The effects of differences in agro-ecosystems on the diversity and distribution of avifauna in selected areas in the Eastern Region of Ghana

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The study was conducted in the Eastern Region of Ghana in two agro-ecosystem sites: the oil palm plantation of the Ghana Oil Palm Development Company (GOPDC) Limited at Kwae near Kade and cocoa farms of the Cocoa Research Seed Production Unit of Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) at Pankese near Nkawkaw and a natural forest area, Esukawkaw Forest Reserve (EFR) near Kadewaso. The objectives were to identify bird species occurrence, bird density, diversity and the influences of the change in habitat types on birds. Line transect technique was used for sampling. A total of 1001 individual birds belonging to 78 families and 216 bird species were identified. The species compositions of birds from the habitat types were significantly different. The diversity of birds in the oil palm plantation differed from that of the Cocoa farms at P > 0.05 (t = -4.0149, P = 6.963E -5) as well the forest area since P < 0.05 (t = 15.3150, P = 0.00000). Diversity of birds found in the Cocoa farms also differed from that of the forest at P < 0.05 (t = -14.063, P = 1.0836E – 38). The Esukawkaw Forest Reserve had the highest species diversity and evenness of 4.48 and 0.95 respectively while Pankese Cocoa farms had diversity value of 3.54 and evenness of 0.89. Kwae oil palm plantation had diversity and evenness of 3.18 and 0.83 respectively. The relative abundance score of species among the habitat was variable in all the habitat types. It was realized that there was a positive relationship between the number of birds and the habitat types, i.e. as the habitat type approaches the nature of forest, the bird numbers also increase. Therefore, expansion of farmlands and logging could be the main threats to the survival of birds in the three habitat types.
A Thesis submitted to the School of Graduate Studies, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the Degree of Master of Science in Environmental Science, May-2012