POND SIZE AFFECTS ABUNDANCE AND DIVERSITY OF AVIAN SPECIES
Keywords:Wetlands, Conservation, Ornithology, Birds, Abundance, Species Diversity
Wetlands provide great important ecosystem services and serve as refugia for biodiversity. Birds are bio-indicators of environmental health and utilize the wetland ecosystems. Wetlands and birds face many threats from anthropogenic activities in the forms of degradation and habitat loss. This research aimed at assessing the effects of pond size on avian abundance and diversity in a wetland in Jos south Local Government Area of Plateau state, ten (10) ponds were sampled using point count method. Each pond had two (2) points which were visited twice daily (morning and afternoon) each. A total of three thousand, four hundred and forty-eight (3448) individual birds consisting of 97 species belonging to fifty- one (51) families were recorded. Intra-African migrants such as Didric cuckoo (Chrysococcyx caprius) and yellow-billed kite (Milvus aegyptius) were recorded. Species diversity and abundance were tested against the size of the pond, depth of the pond and vegetation cover on and around the pond to determine the factors that best depicts the diversity and abundance of avian species at the Rennajj fish farm. Pond size was a significant predictor of bird abundance (P< 0.01) and had a slight positive effect on the diversity of avian species which was not statistically significant at (P>0.05). Depth of the pond had no significant effect on both bird abundance and species diversity (p>0.05). Vegetation parameters such as shrubs and saplings had positive effect while vegetation on water and number of trees had negative relationship at (p<0.001) on the abundance of birds, vegetation on the water had a negative relationship at (p<0.001) with the diversity of bird species. Wetland ecosystems should be protected from excessive human activities as they host wealth of biodiversity.