ZooKeys 31: 211-219, doi: 10.3897/zookeys.31.192
How extensive is the effect of modern farming on bird communities in a sand dune desert?
Faris Khoury, Mohammed Al-Shamlih
Abstract Bird community structure and diversity measures in sand dune habitats far from and close to modern farms in Wadi Araba, south-west Jordan, were compared using 52 line transects for breeding birds and habitat variables. A change in the bird community of sand dunes surrounding farming projects was measured to a distance of 1 km, but could neither be related to changes in habitat structure nor to the activity of op- portunistic predators (Red Fox) as these did not vary significantly between the two samples. The farms included lines of trees and offered a constant source of water, which attracted a variety of opportunistic species, thus increasing bird diversity and total bird abundances. The absence of characteristic ground-dwelling species of open sand dune habitats in the structurally intact sand dunes surrounding farms was likely to be the result of localized, but effectively far-reaching habitat modification (farms acting as barriers) and/or competition with some of the opportunistic species, which were common around farms.