Studies of birds in a semi-arid area of Kenya. III The use of ‘Timed Species-counts’ for studying regional avifaunas
Tengecho, C. B.
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‘Times Species-counts’ are a simple method of comparing the avifaunas of extensive areas by sampling representative habitats. The method has been evaluated in south central Kenya but could be applied to most terrestrial regions of tropical Africa. The essential feature is that the observers move anywhere within a sample site of about 1 km2, recording all of the species seen in a fixed time, e.g. 1 h. Counts are made in all seasons and at various times of day. Reasonable estimates of the total number of species in an area can be derived from a series of 15 counts, but such estimates tend to be low in non-forested habitats because ‘wanderers’ (non-resident species) continue to be recorded almost indefinitely. Open sites have far fewer species than well-wooded areas. The numbers of resident species in non-forested terrestrial habitats is related both to the amount of woody vegetation and to a measure of plant growth. However, total species numbers seem to depend solely on the amount of woody vegetation. Road counts, from a vehicle, were compared to those made on foot. They are less satisfactory, especially for cryptic species.