Main content area

Searching for potential wintering and migration areas of a Danish Barn Swallow population in South Africa by correlating NDVI with survival estimates

Szép, Tibor, Møller, Anders Pape, Piper, Steven, Nuttall, Rick, Szabó, Zoltán D., Pap, Péter L.
Journal für Ornithologie 2006 v.147 no.2 pp. 245-253
Hirundo rustica, adults, breeding, breeding sites, migratory birds, normalized difference vegetation index, population size, survival rate, variance, wintering grounds, Botswana, Denmark, South Africa
On the basis of correlation analyses between annual Normalised Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) values in Africa and the annual survival rate estimated for a breeding population of barn swallows Hirundo rustica from Denmark, we identified potential wintering and migration areas in South Africa during December-February and March-May, when barn swallows commonly occur in South Africa. During December-February we identified potential wintering areas only in the western part of South Africa, in the Karoo. Potential areas in the central and eastern parts of the country were only identified during March-May. NDVI values in the Karoo during March-May explained most of the variance in annual adult survival rate of the population. The high ratio of European ringed barn swallows among controlled individuals in the Karoo was similar to the ratio that would be expected based on the number of ringed barn swallows and the population sizes of barn swallows in north-western European breeding populations. The level of this ratio in the Karoo was higher than in any other locality in the central and eastern parts of South Africa and Botswana, indicating that ringed birds from the eastern flyway are absent to a much smaller extent than ringed birds from the western flyway. This approach shows that the NDVI and survival method can focus ringing efforts to regions and areas that are likely to harbour specific breeding populations, thereby helping to identify potential wintering and migration areas for breeding populations of migratory birds.