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Habitat characterization and preferences of the mountain nyala (Tragelaphus buxtoni, Lydekker 1910) and menelik’s bushbuck (Tragelaphus scriptus meneliki, Neumann 1902) in Arsi mountains national park, south-eastern Ethiopia

Author: 
Zerihun Girma, George Chuyong, Paul Evangelista and Yosef Mamo
Subject Area: 
Life Sciences
Abstract: 

Tragelaphus buxtoni and Tragelaphus scriptus meneliki are spiral-horned antelopes endemic to highlands and south eastern highlands of Ethiopia respectively. The ranges of both species often overlap and are threatened by the loss and degradation of their montane habitats. The objective of the study was to identify their preference and associated vegetation characteristics of montane habitats in Arsi Mountains National Park. Intensive-Modified Whitaker nested plot design was used to sample vegetation and scat across habitats. The Intensive-Modified Whitaker plot had four 1-m2 non-overlapping sub plots and one 10-m2 non-overlapping subplot, all nested within a 100-m2 exterior plot. In each of the 1-m2 sub plots, we recorded the presence and estimated percent cover for all plants encountered. In the 10-m2 and 100-m2 plots, unique plant species and scat piles of the wildlife species were recorded. The highest plant α-diversity was recorded in the natural forest (130 species). The highest Shannon-Wiener Diversity (4.509) was recorded from the mixed plantation. The highest habitat preference index for the mountain nyala (0.44) and Menelik’s bushbuck (0.58) were recorded in the mixed plantation and natural forest during dry season respectively. Urgent conservation of natural forest and mixed plantations are required for the survival of both wildlife species.

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