Understanding avian diversity and abundance is important for its conservation in a protected area. A study was conducted to investigate species diversity and relative abundance of birds in Loka Abaya National Park, Sidama Zone, Southern Ethiopia, between August 2017and February 2018 during wet and dry seasons. Based on satellite image and preliminary survey, the study area was stratified into riverine forest, wooded grassland and wetland habitats. A total of 46 blocks were established to cover 20% of the 500 km2 of the park area. Some of the blocks were 16 km2; the remaining blocks were at the periphery of the park and are less than 16 km2. Data were collected using transect lines. The length of transect lines varied, 1 km in riverine forest, 4 km in wooded grassland and wetland. Sighting distance, one side of the line was 75 m in riverine forest but 100 m in wooded grassland and wetland. Biodiversity indices were used for diversity data analysis and encounter rate to determine relative abundance of birds. The effects of habitat types and seasons on abundance were analyzed using Two-way ANOVA. A total of 134 bird species belonging to 99 genera, 53 families and 18 orders were recorded during the study. Culumbidae followed by Accipitridae and Ploceidae was the most abundant recorded family. Riverine forest had the highest bird species diversity (H' = 3.98) while wetland is the lowest (H' = 3.43). The result showed 7 abundant, 20 common, 45 frequent, 30 uncommon and 32 rare species. The number of individuals of a species during the seasons was not significantly different (F1, 340 = 0.36, P > 0.05). However, habitat types showed significant difference (F2, 340 = 8.40, P < 0.05). This study revealed that the park harbors diverse and rare species of birds. Hence, the park is an important conservation area. Thus, urgent conservation measures and other long-term studies on bird communities of the park is recommended.
Key words: Birds, diversity, habitat association, Loka Abaya National Park, relative abundance.
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