Breeding behaviour, home range and habitat selection in Rock Firefinches (Lagonosticta sanguinodorsalis) in the wet and dry season in central Nigeria

MJ Brandt, Will Cresswell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Knowledge of a species' movement behaviour and habitat choice is a prerequisite for assessing its ecological requirements to plan successful conservation strategies. Little is known about these factors in the Rock Firefinch, a recently described species which is probably endemic to the Jos Plateau in central Nigeria. We investigated home range size, habitat use and breeding behaviour of the Rock Firefinch in Amurum forest reserve in central Nigeria during the wet (August-October) and the dry season (November-December) using radiotracking. Birds showed high site fidelity. They mainly moved alone or in pairs but did not have exclusive home ranges. Home range size tended to be larger during the dry season due to long movements to water sources. Birds generally preferred inselberg habitat and avoided farmland. During the dry season they additionally utilized gallery forests where water was readily available, and as a result of having to cross scrub savannah to get to water, scrub savannah was also more heavily used during the dry season. Birds bred between the late rainy (September-October) and the early dry season (November). Nest-sites were associated with rocky boulders. Both sexes contributed to incubation. Daily egg survival rate calculated using the Mayfield method was 0.89 (0.83-0.95 95% confidence interval); no nests failed during the chick stage, but sample size was only four nests. Of all 14 nests found, 50% were depredated and only 29% of breeding attempts succeeded in producing Rock Firefinch chicks. A second breeding attempt was recorded when the first one failed. Chick production just about compensated adult mortality (measured in a separate study at the site) such that the population is probably stable at present. However, given the large uncertainty in our underlying assumptions, more data are needed to confirm this. We suggest that the presence of inselberg habitat in close proximity to water sources is the essential and limiting resource for this species.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)495-507
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2008


  • breeding
  • habitat selection
  • home range
  • Rock Firefinch
  • tropics


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