Moroccan IBA and Ramsar wetlands.

An overview of the Rallidae of Algeria with particular reference to the breeding ecology of the Purple Swamp-Hen (Porphyrio porphyrio)

Samraoui, F., Nedjah, R., Alfarhan, A. H. & Samraoui, B. 2015. An overview of the Rallidae of Algeria with particular reference to the breeding ecology of the Purple Swamp-Hen Porphyrio porphyrio. Wetlands Ecology and Management 23: 505-517.  doi: 10.1007/s11273-014-9404-0
PDF in ResearchGate.net


Rallids are good biological models to monitor anthropogenic changes to wetlands. The distribution of the Rallidae was mapped up during a survey of all major wetlands across Algeria and nest site selection, phenology, and breeding parameters of the Purple Swamp-Hen Porphyrio porphyrio were monitored at two distinct sites under contrasting conditions. Data were collected at Boussedra, an unprotected freshwater marsh during the years 2005 and 2008, and at Lake Tonga, a protected freshwater marsh during 2009. The onset of egg-laying was found to occur earlier (mid-February) than was recorded previously (end-March). There was much variation in the egg laying patterns and in the clutch sizes which dropped significantly from 5.8 ± 0.9 (Boussedra 2009) to 3.4 ± 0.9 (Boussedra 2008) and 3.9 ± 1.0 (Tonga 2009). This study, the first investigation of the ecology and conservation of the Purple Swamp-Hen in North Africa, suggests a decline in breeding success associated with steady habitat loss and ineffective enforcement of legislation.

Diet of the Coot (Fulica atra) in the nature reserve of Lake Réghaïa, Algeria

Metna, F., Lardjane-Hamiti, A., Boukhemza-Zemmouri, N., Boukhemza, M., Merabet, S. & Abba, R. (2015). Diet of the Coot Fulica atra (Aves, Rallidae) in the nature reserve of Lake Réghaïa (Algiers, Algeria). Zoology and Ecology 25(1): 34–45. doi:10.1080/21658005.2014.994363


The study of the Coot’s (Fulica atra) diet was carried out from February 2010 to January 2012 in the nature reserve of Lake Réghaïa in the eastern part of Algeria. For that purpose, a total of 600 faecal samples, or 300 faecal samples per year, were analysed. The analysis showed that the bird’s food spectrum primarily consists of plant species, animal prey being very rare. Overall, 34 plant species belonging to 17 families and 18 animal species were identified. Thirty plant species belonging to 15 families were identified during the first study period (February 2010–January 2011) and 32 plant species belonging to 17 families were identified during the second study period (February 2011–January 2012). The relative abundance of Poaceae family plants in the Coot’s diet was estimated at 65.1% and that of Cyperaceae and Typhaceae at 7.3 and 4%, respectively. The share of other plant families in the bird’s diet was found to be negligible. The proportion of animal prey in the diet represents 3.1%. Among plants of the Poaceae family, the most favoured are the following three species Paspalum distichum, Phragmites sp. and Panicum repens with rates of 33.2, 18.6 and 15.7%, respectively. The intake of other taxa was lower. Dietary variations during the year coincided with changes in local availability of food and species phenology.

Common Coot - Foulque macroule (Fulica atra)

Common Coot – Foulque macroule (Fulica atra), at nest (photo: Mohamed Missoum).

Dans le même site:

Lardjane-Hamiti, A., Metna, F., Sayaud, M.-S., Guelmi, M., Boukhemza, M. & Houhamdi, M. 2012. Le Fuligule milouin Aythya ferina nicheur dans la réserve naturelle du Lac de Réghaia (Alger, Algérie). Alauda 80: 151–152..

Nest-site selection, breeding success and brood parasitism in the common moorhen (Gallinula chloropus) in Algeria

Meniaia, Z., Samraoui, F., Alfarhan, A. H., & Samraoui, B. (2014). Nest-site selection, breeding success and brood parasitism in the common moorhen Gallinula chloropus in Algeria. Zoology and Ecology 24: 305–313. doi:10.1080/21658005.2014.959281
PDF in ResearchGate.net

Abstract :

Between 2010 and 2012, we studied the breeding ecology of the common moorhen Gallinula chloropus at Lake Tonga, north-east Algeria. Nests were low lying (mean ± SD = 13.64 ± 5.07 cm) and located in tall, dense stands of Scirpus lacustris (72%). The egg-laying period was relatively short, between mid-April and the end of June, peaking in the first half of May. The mean overall clutch size ± SD was 7.03 ± 2.52 (N = 58 clutches) with a slight seasonal downward trend. Rates of successful clutches increased with egg-laying date and water depth mainly due to the seasonal decrease in nest predation and nest flooding. Nest predation, in contrast to nest flooding, was also negatively associated with water depth. The study documented relatively frequent cases of conspecific brood parasitism as well as rarely reported events of interspecific brood parasitism involving the common moorhen both as a host and as a parasite of other avian species.


Samraoui, F., Alfarhan, A. H., & Samraoui, B. (2013). Status and breeding ecology of the Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus in Algeria. Ostrich 84 (2): 137-144.

Nest of Common Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus) with an egg and a chick

Nest of Common Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus) with an egg and a chick (Z. Meniaia et al. 2014).

Breeding ecology of the Purple Swamphen (Porphyrio porphyrio) in the wetland complex of Guerbes-Sanhadja, north-east Algeria

Bara, M., Merzoug, S. E., Rassim, K., Bouslama, Z. & Houhamdi, M. 2014. Aspects of the breeding ecology of the Purple Swamphen Porphyrio porphyrio in the wetland complex of Guerbes-Sanhadja, north-east Algeria. Ostrich 85(2): 185-191.  doi: 10.2989/00306525.2014.971901


The Purple Swamphen Porphyrio porphyrio is a common rail that previously was little investigated in North Africa. From 2011 to 2013, its breeding ecology was studied at two natural wetlands in north-east Algeria, namely Garaet Hadj Tahar and Garaet Messaoussa. Numbers of Purple Swamphens at both localities peaked in late April and early May. Egg-laying started in early March, whereas hatching started in late March. Peak egg-laying took place in late March and early April, and peak hatching from mid-April to early May. There were significant differences in the size and weight of eggs between years and localities. The mean clutch size was 2.75 ± 0.70 eggs and it was not significantly different between localities and years. Mean hatching success was 51% and it was positively correlated to nest depth only at Garaet Hadj Tahar. Most nests were built in dense tufts of Typha angustifolia and Phragmites australis. The main nesting materials were Phragmites australis and Scirpus maritimus.

Purple Swamphen (Porphyrio porphyrio)

Purple Swamphen (Porphyrio porphyrio), Algeria (Page Facebook: Slim Photo Amateur)

Valeurs ornithologiques des zones humides de l’éco-complexe de Guerbes-Sanhadja (Skikda, Nord-est de l’Algérie)

Metallaoui, S., Dziri, H., Bourennene, M. & Benguiba, M. 2013. Valeurs ornithologiques des zones humides de l’éco-complexe  de  Guerbes-Sanhadja (Skikda, Nord-est de l’Algérie)In: Azafzaf, H., Brochet, A.L., Deschamps, C., Defos du Rau, P., Feltrup-Azafzaf, C. & Mondain-Monval, J.Y. (eds.). Bulletin of the network “Mediterranean Waterbirds”, No. 1. AAO, ONCFS, Tour du Valat. pp: 9-17. PDF


L’éco-complexe de la plaine de Guerbes-Sanhadja situé dans la wilaya de Skikda formé de lagunes salées, de lacs d’eau douce et d’étangs d’eau douce, présente une valeur particulière pour le maintien de la biodiversité en raison de la richesse et de la diversité de sa faune et de sa flore. Des sorties hebdomadaires réalisées pendant les saisons d’hivernage allant de 2008 à 2012 nous ont permis de dénombrer 54 espèces appartenant à 17 familles. Les Anatidés (15 espèces et plus de 8500 individus) dont les plus importants sont le Canard siffleur Anas penelope (2320 individus), le Canard chipeau Anas strepera (1710 individus) et le Canard souchet Anas clypeata (1350 individus). Deux espèces figurant sur la liste rouge des espèces menacées de l’UICN, l’Érismature à tête blanche Oxyura leucocephala et le Fuligule nyroca Aythya nyroca et dont les effectifs hivernants ont atteint respectivement 67 et 850 individus et comptent parmi les nicheurs sédentaires dans ces plans d’eau. Les Rallidés sont représentés principalement par la Foulque macroule Fulica atra, dont l’effectif dépasse 10 000 individus. L’objectif de cette étude est de mettre en exergue l’importance et le rôle écologique des zones humides de Guerbes-Sanhadja pour l’hivernage des oiseaux d’eau.

Ornithological values of wetlands in Guerbes-Sanhadja eco-complex (Algeria).


The saline lagoons, freshwater lakes and freshwater ponds of the Guerbes-Sanhadja floodplain eco-complex, located in Skikda Province, are of particular value for biodiversity conservation because of the richness and diversity of their fauna and flora. During weekly field visits made during the winter season from 2008 to 2012, we were able to count 54 species belonging to 17 families. Anatidae (15 species and more than 8,500 individuals) of which the most important are Wigeon Anas penelope (2,320 individuals), Gadwall Anas strepera (1,710 individuals) and Shoveler Anas clypeata (1,350 individuals. Two species which are on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, the White-headed Duck Oxyura leucocephala and the Ferruginous Duck Aythya nyroca were also sighted, with 67 and 850 wintering individuals respectively. Both these species are among sedentary breeding birds of the Guerbes-Sanhadja water bodies. Rallidae were represented mainly by the Eurasian Coot Fulica atra, with more than 10,000 individuals. The objective of this study is to highlight the importance and ecological role of wetlands in the Guerbes-Sanhadja floodplain for wintering waterbirds.

Garaet Hadj Tahar, Guerbes-Sanhadja eco-complex

Garaet Hadj Tahar, Guerbes-Sanhadja eco-complex, Skikda, eastern Algeria. (S. Metallaoui)

Thanks to S. Metallaoui for letting us know about this issue of the Bulletin of the network “Mediterranean Waterbirds”.

Biodiversity and phenology of the Rallidae and the Anatidae in Garaet Hadj Tahar (NE Algeria)

Bara, M., Merzoug S., Bouslama Z. & Houhamdi M. (2013). Biodiversity and phenology of the Rallidae and the Anatidae in Garaet Hadj Tahar (Norteast of Algeria). Annals of Biological Research 4 (6): 249-253. PDF


During this study which was carried out between November 2011 and October 2012 in Garaet Hadj Tahar (Northeast of Algeria), we counted the Anatidae and the Rallidae individuals, then we calculated the ecological indexes (Abundance, specific richness, diversity index and equitability index), in order to evaluate the biodiversity in this ecosystem. 14 species were noted which belong to six genera: Fulica, Gallinula, Porphyrio, Anas, Aythya and Oxyura, among them two species cited as threatened species (Ferruginous duck Aythya nyroca and White-headed duck Oxyura leucocephala). The high value of Shannon-Weaver and equitability indexes were recorded during the wintering period with a value of 2.219 and 0.6 respectively.

Garaet Hadj-Tahar (Skikda, Algeria)

Garaet Hadj-Tahar (Skikda, Algeria). From Metallaoui & Houhamdi (2010).

The geographical situation of Garaet Hadj-Tahar (Skikda, Algeria) taken from figure 1 in: Metallaoui, S., & Houhamdi, M. (2010). Biodiversité et écologie de l’avifaune aquatique hivernante dans Garaet Hadj-Tahar (Skikda, Nord-Est de l’Algérie). Hydroécologie Appliquée 17: 1-16.