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Termites are essential components of tropical ecosystems, in which they provide fundamental ecosystem services, such as decomposition of dead plant material, fostering of soil mineralization and provisioning of new microhabitats. We investigated the termite communities of four habitats in two protected areas in West Africa, which differ in management effectiveness: the strictly protected Lamto Reserve (LR) and the Marahoué National Park (MNP), which suffers from anthropogenic disturbance despite its protection status. We tested the effect of disturbance on species composition, richness and abundance as well as on functional (feeding type) composition. The effect of disturbance was clearly visible in the termite communities. Compared to the LR, the MNP had less termite species overall and in all habitats except the shrub savannah. Also the abundance of termites was generally reduced and a decrease of soil feeders recorded. The latter is well-known to be sensitive to anthropogenic disturbance in forests. Comparing our results with other studies, we were able to identify suitable bioindicators of ecosystem health for West-African savannahs. Furthermore, we discuss the potential consequences of anthropogenic disturbance on ecosystem services provided by termites.
In birds, vector-borne parasites invading the bloodstream are important agents of disease, affect fitness and shape population viability, thus being of conservation interest. Here, we molecularly identified protozoan blood parasites in two populations of the threatened Aquatic Warbler Acrocephalus paludicola, a migratory passerine nesting in open marsh. We explored whether prevalence and lineage diversity of the parasites vary by population and whether infection status is explained by landscape metrics of habitat edge and individual traits (body mass, fat score, wing length and sex). Aquatic Warblers were infected by genera Plasmodium, Leucocytozoon and Trypanosoma, with seven, one and four lineages, and 29.9, 0.7 and 12.5% prevalence, respectively. No Haemoproteus infections were detected. Prevalence did not vary between the populations, but lineage diversity was higher in Polesie than in Biebrza for all the lineages pooled and for Plasmodium. Infection by Trypanosoma decreased with patch core area and increased with density of habitat edge. Infection status was not predicted by the individual traits. Our study is the first to show an association between edge-related landscape features and blood parasitism in an open habitat bird. This finding will support informed conservation measures for avian species of the globally shrinking marshland and other treeless habitats.
A rocky area in Lamto, Ivory Coast, which is partly surrounded by plantations, was searched for nests of the White-necked Picathartes Picathartes gymnocephala. A total of 34 nests was found of which 10 were only remnants, 12 old and 12 rather new. One nest contained two chicks. It is suggested that ecotourism might be a suitable means to help to protect the species, but care has to be taken to avoid any further disturbance.
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