Known and predicted African winter distributions and habitat use of the endangered Basra reed warbler (Acrocephalus griseldis) and the near-threatened cinereous bunting (Emberiza cineracea)

BA Walther, Mary Wisz, C. Rahbek

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The Basra reed warbler (Acrocephalus griseldis) and the cinereous bunting (Emberiza cineracea) are the only two Western Palearctic passerine bird species that overwinter in East Africa and are classified by BirdLife International as endangered and near-threatened, respectively. To refine the African wintering ranges of these two species, we made an effort to collect as much distributional data as possible. We then used the available point-locality data to predict the wintering distributions using a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) based inductive modelling technique called BIOCLIM. For this purpose, we developed four environmental GIS layers that are presumed to reflect the environmental preferences of migrant birds. Our data showed that the known winter distribution of the Basra reed warbler was concentrated in Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi and Mozambique, where it was usually found in dense vegetation growing in coastal scrub, woodland thickets, swamps, marshes, flooded pools and grasslands, and along ditches and edges of rivers, ponds, lagoons and lakes. The predicted winter distribution of this species includes most of East Africa but, given the habitat preferences of this species, is probably limited to low-lying areas near the coastline. The known winter distribution of the cinereous bunting is so far limited to Eritrea, where the species has been observed in October, November, February and March, in sparsely vegetated, sandy or rocky habitats on coastal plains and deserts. The predicted winter distribution of this species includes the plains and hills along the Red Sea coasts in southern Egypt, Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia and Sudan, as well as a few inland areas in Sudan, Ethiopia and Kenya.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Ornithology
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)287-299
Publication statusPublished - 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Acrocephalus griseldis
  • Emberiza cineracea
  • Migration
  • Wintering distribution
  • endangered species
  • habitat use
  • overwintering
  • passerine
  • spatial distribution
  • Africa
  • Eastern Hemisphere
  • World
  • Acrocephalus
  • Aves
  • Emberiza
  • Passeriformes
  • Phragmites
  • migration
  • wintering distribution
  • LifeSciences
  • East Africa Africa Ethiopian region
  • BirdLife International
  • wintering distributions
  • Aves Vertebrata Chordata Animalia (Animals, Birds, Chordates, Nonhuman Vertebrates, Vertebrates) - Passeriformes [85548] Acrocephalus griseldis species Basra reed warbler common protected species Emberiza cineracea species cinereous bunting common passerine bird species
  • 07502, Ecology: environmental biology - General and methods
  • 07504, Ecology: environmental biology - Bioclimatology and biometeorology
  • 07508, Ecology: environmental biology - Animal
  • 62800, Animal distribution
  • Ecology, Environmental Sciences
  • Environmental Sciences
  • Population Studies
  • Geographic Information System applied and field techniques
  • Biogeography
  • Climatology
  • Terrestrial Ecology


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