Describing animal space use is essential for understanding their ecological needs and for planning effective conservation schemes. Notably, certain biomes and life histories are understudied due to methodological challenges in tracking animals in their natural habitats. Specifically, both arid environments and nocturnal species are not sufficiently researched compared to diurnal species and to other biomes. This knowledge gap hinders our ability to properly prioritize habitats for species protection in areas undergoing human-related development. Here, we investigate the movement ecology of the Egyptian Nightjar (Caprimulgus aegyptius) in the arid Dead-sea region of Israel, the Palestinian Authority (the West Bank) and Jordan. This nocturnal insectivore is a cryptic desert-dweller and was considered locally extinct until it was rediscovered in 2016. For this work we tracked twelve individuals using GPS tags to determine how this resource-poor environment affects their home range, (predicting large areas), habitat use, and day-roost ecology. We found that the tracked Egyptian Nightjars had a much larger home range area than other Nightjar species, commuting nightly between foraging grounds and day-roosts. We found, as expected, intensive foraging activity at agricultural fields, where artificial irrigation likely supports higher resource (insect) density. Additionally, we found that individuals showed very high roosting site fidelity, often returning to the same specific site, located in extremely dry and exposed habitats, presumably for predator avoidance. This finding highlights the ecological value of these barren habitats that are often considered “lifeless” and therefore of lower priority for conservation. Consequently, our research demonstrates the importance of describing the space-use of nocturnal animals in arid habitats for conservation efforts.
July 23, 2023
PUBLICATION AVAILABLE AT: A telemetry study shows that an endangered nocturnal avian species roosts in extremely dry habitats to avoid predation | Scientific Reports (nature.com)