Effects of habitat structure and shrub encroachment on bird species diversity in arid savanna in Northern Cape province, South Africa.
Bird community diversity was assessed in semi-arid savanna in the Northern Cape province of South Africa and related to vegetation diversity and foliage height diversity. As this is an area in which shrub encroachment is common, the effects of shrub or bush encroachment on bird species diversity were specifically addressed. An experiment in which the dominant encroaching species, Acacia mellifera, was removed from ten 1 ha plots was used and compared with ten controls. A strong positive association with foliage height diversity was shown. No effect of experimental removal of the dominant encroacher, A. mellifera, on bird species diversity or species richness was found. However, four species increased in relative abundance in cut plots and two species decreased in relative abundance in these plots.