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Effects of habitat and livestock on nest productivity of the Asian houbara Chlamydotis macqueenii in Bukhara Province, Uzbekistan

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Abstract

To inform population support measures for the unsustainably hunted Asian houbara Chlamydotis macqueenii (IUCN Vulnerable) we examined potential habitat and land-use effects on nest productivity in the Kyzylkum Desert, Uzbekistan. We monitored 177 nests across different semi-arid shrub assemblages (clay-sand and salinity gradients) and a range of livestock densities (0–80 km-2). Nest success (mean 51.4%, 95% CI 42.4–60.4%) was similar across four years; predation caused 85% of those failures for which the cause was known, and only three nests were trampled by livestock. Nesting begins within a few weeks of arrival when food appears scarce, but later nests were more likely to fail owing to the emergence of a key predator, suggesting foraging conditions on wintering and passage sites may be important for nest productivity. Nest success was similar across three shrub assemblages and was unrelated to landscape rugosity, shrub frequency or livestock density, but was greater with taller mean shrub height (range 13–67 cm) within 50 m. Clutch size (mean = 3.2 eggs) and per-egg hatchability in successful nests (87.5%) did not differ with laying date, shrub assemblage or livestock density. We therefore found no evidence that livestock density reduced nest productivity across the range examined, while differing shrub assemblages appeared to offer similar habitat quality. Asian houbara appear well-adapted to a range of semi-desert habitats and tolerate moderate disturbance by pastoralism. No obvious in situ mitigation measures arise from these findings, leaving regulation and control as the key requirement to render hunting sustainable.

Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)447–459
JournalEuropean Journal of Wildlife Research
Volume62
Issue number4
Early online date7 May 2016
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2016
Peer-reviewedYes

Keywords

    Research areas

  • buffer effect, exploited population , nest success, hatchability, pastoralism

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© The Author(s) 2016 This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.

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