SAWMA Matters


Camera-trap data elucidate habitat requirements and conservation threats to an endangered forest specialist, the Spotted Ground Thrush ( Zoothera guttata )


Yvette C. Ehlers Smith, David A. Ehlers Smith, T. Ramesh, Colleen T. Downs

Journal Name:

Forest Ecology and Management






The spotted ground thrush (Zoothera guttata; SGT) is a globally endangered forest specialist whose distribution is poorly understood in the critically endangered Indian Ocean Coastal Belt Forest (IOCBF) biome on the east coast of southern Africa. More than 70% of the IOCBF has been lost to development, resulting in fragmented forest remnants within a mosaic of different land uses. We conducted camera-trap surveys with 5796 trap-days in 82 forest patches of various sizes across a gradient of land-use types in the IOCBF during the winter seasons of 2014–2016 to establish occupancy (Ψ) of SGT. We used occupancy modelling and incorporated forest microhabitat characteristics and surrounding land-use classifications to compare sites and determine SGT distribution across the habitat mosaic. The top model estimated an average Ψ = 0.39 ± 0.09, and detection probability (P) = 0.11 ± 0.03. At the landscape scale, larger, less isolated patches had a higher Ψ of SGT while P decreased with proximity to cultivated land. At the microhabitat scale, a high percentage of bare ground influenced Ψ positively but P negatively, as did short grass cover. However, short herbaceous cover and high stem density of large (11–15 m) trees influenced P positively. These results detail the influence of landscape-scale factors including forest fragmentation and conversion to agriculture in conjunction with forest microhabitat-scale characteristics, on patch selection and distribution of a cryptic, ground-dwelling species that is both threatened and under-studied. Given its endangered status and dependence on larger and more mature forest patches, SGT may be an effective flagship species for the conservation of threatened IOCBF patches.

Read Full Article

You are donating to : Greennature Foundation

How much would you like to donate?
$10 $20 $30
Would you like to make regular donations? I would like to make donation(s)
How many times would you like this to recur? (including this payment) *
Name *
Last Name *
Email *
Additional Note