Project

International Greater flamingo network

Goal: The objective of the international Greater flamingo network is to improve collaborations between ressearchers, NGOs, protected areas and public agencies in the Mediterranean and West Africa regarding the study and conservation of Greater flamingos.

Date: 1 March 2002

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Juan A. Amat
added a research item
Greater flamingos use cosmetic coloration by spreading uropygial secretions pigmented with carotenoids over their feathers, which makes the plumage redder. Because flamingos inhabit open environments that receive direct solar radiation during daytime, and carotenoids bleach when exposed to solar radiation, we expected that the plumage color would fade if there is no maintenance for cosmetic purposes. Here, we show that the concentrations of pigments inside feathers and on the surface of feathers were correlated, as well as that there was a correlation between the concentrations of pigments in the uropygial secretions and on the surface of feathers. There was fading in color (becoming less red) in feathers that received direct solar radiation when there was no plumage maintenance, but not so in others maintained in darkness. When we controlled for the initial color of feathers, the feathers of those individuals with higher concentration of pigments on the feather surfaces were those that lost less coloration after experimental exposure of feathers to sunny conditions. These results indicate that exposure to sunlight is correlated with the fading of feather color, which suggests that individuals need to regularly apply makeup to be more colorful. These results also reinforce the view that these birds use cosmetic coloration as a signal amplifier of plumage color. This may be important in species using highly variable habitats, such as wetlands, since the conditions experienced when molting may differ from those when the signal should be functional, usually months after molting.
Nicola Baccetti
added a research item
Penso che questa foto sullo sfondo di Cagliari trasmetta da sola alcuni aspetti fondamentali del personaggio-Alan, purtroppo scomparso la notte di Natale dell'anno passato.....
Abdennour Boucheker
added a research item
We used a large dataset of greater flamingo chicks banded and measured at Camargue, France, to verify the applicability of discriminant function analysis to sex this species. Males and females sexed genetically differed significantly in all of the morphological characters measured (body mass, tarsus and wing length), with males being significantly larger than females. Although the discriminant rate varied substantially from one year to another, we found that it increased with the sample size of genetically sexed individuals. Our results suggest that discriminant function analysis (DFA) does not provide an efficient tool to sex greater flamingo chicks as these relationship are highly variable across years, requiring the genetic determination of sex on a large number of individuals every year for calibrating the DFA and still providing an overall low accuracy in sex determination. Indeed, conditions at breeding seasons can vary between years and can be considered proximate causes affecting the correct discriminant rate. Like previous studies, we recommend caution in dealing with discriminant equations computed from small datasets, and our simulation suggests that 325 genetically sexed individuals are needed to obtain 80 % correctly classified greater flamingo chicks.
Arnaud Béchet
added 28 research items
Lateralization refers to the preferential use of one side of the body to perform certain tasks, often as a consequence of the specialization of cerebral hemispheres. Individuals may benefit from lateralization if it allows them to perform complex tasks simultaneously. Studies on laterality further suggest that sex and age can influence the extent of lateralization. However, most studies on lateralization have been performed on captive individuals, exposed to simplified environments and expressing limited behavioural repertoire. Here, we evaluated behavioural lateralization in the greater flamingo, Phoenicopterus roseus, through observations of wild individuals 5–37 years old. We examined the lateralization of simple behaviours (resting postures) and of several demanding behaviours requiring enhanced motor control and coordination (stamping for food and five courtship postures). Resting postures were not lateralized. In contrast, nearly all flamingos were completely lateralized for stamping, with a significant predominance of right-footed individuals. During courtship displays, twist-preens were significantly lateralized, yet with no dominant laterality at the population level. Finally, we detected a slight positive effect of age on the intensity of twist-preen lateralization, which may be related to the increased complexity of courtship displays with age in this species. Our results support the hypothesis that lateralization manifests in complex behaviours, even in wild animals.
Capsule Counts with precision comparable to those of an expert observer can be achieved automatically.Aims To develop an open-source freeware program that automatically extracts and counts the number of birds in aerial images of dense aggregations.Methods Software was developed and validated using aerial photographs of Greater Flamingo colonies from France, Turkey and Mauritania. We used a stochastic approach based on object processes. The objects representing flamingos were defined as ellipses, and the software detected these and produced a count. Details of the procedure are provided in electronic supplementary material. The energy is extracted by a birth-and-death algorithm, leading to the total number of birds.Results This procedure gave counts with precision comparable to manual counts of the aerial photographs by an expert (4 h to 20 min on average.Conclusion This open-source freeware should be useful for ornithologists and wildlife managers.
Predicting how bird populations may respond to climate change is a major challenge which could be addressed by understanding how past environmental processes have driven the variations of breeding population size and productivity. In inhabited regions, this issue may be complicated by the interference associated with heterogeneous levels of habitat management. Here, we have explored how several hydrological variables influenced the breeding of the Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus roseus in the Camargue (Rhone delta, southern France) over a 28-year period (1974–2001). In this region, Flamingos breed in a commercial salt pan. They forage in both salt pans and adjacent brackish lagoons. We hypothesized that breeding numbers, productivity and body condition of chicks at fledging were influenced positively by water levels of the Vaccares, the main lagoon of the delta, in spring (water and food availability) and the Rhone discharge in winter (nutrient availability in the salt pans). We controlled for variations of the flooding date of the breeding salt pan by the salt company and the size of the breeding island. We first found the Vaccares water levels and Rhone discharge to be negatively correlated with the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO). Secondly, the number of Flamingo breeding pairs (range 3560–22 200) increased by 1767 ± 1418 (95% CI) with a 10-day advance of the flooding date of the breeding salt pan and by 1146 ± 1081 per 10-cm water level rise in the Vaccares. Productivity was 0.46 ± 0.41 chicks per pair and could not be explained by any of the variables considered. Finally, chick body condition decreased with the number of breeding pairs and Rhone discharge. Our results show that (1) this intensely managed system remains sensitive to large-scale climate variations, (2) the breeding of the Greater Flamingo is affected by both climate variations and management of the salt pan, and (3) the expected enhancement of delta productivity by high river discharge was absent, probably prevented by dykes and embankments along the river. The response of bird populations to climate variations can thus be complex in intensely managed biological systems as found in the Mediterranean. We encourage pursuing such analyses incorporating anthropogenic variables explicitly in order to expand our capacity to make inference on the future of these systems.
Mark Alan Frank Gillingham
added a research item
Elevated concentrations of trace elements represent a major concern to wetland ecosystems, since river estuaries are geochemical endpoints that accumulate pollution. Although the negative impact of environmental exposure of highly toxic elements such as Pb and Hg has received substantial attention, we still lack a comprehensive understanding of the effects that these and other common trace elements have on natural populations. We used greater flamingos as a study system within three sites that represent a gradient of pollution. Controlling for environmental sediment exposure, we assessed if signatures of bioaccumulation in feathers for ten trace elements (As, Cd, Cr, Cu, Hg, Ni, Pb, Se, Sn and Zn) are associated with two known proxies of health: body condition and the gut bacterial microbiome. We found evidence of an adverse effect of Se, Hg, and Pb bioaccumulation on body condition. Furthermore, bioaccumulation of the elements As, Cu, Se, Pb and Zn influenced different aspects of the gut microbiome. Bioaccumulation of Se led to a shift in the microbiome composition, largely driven by an enrichment of Bacteroides plebeius, which is linked to the breakdown of sulphated polysaccharides of algae. Bacteroides plebeius was negatively associated with chick body condition, suggesting an adverse effect of a microalgae diet rich in Se. Pb bioaccumulation was linked with a decrease in microbial diversity (adjusted-R2 = 10.4%) and an increase in heterogeneity of the microbial community (adjusted-R2 = 10.5%), an indication of impaired gut homeostasis. As, Cu and Zn had more nuanced effects on gut microbiome heterogeneity according to breeding site and bioaccumulation concentration. Our results therefore suggest that in addition to well-studied elements, bioaccumulation of poorly studied elements also adversely affect health of natural populations.
Juan A. Amat
added a research item
Colourful plumage is typical of males in species with conventional sex roles, in which females care for offspring and males compete for females, as well as in many monogamous species in which both sexes care for offspring. Reversed sexual dichromatism—more colourful females than males—is predominant in species with sex role reversal. In the latter species, males care for offspring and females compete for mates, the mating system is mainly polyandrous and there is reversed size dimorphism—females are larger than males. Here, we document a case of reversed dichromatism, in the greater flamingo Phoenicopterus roseus, in which there is no sex role reversal and no reversed size dimorphism. Although theoretical models postulate that cases of reversed dichromatism should be rare among monogamous ornamented birds, our findings show that the use of cosmetics might be a mechanism for the occurrence of more ornamented females than males. Indeed, the concentrations of carotenoids in the uropygial secretions used as make-up were higher in females than in males. Apparently, there was a trade-off between coloration and antioxidant defence, as the concentrations of carotenoids in the uropygial secretions were lower during chick provisioning than in other periods, contrary to those in plasma. In this system, the application of make-up would act as a dynamic signal, which would allow a rapid reallocation of resources used for signalling among functions depending on needs. Cases like this may have evolved to signal the ability to provide parental care when females are more physiologically stressed than males. Significance statement For species in which there is no sex role reversal, but females are ornamented and the resources allocated to ornaments are important for offspring viability, it has even been suggested that females should be less ornamented than males. This may be because for females, it would be better to invest directly in fecundity rather than in costly ornaments. We show a case of reversed sexual dichromatism in a monogamous bird with no sex role reversal, the greater flamingo, where females apply make-up over feathers. In the case of this species, there could be directional male mate preferences for female plumage coloration because the costs of signalling would not affect breeding investment in females, since cosmetic coloration is not used after it is no longer required, thus allowing the resources used in make-up (carotenoids) to be used in other functions.
Abdennour Boucheker
added a research item
Le Flamant rose Phoenicopterus roseus s‘est reproduit dans trois sites du Sahara algérien entre 2007 et 2017 ; soit Sebkhet El Maleh (El Goléa), Sebkhet Safioune (Ouargla) et Chott Merouane (El Meghaier). Nous avons pu enregistrer 13 tentatives de reproduction de cette espèce, dont six ont abouti à des éclosions et à l‘envol des poussins. Le plus haut taux de succès de reproduction (86%) a été enregistré à Chott Merouane avec 2400 poussins. L‘espèce a tenté de se reproduire à huit reprises à El Goléa, dont six ont échoué. Les causes d‘échec sont nombreuses, les plus fréquentes sont les intrusions humaines et de canidés (chacal et renard) ainsi que les assèchements précoces suite à la hausse des températures coïncidant avec les pontes et les éclosions.
Abdelhakim Bouzid
added a research item
Chèr(e) Collègue Vous trouverez ci-joint l'épreuve de votre article et nous vous demandons de bien vouloir le corriger dans les huit jours afin de ne pas retarder la parution du fascicule d'Alauda. Vos épreuves et vos demandes seront envoyées directement à : QUETZAL communication-28 rue des Cailloux-F-92110 Clichy • Les auteurs publiant à titre amateur et MEMBRE de la SEOF recevront gratuitement et sur demande un fichier PDF (payant pour les autres) et pourront commander des tirés-à-part imprimés payants (cf. ci-dessous). • Les auteurs professionnels (mention d'un organisme sur l'adresse) ou les non membres pourront recevoir des tirés-à-part et/ou des fichiers PDF payants en remplissant la demande ci-jointe. BON DE COMMANDE NOM/prénom : Adresse : Code postal : Courriel : Ì Je suis professionnel ou non membre de la SEOF et je désire un fichier PDF au prix de 20 euros * Ì Je suis professionnel ou amateur et souhaite recevoir des TAP imprimés :
Abdelhakim Bouzid
added a research item
During the last ten years, new data were collected on the Greater Flamingo in Algeria. The survey of the known breeding sites such as the El Golea se-bkha and other wetlands used by this species gave the opportunity to acquire a better knowledge of this species and to identify factors associated to breeding success at these very arid sites. In the last four years (2014-2017) six breeding events took place at El Golea and Lake Telamine (two of them showed the fledging of 280 young).
Ortaç Onmuş
added a research item
The Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus roseus is a waterbird commonly found in saline and brackish lagoons throughout the Mediterranean Region. We have gathered existing data on Greater Flamingos in Turkey and carried out field surveys to present the most up to date information on wintering (1999–2014) and breeding (1969–2014). The wintering population of flamingos shows an increasing trend with 54,947±20,794 individuals mainly concentrated in the Gediz, Büyük Menderes and Çukurova deltas, respectively. Breeding attempts were recorded in at least seven wetlands in Turkey in the past, yet after 1999 most of the colonies were abandoned due to basin scale intensive water management practices in Central Anatolia. Currently, only Tuz Lake and Gediz Delta are used as regular breeding sites, while breeding has been recorded sporadically in Acıgöl and Akşehir Lakes. The breeding colony of Tuz Lake is of prime importance at the Mediterranean scale, with the number of young chicks in 2011, 2012 and 2013 accounting for the highest number of fledglings in the Mediterranean Region and West Africa (18,418, 20,274 and 20,292 respectively). Finally, building upon the previous findings about Turkey and the western Mediterranean metapopulation links, recent resightings of Turkish flamingos (despite the limited numbers) confirm post-fledging and natal dispersal reaching the western Mediterranean Basin and West Africa. Flamingos from Turkey were also found to disperse to Israel and to a region outside the known flyways of the western Mediterranean and West African flamingos (i.e. to Israel and UAE). Thus, Turkey, due to its geographic position, appears to be a crossroad between the western and eastern Mediterranean Region and southwest Asia.
Arnaud Béchet
added 2 research items
1. La population méditerranéenne du Flamant rose Phoenicopterus roseus est en expansion en particulier grâce à la croissance des effectifs de l’ouest du bassin. Plusieurs nouvelles colonies ont vu le jour ces vingt dernières années en Europe et une nouvelle colonie a été découverte en 2004 en Algérie à la Garaet Ezzemoul (Samraoui et al. 2006). Cette découverte intervint alors que les flamants ne se reproduisaient plus au Maroc et très sporadiquement en Tunisie. 2. En 2004, près de 8 500 Flamants roses nichèrent sur l’îlot de la Garaet Ezzemoul mais la reproduction échoua suite à une intrusion humaine (collecte d’oeufs). En 2005, la reproduction de plus de 6 000 flamants sur le même site pu être menée à terme avec près de 5 000 poussins à l’envol. Le succès de cette tentative ne fut possible que par un gardiennage assidu. La reproduction eu lieu de nouveau avec succès en 2006 et 2009 avec un maximum de 11 500 couples en 2009. Le Flamant rose a réussi à se reproduire pour la première fois en 2009 sur un îlot de sable dans la Sebkha d’El Goléa. 3. L’hivernage du Flamant rose en Algérie est régulier et les effectifs sont étroitement liés à la disponibilité en eau. Des pics de 18 000, de 21 800 et de 59 000 individus ont été observés dans le complexe d’Oum El Bouaghi pour trois hivers consécutifs entre 2002 et 2005 4. Pour se reproduire, les flamants ont besoin d’un îlot entouré d’une eau suffisamment profonde pour décourager les prédateurs terrestres. Le Flamant rose étant une espèce longévive, ses populations peuvent se maintenir par une reproduction une fois tous les trois ans. 5. Les Flamants roses s’alimentent aussi bien de graines de plantes aquatiques, d’invertébrés benthiques et aquatiques. Leur reproduction dépend de l’explosion estivale d’invertébrés aquatiques, en particulier Artemia tunisiana et Branchinella spinosa qui ont été trouvés sympatriques dans la Garaet Ezzemoul. 6. Les menaces susceptibles d’affecter directement la population sont principalement la collecte des oeufs, la chasse et la prédation par les prédateurs aériens et terrestres. 7. Les menaces locales susceptibles d’affecter indirectement la population sont principalement le dérangement, l’intensification de l’agriculture (construction de barrages collinaires) et une irrigation inadaptée, les changements climatiques et la pollution. A plus large échelle, les menaces susceptibles d’affecter indirectement la population algérienne sont l’abandon des salins et la destruction d’habitats en Méditerranée. 8. Le but de ce plan est de pérenniser l’hivernage et la reproduction des Flamants roses en Algérie en proposant une série d’action propres à : 1) Maintenir les capacités de mise en eau des Sebkhas que les flamants utilisent pour l’hivernage et la reproduction et 2) Protéger les tentatives de reproduction du Flamant rose du dérangement et des prédateurs terrestres, en particulier sur deux sites cibles, constituant les deux colonies de reproduction connues de cette espèce en Algérie, la Garaet Ezzemoul et la Sebkha d’El Goléa.
Manuel Rendón-Martos
added a research item
Background Selective pressure from pathogens is thought to shape the allelic diversity of major histocompatibility complex (MHC) genes in vertebrates. In particular, both local adaptation to pathogens and gene flow are thought to explain a large part of the intraspecific variation observed in MHC allelic diversity. To date, however, evidence that adaptation to locally prevalent pathogens maintains MHC variation is limited to species with limited dispersal and, hence, reduced gene flow. On the one hand high gene flow can disrupt local adaptation in species with high dispersal rates, on the other hand such species are much more likely to experience spatial variation in pathogen pressure, suggesting that there may be intense pathogen mediated selection pressure operating across breeding sites in panmictic species. Such pathogen mediated selection pressure operating across breeding sites should therefore be sufficient to maintain high MHC diversity in high dispersing species in the absence of local adaptation mechanisms. We used the Greater Flamingo, Phoenicopterus roseus, a long-lived colonial bird showing a homogeneous genetic structure of neutral markers at the scale of the Mediterranean region, to test the prediction that higher MHC allelic diversity with no population structure should occur in large panmictic populations of long-distance dispersing birds than in other resident species. ResultsWe assessed the level of allelic diversity at the MHC Class IIB exon 2 from 116 individuals born in four different breeding colonies of Greater Flamingo in the Mediterranean region. We found one of the highest allelic diversity (109 alleles, 2 loci) of any non-passerine avian species investigated so far relative to the number of individuals and loci genotyped. There was no evidence of population structure between the four major Mediterranean breeding colonies. Conclusion Our results suggest that local adaptation at MHC Class IIB in Greater Flamingos is constrained by high gene flow and high MHC diversity appears to be maintained by population wide pathogen-mediated selection rather than local pathogen-mediated selection. Further understanding of how pathogens vary across space and time will be crucial to further elucidate the mechanisms maintaining MHC diversity in species with large panmictic populations and high dispersal rates.
Arnaud Béchet
added a research item
The conservation of many species depends on sustainable economic activities that shape their habitats. The economic use of these anthropogenic habitats may change quickly owing to world trade globalization, market reorientations, price volatility or shifts in subsidy policies. The recent financial crisis has produced a global impact on the world economy. How this may have affected the use of habitats beneficial to biodiversity has not yet been documented. However, consequences could be particularly acute for species sensitive to climate change, jeopardizing long-term conservation efforts.
Arnaud Béchet
added a research item
Flamingo distribution is fragmented by the discontinuities across the soda, salt lakes and lagoons they inhabit. Their good flight performances allow them to track and exploit resource pulses whenever flooding allows the development of their favored preys. Here, we review recent knowledge on flight behavior, navigation, dispersal and migratory behavior of flamingos. We show that even if nomadism is an important feature of the way these species explore their habitat, flamingos also exhibit structured movements such as dispersal and migratory movement which are shaped by individual factors (age/experience), environmental factors (dry out/flooding) and density dependence.
Juan A. Amat
added a research item
Adults of all six flamingo species have rosy plumages. The flamingos acquire the carotenoid pigments that tinge their plumage from their diets, and are also able of metabolizing those pigments into others. Habitat characteristics may have affected which types of carotenoids are more commonly used by every species. The main function of coloration in adults is signaling their parental capability, in order to be chosen as mating partners. A secondary function of plumage coloration may be the signaling of status at foraging sites.There are seasonal variations in plumage color, which may be related to the use of make-up. Indeed, Greater Flamingos use cosmetic coloration of their feathers as a signal amplifier of plumage color, for which they use uropygial secretions pigmented with carotenoids. In contrast to that of adults, the plumage and bare parts of chicks and juveniles are brown due to melanin, a pigment that may confer the feathers and bare parts more resistant to abrassion, as well as thermal advantages. Future studies should show whether (1) there are sexual differences in coloration, (2) cosmetic coloration is used by all species, (3) the functional value of plumage coloration at foraging sites for both adults and juveniles, and (4) the genetics of coloration. All this may be accomplished combining field and captivity studies.
Abdelhakim Bouzid
added 13 research items
Between 2002 and 2008, we conducted an ornithological survey of Algerian wetlands focused on breeding by the Greater Flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus) in eastern and southern Algeria. During the study period, the Greater Flamingo made at least ten breeding attempts in three different salt lakes: Ezzemoul and Bazer Sakra in the Hauts Plateaux, and El Goléa in the Sahara. Two attempts were successful (Ezzemoul 2005 and 2006). Factors causing breeding failures are analysed and discussed. Resume Entre 2002 et 2008, nous avons exploré les zones humides algériennes et suivi la reproduction du Flamant rose (Phoenicopterus roseus), principalement dans l'est et le sud du pays. Durant la période d'étude, au moins dix nidifications tentative de Flamants roses ont eu lieu dans trois sites répartis: Ezzemoul et Bazer Sakra à travers les Hauts Plateaux, et El Goléa dans le Sahara. Seules deux tentatives (Ezzemoul 2005 et 2006) ont réussies. Les causes d'échec des autres tentatives sont analysées et discutées.
Between 2002 and 2008, we conducted an ornithological survey of Algerian wetlands focused on breeding by the Greater Flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus) in eastern and southern Algeria. During the study period, the Greater Flamingo made at least ten breeding attempts in three different salt lakes: Ezzemoul and Bazer Sakra in the Hauts Plateaux, and El Goléa in the Sahara. Two attempts were successful (Ezzemoul 2005 and 2006). Factors causing breeding failures are analysed and discussed. Resume Entre 2002 et 2008, nous avons exploré les zones humides algériennes et suivi la reproduction du Flamant rose (Phoenicopterus roseus), principalement dans l'est et le sud du pays. Durant la période d'étude, au moins dix nidifications tentative de Flamants roses ont eu lieu dans trois sites répartis: Ezzemoul et Bazer Sakra à travers les Hauts Plateaux, et El Goléa dans le Sahara. Seules deux tentatives (Ezzemoul 2005 et 2006) ont réussies. Les causes d'échec des autres tentatives sont analysées et discutées.
Arnaud Béchet
added a project goal
The objective of the international Greater flamingo network is to improve collaborations between ressearchers, NGOs, protected areas and public agencies in the Mediterranean and West Africa regarding the study and conservation of Greater flamingos.