Ecological influence of habitat structure on the diversity of fauna in Rivers State, Nigeria
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Natural habitats are being degraded on a daily basis due to the increase in population and the need to put them to alternative use. This has cause a downturn in biodiversity. The habitat structure, however, plays a key role in species distribution and diversity, hence, the need for its protection. Animal species diversity has been reported to be dependent on the structure of the habitat. However, information on wildlife species in relation to habitat structure within Bonny Island forest has not been adequately documented. Therefore, wildlife diversity in Bonny Island was assessed. Herein, flora and fauna surveys were carried out on fixed transect lines using point centre quarter and line transect methods, respectively, in both the dry and wet seasons. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics and correlation analysis. Abundance of trees, shrubs, grasses and aquatic plant species in BSS (24, 13, 10 and 8, respectively) were higher than in BIS (8, 10, 10 and 10). Anthropogenic activities: hunting, fishing and other agricultural practices exerted higher pressure of 20.0%, 60.0% and 10.0%, respectively on wildlife resources during the dry rather than the wet seasons (17.5%, 43.8% and 38.70%, respectively). Higher density index of avian, amphibian, reptiles and mammals were recorded in BSS (3.2, 3.3, 4.4 and 2.1, respectively) compared to BIS (0.2, 0.7, 0.5 and 0.6). Moreover, there were more catch values in the dry than in the wet seasons (t=0.935). In addition, a higher diversity index (t=2.18) was recorded in BSS than in BIS. Generally, more species diversity was observed in the BSS block than the BIS and this is attributed to the habitat structure which is more structurally complex and less fragmented.
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