Breeding Population of Red-Legged Cormorant (Phalacrocorax gaimardi) along the Araucania Region Coast, South-Central Chile
The Red-legged Cormorant (Phalacrocorax gaimardi) is a neotropical cormorant, with a moderately small population and currently categorized as “Near Threatened”. The Red-legged Cormorant is distributed only in the coasts of Perú, Argentina and Chile; however, just a small area in Chile constitutes an important breeding population for this species. Between 1998 and 2000 the entire breeding population size of Red-legged Cormorant and its distribution in Chile were determined, but some areas were poorly surveyed. The breeding population sizes of Red-legged Cormorant were surveyed along the Araucania coast, an area of south-central Chile not considered in previous studies. A total of 3,175 nests and 13,018 adults were distributed over 10 breeding colonies. Our results modified the entire breeding population size of Red-legged Cormorant known for Chile by almost 62% (from 5,018–5,218 to 8,193–8,393 breeding pairs) and by almost 43.4% the world estimates population (from 30,000 to 43,018 individuals). This area could be one of the most important breeding areas for this species in the world. Currently, the colonies of Piureo-Puaucho (1,506 nests), Nigue (1,009 nests) and Punta Ronca-Queule (964 nests), represent almost 42% of the breeding population of this species in Chile, so these breeding sites should be a priority for conservation efforts.