HABITAT USE STRATEGY OF VERTEBRATES IN AN EMERGING NATURE RESERVE
The habitat use strategy of vertebrates in Alabata Strict Nature Reserve was studied. Twenty (20) sample plots of 25m x 25m (0.062ha) were laid at random over the total area of the study site for data collection. King Census and Line Transect methods were modified for this study using direct and indirect modes of wildlife stock assessment for an accurate collection of data due to the dense nature of the vegetation in some areas. One hundred and twenty-one vertebrate species, belonging to fifty-six families were recorded. Twenty-seven families were represented by just a single species each, while thirteen families had two species each. The family Colubridae was represented by ten species, while Rattudae and Sciuridae had a single species respectively. Birds were the most encountered (more than 60%) followed by mammals (more than 20%) while the Order Reptalia constitutes the remaining (less than 20%). Food and cover requirements abound in the study area, which explains the availability of a variety of fauna species. There is a strong association between the environmental variables and animal species thus; distribution, performance and survival of the species are directly influenced by these variables. The Principal component analysis and Ordination shows that the ecosystem of the study site is not stable yet. This can be observed from the clustering of the animal species together in an attempt to make the best use of the environment. The maintenance of a healthy ecosystem is largely dependent on its management and control of activities of man and animals.
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