Structure of avian communities in a mosaic of built-up and semi-natural urbanised habitats in Katima Mulilo town, Namibia
A simplified mapping method has been employed to quantify avian assemblages in a plot with a mosaic of built-up areas (129 ha) and semi-natural or open areas (85 ha; grass, trees, shrubs) in the Katima Mulilo town, Namibia. Overall, 65 breeding bird species were recorded in the study plots (51 in the built-up areas, and 50 in the ‘open’ areas). Five of them, Rock Dove Columba livia, Grey-headed Sparrow (Passer diffuses), Dark-capped Bulbul (Pycnonotus tricolor), Laughing Dove (Streptopelia senegalensis) and Blue Waxbill (Uraeginthus angolensis) were classified as dominants. The cumulative dominance was 69.9% in the built-up area and 55.6 % in the ‘open’ area. The structure of the avian community in the built-up area was unexpectedly similar to that in the ‘open’ area. Almost the same number of breeding species was recorded, and almost identical diversity and evenness indices were calculated. However, the Sorensen Similarity Index was rather low (I = 0.69). Also, the overall density of all breeding birds was much lower in ‘open’ than in the built-up area. Granivorous birds were by far the most numerous feeding guild comprising in the built-up area 68.1% and in ‘open’ area 62.2 % of all breeding birds. Also, similar between the two areas compared was the proportion of granivores (17.7% vs. 19.7%) and insectivores (11.5% vs. 13.2%). These were also similar to the proportions of the main nesting guilds. Only the guild nesting in/on buildings was much higher in built-up than in the ‘open’ area. Although species richness was not high, population densities of some species were very high in the urbanised habitat. It is recommended to protect the larger specimens of marulas and other tree species in this habitat, as they play a vital role in maintaining the high population densities.