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Effect of arthropods abundance on the red junglefowl population in oil palm plantation habitat.

The red junglefowl (order Galliformes) is referred as the ancestor bird of local poultry (Darwin, 1875). It is distributed throughout India, Burma, South China, Malaya, Sumatra, Philippines Islands, Fiji and New Guinea (Delacour, 1977). In Peninsular Malaysia, its sub species Callus gallus spadiceus is found up to the elevation of 1676 m (Yatim, 1993), and most of its populations inhabit agriculture areas such as oil palm, rubber and tea plantation (Arshad and Zakaria, 2009; Azhar et al., 2008; Zakaria et al., 2003; Abdullah and Babjee, 1982; Davison and Scriven, 1987). It is highly opportunistic and omnivorous in diet (Collias and Collias, 1967) and takes a wide variety of insects particularly teremites and ants (Medway and Well, 1976).

This study was undertaken to determine whether arthropods abundance has any effect on the density of redjunglefowls in different aged oil palm plantation.

The study of arthropod abundance was conducted from August 1996 to July 1997 at Sungai Sedu Oil Palm Estate, Banting, Selangor, Malaysia in the 4 year and 8 year old oil palm plantation. Three methods namely litter collection pitfall traps and sweep net were used for the sampling of arthropods (Southwood, 1978).

Arthropods in litter. Litter samples were collected systematically. Five plots, 30x30 m, were selected randomly and marked. In each plot, four samples were collected monthly. Sample was taken at random by placing a 0.25 [m.sup.2] wooden frame on the ground. The litter inside each square was collected up to 1 cm soil depth and samples were collected into plastic bags.

Pitfall traps. Uncapped glass bottles of 8.5 cm mouth diameter and 7.5 cm deep were buried in the ground at random with their open tops flush to the litter surface. Bottles were filled to a depth of 5 cm with water and then covered with a piece of plywood raised from about 15 to 18 cm above the bottle to prevent the entry of rain water. Sorbic acid was used as preservative at the rate of one gram per sample. The bottles were examined after seven days. The sample insect collections were preserved in 70% ethanol.

Sweep net. Twenty strips, 30 m long and 1 m wide were selected randomly in both study areas. Ten sweeps were taken in each strip through the upper layer of vegetation and considered as one sample. Contents of sweep net were placed in ethylacetate kill jar until the arthropods were dead, then the insect material was transferred to labeled plastic bottle and preserved in 70% ethanol. Samples were not taken during drizzling or immediately after rain.

Data analysis. Arthropod abundance was defined as number of arthropods per sample. Data of arthropods abundance obtained by all trapping methods were pooled. Student's t-test analysis (Steel and Torrie, 1980) was used to detect the difference of abundance of arthropods between study sites. The eight orders of arthropods i.e., Hymenoptera (Formicidae), Orthoptera, Coleoptera, Hemiptera, Isoptera, Dermaptera, Arachnida and Isopoda that were considered to be important food sources for redjunglefowl (Arshad et al., 2000). Student's t-test was also used to determine the difference of abundance of insects in 4 year and 8 year old oil palm plantations. Published data of earlier similar study on population density of red junglefowl by Zakaria et al. (2003) was reviewed for comparison with arthropods abundance. The results were declared significant at P=0.05. All statistical analyses were performed by using Statistical Analysis System software (SAS, 1990).

The total number of arthropods caught in 4 year old oil palm plantation was 15872, whereas total of arthropods counted in 8 year old oil palm plantation were 14616 (Table 1). The results indicated that there was no significant variation in the abundance of arthropods caught in both study areas (t = 1.41, P > 0.05; Fig. 1). The eight orders that were considered to be main food items for red junglefowl were also found in the same abundance in both study areas (t = 0.12, P > 0.05; Fig. 2). Zakaria et al. (2003) reported that the density of ref junglefowl in the 4 year old oil palm plantation was 84.22 [+ or -] 5.45/[km.sup.2] while in the 8 year old oil palm plantation was 27.80 [+ or -] 3.57/[km.sup.2]. This indicated that the population density of red junglefowl did not depend on arthropods. This is because even though the abundance of arthropods in the two areas was about the same, the density of red junglefowl was higher in the 4 year old oil palm plantation. There may be other factors that affect the density of redjunglefowl. Zakaria et al., 2003 reported that canopy cover significantly affects the density of red junglefowl.

The red junglefowls are opportunist feeders in the oil palm habitat, i.e. plant materials (80.88%) as well as animal materials (19.12%) (Arshad et al., 2000). Although the findings of this study showed that the population of red junglefowl did not depend upon the arthropod abundance but many studies highlighted the importance of arthropods in the diet of galliformes. Arthropods are also important food for ruffed grouse (Bonasa umbellus) chicks. The diet of chicks less than three weeks of age is more than 90% invertbrates, and these are dominant in their diet for about five weeks after hatching (Kimal and Samuel, 1984). Therefore, arthropods might be important food sources for red junglefowl but might not be sufficient to regulate the red junglefowl population size. Other factors such as suitability of habitats and plant food sources might also affect its abundance.


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Muhammad Irshad Arshad (a) * and Mohamed Zakaria (b)

(a) College of Agriculture, Dera Ghazi Khan, Pakistan

(b) Faculty of Forestry, University Putra Malaysia, 43400 UPM Serdang, Selangor, Malaysia

(received May 16, 2011; revised February 30, 2013; accepted March 21, 2013)

* Author for correspondence;


Table 1. Abundance of arthropods by different methods in 4 year
and 8 year old oil palm plantation at Sungai Sedu Estate

Arthropods       4 Year old oil palm plantation

                 Pitfall   Litter     Sweep
                 trap      analysis   net


Coleoptera       552       551        247
Collembola       530       276        16
Dermaptera       114       157        1
Diplura          --        --         --
Diptera          181       7          194
Hempitera        15        10         194
Homoptera        5         10         367
Hymenoptera      4581      1791       1062
Hymenoptera      13        33         51
Isoptera         38        3          3
Lepidoptera      44        11         64
Neuroptera       8         1          --
Odonata          --        --         9
Orthoptera       1021      325        561
Psocoptera       --        3          --
Thysanoptera     1         --         --
Unidentified     3         48         4

Chilopoda        81        32         1
Diplopoda        19        48         --

Amphipoda        234       9          --
Isopoda          22        22         --


Acarina          116       321        5
Araneida         489       95         1254
Chelonethida     --        2          --
Phalangida       7         9          1

Total            8074      3764       4034

G. Total                   15872

Arthropods       8 Year old oil palm plantation

                 Pitfall   Litter     Sweep
                 trap      analysis   net


Coleoptera       604       695        259
Collembola       1041      280        1
Dermaptera       75        --         1
Diplura          --        5          --
Diptera          132       --         156
Hempitera        17        4          72
Homoptera        6         --         410
Hymenoptera      4673      979        1168
Hymenoptera      14        --         67
Isoptera         62        --         1
Lepidoptera      35        5          58
Neuroptera       6         2          --
Odonata          --        --         --
Orthoptera       709       179        594
Psocoptera       --        7          1
Thysanoptera     2         --         --
Unidentified     38        21         1

Chilopoda        39        9          --
Diplopoda        2         1          --

Amphipoda        114       1          --
Isopoda          7         4          --


Acarina          21        61         --
Araneida         570       73         1231
Chelonethida     --        --         --
Phalangida       --        2          1

Total            8167      2328       4121

G. Total                   14616
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Title Annotation:Short Communication
Author:Arshad, Muhammad Irshad; Zakaria, Mohamed
Publication:Pakistan Journal of Scientific and Industrial Research Series B: Biological Sciences
Geographic Code:9MALA
Date:Nov 1, 2013
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