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Biodiversity and phenology of aquatic birds in Highlands's wetlands of Oum El Boughi (North-eastern Algeria).


Wetlands are among the ecosystems that need to be managed to maintain their large variety of values and functions [31]. Today, Algeria has 50 wetlands of international importance, on the list of the Ramsar Convention on the Conservation of Wetlands of international interest, especially as waterbirds habitat. [29,22]

The High Plains of Oum El bouaghi is a complex of wetlands which classified as Ramser site [25,26]; this natural ecosystem sheltersa much diversified aquatic avifauna [6,3] that has a primordial role in the conservation of biodiversity [4]. Among these wetlands of High Plains, there is a site renowned for its specific abundance and biological diversity called: Garaet Timerganine.

The bird fauna of Algeria is relatively well known, due to data collected by dedicated ornithologists over the past two centuries [5,8,9]. Yet there are major gaps in knowledge of the birds' status, distribution, seasonal movements and habitat use, particularly for wetland species.

This study is based initially on the census of all aquatic avifauna species of popular and used that water body and in determining their phenology and study their ecologies


Description of the study area:

Garaet Timerganine which has been listed as a Ramsar site since 18 December 2009, covers an area of 280 ha has an average altitude of 850 m. is a freshwater pond located in semi-arid high plains of north-east Algeria (35[degrees]40'N; 06[degrees]58'E) (Figure 1). With a maximum water depth of 1.5 m [16, 29]. The region is mainly marked by endorheism, which is reflected by the existence of a multitude of potholes, some of which flood occasionally and others frequently concurrent with the flooding of the river Oued Boulefraiss. The waters of Timerganine are derived from storm and flood waters conveyed by the main tributary, Oued Boulefraiss, which begins in the Aures Mountains. As a result, the majority of sites whose water supply depends on rainfall dry up in June [13,18]. The dominant soil substrate is rich in magnesium chloride and allows for the development of only highly adapted halophyte flora, mainly species of the Chenopodiaceae family such as Atriplexhalimus Linnaeus 1753, Atriplexpatula Linnaeus 1753, and Salicorniafruticosa Linnaeus 1753 [23,21,22,24].



Weekly outflows were realized almost 8 am to 16 pm since September 2012 and until July 2013. The census of waterbird populations, have been made from several observation points with a telescope (Optholyth 20x80) and binoculars (10x20 Exacta). We tried to make individual counts of water birds if the group or population is less than 200 individuals and is located within close distance not exceeding 200 m. Otherwise, we conducted a visual estimate according to [2, 30]. The study of the biology and ecology of these birds was approached by the measurement of some ecological indices: the total abundance, species richness and Shannon diversity index. Multivariate statistical analysis (Correspondence Analysis) were used (ADE-4 software) [7].


Phenology and trends in abundance:

During the first observation missions, the overall number of aquatic birds was very low, as the breeding season had just ended and all the presents' birds have not yet adopted the typical gregariousness the winter period. The graph on the evolution of abundant numbers of waterbirds in GaraetTimerganine divides the wintering season in three periods (Figure 2). The first lasts from September to November, and the effective boils between 360 and 550 individuals consisting mainly of ducks and diving ducks surfaces and Rallidae. Immediately thereafter, gradual increases during the second period beginning in January and continue until the end of March. They are characterized by a sudden increase in the total workforce peaked in 1961 individual towards the end of January. The most abundant groups were represented by the Rallidae Common Coot Fulica atra where we noted in 1200 individuals in March (Table2).Subsequently, a sudden collapse in the number corresponding to the third period occurred reducing the abundance of 66 individuals towards from the end of March and thus characterized the end of the rainy season. This corroborates with the movement of species to other wet sites following the sudden decrease in the water level and with their autumn migration to wintering places. This explains the presence of that Coot in the site. The occupation of the water by the aquatic birds depends primarily on the biology of these species [10,11,12,13,9]. Generally, they snoop and peck in shallow areas on the banks and areas of swaying water [17,18].


Evolution of ecological parameters:

The Species richness:

GaraetTimerganine has hosted up to 21 species during the study period among which some are protected (The Ferruginous Duck, Ruddy of Belon, the Ruddy Shelduck, the White-headed Duck and marbled Duck). Both last confer international importance because they contain more (1%) of the Mediterranean population (Figure 3). The Species richness is highest during the rainy season between mid-September and March. It decreases from April until the end of the study. It results in the gradual departure of Anatidae. It is more or less stable throughout the winter season (18 species). The arrival of GarganeyAnasquerquedula during the month of February increased species richness in 19 species in February.

The diversity:

At the beginning of the study, when one species is noted in the site, the diversity index of Shannon and Weaver is zero. Immediately after, the index shows a variation in camel back with two peaks, the first was noted during the beginning of December with H = 2.925 and the second during the mid-March where H = 2,817. We believe that the declines observed during the months of March, April and May are mainly due to decrease in the water level due to snow and weather which the region during these two years, which have driven species Lake. However, during that time, the lake was occupied only by Coots.

The equitability:

Equitability index is zero at the beginning of the study but gradually increases and then stabilizes at around 0.4 until December where necessary renewed increase bringing the index to 0.84. After the collapse observed in the following months; one second increase is observed, reaching a maximum of 0.93 during the month of March. The index of the frequency detects the presence of the Coot Tufted Nyroca and in all identified by a percentage 100% (Tab.3) resulting in the dominance of these species.

Multivariate analysis:

Multivariate analysis of data counts:

The multivariate statistical analysis by the bais of Correspondence Factor Analysis (CFA = COA) conducted by the ADE software version 4 [6] and expressed in the 1x2 factorial design that holds 87% of the information or F1 and F2 = 60% = 27%) shows us a real time distribution of waterbirds in the Garaet of Timerganine (Figure 4). Indeed, the months of October and November are distinguished by observing the Marbled Teal Marmaronettaangustirostris. All other species is recorded for the winter period until April. ExceptionSeptember due to the very low water level of the Garaet. During May and June, it is the Black-winged Stilt Himantopushimantopuswhich dominates because searching for nesting sites. Finally, in July, which was very hot due to the drought the lake, only three individuals were observed in the site. This is probably bird unable to migrate.

The analysis that combined ecological statutes in pairs indicates that characteristic birds are either invertebrate feeders or polyphagous, but can be also partly winter migrants or resident breeders. Indeed, searching for current or future food resources is often the main cause of bird migration (also indicates that the diet of bird species closely determines its migratory or sedentary phenology. Moreover, wetland are indeed characterised by the presence of wintering bird species that search there for their food resources [13].

Occupation of space:

The Birds are particularly useful because they are mobile and, depending on species, require a wide variety of habitats on different spatial scales.

Field investigations show that Coots, are generally observed throughout the year on GareatTimerganine, but with large numbers especially during the winter. This allowed us to see an important occupation of wetlands of the high plains. However, it is noted that the population of coots in Timerganine estimated at more than 1200 individuals in the center of GareatTimerganine leaving the site in March indeed reductions in headcount was noted early months may which coincides with the development of the vegetation on the other hand at the end of the breeding season there was an actual increase could be the fact Coots completed or have released patches related to reproduction. It is likely that the weather in May and June have caused a lot of losses, prematurely releasing many adults. However immigration Fulk from unknown website may be eliminated and a rapid increase in some water bodies, in June and July was awarded to adults who failed in their attempt to reproduce.



The study of phenology of aquatic birds occupying GareatTimerganine during the study period showed us firstly status and occupancy terms of weather bird the site, and also the role of the latter as a favorite wintering site in which the beginning of the rainy season is characterized by low numbers, a large species richness, the best balance and a low water level. Wintering itself is characterized by a high water level due to winter rain falls. The total number remains low; However, a high species richness reflects a domination of certain species including the populations of Rallidae (the Coot Fulica atra) overwintering. The end of the rainy season is characterized by pre-migratory groups and progressive departure of Anatidae to their usual nesting sites. The GareatTimerganine however is important for breeding aquatic birds, especially populations of Anatidae, Rallidae and of Podicipedidae and birds of passage.


We want to thank everyone who contributed to realization this work, especially Ms. Dadci Sakraoui Rym a teacher at University of Annaba who has accepted to correct this work.


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(1,4) Nada NOURI, (2) Oualid MERABET, (3) Moussa HOUHAMDI, (4) Zihad BOUSLAMA

(1) Department of Biology, Faculty of Sciences, University ChadliBendjedid, El Tarf, Algeria.

(2) Department of Biology, Faculty of Sciences, University Badji Mokhtar, Annaba, Algeria.

(3) Department of Biology, Faculty of Sciences, University of 8 Mai 1945, Guelma, Algeria.

(4) EcoSTAq, laboratory ecology of terrestrials and aquatics systems. University Badji Mokhtar, Annaba BP12. Algeria.

Address For Correspondence:

Nada NOURI, Department of Biology, Faculty of Sciences, University ChadliBendjedid, El Tarf, Algeria.


This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution International License (CC BY).


Received 22 March 2016; Accepted 28 May 2016; Available online 12 June 2016
Table 2: phenologies of aquatic birds in Gareat Timerganine

                          SEP   OCT   NOV   DEC   JAN   FEB

Anas penelope                                     X
Anas strepera,                              X
Anas crecca crecca,                                     X
Anas platyrhynchos,                               X
Anas acuta                                  X
Anas clypeata                   X
Marmaronetta              X
Anas querquedula
Aythya ferina                                           X
Aythya nyroca                   X
Oxyura leucocephala
Ph&nicopterus roseus                  X
Egretta alba                                      X
Tachybaptus ruficollis                            X
Podiceps cristatus
Himantopus himantopus
Vanellus vanellus                           X
Tadorna tadorna                       X
Casarca ferruginea
Fulia atra
Pandion haliaetus

                          MAR   APRI   MAY   JUIN   JUL   MAX

Anas penelope                                             77
Anas strepera,                                            44
Anas crecca crecca,                                       76
Anas platyrhynchos,                                       80
Anas acuta
Anas clypeata                                             180
Marmaronetta                                              16
Anas querquedula          X                               180
Aythya ferina                                             130
Aythya nyroca                                             233
Oxyura leucocephala       X                               126
Ph&nicopterus roseus                                      14
Egretta alba
Tachybaptus ruficollis                                    163
Podiceps cristatus              X                         28
Himantopus himantopus                  X                  100
Vanellus vanellus                                         46
Tadorna tadorna                                           19
Casarca ferruginea                                        17
Fulia atra                x                               1200
Pandion haliaetus                            x            9

Table 3: Frequency of waterbrids species of Gareat Timerganine

Especes                         p    PI    F=(pi x 100)/pi

Canard Siffleur                22    20    90.90%
Anas strepera,                 22    18    81.81%
Anas crecca crecca,            22    18    81.81%
Anas platyrhynchos,            22    14    63.63%
Anas acuta                     22    18    81.81%
Anas clypeata                  22    20    90.90%
Marmaronetta angustirostris    22     6    13.63%
Anas querquedula               22    16    72.72%
Aythya ferina                  22    18    81.81%
Aythya nyroca                  22    22    100%
Oxyura leucocephala            22    20    90.90%
Ph&nicopterus roseus           22    16    72.72%
Egretta alba                   22    18    81.81%
Tachybaptus ruficollis         22    22    100%
Podiceps cristatus             22    18    81.81%
Himantopus himantopus          22     6    13.63%
Vanellus vanellus              22    18    81.81%
Tadorna tadorna                22    18    81.81%
Casarca ferruginea             22     8    36.36%
Fulia atra                     22    14    63.63%
Pandion haliaetus              22     4    18.81%

Fig. 3: species richness of Garaet Timerganine water birds.

Sept   15
Oct    18
Nov    18
Dec    18
Jan    18
Feb    19
Mar    17
Apr    15
May    15
Jun     9
Jul     3

Note: Table made from bar graph.
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Author:Nouri, Nada; Merabet, Oualid; Houhamdi, Moussa; Bouslama, Zihad
Publication:Advances in Environmental Biology
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:6ALGE
Date:May 1, 2016
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