Vertebrate Diversity of Alabata Nature Reserve, South West, Nigeria  

A.L.A. Shotuyo1 , M.O.O. Oyatogun1 , O.O. Oduntan1 , I.A. Ayodele2
1 Department of Forestry and Wildlife Management, Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, P.M.B. 2240, Abeokuta, Ogun State, Nigeria
2 Department of Wildlife and Ecotourism Management, University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria
Author    Correspondence author
International Journal of Molecular Ecology and Conservation, 2013, Vol. 3, No. 2   doi: 10.5376/ijmec.2013.03.0002
Received: 05 Dec., 2012    Accepted: 14 Dec., 2012    Published: 20 Mar., 2013
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This is an open access article published under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
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Shotuyo et al., 2013, Vertebrate Diversity of Alabata Nature Reserve, Abeokuta, South West Nigeria, Vol.3, No.2, 2-10 (doi: 10.5376/ijmec.2013.03.0002)


The importance of wildlife, especially the vertebrates for game, tourism and medicinal use cannot be over emphasized. Nature reserves are also known to influence the ecosystem of its location. However, rapid increase in land use for agriculture and other physical developments are gradually reducing wildlife habitation including the Alabata area nature reserve of Abeokuta. Inventory of these resources in relation to their habitat parameters would inform their better management. Assessments of vertebrate and associated flora diversities were therefore carried out in Alabata Nature Reserve. The study covered 20 km2 out of 97.3 km2 area of Alabata Nature Reserve. Twenty sample plots each of 25 m x 25 m were laid randomly. Animals(vertebrates) were assessed for 24 months in each plot cutting across wet and dry seasons. Animals were surveyed weekly using the King Census and Line Transect methods, by direct and indirect modes. 121 vertebrate species, belonging to 56 families were recorded.Thryonomys swinderianus was the most abundant vertebrate species with a mean frequency of 319±40.87, followed by Xerus erythropus 143±2.98 and Arvicanthus niloticus 122±15.39 while Ploceus capensis (5±3.92) was the least abundant.

Wild vertebrate diversity; Alabata nature reserve; Sustainable use; Wildlife habitat

Biological diversity is a scaled careful thought, going from genes of individual organisms, to large forest landscapes, to global biological diversity (Hawksworth et al., 2011). Therefore, classification, monitoring and reporting must occur on all scales and must involve all stakeholders. Conservation and, where suitable, improvement of forest biological diversity should be a very significant part of conservation and sustainable use of all types of forests (Pearce et al., 1999, This applies to the whole range of forest categories, from protected primary forests, secondary forests, plantations, agro-forests to other ecosystems that include elements of forest biological diversity (Dawson et al., 2011).

The development and implementation of the ecosystem approach, as described in decision V/6 of the conference of the Parties, should be guiding principle to achieve the conservation and sustainable use of forest biological diversity and it should be applied to the full continuum of forests, from protected areas to plantations, based on both science and adaptive experience (CBD, 2002, .

Critical levels of biological diversity loss/change that affect forest ecosystem functioning, and, in turn, the goods and services provided by forests are still largely unknown among forest types. However, lack of full certainty should not be used as a reason for delaying measures to prevent or minimize the threat of significant reduction or loss of biological diversity (Sizer and Plouvier, 2000).

Biodiversity can be protected in strict nature reserve, ecological reserves, etc. These are protected areas established for the conservation of natural values, usually the known habitat of endangered species, threatened ecosystem, or representative examples of widespread communities.

It has become almost increasingly difficult to utilize in a sustainable manner any one particular resource in the absence of a comprehensive inventory of the natural resources for a holistic sustainable planning, utilization and management (Shotuyo, 2012).

This study examines the vertebrate resources of Alabata Nature reserve, to lay a foundation for its sustainable utilization and trust for generation yet unborn.

1 Material and Methods
20 sample plots each of 25 m×25 m were laid randomly (Figure 1). Animals were assessed for 24 months in each plot cutting across wet and dry seasons. Animals were surveyed weekly using King Census and Line Transect methods modified for this study using direct and indirect modes (Figure 2) of wildlife stock assessment for an accurate collection of data due to the dense nature of the vegetation in some areas. Direct count method was used for all animals sighted during the cutting of tracks and laying of plots. The indirect method of sampling was also used. All indicators of animal presence or activities in the plots sampled were recorded. The signs or indicators used for assessing the presence of animals include:

a. Animal droppings
b. Call counts
c. Nest counts
d. Body parts dropping (e.g. feathers, hairs)
e. Dens and Burrows
f. Tracks and trails
g. Foot print
h. Feeding remnants


Figure 1 Alabata nature reserve



Figure 2 Animal sighting indicator of the study area

121 vertebrate species, belonging to 56 families were recorded (Table 1). 27 families were represented by just a single species each, while thirteen families had 2 species each (Table 2). The family Colubridae was represented by 10 species, while Rattudae and Sciuridae had a single species respectively. Birds were the most encountered (more than 60%) followed by mammals (more than 20%) while the other reptalia constitutes the remaining (less than 20%) (Figure 3).



Table 1 Names, code and taxonomic characteristics of animal in the study area




Table 2 Distribution of species according to families



Figure 3 Order of animals sighted in the nature reserve

3 Discussions
Animals in the order rodentia, especially Cane rat (Thryonomys swinderianus), Giant rat (Cricetomys gambianus) and Ground squirrel (Xerus erythropus) were the most abundant in the study area. Indices of their activities include feeding remains, droppings and burrows.

The Maxwell duiker (Cephalopus maxwelli) was also recorded in appreciable portion. Happold (1973) and Roberts (1986) stated that the trophic ecology and need for protection against predators of animal species in an area explains basis for their habitat distribution.

The Cane rats were predominant in areas with dense grasses and rampant herbaceous vegetation where there is also good cover. They feed on thick stemmed grasses and occasionally on tree barks (Happold, 1987) as shown by their runways, feacal droppings and feeding remains. The Giant rat (Cricetomys gambianus) feed on fruits, vegetables, seeds, maize, yams, and oil palm nuts and this explains their abundance because some of these require- ments are in abundant supply in the study area.

Also, the Ground squirrel, found widely in the study area live habitually on the ground especially in burrows and feed on seeds, roots and bulbs (Ewer, 1969). The areas were they are mostly found in the study area is rich in these requirements. The Maxwell duiker lives in wooded and grassland savanna where there are small thickets and undergrowth where they can seek cover (Happold, 1973). Their diet consists of leaves and herbs and young plant. These food and cover requirements abound in the study area where they browse on the young stems of these trees and shrubs and hide in the dense undergrowth.

The Hares (Lepus capensis) live in drier habitats where the vegetation is heavily grazed and grasses are short and spouting (Happold, 1987). They are found to predominate in such vegetation on the study site. This habitat preference causes them to live in areas otherwise uninhabitable for other browsers and grazers and explains the large dispersion of their position on the northern portion of the study site where they occur away from the other wildlife species occurring in the dense wooded vegetation at the southern part of the study site.

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Shotuyo, A.L.A., 2012, Vertebrate biodiversity in Alabata nature reserve Abeokuta, south-west Nigeria, LAP Lambert Academic Publishing, Saarbrücken, Germany, pp.228

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