This paper studies the
factors affecting passerine (Order Passeriformes) species richness in the
Western Maghreb, a region at the southwestern border of the Palearctic reputed
as a primary wintering ground for many common European birds. The effect of productivity, temperature, landscape structure and
geographical location on bird richness was explored at 220 localities across
Morocco. The models resulting from multivariate analyses
supported the effects of productivity, temperature and landscape cover on bird richness, with higher numbers
of species occurring in warm farmlands of the northwest. The most suitable areas
for birds avoided the cold and arid expanses of the Atlas Mountains and the
Sahara and overlapped with the most human-impacted sectors. Within these areas,
we detected an interspersed distribution of sectors of high bird richness and
low human incidence. These sectors can be used as priority targets for
conservation programmes of common birds during the winter.
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