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Hottentot Buttonquail Turnix hottentottus: Endangered or just overlooked?

  • ALAN T. K. LEE (a1), BRIAN REEVES (a2) and DALE. R. WRIGHT (a3)

There is remarkably little documented information in the scientific literature on any of the 18 species of buttonquail as they are very difficult to observe in the wild. This lack of information has hampered informed conservation decision making. We undertook the first biome-wide survey for the fynbos endemic Hottentot Buttonquail Turnix hottentottus, using flush transect surveys covering 275 km. We used location data for sightings as well as from records reported by the bird-watching community and modelled distribution using MaxEnt. Encounters were restricted to the fynbos biome, and the top contributors to our prediction of suitable habitat were habitat transformation, slope and time since fire. We obtained a density estimate of 0.032 individuals per hectare which, across an estimated median range of 27,855 km2, provides a population estimate of 89,136 individuals. Given the extent of the range and the population estimate we suggest the IUCN Red List status could be ‘Vulnerable’, rather than ‘Endangered’. Agricultural and alien-vegetation encroachment means that the future of the species is certainly under threat and further studies are needed to inform conservation management.

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Bird Conservation International
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