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Distribution and habitat selection of the Asian Openbill (Anastomus oscitans) in Peninsular Malaysia

MOHAMMAD KAMARUDDIN ZAINUL-ABIDIN, FARAH SHAFAWATI MOHD-TAIB, SHUKOR MD-NOR

Abstract


Asian Openbill (Anastomus oscitans) has been recorded in Peninsular Malaysia since 2008 and their distribution appears to be concentrated particularly in Penang, Perak, Melaka, and Johor. This bird plays a potentially important ecological role as a biological agent, particularly in paddy fields. However, its distribution and ecology in Peninsular Malaysia are poorly known. We compiled historical data on the occurrence of the stork in Peninsular Malaysia from published and unpublished reports, and determined its distribution pattern and habitat use. We also conducted field surveys to examine its current distribution, abundance, and macro- and microhabitat preference. Macrohabitat analyzed with ArcGIS indicated the stork occurred mainly in paddy fields along the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia. This can be explained by the abundance of the Golden Apple Snails (Pomacea canaliculata) on-site especially during higher flood levels. In respect to roosting, the birds selected trees containing numerous wide branches and an average height of seven meters. Due to their increasing and persistent sightings in Peninsular Malaysia, conservation priorities should also be channeled towards protecting their habitat and preventing illegal hunting. However, more studies needs to be carried out in monitoring their density and population.

Keywords


Asian Openbill, biological control, Golden Apple Snails, paddy field, Peninsular Malaysia.

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