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Vegetation habitat of White-winged flufftail

Citation

Brown, Leslie Robert; Marais, Hannes; Smit-Robinson, Hanneline; Lloyd, Kyle (2021), Vegetation habitat of White-winged flufftail, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.m0cfxpp4n

Abstract

The White-winged Flufftail is listed as critically endangered and limited knowledge about the species’ ecology has been identified as a limiting factor to effectively conserving the bird. Little is known about the vegetation inhabited by the White-winged Flufftail, which hampers the identification and management of its habitat.

This study presents a fine-scale classification and description of the vegetation of wetland sites where the bird is known to be present. A plant phytosociological study was conducted to describe the plant communities and vegetation structure of the habitat. Three sites were selected at Verloren Valei Nature Reserve and two at Middelpunt Wetland, Mpumalanga, South Africa, shortly after the White-winged Flufftail breeding season. A total of 60 sample plots were placed within the study sites, where all plant species present were recorded and identified. Other aspects such as plant height, water depth and anthropogenic influences were also documented.

A modified TWINSPAN analysis resulted in the identification of three sub-communities that can be grouped into one major community. The Cyperaceae, Asteraceae and Poaceae families dominate the vegetation, with the sedges Carex austro-africana and Cyperus denudatus being dominant, and the grasses Leersia hexandra and Arundinella nepalensis co-dominant. The broad habitat structure consisted of medium to tall herbaceous plants (0.5-0.7 m) with shallow slow-flowing water.