Avian Occupancy along Multiple Land Use Type Gradients in Miombo Dominated Landscapes of the Copperbelt Province, Zambia
The persistence of bird species is negatively affected by forest fragmentation and deforestation. Inadequate knowledge on specific impacts of such factors as forest fragmentation and deforestation on bird occupancy of miombo dominated landscapes masks the efficacy of conservation interventions over declining avian populations. This study investigates bird occupancy in various land use types in the Zambian miombo dominated landscapes to establish impacts of anthropogenic stressors on avian species. Five land use types: (1) privately managed natural forest, (2) publicly managed national forest, (3) pine forest, (4) corporate mining areas, and (5) woodlands in urban areas were compared for bird abundance, richness, evenness and diversity. Using indices of bird abundance, diversity, evenness and richness based on point count technique, this study revealed that human-dominated areas such as publicly managed national forest, pine forest, corporate mining areas, and woodlands in urban areas support lesser bird occupancy than natural miombo forests of the Copperbelt province, Zambia. The variations in occupancy could probably be attributed to availability of nesting sites and forage, largely influenced by the nature of land use types. The nature of a particular land use type was expressed by levels of human disturbance, spatial setting of the land use types in relation to others and adaptability of birds to their emerging non-native environments. Therefore, integrative land use types coupled with restoration programmes for the persistence of avian populations across disturbed environments need to be promoted and implemented.