Journal of Ornithology

, Volume 153, Issue 2, pp 421–430 | Cite as

Demography and population ecology of the Hadeda Ibis (Bostrychia hagedash) at its expanding range edge in South Africa

  • Gregory Duncan Duckworth
  • Res Altwegg
  • Douglas Michael Harebottle
Original Article


A mechanistic understanding of species’ geographic range dynamics requires an understanding of the dynamics of populations at the edge of that range. Several ibis species are currently expanding their ranges, and the Hadeda Ibis (Bostrychia hagedash) has increased its southern African range more than 2.5 fold over the past century. We studied the demography of a Hadeda population near the expanding range edge. Estimating survival on a quarterly time interval we found that it was lowest over the first 3 months of life, and then slightly higher over the rest of the 1st year (annual survival: 0.27, SE = 0.04). After the first year, survival was constant (0.75, SE = 0.09). Breeding success increased from 1.5 to 3 fledglings per year with increasing experience of the breeding pair. A matrix population model showed that the growth rate of this population was most sensitive to changes in adult survival and least sensitive to variation in reproduction. Hadedas in our study population thus showed characteristics of long-lived birds but were also able to achieve a high reproductive output in good conditions. Together with their ability to take advantage of a human modified landscape, this may explain the remarkable success of this species in expanding its range.


Capture-mark-resighting Hadeda Ibis Matrix population model Range expansion Reproduction Survival 


Demographie und Populationsökologie des Hagedadsch-Ibises ( Bostrychia hagedash ) an der Front seines expandierenden Verbreitungsgebietes in Südafrika

Für ein mechanistisches Verständnis der Dynamik von Verbreitungsgebieten braucht es Kenntnis der Dynamik von Populationen am Rande des Verbreitungsgebietes. Mehrere Ibis-Arten erweitern momentan ihr Verbreitungsgebiet und das des Hagedasch-Ibises (Bostrychia hagedash) hat sich in Südafrika im Laufe der letzten hundert Jahre um das 2.5 fache vergrößert. Wir untersuchten die Demographie einer Hagedaschpopulation am Rande des Verbreitungsgebietes. Die Überlebensrate je Quartal ist in den ersten drei Lebensmonaten am niedrigsten; für das gesamte 1. Lebensjahr beträgt sie 0,27 ± 0.04 (s.e.). Nach dem ersten Lebensjahr war die Überlebensrate altersunabhängig 0,75 ± 0.09. Mit wachsender Erfahrung des Brutpaares erhöhte sich der Bruterfolg von 1.5 flüggen Jungen pro Jahr auf 3. Ein Matrix- Populationsmodell zeigte, dass die Wachstumsrate dieser Population am empfindlichsten auf Veränderungen in der Überlebensrate von erwachsenen Vögeln reagiert und am wenigsten empfindlich auf Veränderungen im Bruterfolg ist. Der Hagedasch in unserem Studiengebiet zeigte deshalb Eigenschaften von langlebigen Vögeln, war aber auch in der Lage, gute Bedingungen durch hohen Bruterfolg auszunutzen. Diese Eigenschaften, zusammen mit der Fähigkeit, von Menschen veränderte Landschaften auszunutzen, könnten den beachtlichen Erfolg dieser Art in der Ausdehnung ihres Verbreitungsgebietes erklären.



Thanks to John Measey, Craig Symes, Rheinhardt Scholtz, Kathryn Jolly, the Subject Editor Peter H. Becker and two reviewers for useful comments on earlier drafts of this manuscript. Kathryn Jolly helped with ArcMap. Thanks to a large number of volunteers, and especially Jessie Blackshaw and the late Gordon Scholtz, who helped us locate and monitor Hadeda nests, ring birds, and resighting ringed Hadedas. The project was supported by the South African National Research Foundation and the National Geographical Society. Thanks to SAFRING for collecting resightings reported by the public. The study was conducted under permits from SAFRING, CapeNature, and Table Mountain National Park, and complies with all legal requirements.

Supplementary material

10336_2011_758_MOESM1_ESM.docx (34 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 33 kb)


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Copyright information

© Dt. Ornithologen-Gesellschaft e.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gregory Duncan Duckworth
    • 1
    • 2
  • Res Altwegg
    • 1
    • 2
  • Douglas Michael Harebottle
    • 2
  1. 1.South African National Biodiversity InstituteClaremontSouth Africa
  2. 2.Animal Demography Unit, Department of ZoologyUniversity of Cape TownRondeboschSouth Africa

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