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Distribution, Abundance, and Status of Cuban Sandhill Cranes (Grus canadensis nesiotes)

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  • Caribbean Coast Conservancy. Ac
  • Gulf Coast Bird Observatory

Abstract and Figures

We conducted the first country-wide survey between 1994 and 2002 to examine the distribution, abundance, and conservation status of Sandhill Crane (Grus canadensis nesiotes) populations throughout Cuba. Ground or air surveys or both were conducted at all identified potential areas and locations previously reported in the literature. We define the current distribution as 10 separate localities in six provinces and the estimated total number of cranes at 526 individuals for the country. Two populations reported in the literature were no longer present and two localities not previously reported were discovered. The actual number of cranes at two localities was not possible to evaluate due to their rarity. Only four areas (Isle of Youth, Matanzas, Ciego de Avila, and Sancti Spiritus) each support more than 70 cranes. The remaining locations each have less than 25 individuals. Sandhill Cranes appear to be declining and have almost disappeared in Pinar del Rio and Granma provinces, and in northern Matanzas Province. Identified threats to the remaining populations include habitat modification (woody plant encroachment, agricultural expansion, and fire suppression), predation due to wild hogs (Sus scrofa), dogs (Canis lupus familiaris), mongoose (Crossarchus spp.), and poaching.
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DISTRIBUTION, ABUNDANCE, AND STATUS OF CUBAN SANDHILL
CRANES (GRUS CANADENSIS NESIOTES)
XIOMARA GALVEZ AGUILERA
1,3
AND FELIPE CHAVEZ-RAMIREZ
2,4
DISTRIBUTION, ABUNDANCE, AND STATUS OF CUBAN SANDHILL
CRANES (GRUS CANADENSIS NESIOTES)
XIOMARA GALVEZ AGUILERA
1,3
AND FELIPE CHAVEZ-RAMIREZ
2,4
ABSTRACT.—We conducted the first country-wide survey between 1994 and 2002 to examine the distribution,
abundance, and conservation status of Sandhill Crane (Grus canadensis nesiotes) populations throughout Cuba. Ground or
air surveys or both were conducted at all identified potential areas and locations previously reported in the literature. We
define the current distribution as 10 separate localities in six provinces and the estimated total number of cranes at 526
individuals for the country. Two populations reported in the literature were no longer present and two localities not
previously reported were discovered. The actual number of cranes at two localities was not possible to evaluate due to their
rarity. Only four areas (Isle of Youth, Matanzas, Ciego de Avila, and Sancti Spiritus) each support more than 70 cranes. The
remaining locations each have less than 25 individuals. Sandhill Cranes appear to be declining and have almost disappeared
in Pinar del Rio and Granma provinces, and in northern Matanzas Province. Identified threats to the remaining populations
include habitat modification (woody plant encroachment, agricultural expansion, and fire suppression), predation due to
wild hogs (Sus scrofa), dogs (Canis lupus familiaris), mongoose (Crossarchus spp.), and poaching. Received 3 November
2009. Accepted 11 February 2010.
The Cuban subspecies of Sandhill Crane (Grus
canadensis nesiotes) is one of many endemic bird
subspecies and species present in Cuba. Little
information regarding distribution or overall
ecology (Meine and Archibald 1996) has been
published recently or historically on this rare
crane despite being one of the largest birds in the
country, and the Caribbean. The Cuban Sandhill
Crane has unique characteristics relative to the
other subspecies. For example, most nests are
constructed on dry land (Walkinshaw 1953,
Galvez Aguilera et al. 2005), which differs from
all other subspecies which nest primarily in
association with wetlands (Tacha et al. 1992).
The Cuban subspecies of Sandhill Crane is listed
as critically endangered (IUCN 1994). Only four
populations were known in the early 1990s and
the population for Cuba was estimated at between
100 and 200 individuals by different authors.
The first records of Sandhill Cranes in Cuba are
from Poey (1851–1855) and Gundlach (1875,
1876) who described the distribution of this
species in large savannahs in Cienega de Zapata
and pine (Pinus spp.) -dominated savannahs east
of Guamutas and on the Isle of Pines (currently
named Isle of Youth). Barbour (1943) reported
cranes from south of Matanzas Province near
Alacranes and Union de Reyes. Bangs and Zappey
(1905), Read (1913), Walkinshaw and Baker
(1946), and Garrido (1985) described the distri-
bution on the Isle of Youth (Pines) as limited to
open plains north of Cienega de Lanier. Walk-
inshaw (1953) defined the distribution on the Isle
of Youth as encompassing the region north of
Cienega de Lanier from Siguanea westward to
West Port and eastward to Pasadita. They are
reported to extend to Sabana Grande on the Isle of
Youth during winter. Garcia (1987) summarized
the status of endemic subspecies in Cuba and
considered cranes rare in all regions where they
were previously considered abundant, such as in
Guane, Mendoza, and Vinales. Garcia (1987)
emphasized the need to protect cranes where they
were still present at that time, including Pinar del
Rio, Ciego de Avila, Camaguey, Cienega de
Zapata, and the Isle of Youth.
The presence of Sandhill Cranes has been
documented over time in different regions of
Cuba; however, few authors have made quantita-
tive estimates of their abundance. The most
documented population is that on the Isle of
Youth. The status of Cuban Sandhill Cranes in
Cuba at the beginning of our field work was not
well known and many different estimates of crane
numbers had been put forward from a low of 100
to a high of ‘‘about’’ 300 individuals (Meine and
Archibald 1996). There have been reports over the
past several years on the population size of cranes
by different authors, although they are not in
agreement. Cuban Sandhill Cranes, from the time
1
Empresa Nacional Para la Proteccion de Flora y Fauna,
Ministerio de Agricultura, Havana, Cuba.
2
Platte River Whooping Crane Maintenance Trust Inc.,
6611 West Whooping Crane Drive, Wood River, NE
68883, USA.
3
Current address: Conservacio´n de Flamencos y Aves,
Nin˜os y Crı
´
as AC, C. 33 #503 x 6 y 72, Me´rida, Yucata´n,
C.P. 90070, Me´xico.
4
Corresponding author; e-mail:
fchavez@whoopingcrane.org
The Wilson Journal of Ornithology 122(3):556–562, 2010
556
Gundlach (1875) made his observations when
cranes were believed to have been ‘‘plentiful’’,
are considered to have decreased (Walkinshaw
1953). Cranes were considered to be more
common during the mid 1980s than formerly
(Garrido 1985), suggesting that numbers had
increased between the 1950s and 1980s. Walk-
inshaw (1953) suggested that during the early
1950s, Sandhill Cranes had almost disappeared
from mainland Cuba. Numbers reported for
Cuban Sandhill Cranes have fluctuated from 200
in 1953 (Walkinshaw 1953) to 120 in 1975
(Garrido and Garcia 1975) to more than 200
individuals in the early 1990s (XGA, pers obs.).
Most reports citing numbers of cranes in Cuba are
estimates based on only limited field research or
field surveys, which we believe underestimated
actual crane numbers.
Many of the 15 crane species, and several
subspecies of more common cranes, are consid-
ered to be threatened or endangered (Meine and
Archibald 1996). The Cuban Sandhill Crane at the
beginning of our work was considered to be
critically endangered per the IUCN Red List
(IUCN 1994), likely because no reliable informa-
tion on numbers and distribution was available.
The critically endangered designation was based
on the belief the populations present were highly
fragmented and each numbered less than 50
individuals. We undertook a study to evaluate
the current status of the Cuban subspecies of
Sandhill Crane in 1995 due to lack of reliable
recent information and disagreement among
different literature sources on distribution and
abundance. Our overall objective was to define
the distribution and estimate abundance of the
Cuban Sandhill Crane throughout the country.
Our specific objectives were to: (1) identify the
presence and distribution of different popula-
tion(s) or subpopulations of this subspecies in
Cuba, (2) estimate the number of individuals
present at each separate location or population,
and (3) evaluate the status and potential conser-
vation problems for each of the distinct popula-
tions.
METHODS
Country-wide Surveys.—We initially planned a
nation-wide search; however, the entire country is
not suitable for cranes and we limited our field
surveys to areas deemed appropriate based on
vegetation characteristics, topography, and per-
sonal knowledge of different areas. A preliminary
evaluation of Sandhill Crane distribution was
defined by contacting field personnel of the
Empresa Nacional para la Proteccion de Flora y
Fauna (National Agency for the Protection of
Flora and Fauna, hereafter Flora and Fauna) to
identify areas where cranes had been observed in
the previous 5 years. Areas reported in the
literature as having cranes were included for
preliminary evaluation, regardless of whether new
or recent observations had been reported. Each
site believed to have potential for cranes was
visited and presence was confirmed through
actual sighting of cranes from air or ground
surveys. The number of cranes present at selected
sites in each area was estimated from intensive
and extensive ground counts.
Aerial surveys were conducted throughout a
large portion of the country in areas described on
vegetation maps as having characteristics of
potentially suitable habitat for Sandhill Cranes
(open areas, savannahs, and sparsely forested
areas). Open habitat types in Cienega de Zapata,
and the provinces of Isle of Youth, Sancti Spiritus,
and Camaguey were surveyed at low altitudes
(40–60 m) during October 1995 using a fixed-
wing airplane. Areas in the provinces of Pinar del
Rio, Cienega de Birama, and the northern regions
of Matanzas were surveyed from the air in
January 1996.
Areas in each province with appropriate
vegetation characteristics, or actual sightings
following the aerial surveys, were visited to
conduct personal interviews with local inhabi-
tants. Three hundred and forty interviews were
conducted of between 10 and 20 individuals in
each potential region who had lived in the area at
least 20 years. Those interviewed included
employees of Flora and Fauna, forest rangers,
fishermen, farmers, cattle producers, and others
who spent much of their time outdoors in areas
likely to be used by cranes. Areas where
interviews indicated cranes were likely to be
present were surveyed extensively by driving and
walking routes to estimate the number of cranes
present. More intensive and standardized counts
were conducted in areas where cranes appeared to
be abundant, or widespread.
Population Estimates.—Coordinated point
counts were conducted in four areas that appeared
to support the largest numbers of cranes to define
their distribution and estimate population size. All
counts were conducted during February between
1995 and 2002 with a different area sampled each
Galvez Aguilera and Chavez-Ramirez N CUBAN SANDHILL CRANE STATUS
557
year. Methods used for counts were those
developed by the International Crane Foundation
and used in Wisconsin (Meine and Archibald
1996) and Mississippi (Hereford et al. 2001) for
other subspecies of Sandhill Cranes. Counts were
conducted by systematically establishing obser-
vation points 1.5–2 km apart throughout the entire
area to be sampled. Ground counts conducted in
the four areas with the largest numbers of cranes
consisted of between 16 and 40 points. Two to
four observers at each point recorded the number
of cranes observed, time of observation, direction
from observation point, and direction of flight.
Between 300 and 500 persons participated in the
counts at each location surveyed. Two hours of
observation were conducted before sunset during
an evening followed by 2 hrs of observation the
next morning beginning at sunrise.
We recorded number of birds seen, time of
observation, and direction of flight at each sample
location to eliminate duplicate observations. The
maximum number of birds, after eliminating
duplicate counts, was considered the total for that
area.
RESULTS
Distribution and Abundance.—We defined the
distribution of Cuban Sandhill Cranes as consist-
ing of 10 separate localities and presumed to
consist of nine separate populations in six
provinces (Table 1, Fig. 1). We estimated 526
cranes for the entire country. The total cranes
counted in each of the areas with largest numbers
of cranes varied from 71 in Guayaberas to 171 on
the Isle of Youth (Table 2) for a total of 464
cranes in the four areas with the largest popula-
tions. We estimated all other sites combined to
have 62 cranes (Table 1) based on site visits,
TABLE 1. Cuban Sandhill Crane populations by location and province.
Province Location Population
a
Estimated number Status Protected by
b
Pinar del Rio Guane 1 ,10 Stable ENPFF/CGB
Consolacion Sur 2{ 0 Extirpated NA
Matanzas Cienega de Majaguillar 3 ,12 Unknown ENPFF
Cienega de Zapata 4 120 Increasing EFI/(AP)
Sancti Spiritus Cienega de las Guayaberas 5 71 Stable ENPFF (AP)
Ciego de Avila Moron Norte 6 102 Stable ENPFF (AP)
Jucaro 7 Present Stable? ENPFF
Camaguey Sabana de Lesca 8 24 Stable CGB
Cayo Romano 9 16 Unknown ENPFF (AP)
Granma Cienega Birama 10{ ? Not confirmed ENPFF (AP)
Isle of Youth Los Indios (11) and Sabana Grande
(12)
11, 12 171 Increasing ENPFF (AP)
a
Figure 1.
b
ENPFF 5 Empresa Nacional para la Proteccion de Flora y Fauna (National Agency for the Protection of Flora and Fauna), EFI 5 Empresa Forestal Integral
(Integrated Forestry Agency), CGB 5 Cuerpo de Guardabosques (Forest Ranger Corps), AP 5 Protected Area.
{ 5 not confirmed.
FIG. 1. Distribution of Sandhill Crane populations in Cuba. Numbers represent the location of populations
corresponding with data in Table 1.
558
THE WILSON JOURNAL OF ORNITHOLOGY N Vol. 122, No. 3, September 2010
ground-based surveys, direct observations, and
knowledge of local people. We confirmed crane
presence for Jucaro (#7, Fig. 1) but have no
estimate of abundance.
We could not confirm presence of cranes
during our study or based on local people’s
knowledge, for two locations previously reported
(Walkinshaw 1949). These included the region of
Consolacion del sur in Pinar del Rio Province and
Cienega de Birama in Granma Province (#’s 2 and
10, respectively; Fig. 1). Only a rough estimate of
numbers is available for two other localities due to
the rarity of crane observations in those areas.
These localities are Cienega de Majaguillar in
northern Matanzas Province and Cayo Romano
key, off the northern coast of Camaguey Province
(#’s 3 and 9, respectively; Fig. 1).
Provincial Reports
Pinar Del Rio Province.—Interviews with 30
local residents suggested crane presence in a small
area over the entire time period they could
remember. We confirmed crane presence in
1996 in the area of Guane (#1, Fig. 1) with no
more than 10 individuals likely remaining. Locals
suggested cranes were more common through the
1990s but had decreased significantly in recent
years. Large areas were planted with Carribean
pine (Pinus caribaea) in the 1970s, which
apparently caused many areas to become wooded
and less suitable for cranes. Our last visit to the
area in 2002 confirmed the presence of one chick;
however, even fewer cranes were apparent than in
1996.
Threats to cranes in this province include
habitat modification, presence of large agricultur-
al operations including hog (Sus scrofa) farming,
and extensive hunting activities, some of which
are reported to be illegal. The area where cranes
are present is under management and protection
by Forestry Agency authorities, and hunting has
been limited due to concerns expressed to
authorities regarding the critical situation for
cranes in the area. However, the low number of
cranes present and the small area of habitat
available will make it difficult for cranes to
increase in this locality in the future.
Matanzas Province.—Cienega de Zapata (#4,
Fig. 1) in the southern portion of the province has
long been known to support cranes. Crane
presence was confirmed from aerial surveys in
1995 and, in 1996, five nests were found in
different sections of the wetlands. We estimated
120 cranes during the ground point counts
conducted in Cienega de Zapata in 1998. We
recorded a new locality in the northern area of the
province not previously reported as supporting
cranes called Cienega de Majaguillar (#3, Fig. 1)
with an estimate of ,12 cranes. The situation of
these cranes appears to be similar to that of the
precarious population in Pinar del Rio.
There are several threats to cranes in this area.
There is loss of open savannah due to increases in
woody shrubs and trees such as cayput (Galaleuca
quinquenerva), believed to be a consequence of
decreased use of prescribed fires since the 1970s.
Significant populations of wild hogs and dogs
(Canis lupus familiaris) are present and could
threaten Sandhill Cranes.
Sancti Spiritus Province.—Sandhill Cranes are
present in the Cienega de Guayaberas and,
according to those interviewed, have been present
for at least 40 years (#5, Fig. 1). A ground point
count conducted in 1998 estimated 71 cranes. The
area suitable for cranes is ,12 km
2
and is
decreasing due to invasion by exotic woody
plants such as marabou (Dichrostachys glomer-
ata), which eliminates open spaces. Large areas
have also been modified for rice cultivation and
this practice continues to increase. The presence
of water buffalo (Bubalus bubalis) has caused
overgrazing in some areas further contributing to
invasion of exotic woody plants.
Ciego de Avila Province.—Sandhill Cranes
have been reported in this province since the
beginning of the 20th century. Crane presence was
TABLE 2. Estimates of Sandhill Crane abundance in the four largest populations in Cuba.
Category Isle of Youth Cienega de Zapata Guayaberas Moron Norte
Survey period February 1998 February 1999 February 1998 February 2002
# Count stations 52 26 16 32
Cranes obs./point 5.3 6.3 9.1 6.5
Range 1–22 1–21 4–16 2–18
Estimated total cranes 171 120 71 102
Galvez Aguilera and Chavez-Ramirez N CUBAN SANDHILL CRANE STATUS
559
confirmed via aerial and ground surveys in 1995
and 1996 in the northern portion of the province
(#6, Fig. 1), but not in the south (#7, Fig. 1). We
did not obtain a count of cranes in the south but
did confirm their presence. We estimated 102 and
101 cranes were present in the northern area of the
province based on point counts conducted in 1997
and 2002, respectively. Chicks were observed in
this area in 1995 and 1996. Northern Ciego de
Avila supports one of the largest populations of
cranes in Cuba and is a priority area for
protection. The case for protection was made to
government authorities. A 250,000-ha protected
area was established in summer 2004 that will
limit and control expansion of habitat alterations
in the entire region. However, agriculture, cattle
grazing, and tree plantations continue and could
affect crane habitat in the future.
Potential threats in this area include extensive
livestock grazing, exotic plants and animals, and
habitat fragmentation due to agriculture and tree
plantations. Cattle grazing is expanding and there
is an effort to establish non-native grasses for
livestock forage. Feral water buffalo are present,
which has led to overgrazing and erosion in some
areas. Invasive plants include casuarina (Casua-
rina equisetifolia) and marabou, which are rapidly
increasing and causing reduction of open savan-
nahs. The hydrological regime of this area has
been affected by deforestation of native plants,
road construction, and sugar cane fields, which
could flood crane nests and drown chicks. The
presence of sugar cane fields provides cover for
mongoose (Crossarchus spp.) and black rats
(Rattus rattus), which depredate crane eggs.
Camaguey Province.—Historical Sandhill Crane
localities (#8, Fig. 1) in this province included
Sabanas de Lesca and Meseta de San Felipe.
Surveys of local people suggested cranes were no
longer present but we observed six cranes flying in
1994. At least 12 pairs were observed in a 2001
ground survey in the Meseta de San Felipe. A
previously unreported area was key Cayo Romano
off the northern coast (#9, Fig. 1), which is
believed to have had cranes for at least 30 years.
No extensive count was possible during our work
in this area but biologists who visited the site
estimated that ,16 cranes are present on this key.
Principle threats in this area include possible
future mining activities and military exercises
(Cayo Romano) that occur in the area occupied by
cranes. Wild dogs are known to be present in the
area.
Granma Province.—A single recent visual
observation was reported in interviews for this
province in the region of Birama in the delta of
Rio Cauto (#10, Fig. 1). Interviews suggested
cranes were common in the 1970s through the mid
1980s, but decreased in number through the early
1990s and are now believed to be completely
absent. Our ground searches conducted yearly
between 1999 and 2002 could not confirm the
presence of cranes in this area. Habitat modifica-
tions in areas of previous crane use include
development of wetlands for rice production.
We believe cranes have been extirpated from this
province.
Isle of Youth Province.—Isle of Youth is a well
known area for Cuban Sandhill Cranes (#’s 11 and
12, Fig. 1). The type specimen for this subspecies
was collected from the Isle of Youth (Bangs and
Zappey 1905). Two ground counts were conduct-
ed on the Isle of Youth using the same points in
1995 and 1998, yielding estimates of 115 and 171
cranes, respectively. The 1995 value is similar to
that reported by Walkinshaw (1953) of 100 cranes
for the Isle of Youth. We believe the 1998 count is
more accurate as it was conducted over 2 days
during one morning and one afternoon, compared
to the 1995 count which was conducted only
during the morning.
Threats present include cattle grazing activity
and herding during the nesting period. Illegal
hunting and fishing activities cause disturbance to
the cranes in this area.
Conservation Status of Populations
Eight of 10 areas supporting Sandhill Cranes
are under some form of protection, either as
protected areas or other schemes managed by
Flora y Fauna. These include Birama, Cayo
Romano, Norte de Moron, Cienega de Guayaber-
as, Cienega de Zapata, Majaguillar, Jucaro, and
Los Indios/Sabana Grande. Two more were under
management by the Forestry Agency in Matanzas
Province (Empresa Integral Forestal de Cienega
de Zapata). Areas where Sandhill Cranes were
present in Guane in Pinar del Rio Province and
Lesca in Camaguey Province were also managed
by the Forestry Agency.
DISCUSSION
We confirmed Cuban Sandhill Cranes to be
more widespread than previously reported (Gar-
rido 1985, Garcia 1987, Meine and Archibald
1996). However, presence of cranes in two areas
560
THE WILSON JOURNAL OF ORNITHOLOGY N Vol. 122, No. 3, September 2010
that previously supported them (Walkinshaw
1949) could not be confirmed. The abundance of
cranes estimated during this study for Cuba is
higher than all previously reported estimates,
leading to reclassifying the Cuban Sandhill Crane
from critically endangered in 1994 to vulnerable
in 1997. Our estimate of 526 cranes is signifi-
cantly greater than the estimated 103 individuals
of the endangered Mississippi Sandhill Crane
(Grus canadensis pulla) (Hereford et al. 2001),
but lower than the 4,000–6,000 estimated for
Florida Sandhill Cranes (G. c. pratensis) (Tacha et
al. 1994).
The present distribution is broader than expected,
but at least two previously documented sites appear
to no longer support cranes. We have no explana-
tion for causes of the disappearance of Sandhill
Cranes from these areas, except to note significant
habitat changes have occurred in those areas. A
series of threats was identified for all of the present
populations. At least two populations, those in
Guane in Pinar del Rio and Birama in Granma, are
so low that it is likely they have already disappeared
or will do so soon. The estimates are unreliable for
other localities and are possibly optimistic, and
should be re-evaluated in the field (Cayo Romano
and Sabana de Lesca in Camaguey, and Majaguillar
in northern Matanzas Province).
We could not identify causes of population
disappearance or decreases, but important factors
may include population isolation effects and
degradation and decreases in available habitat.
Decreases in size or fragmentation of habitat
could contribute to population declines in some
areas as alterations are visible throughout the
entire country. The Mississippi Sandhill Crane’s
low productivity and endangered status is attrib-
uted in large part to habitat fragmentation
(Valentine 1970; S. G. Hereford, pers. comm.).
All existing populations are separated by distanc-
es greater than the longest known dispersal
movement by non-migratory Sandhill Cranes (up
to 48.3 km in Florida; Nesbitt et al. 2002). We
have limited data on potential movements and
dispersal of Cuban Sandhill Cranes but, of 10
radio-marked birds on the Isle of Youth, a single
crane moved .18 km during 1 year (Galvez
Aguilera 2002). Even shorter movements (10.5 km
by Florida Sandhill Cranes in Georgia; Bennett
1989) are reported for other non-migratory Sand-
hill Cranes.
Four significant populations appear to be stable
and perhaps increasing: (1) Isle of Youth, (2)
northern Ciego de Avila, (3) Cienega de Zapata in
Matanzas, and (4) Cienega de Guayaberas in Sancti
Spiritus. Delineation of a new 250,000-ha protect-
ed area in 2004 that encompasses all crane areas in
northern Ciego de Avila Province resulted in the
four largest populations being at least partially
within the boundaries of a protected area. Howev-
er, that does not guarantee protection as several
threats are present regardless of whether they are in
or outside a protected area boundary. Woody plant
encroachment continues in many areas within
Reserves, due to elimination of natural fire
regimes, and is a serious problem of concern for
several federal agencies (FC-R, pers. obs.). Feral
domestic (hogs and dogs) and introduced animals
(mongoose) continue to be threats to nesting cranes
in all four areas; however, the exact effect of each
one of these predators has not been quantified.
Predation is a problem that affects other non-
migratory populations and is the major cause of
mortality for the Mississippi Sandhill Crane (S. G.
Hereford, pers. comm.)
We have been working directly in the Isle of
Youth over the last few years and recently in Ciego
de Avila to better evaluate the specific threats to
cranes and develop appropriate or responsive
management plans. Some Reserve personnel are
trying to implement counts at regular intervals to
document population trends. The trend and conser-
vation status of Cuban Sandhill Cranes may not be
entirely known until we can ascertain whether
numbers are increasing or decreasing over time.
Possible direct actions to enhance declining popu-
lations could include exchange of individuals from
one population to another or from potential captive
breeding efforts. Captive breeding programs for
cranes do not exist in Cuba, but are present and
successful in other countries. Indirect actions to
expand or improve nesting habitat could include
management activities including instituting pre-
scribed fire programs, and elimination and manage-
ment of invasive woody plants, as has been done for
the Mississippi Sandhill Crane (Valentine and
Hereford 1997). Limiting agriculture and forestry
plantation expansion in protected areas where cranes
are present could also help expand or improve
nesting habitats. Control of potential domestic and
introduced predators is another action that could be
taken in areas where predators are a problem.
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
Many individuals contributed to this effort. Some of
those that provided support over several years include
Galvez Aguilera and Chavez-Ramirez N CUBAN SANDHILL CRANE STATUS
561
Miguel Magraner Fernandez, Jose Rivera Rosales, Fidel
Quialia Gongora, Jose Osorio, Vladimir P. Fleites, Jose R.
Rodriguez, Daniel Reit, Jorge Jerez, Arnar Perez, Duniet
Marrero, Pavel Martinez Arredondo, Leandro Torrella,
Odey Martinez, and Frank Moreira. We thank the Empresa
Nacional para la Proteccion de Flora y Fauna, territorial
delegations of the Ministerio de Agricultura, the provincial
delegations of CITMA in Sancti Spritus and Ciego de
Avila, Cuerpo de Guardabosques Nacional, The Interna-
tional Crane Foundation, and Jessica Dooley and Luis
Ramirez for assistance with the manuscript. We thank the
many individuals, organizations, and agencies that helped
in a variety of ways. Funding for this project was provided
in part by grants from the Tom D. and Catherine T.
MacArthur Foundation, the National Geographic Society,
and the World Watch Institute. We greatly appreciate the
comments and suggestions by the editor and two anony-
mous reviewers.
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THE WILSON JOURNAL OF ORNITHOLOGY N Vol. 122, No. 3, September 2010
... Variables del microhábitat en la selección de anidación de Grus canadensis nesiotes Introducción La grulla cubana (Grus canadensis nesiotes), subespecie endémica, es el ave de mayor tamaño de Cuba y de todo el Caribe insular, y marca el límite inferior latitudinal en la distribución de la especie en el continente americano (Gálvez y ChávezRamírez 2010). Grus canadensis es una de las especies de grullas más abundante (Kruse y Dubovsky 2015); sin embargo, la subespecie cubana presenta tan sólo 11 poblaciones y en 2002 se estimaron únicamente 550 individuos (Gálvez y ChávezRamírez 2010), lo que la convierte en una especie amenazada (Gálvez y Ferrer 2012). ...
... Variables del microhábitat en la selección de anidación de Grus canadensis nesiotes Introducción La grulla cubana (Grus canadensis nesiotes), subespecie endémica, es el ave de mayor tamaño de Cuba y de todo el Caribe insular, y marca el límite inferior latitudinal en la distribución de la especie en el continente americano (Gálvez y ChávezRamírez 2010). Grus canadensis es una de las especies de grullas más abundante (Kruse y Dubovsky 2015); sin embargo, la subespecie cubana presenta tan sólo 11 poblaciones y en 2002 se estimaron únicamente 550 individuos (Gálvez y ChávezRamírez 2010), lo que la convierte en una especie amenazada (Gálvez y Ferrer 2012). Aunque existe información ecológica sobre la población más numerosa, que habita en el ecosistema de sabanas blancas de la Reserva Ecológica Los Indios, Isla de la Juventud (Walkinshaw 1953, Gálvez et al. 2005, aún son muy pocos los estudios realizados en los restantes hábitats que albergan a las poblaciones en el archipiélago cubano (Ferrer et al. 2010, Gálvez y ChávezRamírez 2010. ...
... Grus canadensis es una de las especies de grullas más abundante (Kruse y Dubovsky 2015); sin embargo, la subespecie cubana presenta tan sólo 11 poblaciones y en 2002 se estimaron únicamente 550 individuos (Gálvez y ChávezRamírez 2010), lo que la convierte en una especie amenazada (Gálvez y Ferrer 2012). Aunque existe información ecológica sobre la población más numerosa, que habita en el ecosistema de sabanas blancas de la Reserva Ecológica Los Indios, Isla de la Juventud (Walkinshaw 1953, Gálvez et al. 2005, aún son muy pocos los estudios realizados en los restantes hábitats que albergan a las poblaciones en el archipiélago cubano (Ferrer et al. 2010, Gálvez y ChávezRamírez 2010. Esta falta de información ecológica respecto a una subespecie amenazada, unido a que cada población y su hábitat presentan características muy particulares, hace que cualquier estrategia de manejo dirigida hacia la subespecie contribuya a su conservación. ...
Article
Full-text available
The Cuban Sandhill Crane (Grus canadensis nesiotes), endemic subspecies of Cuba, is threatened and has an estimation of 550 individuals only. Facilitating nesting areas could increase the reproductive success of the subspecies. However, little is known about the determinants of the nesting area selection. This limits any attempt of management. Here, we characterize the structure of the vegetation around four nests and points within the Gran Humedal del Norte de Ciego de Ávila wetland, central region of Cuba. We measured the structural variables of vegetation that could determine the nesting microhabitat selection. We defined 20 plots around nests and selected four points to 100 m of each nest in the cardinal directions, in which we measured: height, coverage at 30 and 100 cm and distance between herbs (nearest neighbor method) in the herbaceous stratus. We compared the data between nests and points and calculated a selection index. The areas around nests showed differences for height, coverage and distance between herbs. Only coverage at 30 cm was homogeneous. The distances between herbs were more frequently between 5 and 10 cm. The height, coverage at 100 cm and distance between herbs are part of a nesting site-selection pattern of the Cuban sandhill crane in this wetland.
... Los ecosistemas donde habitan las grullas han sufrido sobrexplotación, procesos de drenaje artificial, y las consecuentes afectaciones en los regímenes hídricos. Esta pérdida contribuyó al descenso de las poblaciones de grullas por lo que solo cuatro (Isla de la Juventud, Ciénaga de Zapata, Sancti Spíritus y Ciego de Ávila) sobrepasan los 70 individuos (Gálvez & Chávez-Ramírez, 2010). La población más numerosa habita en un ecosistema de arenas silíceas en Isla de la Juventud (Gálvez & Chávez-Ramírez, 2010). ...
... Esta pérdida contribuyó al descenso de las poblaciones de grullas por lo que solo cuatro (Isla de la Juventud, Ciénaga de Zapata, Sancti Spíritus y Ciego de Ávila) sobrepasan los 70 individuos (Gálvez & Chávez-Ramírez, 2010). La población más numerosa habita en un ecosistema de arenas silíceas en Isla de la Juventud (Gálvez & Chávez-Ramírez, 2010). No obstante, la segunda población se encuentra en el humedal norte de Ciego de Ávila. ...
... Para determinar la abundancia (número de individuos) en los diferentes hábitats, se realizó un conteo simultáneo (Gálvez et al., 1999) en 32 estaciones de observación en CA y 24 en IJ que fueron ubicadas a partir de un diseño sistemático a cada 1.5-2 km. Estas estaciones se ubicaron en hábitats con posibilidades de uso, clasificados por Gálvez, Berovides y Chávez-Ramírez (2005), y Ferrer y Ruiz (2010) (pastizal, sabana natural, pinar, marisma costera, herbazal de ciénaga, herbazal con palmas) y que coinciden con las mismas estaciones de conteos previos (Gálvez et al., 1999;Gálvez & Chávez-Ramírez, 2010). Se usaron torres de observación de 10 m en las dos localidades, que abarcaban ~ 0.81 km 2 cada una. ...
Article
Full-text available
The availability of information on species abundance in the Neotropic is insufficient, and this prevents the execution of precise analysis and the definition of adequate conservation strategies for endemic and threatened species. This study aimed to analyze the population size of the endemic and threatened subspecies Grus canadensis nesiotes. For this, a simultaneous census was undertaken in 24 count stations in Isla de la Juventud (IJ) and 32 stations in Ciego de Ávila (CA), Cuba, during two consecutive days between 2008 and 2010. Abundance and behavior pattern (instantaneous method) were analyzed by habitat type, to help understand how cranes modify their behavioral pattern when the natural habitat is changed. Flocks in IJ had three individuals, and between 1.9 ± 1.5 and 2.8 ± 1.5 in CA. Population size in IJ was 164 individuals, and in CA of 137, 141 and 168 individuals for the 2008-2010 period, respectively. The counting efficacy was high (IJ: 91 %; CA: 81-87 %) and the numerical concordance was intermediate (IJ: 45.4 %; CA: 72 %). When comparing the habitat type, the abundance was higher in natural savannahs (83), followed by coastal flats (59), pines (23) and cattle pastures (7) in IJ; while in CA, marsh grasslands hosted the greatest abundance for the three years period (130; 120; 112), followed by grassland with palms (2; 17; 51) and cattle pastures (5; 4; 5). The cranes were fed more in cattle pastures and were more alert in natural savannas and marsh grasslands. The frequency of feeding and alert behaviors was different from the natural savannah/coastal flats and natural savannah/cattle pastures combinations in IJ. For CA, differences were found between marsh grasslands and marsh grasslands with palms. The population size increased by management strategies adopted in CA; nevertheless, might be affected by habitat loss associated with invasive alien plants in IJ. We propose the maintenance of prescribed fire in marsh grasslands under protection regime, as a strategy for long-term management to contribute with population growth.
... Los ecosistemas donde habitan las grullas han sufrido sobrexplotación, procesos de drenaje artificial, y las consecuentes afectaciones en los regímenes hídricos. Esta pérdida contribuyó al descenso de las poblaciones de grullas por lo que solo cuatro (Isla de la Juventud, Ciénaga de Zapata, Sancti Spíritus y Ciego de Ávila) sobrepasan los 70 individuos (Gálvez & Chávez-Ramírez, 2010). La población más numerosa habita en un ecosistema de arenas silíceas en Isla de la Juventud (Gálvez & Chávez-Ramírez, 2010). ...
... Esta pérdida contribuyó al descenso de las poblaciones de grullas por lo que solo cuatro (Isla de la Juventud, Ciénaga de Zapata, Sancti Spíritus y Ciego de Ávila) sobrepasan los 70 individuos (Gálvez & Chávez-Ramírez, 2010). La población más numerosa habita en un ecosistema de arenas silíceas en Isla de la Juventud (Gálvez & Chávez-Ramírez, 2010). No obstante, la segunda población se encuentra en el humedal norte de Ciego de Ávila. ...
... Para determinar la abundancia (número de individuos) en los diferentes hábitats, se realizó un conteo simultáneo (Gálvez et al., 1999) en 32 estaciones de observación en CA y 24 en IJ que fueron ubicadas a partir de un diseño sistemático a cada 1.5-2 km. Estas estaciones se ubicaron en hábitats con posibilidades de uso, clasificados por Gálvez, Berovides y Chávez-Ramírez (2005), y Ferrer y Ruiz (2010) (pastizal, sabana natural, pinar, marisma costera, herbazal de ciénaga, herbazal con palmas) y que coinciden con las mismas estaciones de conteos previos (Gálvez et al., 1999;Gálvez & Chávez-Ramírez, 2010). Se usaron torres de observación de 10 m en las dos localidades, que abarcaban ~ 0.81 km 2 cada una. ...
Article
Full-text available
The availability of information on species abundance in the Neotropic is insufficient. This prevents the execution of precise analysis and the definition of adequate conservation strategies for endemic and threatened species. Through a simultaneous census in Isle of Youth (IJ) and Ciego de Ávila (CA), on Cuba, the population size of the endemic and threatened Grus canadensis nesiotes was obtained during 2008-2010. Abundance and behavior pattern was analyzed per habitat type, to help understand how cranes modify its behavioral pattern when the natural habitat changes. Population size in IJ was 164 individuals and CA were 137, 141 and 168 individuals for 2008-2010. The observed bands had 2.8 ± 1.5 cranes. The abundance was higher in natural savannahs (83), followed by playazos (59), pines (23) and cattle pastures (7) in IJ. In CA, marsh grasslands hosted the greatest abundance in the three years (130; 120; 112), followed by grassland with palms (2; 17; 51) and cattle pastures (5; 4; 5). The cranes were fed more in cattle pastures and were more alert in natural savannas and marsh grasslands. The population size increased by adopted management strategies in CA, but may be affected by habitat loss associated with invasive alien plants in IJ.
... Cuba: Non-migratory population of 526 of Cuban Sandhill Cranes. The population is decreasing in some areas (Galvez-Aguilera and Chavez-Ramirez 2010). ...
... 2017). Smoke management concerns affect ability of land managers to use frequent, low-intensity prescribed fire to maintain open habitat; and• The Cuban Sandhill Crane is subject to similar threats facing other non-migratory cranes: changes in the hydrology and fire regime of its savanna habitat and loss of habitat to deforestation, development, land reclamation, and agricultural expansion(Galvez-Aguilera and Chavez-Ramirez 2010). Results of a comprehensive research project that began in 1996 have been used to consider development of additional protected areas. ...
Chapter
Full-text available
Chapter is a summary of the distribution, abundance and ecology of Sandhill Cranes in relation to conservation issues.
... Para localizar los nidos de esta población de grullas, cuya población se calcula asciende a 102 individuos (Gálvez & Chávez-Ramírez, 2010), se muestrearon los hábitats descritos como sitios de anidación y alimentación de la especie (herbazales de ciénaga [285 km 2 ], lagunas someras interiores y pastizales [1.025 km 2 ]; Ferrer et al., 2010) a pie y desde torres de observación. El muestreo se realizó anualmente desde mediados de febrero hasta finales de junio, según la etapa reproductiva descrita para la sub� especie por Gálvez et al. (2005). ...
Article
Full-text available
Reproductive parameters and potential geographical distribution of nesting areas of Grus canadensis nesiotes (Aves, Gruidae) in Cuba: conservation implications Grus canadensis nesiotes (Cuban sandhill crane) is an endemic and endangered subspecies from Cuba. Protection of wetland habitats is essential for survival of this species, but studies that could contribute to its management and conservation are lacking. In this study we recorded the reproductive parameters of Grus canadensis nesiotes in eight breeding seasons between 2005 and 2015 in a wetland of Cuba. We modeled and characterized the potential geographical distribution of the nesting areas, analyzing its representation within protected areas. Maximum entropy algorithm and habitat variables were used for modeling (100 m of pixel size). To characterize the potential distribution we calculated each land–use–vegetation within the potential distribution. We used the same procedure to determine the extent of the protected area. A hundred and fifty–one nests were located in marsh grasslands. These nests were simple platforms built on wet soil/water; the largest nests were observed in 2006. Seventy percent of nests had two eggs (1.7 eggs/nest) and 63.5% were successful with 1.6 chicks per successful nest. The potential nesting habitat is a narrow stretch (242 km2) located in the center of the wetland. The area with high probability of presence makes up 13.8% of the predicted distribution. Sixty percent of marsh grassland of the study area was included in the potential distribution, while the proportion of crops (1.2%) and pastures (2.1%) was low. Managed protected areas cover only 39.1% of the potential distribution of the nesting sites and 12% of the high probability areas. We propose three priority sites to study and monitor nesting of the subspecies. Species conservation actions should consider the potential geographical distribution of nesting sites both inside and outside the protected areas.
... Para localizar los nidos de esta población de grullas, cuya población se calcula asciende a 102 individuos (Gálvez & Chávez-Ramírez, 2010), se muestrearon los hábitats descritos como sitios de anidación y alimentación de la especie (herbazales de ciénaga [285 km 2 ], lagunas someras interiores y pastizales [1.025 km 2 ]; Ferrer et al., 2010) a pie y desde torres de observación. El muestreo se realizó anualmente desde mediados de febrero hasta finales de junio, según la etapa reproductiva descrita para la sub� especie por Gálvez et al. (2005). ...
Article
Full-text available
Grus canadensis nesiotes (grulla cubana) es una subespecie endémica de Cuba que se encuentra en peligro de extinción. A pesar de estar directamente relacionada con los humedales, no existen estudios que contribuyan a su gestión y conservación. Por ello, se registraron parámetros reproductivos de la subespecie durante ocho temporadas reproductivas entre 2005 y 2015 en un humedal de Cuba; asimismo, se modeló y caracterizó la distribución geográfica potencial de las áreas de anidación, y se analizó su representación dentro de las áreas protegidas (AP). Para elaborar el modelo, se utilizaron el algoritmo de máxima entropía y variables de hábitat (100 m de tamaño de píxel). Para caracterizar la distribución potencial, se calculó la superficie ocupada por cada uso de suelo y tipo de vegetación dentro de dicha área de distribución. Se empleó el mismo procedimiento para calcular la superficie de la distribución que está protegida. Se localizaron 151 nidos en herbazales de ciénaga. Se trataba de plataformas simples sobre suelo húmedo o agua; los más grandes se observaron en 2006. El 70% de los nidos tuvieron dos huevos (1,7 huevos/nido) y el 63,5% fueron exitosos con 1,6 polluelos/nido exitoso. El hábitat potencial de anidación es estrecho (242 km2) y se localiza en el centro del humedal. De la distribución prevista, la superficie con alta probabilidad de presencia es del 13,8%. El 60% del herbazal de ciénaga de la zona del estudio estaba comprendido dentro de la distribución potencial, mientras que la proporción de cultivos (1,2%) y pastizales (2,1%) era baja. Las AP gestionadas solo protegen el 39,1% de la distribución potencial de los sitios de anidación y el 12% de las zonas con alta probabilidad. Se proponen tres sitios prioritarios para estudiar la anidación de la subespecie y hacer un seguimiento de la misma. Las medidas de conservación de la subespecie deberían considerar la distribución geográfica potencial de los sitios de anidación dentro y fuera de las AP.
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Domestic dog remains have been encountered in deposits of agroceramist filiation (ceramic-age) of the Cuban archaeological record. However, some have also been found in older, archaic-age contexts. These remains, although undated, prompted the hypothesis of a pre-ceramic age introduction of domestic dogs to the island of Cuba. To test this hypothesis, we dated (C14AMS) dog remains from two archaic (mesolithic) culture de-posits. These dates provide the first absolute chronolo-gy from dog remains from Cuba, yielding ages between calAD 1450 and 1640. This suggests that both dogs are of post-Columbian age, but their association, whether no-ceramic, ceramic or European, cannot be established with the present data. Thus, further testing will be required from less disturbed deposits to corroborate. From historical documents here we provide a discus-sion of domestic dog introduction and use in the colo-nial era, which can help understand the ecological effects of dogs on Cuba’s native fauna. En el registro arqueológico de Cuba, los perros (Canis lupus familiaris) aparecen generalmente asociados a contextos de filiación agroalfarera, aunque en varias ocasiones han sido hallados en residuarios de culturas arcaicas, no ceramistas. Para comprobar la hipótesis de la presencia de canes en asociación a culturas no-ceramistas se estudiaron y fecharon restos provenientes de dos sitios arqueológicos no-ceramistas, constituyen-do así los primeros fechados directos de perros del registro arqueológico cubano. Los resultados arrojaron edades entre calAD 1450 y 1640; un período que abar-ca antes la llegada española y parte de la etapa de con-tacto indo-hispano. Por el rango cronológico tardío obtenido, no se pudo corroborar la presencia de canes antes del arribo de los ceramistas aruacos a Cuba. Más fechados radiocarbónicos son necesarios para dilucidar dicho problema. En adición, ofrecemos una discusión relevante para comprender la historia y el efecto de la introducción de este carnívoro en Cuba. Palabras clave: perros domésticos, Canis, preagroal-fareros, fechados C14, Cuba.
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This book provides basic information on cranes that should be of interest and importance to crane-loving birders (“craniacs”) as well as to ornithologists and wildlife managers. Primary consideration is given to the sandhill and whooping cranes, but all 13 of the Old World cranes are also discussed. Special consideration is given to the relative abundance and conservation status of all of the world’s species, of which nearly half are declining and a few are in real danger of long-term survival. More than 80 refuges and preserves in the United States and Canada, where the best chances of seeing cranes in the wild exist, are described, as are several zoos and bird parks with notable crane collections. Descriptions of 16 North American annual crane festivals and information on more than 50 birdfinding guides from regions, states, and provinces where cranes are most likely to be seen are included. Lastly, there is a sampling of American, European, and Oriental crane folklore, legends, and myths. The text contains more than 50,000 words and nearly 350 literature references. There are more than 40 drawings and 3 maps by the author and 19 color photographs by Thomas D. Mangelsen.
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Affiliations of most cranes to humans and agriculture means they often interact with a variety of domestic animals. Those interactions can be beneficial or neutral when domestic animal densities and their impact on wetland or grassland systems are low to moderate, as found in more traditional agricultural practices. The most common interaction is with grazers, primarily domestic ungulates such as cattle, horses, and sheep. Cranes can benefit from the rapid recycling of grassland nutrients, maintenance of open areas, and invertebrate foods that grazers facilitate. Examples of the close interactions among cranes and grazers are found in South Africa, Central Eurasia, China, India, and North America. Overgrazing and direct disturbances from domestic livestock are usually detrimental to cranes and interact with other factors such as altered wetland hydrology, fire, and changing climate. Cranes are most likely to interact with domestic birds in wetlands (ducks and geese) or farm areas (poultry) where they are attracted to areas where the domestic birds are being fed and maintained in large open areas. Risks of disease transmission between domestic birds and cranes are the greatest concern. Dogs associated with humans and agricultural activities are generally a threat where cranes are raising their chicks nearby.
Article
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We studied nesting ecology and productivity of the Cuban sandhill crane in the Isle of Youth Cuba between 1997-2003. The nesting season extended from late march through June, but due to variable weather conditions could begin in February or extend through July. Overall, 71.1% of nests located produced eggs, while 84.1% of nests with eggs hatched at least one chick. Mean clutch size was 1.72 eggs. There were significant differences in hatching rates (G = 19.05, P < 0.01) and successful nests between years (G = 9.59, P < 0.10). Chicks/successful nest and rainfall during the breeding period (r = 0.6) were positively correlated. Percent successful nests was negatively correlated with total rainfall during the breeding season (r = -0.50). Causes of egg or nest failure included nest abandonment, predation, flooding, and infertility. In regards to breeding biology we recorded feather painting prior to nesting activity, false nests, and a re-nesting attempt after nest destruction. All nests were built on dry land. Cranes selected four of 11 habitat types present in the study area for nesting: open savannah (SNA) (24.2%), semi-closed natural savannah (SSC) (50.67%), open pine woodland (SPPA) (17.7%), and secondary savannah (SS) (7.7%). Palm density, seedlings, and forbs were lower at nest sites compared to random points, while ground cover of sand and litter was greater at nest sites. There were no significant differences in frequency of plant species among nest sites and random points (G = 3.78, P > 0.05). Tree species richness was less at nest sites, likely due to dominance of Tabebuia lepiodphylla and Byrsonima crassifolia species. Significant differences (G = 15.8, P < 0.01) were found in frequency of palm species, with greater density of Colpothrinax wrightii and Coccothrinax miraguama at nests sites. Shrub density was significantly higher (G = 194.68, P < 0.001) at nest sites being dominated by T. lepidophylla. There were no significant differences among nest sites and random points in forb variables (G = 6.67, P > 0.05) with similar frequency at both sites.
Article
Thirty-four Composite Nesting Areas (CNA's) of endangered Mississippi sandhill cranes (Grus canadensis pulla) within the current breeding range in Jackson County, Mississippi, were located from 1965 to 1996, primarily by ground searching. Of those 34 CNA's located, 28 were on I of the 3 refuge units and 6 were off but adjacent to the refuge's Ocean Springs Unit. Five of the CNA's had 2-3 distinct smaller core nesting areas within. Two CNA's had active nests in more than 20 years, and those nests accounted for 11 % of the total. Nine CNA's accounted for 130 (63%) of the nests, Eleven CNA's were used in only I year. The tirst marked cranes nested in 1985; by 1996, 34 marked cranes had nested, The mean distance between different CNA's used by same individual(s) in different years was 2.0 km. The shortest distance between active nests in a year was 0.8 km. The mean distance from release pen to CNA for 32 released cranes was 2.9 km; only 4 cranes used CNA's in different units from their release pens.
Article
The small isolated colony of Florida sandhill cranes (Grus canadensis pratensis) in south-eastern Mississippi was studied during 1963 through the spring of 1970. The important feeding and nesting habitats are boggy savannas and swamps. The total estimated population is between 38 and 40 birds. The egg-laying period was between April 4 and May 20. Thirty nests were found containing an average of 1.7 eggs per completed set. From a total of 51 eggs, 22 were collected for propagation purposes; 29 were left in the nests and 18 successfully hatched. Four nests were abandoned and none was destroyed by predation. The colony is endangered by pine plantations, drainage, an interstate highway, and increasing housing developments. The establishment of state, federal, or private refuges is recommended if the colony is to survive.
Article
Knowledge of natal dispersal is essential for understanding how nonmigratory crane populations expand and how this process can be augmented by relocation or reintroduction. We conducted a study from 1988 to 1999 and found that natal dispersal in Florida sandhill cranes (Grus canadensis pratensis) was female-biased. Females (n = 16) dispersed an average of 11.6 kin from their natal territory. Male (n = 12) dispersal averaged 3.9 kin. This difference was significant (P < 0.05), but orientation was not significant (P > 0.05) or affected by gender (P > 0.05). Male philopatry and female-biased natal dispersal are consistent with theories of a resource-based mating system. Timing of the start of dispersal (family break-Lip) was found to be more closely tied to the female's laying the subsequent clutch than to the age of the juvenile crane.
Article
Grus canadensis pratensis were studied in the Okefenokee Swamp, Georgia. Adults maintained nonoverlapping annual home ranges (mean 92ha) and moved <1.0km among seasonal ranges. Subadult home-range size varied from 590ha for juveniles to 329ha for 3yr olds. Maximum linear movement was 2.6km for adults and 10.5km for subadults. Range fidelity occurred between years and was most pronounced in fall and winter. Mobility and home-range size were greatest in summer and were smallest in winter, apparently in response to water level fluctuations. Because of their restricted movements, this population is well suited to translocation experiments that might extend the range of Florida sandhill cranes in S Georgia. -from Author