Skip to main content
×
Home
    • Aa
    • Aa

Rapid declines in habitat quality and population size of the Liben (Sidamo) Lark Heteromirafra sidamoensis necessitate immediate conservation action

  • PAUL F. DONALD (a1), GRAEME M. BUCHANAN (a1), NIGEL J. COLLAR (a2), YILMA DELLELEGN ABEBE (a3), MERID N. GABREMICHAEL (a4), M. A. KIRAGU MWANGI (a2), PAUL KARIUKI NDANG'ANG'A (a5), CLAIRE N. SPOTTISWOODE (a6) and MENGISTU WONDAFRASH (a7)...
Abstract
Summary

The Critically Endangered Liben Lark (formerly Sidamo Lark) is known only from the Liben Plain of southern Ethiopia, where rapid grassland deterioration is driving the species towards extinction. Fieldwork on the Liben Plain in May 2009 to assess changes in habitat and population since June 2007 recorded a significant deterioration in habitat and decline in numbers. In both 2007 and 2009, birds were associated with areas with greater than average grass cover, and in 2007 with areas of higher grass. However, between 2007 and 2009 there was a significant decline in grass cover and height, a 40% decline in number of birds recorded along repeated transects, and a contraction of 38% in the occupied area of the Liben Plain. Moreover, the cover of bare ground increased more in areas where the species was recorded in 2007 than at random points, suggesting a more rapid degradation of the best sites. There was also a loss to arable agriculture of 8% of the grassland present in 2007. Invading fennel plants increased in number and area on the plain but did not appear to influence the distribution of the lark. An analysis of NDVI showed that grassland deterioration could not be explained by drought, and the most likely explanation is that grassland quality is suffering from overgrazing. Predictive modelling suggests that, apart from a smaller and politically insecure area some 500 km to the north-east near Somalia, there is no suitable habitat for this species elsewhere in the Horn of Africa. As a matter of extreme urgency, cattle exclosures need to be established on the Liben Plain to allow grassland regeneration. This may require the ploughing of land to reduce soil compaction and re-sowing with local grass species. In the longer term, further degradation of the plain should be prevented by, for example, clearing encroaching scrub to increase grassland area and reduce grazing pressure, and by developing sustainable rangeland management practices. These actions have the full and active support of local pastoralists.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure coreplatform@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      Rapid declines in habitat quality and population size of the Liben (Sidamo) Lark Heteromirafra sidamoensis necessitate immediate conservation action
      Available formats
      ×
      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Dropbox account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      Rapid declines in habitat quality and population size of the Liben (Sidamo) Lark Heteromirafra sidamoensis necessitate immediate conservation action
      Available formats
      ×
      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Google Drive account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      Rapid declines in habitat quality and population size of the Liben (Sidamo) Lark Heteromirafra sidamoensis necessitate immediate conservation action
      Available formats
      ×
Copyright
Corresponding author
*Author for correspondence; e-mail: paul.donald@rspb.org.uk
Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

N. J Collar . (1997) The threat status of the Sidamo Lark. Bull. Brit. Orn. Club 117: 7576.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Bird Conservation International
  • ISSN: 0959-2709
  • EISSN: 1474-0001
  • URL: /core/journals/bird-conservation-international
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Metrics

Altmetric attention score