National Avian Research Center

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

National Avian Research Center

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
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Islam M.Z.,National Wildlife Research Center | Singh A.,University of Wisconsin - Madison | Basheer M.P.,National Wildlife Research Center | Judas J.,National Avian Research Center | Boug A.,National Wildlife Research Center
Journal of Zoology | Year: 2013

In light of widespread declines of houbara bustard Chlamydotis macqueenii populations across its extant range, captive breeding has emerged as a viable option for regenerating viable populations of houbaras in addition to limiting hunting pressure, habitat management and amelioration of predation pressure. Although reintroductions of captive-bred houbaras have been carried out in many regions in recent years, information on differences in ranging behavior and habitat selection between captive-bred and wild-born houbaras is lacking. In this study, we utilized radiotelemetry data spanning 13 years to assess differences in home range use and habitat selection by houbara bustards in the Mahazat as-Sayd reserve in Saudi Arabia. The mean (±standard error of the estimate) annual home range size, estimated using the Kernel density method, was 307.76 ± 15.91km2, and did not differ significantly between genders. Annual home ranges of wild-born houbaras were however larger than those of their captive-born counterparts (wild-born: 423.77 ± 62.66km2, captive-bred: 299.31 ± 16.39km2). Rainy season home ranges were the largest (279.29 ± 27.75km2) followed by winter home ranges (245.79 ± 19.19km2) and summer home ranges (110.51 ± 8.91km2) indicating larger-scale movements of houbaras when forage was available. Seasonal home ranges did not differ significantly between wild-born or captive-bred houbaras. Analysis of habitat selection patterns using the distance-based method revealed consistent patterns of habitat preferences across years and seasons and between genders, ages and whether the bird was captive-bred or wild-born. Results indicate that scrub forms the most preferred habitat for houbaras, and should be conserved for the population welfare of the houbara in Saudi Arabia. © 2012 The Zoological Society of London.

Combreau O.,Conservation Fund | Riou S.,National Avian Research Center | Judas J.,National Avian Research Center | Lawrence M.,National Avian Research Center | Launay F.,Conservation Fund
PLoS ONE | Year: 2011

Information on migratory pathways and connectivity is essential to understanding population dynamics and structure of migrant species. Our manuscript uses a unique dataset, the fruit of 103 individual Asian houbara bustards captured on their breeding grounds in Central Asia over 15 years and equipped with satellite transmitters, to provide a better understanding of migratory pathways and connectivity; such information is critical to the implementation of biologically sound conservation measures in migrant species. At the scale of the distribution range we find substantial migratory connectivity, with a clear separation of migration pathways and wintering areas between western and eastern migrants. Within eastern migrants, we also describe a pattern of segregation on the wintering grounds. But at the local level connectivity is weak: birds breeding within the limits of our study areas were often found several hundreds of kilometres apart during winter. Although houbara wintering in Arabia are known to originate from Central Asia, out of all the birds captured and tracked here not one wintered on the Arabian Peninsula. This is very likely the result of decades of unregulated off-take and severe habitat degradation in this area. At a time when conservation measures are being implemented to safeguard the long-term future of this species, this study provides critical data on the spatial structuring of populations. © 2011 Combreau et al.

Strick J.,Breeding Centry for Endangered Arabian Wildlife | Vercammen P.,Breeding Centry for Endangered Arabian Wildlife | Judas J.,National Avian Research Center | Combreau O.,Conservation Fund
Zoology in the Middle East | Year: 2011

A Greater Spotetd Eagle Aquila clanga was rehabilited and released in the UAE. The bird was fitted with a solar-powered satellite transmitter and succesfully tracked from the Arabian Peninsula over Iran to Kazahstan and back to Pakistan. © Kasparek Verlag, Heidelberg.

Riou S.,National Avian Research Center | Combreau O.,Conservation Fund | Judas J.,National Avian Research Center | Lawrence M.,Conservation Fund | And 2 more authors.
Journal of Heredity | Year: 2012

The Asian houbara bustard Chlamydotis macqueenii is a partial migrant of conservation concern found in deserts of central Asia and the Middle East. In the southern part of the species range, resident populations have been greatly fragmented and reduced by sustained human pressure. In the north, birds migrate from breeding grounds between West Kazakhstan and Mongolia to wintering areas in the Middle East and south central Asia. Extensive satellite tracking has shown substantial partitioning in migration routes and wintering grounds, suggesting a longitudinal barrier to present-day gene flow among migrants. In this context, we explored genetic population structure using 17 microsatellite loci and sampling 108 individuals across the range. We identified limited but significant overall differentiation (FCT = 0.045), which was overwhelmingly due to the differentiation of resident Arabian populations, particularly the one from Yemen, relative to the central Asian populations. Population structure within the central Asian group was not detectable with the exception of subtle differentiation of West Kazakh birds on the western flyway, relative to eastern populations. We interpret these patterns as evidence of recent common ancestry in Asia, coupled with a longitudinal barrier to present-day gene flow along the migratory divide, which has yet to translate into genetic divergence. These results provide key parameters for a coherent conservation strategy aimed at preserving genetic diversity and migration routes. © The American Genetic Association. 2011. All rights reserved.

Azar J.F.,Reneco for Wildlife Preservation | Rautureau P.,National Avian Research Center | Lawrence M.,National Avian Research Center | Calabuig G.,Reneco for Wildlife Preservation | Hingrat Y.,Reneco for Wildlife Preservation
Journal of Wildlife Management | Year: 2016

Increasing knowledge of post-release survival and habitat requirements of translocated animals is critical to improve success of conservation programs. We estimated survival of reintroduced captive-bred Asian houbara bustards (Chlamydotis macqueenii) in reserves of western United Arab Emirates where plantations exist as supplementary feeding sites. We explored factors influencing short- (3 months after release) and long-term (tri-monthly periods after third month of release) survival rates of released birds. We modeled life histories of individually tracked houbara using Program MARK. Mean short-term survival probability (0.76 ± 0.14 SD) was lower than mean long-term survival (0.86 ± 0.03 SD), and observed group size and the age of released birds positively correlated with short-term survival. We hypothesize that higher quality habitat (plantations) affected survival; larger groups occurred in plantations and older birds might be better able to maintain access to plantations. Long-term survival was negatively influenced by subsequent release events. Releasing more individuals increases local houbara density. This may lead to food depletion, increase in density-dependent mechanisms between individuals, or both. Short- and long-term survival rates suggest that food availability at the release sites, together with intraspecific interactions, may influence survival of newly released and established individuals. To improve the management of translocated animals, the impact of managed food resources should be quantified to assess how it might affect population vital rates. © 2016 The Wildlife Society. © The Wildlife Society, 2016

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