Vegetation Characteristics of White-Browed Sparrow Weaver (Plocepasser Mahali Pectoralis) Nesting Sites in Mana Pools National Park, Zimbabwe
Vegetation Characteristics of White-Browed Sparrow Weaver (Plocepasser Mahali Pectoralis)
Nesting Sites in Mana Pools National Park, Zimbabwe
The aim of this study was to assess the vegetation structure and composition of the nesting sites of white-browed sparrow weaver (Plocepasser mahali pectoralis) in Mana Pools National Park, Zimbabwe. We used a random systematic sampling approach and belt transects along the four common roads mainly used in wildlife road surveys in Mana Pools National Park. Nested belt transects of 100 m × 50 m were systematically established on either side at 5 km intervals. In the transect, tree height, canopy volume, basal area and canopy cover, nest placement, number of nests, lowest and highest nesting placement were recorded.Nests were mainly located on the western-side of trees. Tree height, basal area and canopy volume differed significantly (p<0.05) across the four study transects except for canopy cover (p>0.05). Canopy cover was the only attribute influencing the abundance of nests across the four transects (F1,27=18.58, p<0.001, R2=0.41). We recommend that park management need to ensure that disturbances on canopies of nesting trees are not severe to assure the viability and persistence of canopy nesting birds. This entails incorporation of mega herbivore and fire monitoring and management programs within the park management plan for adaptive management. Future studies should aim to establish the following: (1) the abundance and distribution of white-browed sparrow waver in the flood plain and the uplands of Mana Pools National Park, (2) the abundance and occurrence of active and non-active nests of white-browed sparrow weaver in relation to elephant damage, (3) possible ecological partitioning of nesting trees by white-browed sparrow weaver and other possible competitors.