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Where to draw the line? Using movement data to inform protected area design and conserve mobile species

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  • Duke Kunshan University
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... large-scale migratory journeys [6,7] and detailed patterns of habitat use [8,9], as well as elucidated mechanisms of navigation [10][11][12], predator-prey dynamics [13], and social interactions [14]. Insights from animal tracking studies are regularly incorporated in policy and conservation management [5,15]. For example, identifying important areas for the protection of migration routes [16,17], detecting wildlife crime [18,19], and quantifying the human-wildlife conflict [20]. ...
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Tracking animal movement is important for understanding how animals interact with their (changing) environment, and crucial for predicting and explaining how animals are affected by anthropogenic activities. The Wadden Sea is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a region of global importance for millions of shorebirds. Due to climate change and anthropogenic activity, understanding and predicting movement and space-use in areas like the Wadden Sea is increasingly important. Monitoring and predicting animal movement, however, requires high-resolution tracking of many individuals. While high-resolution tracking has been made possible through GPS, trade-offs between tag weight and battery life limit its use to larger species. Here, we introduce WATLAS (the Wadden Sea deployment of the ATLAS tracking system) capable of monitoring the movements of hundreds of (small) birds simultaneously in the Dutch Wadden Sea. WATLAS employs an array of receiver stations that can detect and localize small, low-cost tags at fine spatial (metres) and temporal resolution (seconds). From 2017 to 2021, we tracked red knots, sanderlings, bar-tailed godwits, and common terns. We use parts of these data to give four use-cases revealing its performance and demonstrating how WATLAS can be used to study numerous aspects of animal behaviour, such as, space-use (both intra- and inter-specific), among-individual variation, and social networks across levels of organization: from individuals, to species, to populations, and even communities. After describing the WATLAS system, we first illustrate space-use of red knots across the study area and how the tidal environment affects their movement. Secondly, we show large among-individual differences in distances travelled per day, and thirdly illustrate how high-throughput WATLAS data allows calculating a proximity-based social network. Finally, we demonstrate that using WATLAS to monitor multiple species can reveal differential space use. For example, despite sanderlings and red knots roosting together, they foraged in different areas of the mudflats. The high-resolution tracking data collected by WATLAS offers many possibilities for research into the drivers of bird movement in the Wadden Sea. WATLAS could provide a tool for impact assessment, and thus aid nature conservation and management of the globally important Wadden Sea ecosystem.
... However, efforts to conserve wildlife and preserve biodiversity often are based on an incomplete understanding of animal movement as well as variability in movement patterns among groups or populations that the areas are meant to protect [5]. While a number of studies have demonstrated the relevance of incorporating movement, particularly animal foraging and home range size, into protected area design [6][7][8][9], integration between the disciplines of conservation biology and movement (coined "conservation behavior") is limited [10,11]. Yet, knowledge of movement behavior, specifically how, when, and where animals move and forage within their habitat, would illuminate how populations navigate and utilize resources within their environment and thus develop better management plans [12,13]. ...
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Background Wildlife conservation often focuses on establishing protected areas. However, these conservation zones are frequently established without adequate knowledge of the movement patterns of the species they are designed to protect. Understanding movement and foraging patterns of species in dynamic and diverse habitats can allow managers to develop more effective conservation plans. Threatened lemurs in Madagascar are an example where management plans and protected areas are typically created to encompass large, extant forests rather than consider the overall resource needs of the target species. Methods To gain an understanding of golden-crowned sifaka ( Propithecus tattersalli ) movement patterns, including space use and habitat selection across their range of inhabited forest types, we combined behavior data with Dynamic Brownian Bridge Movement Models and Resource Selection Functions. We also examined the influence of abiotic, biotic, and anthropogenic factors on home range size, movement rates, and foraging patterns. Results We found that home range size and movement rates differed between seasons, with increased core area size and movement in the rainy season. Forest type also played a role in foraging behavior with sifaka groups in the humid forest avoiding roads in both seasons, groups in the dry deciduous forest avoiding road networks in the rainy season, and groups in the moderate evergreen forest displaying no selection or avoidance of road networks while foraging. Conclusion Our study illustrates the importance of studying primate groups across seasons and forest types, as developing conservation plans from a single snapshot can give an inaccurate assessment of their natural behavior and resources needs of the species. More specifically, by understanding how forest type influences golden-crowned sifaka movement and foraging behavior, conservation management plans can be made to the individual forest types inhabited (dry deciduous, moderate evergreen, humid, littoral, etc.), rather than the region as a whole.
... To address the second question of how many stopovers a migrant needs, we should identify how stopover habitats are spatially distributed and assess whether migrants are able to bridge the distance between them (Runge et al., 2015;Choi et al., 2019;Xu et al., 2020). Degradation and loss of natural habitats, changes in agriculture, anthropogenic changes in the environment, poaching and recreational activities are significant threats to key properties of stopover habitats, with implications for the functions they may offer to migrants. ...
Article
Global movement patterns of migratory birds illustrate their fascinating physical and physiological abilities to cross continents and oceans. During their voyages, most birds land multiple times to make so‐called ‘stopovers’. Our current knowledge on the functions of stopover is mainly based on the proximate study of departure decisions. However, such studies are insufficient to gauge fully the ecological and evolutionary functions of stopover. If we study how a focal trait, e.g. changes in energy stores, affects the decision to depart from a stopover without considering the trait(s) that actually caused the bird to land, e.g. unfavourable environmental conditions for flight, we misinterpret the function of the stopover. It is thus important to realise and acknowledge that stopovers have many different functions, and that not every migrant has the same (set of) reasons to stop‐over. Additionally, we may obtain contradictory results because the significance of different traits to a migrant is context dependent. For instance, late spring migrants may be more prone to risk‐taking and depart from a stopover with lower energy stores than early spring migrants. Thus, we neglect that departure decisions are subject to selection to minimise immediate (mortality risk) and/or delayed (low future reproductive output) fitness costs. To alleviate these issues, we first define stopover as an interruption of migratory endurance flight to minimise immediate and/or delayed fitness costs. Second, we review all probable functions of stopover, which include accumulating energy, various forms of physiological recovery and avoiding adverse environmental conditions for flight, and list potential other functions that are less well studied, such as minimising predation, recovery from physical exhaustion and spatiotemporal adjustments to migration. Third, derived from these aspects, we argue for a paradigm shift in stopover ecology research. This includes focusing on why an individual interrupts its migratory flight, which is more likely to identify the individual‐specific function(s) of the stopover correctly than departure‐decision studies. Moreover, we highlight that the selective forces acting on stopover decisions are context dependent and are expected to differ between, e.g. K−/r‐selected species, the sexes and migration strategies. For example, all else being equal, r‐selected species (low survival rate, high reproductive rate) should have a stronger urge to continue the migratory endurance flight or resume migration from a stopover because the potential increase in immediate fitness costs suffered from a flight is offset by the expected higher reproductive success in the subsequent breeding season. Finally, we propose to focus less on proximate mechanisms controlling landing and departure decisions, and more on ultimate mechanisms to identify the selective forces shaping stopover decisions. Our ideas are not limited to birds but can be applied to any migratory species. Our revised definition of stopover and the proposed paradigm shift has the potential to stimulate a fruitful discussion towards a better evolutionary ecological understanding of the functions of stopover. Furthermore, identifying the functions of stopover will support targeted measures to conserve and restore the functionality of stopover sites threatened by anthropogenic environmental changes. This is especially important for long‐distance migrants, which currently are in alarming decline.
... The annual cycles of most migratory waterbirds in the EAAF are poorly described (e.g. Chan et al. 2019b;Choi et al. 2019) making it difficult (but not impossible, see Piersma et al. 2016;Studds et al. 2017) to diagnose their population declines and to implement proper conservation measures (Hua et al. 2015). In the case of Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa, until recently only a single subspecies, L. l. melanuroides was assumed to occur in the EAAF (BirdLife International 2018;van Gils et al. 2019). ...
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The Bohai Black-tailed Godwit (Limosa limosa bohaii) is a newly discovered subspecies in the East Asian-Australasian Flyway. Based on satellite tracking of 21 individuals that were tagged in northern Bohai Bay, China, from 2016 to 2018, we here describe the annual cycle of this subspecies. All the birds had Thailand as their southernmost ‘winter’ destination. The spring departure from these wintering grounds was in late March. For all studied individuals, during northward migration, Bohai Bay was the first stopping site where they spent on average 39 days (± SD = 6 d), followed by Inner Mongolia and Jilin province (stopping for 8 d ± 1 d). The arrival of the breeding grounds in the Russian Far East was centred in late May. Two breeding sites were detected, with average locations 1100 km apart; the eastern site was beyond the known Asian breeding distribution of the Black-tailed Godwit. Southward migration started in late June (15 June-7 August), with the godwits tending to make longer stops at the same two main stopping sites used in the spring, i.e. Inner Mongolia and Jilin province (32 ± 5 d) and Bohai Bay (44 ± 8 d), with some individuals making a third stop around the lakes and aquaculture areas in the middle-lower reaches of the Yangtze River in southern China (12 ± 4 d). By the end of September, most tracked individuals had arrived on the wintering grounds in Thailand, but some had moved south to Thailand as late as early December. We infer that during southward migration male bohaii godwits completed their primary moult before leaving Bohai Bay, whereas females initiated moult there to finish on the wintering grounds. Compared with the previously known subspecies, bohaii godwits have strikingly different schedules of migration and moult, this study thus adding to the knowledge about intraspecific diversity of black-tailed godwits in the East Asian-Australian Flyway.
... The NDWI delineates and highlights open water by distinguishing it from vegetation and bare soil, and has mostly been used to map waterscapes in urban settings 27,28 . More recently, this index has been used to map surface water for animal movement studies 12 , and to identify suitable habitat and inform area protection for shorebird species 29 . ...
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Animal movement is mainly determined by spatial and temporal changes in resource availability. For wetland specialists, the seasonal availability of surface water may be a major determinant of their movement patterns. This study is the first to examine the movements of Shoebills ( Balaeniceps rex ), an iconic and vulnerable bird species. Using GPS transmitters deployed on six immature and one adult Shoebills over a 5-year period, during which four immatures matured into adults, we analyse their home ranges and distances moved in the Bangweulu Wetlands, Zambia. We relate their movements at the start of the rainy season (October to December) to changes in Normalized Difference Water Index (NDWI), a proxy for surface water. We show that Shoebills stay in the Bangweulu Wetlands all year round, moving less than 3 km per day on 81% of days. However, average annual home ranges were large, with high individual variability, but were similar between age classes. Immature and adult Shoebills responded differently to changes in surface water; sites that adults abandoned became drier, while sites abandoned by immatures became wetter. However, there were no differences in NDWI of areas used by Shoebills before abandonment and newly selected sites, suggesting that Shoebills select areas with similar surface water. We hypothesise that the different responses to changes in surface water by immature and adult Shoebills are related to age-specific optimal foraging conditions and fishing techniques. Our study highlights the need to understand the movements of Shoebills throughout their life cycle to design successful conservation actions for this emblematic, yet poorly known, species.
... In addition, climate change as a result of human activities has the potential to alter the distribution and quality of habitats available to animals on broad spatial scales, with potentially dramatic consequences for their populations (Kelly & Goulden 2008;Johnson et al. 2011;Radchuk et al. 2019). As tracking studies are able to provide spatial context to the degree of overlap and interaction of animals with various pressures (Nabe-Nielsen et al. 2011;Queiroz et al. 2019;Thaxter et al. 2019), movement data can be used to design threat mitigation and improve the conservation status of a given species, for example by protecting its preferred foraging grounds or migratory routes (Pendoley et al. 2014;Choi et al. 2019;Handley et al. 2020). ...
Thesis
Recording animal movements is essential for understanding the distribution of species over time, with far-reaching consequences for fitness, population dynamics and conservation. Oceanic seabirds are some of the most mobile and threatened species on Earth, mainly because of incidental mortality (bycatch) in fisheries. Tracking these birds has improved our knowledge of how the environment and individual traits shape specific foraging and migratory strategies; however, this research is biased towards adult life-stages, which are easier to track. In particular, juveniles remain understudied, even though they are likely to differ in their critical habitats and overlap with fisheries, and hence bycatch risk, with implications for population trajectories. In this thesis, I capitalize on recent advances in tracking technology and the wealth of data collected on threatened albatross and large petrel species breeding at Bird Island, South Georgia, to investigate variation in spatial ecology and fisheries bycatch risk across multiple life-stages and species. In Chapter 1, I introduce the main topics of this thesis. In Chapters 2-4, I investigate how wind and resource availability shape divergent movement patterns between juveniles and adult life-stages, and identify age-specific bycatch risk. As high juvenile mortality is likely to result in an ageing population, in Chapter 5 I examine senescence in foraging behaviour, and consider the ramifications for population recovery. In Chapter 6, I then assess the effectiveness of existing fisheries bycatch mitigation measures by investigating the diving capabilities of the most bycaught species in the Southern Ocean. Finally, I conclude with a general discussion summarizing my main findings and suggesting future work. Overall, my results provide new insight into the capacity and motivation for movement in wide-ranging animals; highlighting the diversity of extrinsic and intrinsic processes shaping movements over the lifespans of individuals, and with implications for focusing conservation efforts in time and space.
... At present, a new protection system comprising national parks is being established for protecting China's natural heritage [5]. Boundaries of wetland protected areas should be carefully placed to represent biodiversity and include all relevant ecological processes [40,41]. For example, a national park was suggested to be established in the Songnen Plain to combine the 3 Ramsar sites and more than 10 wetland protected areas at different levels. ...
Article
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The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands is an international framework through which countries identify and protect important wetlands. Yet Ramsar wetlands are under substantial anthropogenic pressure worldwide, and tracking ecological change relies on multitemporal data sets. Here, we evaluated the spatial extent, temporal change, and anthropogenic threat to Ramsar wetlands at a national scale across China to determine whether their management is currently sustainable. We analyzed Landsat data to examine wetland dynamics and anthropogenic threats at the 57 Ramsar wetlands in China between 1980 and 2018. Results reveal that Ramsar sites play important roles in preventing wetland loss compared to the dramatic decline of wetlands in the surrounding areas. However, there are declines in wetland area at 18 Ramsar sites. Among those, six lost a wetland area greater than 100 km ² , primarily caused by agricultural activities. Consistent expansion of anthropogenic land covers occurred within 43 (75%) Ramsar sites, and anthropogenic threats from land cover change were particularly notable in eastern China. Aquaculture pond expansion and Spartina alterniflora invasion were prominent threats to coastal Ramsar wetlands. The observations within China’s Ramsar sites, which in management regulations have higher levels of protection than other wetlands, can help track progress towards achieving United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The study findings suggest that further and timely actions are required to control the loss and degradation of wetland ecosystems.
... For coastal shorebird species, local-scale movements are often tide-driven with birds foraging on intertidal flats at lower tides, and roosting (an important period of sleep, rest and digestion) in nearshore and supratidal areas at higher tides (Rogers, 2003;Choi et al., 2019;Jackson et al., 2019). Spartina spp. ...
Article
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China's coastal wetlands are critically important to shorebirds. Substantial loss of tidal flats, shorebirds' primary foraging grounds, has occurred from land claim and other processes, and is driving population declines in multiple species. Smooth cordgrass Spartina alterniflora was intentionally introduced to the coast of China in 1979 to promote conversion of tidal flats into dry land and has since spread rapidly. The occurrence of S. alterniflora reduces the availability of foraging and roosting habitat for shorebirds, and may be particularly detrimental in places that have experienced other tidal flat loss. However, the extent to which S. alterniflora is encroaching upon important shorebird habitat throughout coastal mainland China, and its intersection with tidal flat loss, has not been quantified. Here, we i) estimate change in the spatial extent of tidal flats between 2000 and 2015 in coastal mainland China where internationally important numbers of shorebirds have been recorded; ii) map the extent of S. alterniflora coverage in 2015 at the same set of sites; and, iii) investigate where these two threats to important shorebird habitat intersect. Our analysis of remote sensing data indicated a 15% net loss in tidal flat area between 2000 and 2015 across all sites, including a net loss in tidal flat area in 39 of 53 individual sites (74%). Spartina alterniflora occurred at 28 of 53 sites (53%) in 2015, of which 22 sites (79%) also had a net loss in tidal flat area between 2000 and 2015. Combined pressures from tidal flat loss and S. alterniflora invasion were most severe in eastern coastal China. Species highly dependent on migrating through this region, which include the Critically Endangered Spoon-billed Sandpiper and Endangered Nordmann's Greenshank and Far Eastern Curlew, may be particularly impacted. Our results underscore the urgent need to arrest tidal flat declines and develop a comprehensive control program for S. alterniflora in coastal areas of mainland China that are important for shorebirds.
... Ecological security and socioeconomic development were two key considerations in the urbanization process. Worldwide, the trade-offs and conflicts between them had become the common focus, particularly in developing countries with large population [12,13]. ...
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Systems integration assessment can provide the comprehensive information for practice and policy, reducing conflict in decision-making. Using Beijing city as a case study, this paper proposed a systematic stress assessment method to describe the stress relationship between urban expansion suitability and ecological security. Firstly, Minimum Cumulative Resistance Model (MCR) was adopted to depict the ecological security pattern from 2000 to 2018, and the pattern of high, moderate and low ecological security was protracted. Secondly, the index weights of urban expansion suitability were calculated by Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP) to eliminate subjectivity, and 5 levels of urban expansion suitability were established by weighted overlay. Finally, this study evaluated the stress effect. Results showed that the overall regional ecological security of Beijing decreased first (2000-2010) and then increased (2010-2018). The suitable area for urban expansion was getting larger, but the expansion rate dropped. Stress effect on urban expansion from ecological security pattern raised from 2000 to 2010 and then dropped. However, the stress effect on ecological security from urban expansion was continuously increasing, stimulating potential risks to the natural ecosystem. The changes of stress effect were stimulated by the policy and planning, driving urban expansion in early period and ecological conservation latterly. Comprehensively, the integrated stress effect assessment improved the recognition of the spatiotemporal variation of ecological security patterns and urban expansion in Beijing.
... In the EAAF, Conklin et al. (2014) identified that 38 out of 52 regularly-occurring migratory shorebird populations primarily use coastal habitats outside the breeding season compared with 24 populations that primarily use non-coastal habitats, and hotspots of shorebird diversity occurr primarily in coastal areas . For coastal species, local-scale movements are often tide-driven with birds foraging on intertidal flats at lower tides, and roosting (an important period of sleep, rest and digestion) in supratidal areas at higher tides (Rogers, 2003;Choi et al., 2019;Jackson et al., 2019), sometimes in very large aggregations. Roosting habitat can encompass natural and/or artificial wetlands (e.g. Green et al., 2015;Crossland and Sinambela, 2017), non-wetland areas (e.g. ...
Article
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Loss and degradation of wetlands has occurred worldwide, impacting ecosystems and contributing to the decline of waterbirds, including shorebirds that occur along the heavily developed coasts of the East Asian-Australasian Flyway (EAAF). Artificial (i.e. human-made) wetlands are pervasive in the EAAF and known to be used by shorebirds, but this phenomenon has not been systematically reviewed. We collated data and expert knowledge to understand the extent and intensity of shorebird use of coastal artificial habitats along the EAAF. We found records of 83 species, including all regularly occurring coastal migratory shorebirds, across 176 artificial sites with eight different land uses. Thirty-six species including eleven threatened species occurred in internationally important numbers. However, threatened species were less likely to occur, and larger-bodied, migratory and coastal specialist species less likely to feed, at artificial sites. Abundance, species richness and density varied across artificial habitats, with high abundance and richness but low density on salt production sites; high abundance and density on port and power production sites; and, low abundance and richness on aquaculture and agriculture. Overall, use of coastal artificial habitats by shorebirds is widespread in the flyway, warranting a concerted effort to integrate artificial habitats alongside natural wetlands into conservation frameworks. Salt production sites are cause for particular concern because they support large shorebird aggregations but are often at risk of production cessation and conversion to other land uses. Preserving and improving the condition of all remaining natural habitats and managing artificial habitats are priorities for shorebird conservation in the EAAF [see Supplementary Materials A for a Japanese translation of the abstract].
... The study of home ranges provides information that can be useful in conservation and management strategies (Pyke et al. 1977). Such knowledge can be important in decision making regarding minimum reserve sizes and protection of adequate portions of habitats containing resources for feeding and reproduction (Preston et al. 1998;Choi et al. 2019;Gupta et al. 2019). Furthermore, home range size is an important ecological trait, as it may influence aspects such as habitat use, population densities, predator-prey dynamics, reproduction and attributes of other species (Carpenter 1987;Börger et al. 2008;Schoepf et al. 2015). ...
Article
In the Cerrado, native grasslands have been dramatically lost, leading to an alarming decline in populations of bird species that require these vegetation physiognomies. Species such as the Black-masked Finch Coryphaspiza melanotis (Gray, 1840) are vulnerable to extinction and remain poorly studied. The objective of this study was to examine home ranges of the Black-masked Finch at the Parque Nacional da Chapada dos Veadeiros, central Brazil. Ten males were studied in a patch of shrubby grassland (campo sujo) between February and December 2008. The mean sizes of home ranges were 4.47 ± 1.49 ha (Minimum Convex Polygon) and 3.48 ± 1.44 ha (Kernel 95%), and this varied significantly between seasons. Home ranges were significantly larger in the non-breeding dry season than during other periods, and significantly smaller in the breeding season than during other periods. Core areas (Kernel 50%) had a mean of 0.46 ± 0.26 ha. A large overlap of home ranges was observed. The home ranges of all banded males overlapped those of at least three co-specifics, and most had an area overlap of more than 50%. A nest containing an egg and a nestling was found in November. Small and largely overlapped home ranges can be considered as positive for the conservation of the Black-masked Finch. This is because both small grassland fragments and conservation units can substantially contribute to the conservation of its populations through the Cerrado extension.
... Furthermore, although our dataset did not enable the investigation of the ontogeny of migration in Egyptian Vultures [e.g., Scott et al. (2014)], future analysis of movement data derived from individuals tracked from juvenile to breeding adult status will provide a clearer understanding of the development of migration strategies and the variation within and among individuals as they age. Finally, this study illustrates that broad-scale collaboration can contribute to overcoming one of the grand challenges of migration research by enabling the mapping of flyways at a continental scale (Bauer et al., 2018), with the ultimate aim of informing strategies to protect threatened species based on a sound understanding of their movement ecology (Fraser et al., 2018;Choi et al., 2019). ...
Article
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Disentangling individual-and population-level variation in migratory movements is necessary for understanding migration at the species level. However, very few studies have analyzed these patterns across large portions of species' distributions. We compiled a large telemetry dataset on the globally endangered Egyptian Vulture Neophron percnopterus (94 individuals, 188 completed migratory journeys), tracked across ∼70% of the species' global range, to analyze spatial and temporal variability of migratory movements within and among individuals and populations. We found high migratory connectivity at large spatial scales (i.e., different subpopulations showed little overlap in wintering areas), but very diffuse migratory connectivity within subpopulations, with wintering ranges up to 4,000 km apart for birds breeding in the same region and each subpopulation visiting up to 28 countries (44 in total). Additionally, Egyptian Phipps et al. Egyptian Vulture Migration Flexibility Vultures exhibited a high level of variability at the subpopulation level and flexibility at the individual level in basic migration parameters. Subpopulations differed significantly in travel distance and straightness of migratory movements, while differences in migration speed and duration differed as much between seasons and among individuals within subpopulations as between subpopulations. The total distances of the migrations completed by individuals from the Balkans and Caucasus were up to twice as long and less direct than those in Western Europe, and consequently were longer in duration, despite faster migration speeds. These differences appear to be largely attributable to more numerous and wider geographic barriers (water bodies) along the eastern flyway. We also found that adult spring migrations to Western Europe and the Balkans were longer and slower than fall migrations. We encourage further research to assess the underlying mechanisms for these differences and the extent to which environmental change could affect Egyptian Vulture movement ecology and population trends.
... The annual distributions of migrants, as well as the extent of their local foraging areas and roosts, which were conventionally mapped from human observations made on the ground, can now be mapped from tracking data (Battley et al., 2012;Bijleveld et al., 2016). Such information can be used by conservation practitioners to inform management actions, e.g. to design spatially and temporally representative monitoring schemes and to delineate site boundaries of protected areas (Choi et al., 2019). This approach is particularly useful in parts of the world that lack basic data on species distributions and habitat use, where rapid gathering of such information remains a conservation priority. ...
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1.Satellite‐based technologies that track individual animal movements enable the mapping of their spatial and temporal patterns of occurrence. This is particularly useful in poorly studied or remote regions where there is a need for the rapid gathering of relevant ecological knowledge to inform management actions. One such region is East Asia, where many intertidal habitats are being degraded at unprecedented rates and shorebird populations relying on these habitats show rapid declines. 2.We examine the utility of satellite tracking to accelerate the identification of coastal sites of conservation importance in the East Asian‐Australasian Flyway. In 2015–2017 we used solar‐powered satellite transmitters to track the migration of 32 great knots (Calidris tenuirostris), an ‘Endangered’ shorebird species widely distributed in the Flyway and fully dependent on intertidal habitats for foraging during the non‐breeding season. 3.From the great knot tracks, a total of 92 stopping sites along the Flyway were identified. Surprisingly, 63% of these sites were not known as important shorebird sites before our study; in fact, every one of the tracked individuals used sites that were previously unrecognized. 4.Site knowledge from on‐ground studies in the Flyway is most complete for the Yellow Sea and generally lacking for Southeast Asia, Southern China, and Eastern Russia. 5.Policy implications. Satellite tracking highlighted coastal habitats that are potentially important for shorebirds but lack ecological information and conservation recognition, such as those in Southern China and Southeast Asia. At the same time, the distributional data of tracked individuals can direct on‐ground surveys at the lesser‐known sites to collect information on bird numbers and habitat characteristics. To recognize and subsequently protect valuable coastal habitats, filling knowledge gaps by integrating bird tracking with ground‐based methods should be prioritized. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Chapter
Many technology projects are driven by (hidden) agendas which prioritize the one or the other stakeholder or the technology itself, thereby creating tensions and compromising important perspectives. In the field of digital conservation and wildlife management, the focus has often been on safeguarding wildlife (the lion), not incorporating socio-economic factors of communities (the Omuhimba), by exploiting technologies concerned with wildlife data collection only (the drone). Concerned with reconciling heterogeneous perspectives the authors present the development and conceptualisation of an integrated wildlife monitoring system in Southern Africa. The authors postulate that a community-based co-design approach, grounded in the Ubuntu philosophy, leads to novel and innovative technology designs embracing ecocentrism.
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Coastal wetlands around the world have been degraded by human activities. Global declines in the extent of important habitats including mangroves, salt marsh and tidal flats necessitate mitigation and restoration efforts, however some well‐meaning management actions, particularly mangrove afforestation and breakwater construction, can inadvertently cause further loss and degradation if these actions are not planned carefully. In particular, there is a potential conflict between mangrove and shorebird conservation, because mangrove afforestation and restoration may occur at the expense of bare tidal flats, which form the main foraging habitats for threatened coastal migratory shorebirds as well as supporting other coastal organisms. Here, we present several case studies that illustrate the trade‐off between mangroves and bare tidal flats. To investigate whether these examples reflect an emerging broad‐scale issue, we use satellite imagery to develop a detailed quantification of the change in mangrove habitat extent in 22 important shorebird areas in mainland China between 2000 and 2015. Our results indicate that 1) the extent of mangroves across all sites expanded significantly between 2000 and 2015 (p < 0.01, n = 14) while tidal flat extent in the same areas declined significantly within the same period (p < 0.01, n = 21); 2) among the 14 sites where mangroves were present, the dual threat of mangrove expansion and tidal flat loss have considerably reduced shorebird habitat in eight of these sites. To ensure effective conservation of both mangroves and shorebirds, we propose a decision tree framework for resolving this emerging dilemma between mangrove afforestation and shorebird protection, which requires careful consideration of alternative management strategies. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved
Article
Understanding intrinsic and extrinsic influences of movement behavior in migratory species, with the potential to recommend management actions for species of conservation concern, requires data from across the species' range. For some raptor species, such as the red kite (Milvus milvus; kite), existing data focus on breeding populations or movements en route to wintering areas without considering movements within the wintering areas. Here, we contribute to filling this knowledge gap by investigating landscape‐level associations of kites in their southwestern European winter ranges between 2015 and 2020. We also explore aspects of the migration process in terms of geographical patterns in the location of over‐wintering grounds, including time spent and distances traveled within them. We predicted that space use in over‐wintering areas would be linked to the proportional amount of open, lowland, or urban land cover they contain at the land-scape level. Specifically, we tested whether winter range sizes (95% kernel density estimator [KDE] home ranges and 50% KDE core areas) would be smaller in areas with greater proportional open and urban land cover within kite ranges. Controlling for the effects of age and sex, we compared results in 3 over‐wintering regions: the Iberian Peninsula, Italy, and the Pyrenean region of southern France. We tracked 36 kites by global positioning system‐global system for mobile communications (GPS‐GSM) telemetry over 70 individual winters between 2015 and 2020. Kites wintering in the Pyrenees had larger home ranges and core areas but moved less than those wintering in Italy and the Iberian Peninsula. As predicted, ranges were smaller in areas with greater proportional open and lowland land cover; however, there was no effect of urban areas. Older kites that arrived late to the wintering areas had larger home ranges than those that arrived early or on time. During the study 20 kites died or the transmitter malfunctioned. Six of 13 confirmed deaths were due to anthropogenic activity; 5 kites were poisoned. Our results confirm that land use and elevation are key influences of kite space use in southwestern European over‐wintering populations, but additional demographic intrinsic factors also affect ranging parameters. These data indicate that over‐winter conservation action for kites, for example supplementary feeding with livestock carrion, should focus on open lowland landscapes throughout the species' winter range.
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Background Wildlife conservation often focuses on establishing protected areas, however, these conservation zones are frequently developed without adequate knowledge of the movement patterns of the species they are designed to protect. Understanding movement and foraging patterns of species in dynamic and diverse habitats can allow managers to develop more effective conservation plans. Threatened lemurs in Madagascar are an example where management plans and protected areas are typically created to encompass large, remaining forests rather than the resource needs of the target species. Methods To gain an understanding of golden-crowned sifaka ( Propithecus tattersalli ) movement patterns, including space use and habitat selection, across their range of inhabited forest types, we combined behavior data with Dynamic Brownian Bridge Movement Models and Resource Selection Functions. We also examined the influence of abiotic, biotic, and anthropogenic factors on home range size, movement rates, and foraging patterns. ResultsWe found that home range size and movement rates differed between seasons, with increased core area size and movement in the rainy season. Forest type also played a role in foraging behavior with lemur groups in humid forest avoiding roads in both seasons, groups in the dry deciduous forest avoiding road networks in the rainy season, and groups in the moderate evergreen forest displaying no selection or avoidance of road networks while foraging. Conclusion Our study illustrates the importance of studying primate groups across seasons as well as across forest types, as developing conservation plans as a single snapshot can give an inaccurate assessment of their natural behavior and resources needs. More specifically, by understanding how forest type influences golden-crowned sifaka movement and foraging behavior, we can make conservation management plans specific to the individual forest types they inhabit (humid, moderate evergreen, dry deciduous, littoral, etc.), rather than the region as a whole.
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Background Despite an increasing number of surveys and a growing interest in birdwatching, the population and distribution of Asian Dowitcher ( Limnodromus semipalmatus ), a species endemic to the East Asian–Australasian and Central Asian Flyways, remains poorly understood, and published information about the species is largely outdated. In boreal spring 2019, over 22,432 Asian Dowitchers were recorded in a coastal wetland at Lianyungang, Jiangsu Province, China, constituting 97.5% of its estimated global population. Methods In 2019 and 2020, we conducted field surveys at Lianyungang to determine the numbers of Asian Dowitchers using the area during both southward and northward migrations. We also assessed the distribution and abundance of Asian Dowitchers elsewhere along the China coast by searching literature and consulting expert opinion. Results The coastal wetlands of Lianyungang are the most important stopover site for Asian Dowitchers during both northward and southward migrations; they supported over 90% of the estimated global population during northward migration in two consecutive years (May 2019 and 2020). This area also supported at least 15.83% and 28.42% (or 30.74% and 53.51% using modelled estimates) of the global population during southward migration in 2019 and 2020 respectively. Coastal wetlands in the west and north of Bohai Bay also have been important stopover sites for the species since the 1990s. Although comprehensive, long-term monitoring data are lacking, available evidence suggests that the population of the species may have declined. Conclusions The high concentration of Asian Dowitchers at Lianyungang during migration means the species is highly susceptible to human disturbances and natural stochastic events. The coastal wetlands of Lianyungang should be protected and potentially qualify for inclusion in China’s forthcoming nomination for World Heritage listing of Migratory Bird Sanctuaries along the Coast of Yellow Sea-Bohai Gulf of China (Phase II) in 2023. Additional research is needed to understand Asian Dowitchers’ distribution and ecology, as well as why such a high proportion of their population rely on the Lianyungang coast.
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Natural wetlands along the coasts of the Yellow and Bohai seas provide key stopover sites for migratory waterbirds. However, these wetlands are facing land loss. Understanding how natural wetland loss influences habitat is important for habitat management. We used species distribution models to report changes in area of suitable habitat and analyzed the effects of natural wetland loss on habitat for 80 waterbird species of four functional categories (shorebirds, ducks, herons, gulls) between 2000 and 2015 in the Yellow and Bohai seas. Between 2000 and 2015, 1794.8 km² (29.27%) of coastal wetland was lost to development, most of which was tidal flats that were lost by conversion into aquaculture and salt pan habitat or land for construction. Consequently, habitat for 73 of these 80 species has decreased in area over this time period. Generally, the proportional decline in habitat suitable for duck species was less than that for shorebirds, and the proportional decline in suitable habitat was not significantly different between National Protected Species and Non-National Protected Species. The proportional loss of tidal flat that formerly represented suitable habitat was also significantly higher for shorebirds, herons and gulls than for ducks. Because more duck species exploit aquaculture and salt pan habitat that was converted from tidal flat habitats, such conversion of tidal flats poses a greater threat to shorebirds, herons and gulls than to ducks. Preventing further reclamation of tidal flats and managing artificial wetlands are priorities for waterbird conservation. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
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Aim Molluscs are important grazers, filter and deposit feeders, scavengers and predators, which in turn are food for shorebirds, fish and people. Some species, targeted as human food, have been cultured along the Chinese coast for hundreds of years. To examine whether aquacultural practices have meanwhile affected biodiversity gradients, we measured mollusc community structure along the coast of China in habitats which are intensively used by humans. Location Chinese coast. Methods We sampled 21 intertidal sites spanning 20 latitudinal degrees and 18,400 km of coastline. We assessed alpha diversity to verify whether mollusc communities exhibit the expected biodiversity gradient with latitude and beta diversity gradients with distance. To examine whether human activities such as transportation and culturing could have affected these patterns, we distinguished commercial from non-commercial mollusc species and compared the differences in distribution, density, alpha diversity and beta diversity. Results We found non-commercial species showed the expected biodiversity gradients. Commercial species (a) dominated the intertidal mollusc communities at 19 of the 21 sites and compared with non-commercial species, (b) exhibited wider geographical distributions, (c) showed no significant change in Bray-Curtis index (abundance-based beta diversity) with either geographical or climatic distance, (d) exhibited lower average dissimilarities and (e) did not show a decrease in species richness and Shannon diversity with latitude. Combining all species, trends were the same as for the commercial species. Main conclusions A few cultured species dominated the intertidal mollusc communities in high densities along the Chinese coastline, taking over the ecological roles of the native species but not driving them extinct. In this way, aquacultural practices have exerted a homogenizing influence strong enough to erase basic biodiversity gradients. Since molluscs are food for the growing human population and the shrinking populations of migratory animals, coastal planning and management of both intertidal habitats and the exploitative activities employed need to incorporate these dimensions.
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Wind farms offer a cleaner alternative to fossil fuels and can mitigate their negative effects on climate change. However, wind farms may have negative impacts on birds. The East China Coast forms a key part of the East Asian–Australasian Flyway, and it is a crucial region for wind energy development in China. However, despite ducks being the dominant animal taxon along the East China Coast in winter and considered as particularly vulnerable to the effects of wind farms, the potential negative impacts of wind farms on duck populations remain unclear. We therefore assessed the effects of wind farms on duck abundance, distribution, and habitat use at Chongming Dongtan, which is a major wintering site for ducks along the East Asian–Australasian Flyway, using field surveys and satellite tracking. We conducted seven paired field surveys of ducks inside wind farm (IWF) and outside wind farm (OWF) sites in artificial brackish marsh, paddy fields, and aquaculture ponds. Duck abundance was significantly higher in OWF compared with IWF sites and significantly higher in artificial brackish marsh than in aquaculture ponds and paddy fields. Based on 1,918 high‐resolution satellite tracking records, the main habitat types of ducks during the day and at night were artificial brackish marsh and paddy fields, respectively. Furthermore, grid‐based analysis showed overlaps between ducks and wind farms, with greater overlap at night than during the day. According to resource selection functions, habitat use by wintering ducks was impacted by distance to water, land cover, human activity, and wind farm effects, and the variables predicted to have significant impacts on duck habitat use differed between day and night. Our study suggests that wintering ducks tend to avoid wind turbines at Chongming Dongtan, and landscape of paddy fields and artificial wetlands adjoining natural wetlands is crucial for wintering ducks.
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Conference Paper
An increasing variety of technologies are being developed to support conservation of endangered wildlife; however, comparatively little attention has been devoted to their design. We undertook three years of ethnographic fieldwork and design research with the recovery team of an endangered Australian bird (the Eastern bristlebird) to explore the team's culture and practices, as well as their perspectives on including collection and analysis of environmental acoustic recordings into their conservation praxis. Through thematic analysis, we identified the team's collective goals, culture, conservation activities, and technology use. We found that acoustic technologies have promise for supporting conservation of furtive and vocal Eastern bristlebirds. Trialing acoustic technologies also revealed that the team had strong interest in their use. We identified knowledge gaps, time constraints, and technology aversion as barriers to be overcome with future interaction design research. We offer an initial set of practical guidelines for designing technologies to support conservation.
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Many species depend on multiple habitats at different points in space and time. Their effective conservation requires an understanding of how and when each habitat is used, coupled with adequate protection. Migratory shorebirds use intertidal and supratidal wetlands, both of which are affected by coastal landscape change. Yet the extent to which shorebirds use artificial supratidal habitats, particularly at highly developed stopover sites, remains poorly understood leading to potential deficiencies in habitat management. We surveyed shorebirds on their southward migration in southern Jiangsu, a critical stopover region in the East Asian Australasian Flyway (EAAF), to measure their use of artificial supratidal habitats and assess linkages between intertidal and supratidal habitat use. To inform management, we examined how biophysical features influenced occupancy of supratidal habitats, and whether these habitats were used for roosting or foraging. We found that shorebirds at four of five sites were limited to artificial supratidal habitats at high tide for ~11–25 days per month because natural intertidal flats were completely covered by seawater. Within the supratidal landscape, at least 37 shorebird species aggregated on artificial wetlands, and shorebirds were more abundant on larger ponds with less water cover, less vegetation, at least one unvegetated bund, and fewer built structures nearby. Artificial supratidal habitats were rarely used for foraging and rarely occupied when intertidal flats were available, underscoring the complementarity between supratidal roosting habitat and intertidal foraging habitat. Joined‐up artificial supratidal management and natural intertidal habitat conservation are clearly required at our study site given the simultaneous dependence by over 35,000 migrating shorebirds on both habitats. Guided by observed patterns of habitat use, there is a clear opportunity to improve habitat condition by working with local land custodians to consider shorebird habitat requirements when managing supratidal ponds. This approach is likely applicable to shorebird sites throughout the EAAF. The dependence of thousands of imperiled migratory birds on artificial supratidal and natural intertidal wetlands necessitates simultaneous management of both habitats in coastal eastern China. Guided by observed patterns of use, there is a clear opportunity to improve habitat conditions by working with local land custodians to consider the habitat requirements of shorebirds when managing supratidal ponds that are used for human production activities.
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Nature reserves (NR) are the cornerstone of biodiversity conservation. Over the past 60 years, the rapid expansion of NRs in China, one of the world's megadiverse countries, has played a critical role in slowing biodiversity loss. Yet we show that despite the continuing increase in the number of NRs, the total area of China's NR declined by 3% from 2007 to 2014. This loss resulted from downsizing and degazettement of existing NRs and a slowdown in the establishment of new ones. NRs in regions with rapid economic development suffered a greater decrease in area, suggesting that downsizing and degazettement of NRs are closely related to the intensifying conflict between economic growth and conservation. As an example, boundary adjustments to national NRs, the most strictly protected NRs, along China's Yellow Sea coast, a global biodiversity hotspot with a fast‐growing economy, resulted in the loss of one‐third of the total area. Tidal wetlands, one of the most significant habitats in the NRs, decreased by 27.8% due to boundary adjustments. Additionally, 25.2% of tidal wetlands within NRs disappeared due to land reclamation. Taken together, these results suggest that conservation outcomes are declining in the Chinese NR estate. Although the designation of protected areas that are primarily managed for sustainable use has rapidly increased over recent years in China, we propose that NRs with biodiversity conservation as their main function should not be replaced or weakened. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved
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In an era of massive biodiversity loss, the greatest conservation success story has been the growth of protected land globally. Protected areas are the primary defense against biodiversity loss, but extensive human activity within their boundaries can undermine this. Using the most comprehensive global map of human pressure, we show that 6 million square kilometers (32.8%) of protected land is under intense human pressure. For protected areas designated before the Convention on Biological Diversity was ratified in 1992, 55% have since experienced human pressure increases. These increases were lowest in large, strict protected areas, showing that they are potentially effective, at least in some nations. Transparent reporting on human pressure within protected areas is now critical, as are global targets aimed at efforts required to halt biodiversity loss.
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Many shorebird populations are in decline along the East Asian-Australasian Flyway. The rapid loss of coastal wetlands in the Yellow Sea, which provide critical stop-over sites during migration, is believed to be the cause of the alarming trends. The Yalu Jiang coastal wetland, a protected area in the north Yellow Sea, supports the largest known migratory staging populations of Bar-tailed Godwits Limosa lapponica ( menzbieri and baueri subspecies) and Great Knots Calidris tenuirostris . Monitoring of the macrozoobenthos food for these shorebirds from 2011 to 2016 showed declines of over 99% in the densities of the bivalve Potamocorbula laevis , the major food here for both Bar-tailed Godwits and Great Knots. The loss of the bivalve might be caused by any combination of, but not limited to: (1) change in hydrological conditions and sediment composition due to nearby port construction, (2) run-off of agrochemicals from the extensive shoreline sea cucumber farms, and (3) parasitic infection. Surprisingly, the numbers of birds using the Yalu Jiang coastal wetland remained stable during the study period, except for the subspecies of Bar-tailed Godwit L. l. menzbieri , which exhibited a 91% decline in peak numbers. The lack of an overall decline in the number of bird days in Great Knots and in the peak numbers of L. l. baueri , also given the published simultaneous decreases in their annual survival, implies a lack of alternative habitats that birds could relocate to. This study highlights that food declines at staging sites could be an overlooked but important factor causing population declines of shorebirds along the Flyway. Maintaining the quality of protected staging sites is as important in shorebird conservation as is the safeguarding of staging sites from land claim. Meanwhile, it calls for immediate action to restore the food base for these beleaguered migrant shorebirds at Yalu Jiang coastal wetland.
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The Endangered Red-crowned Crane (Grus japonensis) is one of the most culturally iconic and sought-after species by wildlife tourists. Here we investigate how the presence of tourists influence the vigilance behaviour of cranes foraging in Suaeda salsa salt marshes and S. salsa/Phragmites australis mosaic habitat in the Yellow River Delta, China. We found that both the frequency and duration of crane vigilance significantly increased in the presence of wildlife tourists. Increased frequency in crane vigilance only occurred in the much taller S. salsa/P. australis mosaic vegetation whereas the duration of vigilance showed no significant difference between the two habitats. Crane vigilance declined with increasing distance from wildlife tourists in the two habitats, with a minimum distance of disturbance triggering a high degree of vigilance by cranes identified at 300 m. The presence of wildlife tourists may represent a form of disturbance to foraging cranes but is habitat dependent. Taller P. australis vegetation serves primarily as a visual obstruction for cranes, causing them to increase the frequency of vigilance behaviour. Our findings have important implications for the conservation of the migratory red-crowned crane population that winters in the Yellow River Delta and can help inform visitor management.
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Coastal armouring and the reclamation of intertidal areas through the use of seawalls and other artificial structures has been practiced for thousands of years, but its recent expansion in China and elsewhere in Asia has been unprecedented in its rate and intensity. One result has been the recent loss of nearly two-thirds of tidal flats in the Yellow Sea, a globally unique ecosystem of high ecological value. The severe effects on biodiversity of the recent large-scale coastal land claim activities in China are well documented, yet some recent studies have emphasized the ecological opportunities provided by such artificial coastal infrastructure in China, in some cases suggesting that the ecological impacts of coastal infrastructure should be reconsidered due to benefits to some rocky shore species in a changing climate. This is cause for concern because, while studying the “new ecology” arising from coastal modification is useful, broad conclusions around the ecological role or conservation gains from seawall construction without adequate contextualization underplays the ecological consequences of large-scale coastal land claim, and could potentially undermine efforts to achieve biodiversity conservation. Here, we clarify the characteristics of seawall construction in China and summarize the environmental damage and some broadscale impacts caused by this type of infrastructure expansion on the endangered Yellow Sea tidal flats ecosystem. We also highlight the urgent need for all coastal development plans to consider how coastal wetlands and ecosystem functionality can be maximally retained within the development precinct.
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In an era of unprecedented and rapid global change, dynamic conservation strategies that tailor the delivery of habitat to when and where it is most needed can be critical for the persistence of species, especially those with diverse and dispersed habitat requirements. We demonstrate the effectiveness of such a strategy for migratory waterbirds. We analyzed citizen science and satellite data to develop predictive models of bird populations and the availability of wetlands, which we used to determine temporal and spatial gaps in habitat during a vital stage of the annual migration. We then filled those gaps using a reverse auction marketplace to incent qualifying landowners to create temporary wetlands on their properties. This approach is a cost-effective way of adaptively meeting habitat needs for migratory species, optimizes conservation outcomes relative to investment, and can be applied broadly to other conservation challenges.
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Migratory animals are threatened by human-induced global change. However, little is known about how stopover habitat, essential for refuelling during migration, affects the population dynamics of migratory species. Using 20 years of continent-wide citizen science data, we assess population trends of ten shorebird taxa that refuel on Yellow Sea tidal mudflats, a threatened ecosystem that has shrunk by 465% in recent decades. Seven of the taxa declined at rates of up to 8% per year. Taxa with the greatest reliance on the Yellow Sea as a stopover site showed the greatest declines, whereas those that stop primarily in other regions had slowly declining or stable populations. Decline rate was unaffected by shared evolutionary history among taxa and was not predicted by migration distance, breeding range size, non-breeding location, generation time or body size. These results suggest that changes in stopover habitat can severely limit migratory populations.
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During the high-tide period, shorebirds that forage on intertidal flats move to sites known as high-tide roosts, which play an important role in their survival. Understanding how shorebirds use high-tide roosts at stopover sites is crucial for their effective conservation and management. As there is a lack of natural roosting habitats along much of the Chinese coast of the northern Yellow Sea, shorebirds have to use aquaculture pond banks. During northward migration in 2014, we investigated the preference of migrating shorebirds for six physical characteristics of pond banks that function as high-tide roosts at Yalu Jiang Estuary Wetlands National Nature Reserve, a key stopover site for migratory shorebirds. We found that shorebirds showed a preference for long banks with little vegetation cover for high tide roosts in aquaculture ponds. This information can be used to guide management for migrating shorebirds that use artificial habitat as high-tide roosts.
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Protected areas are widely considered essential for biodiversity conservation. However, few global studies have demonstrated that protection benefits a broad range of species. Here, using a new global biodiversity database with unprecedented geographic and taxonomic coverage, we compare four biodiversity measures at sites sampled in multiple land uses inside and outside protected areas. Globally, species richness is 10.6% higher and abundance 14.5% higher in samples taken inside protected areas compared with samples taken outside, but neither rarefaction-based richness nor endemicity differ significantly. Importantly, we show that the positive effects of protection are mostly attributable to differences in land use between protected and unprotected sites. Nonetheless, even within some human-dominated land uses, species richness and abundance are higher in protected sites. Our results reinforce the global importance of protected areas but suggest that protection does not consistently benefit species with small ranges or increase the variety of ecological niches.
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Animal-borne telemetry has revolutionised our ability to study animal movement, species physiology, demography and social structures, changing environments and the threats that animals are experiencing. While there will always be a need for basic ecological research and discovery, the current conservation crisis demands we look more pragmatically at the data required to make informed management decisions. 2.Here, we define a framework that distinguishes how research using animal telemetry devices can influence conservation. We then discuss two critical questions which aim to directly connect telemetry-derived data to applied conservation decision-making: (i) Would my choice of action change if I had more data? (ii) Is the expected gain worth the money and time required to collect more data? 3.Policy Implications. To answer questions about integrating telemetry-derived data with applied conservation, we suggest the use of value of information (VoI) analysis to quantitatively assess the return-on-investment of animal telemetry-derived data for conservation decision-making. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
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Wetlands along the Yellow Sea coast of China, which are a major staging area for shorebirds in the East Asian-Australasian Flyway, are in a state of crisis that threatens the future of this migration system. Populations of many shorebirds in the Flyway have declined in recent decades at a time when there has been widespread loss of habitat and degradation of coastal wetlands around the Yellow Sea. Here we examine current threats to coastal wetlands along China's Yellow Sea coast based on field surveys in 2013 and 2014 and a review of the literature. Intertidal habitats have been lost to land claim or degraded through aquaculture and harvesting, as well as gross pollution and invasion of exotic Spartina, all of which have negatively affected shorebird foraging, roosting and breeding sites. Planned further development, if unchecked, will result in the loss of most of the remaining intertidal area, which is likely to result in calamitous declines in populations of many shorebirds. There is a need for immediate action to curb future land claim and to develop an integrated coastal management strategy. Further research on applied aspects of shorebird ecology is urgently needed to inform future policy development and decision making.
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A common challenge in species conservation and management is how to incorporate species movements into management objectives. There often is a lack of knowledge of where, when and why species move. The field of movement ecology has grown rapidly in the last decade and is now providing the knowledge needed to incorporate movements of species into management planning. This knowledge can also be used to develop management strategies that are flexible in time and space and may improve the effectiveness of management actions. Therefore, wildlife management and conservation may benefit by strengthening the link with movement ecology. We present a framework that illustrates how animal movement can be used to enhance conservation planning and identify management actions that are complementary to existing strategies. The framework contains five steps that identify (1) the movement attributes of a species, (2) their impacts on ecosystems, (3) how this knowledge can be used to guide the scale and type of management, (4) the implementation, and (5) the evaluation of management actions. We discuss these five steps in detail, highlighting why the step is important and how the information can be obtained. We illustrate the framework through a case study of managing a highly mobile species, the Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar), a harvested species of conservation concern. We believe that the movement-management framework provides an important, and timely, link between movement ecology and wildlife management and conservation, and highlights the potential for complementary, dynamic solutions for managing wildlife.
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1. There is increasing concern about the world’s animal migrations. With many land-use and climatological changes occurring simultaneously, pinning down the causes of large-scale conservation problems requires sophisticated and data-intensive approaches. 2. Declining shorebird numbers along the East Asian–Australasian Flyway, in combination with data on habitat loss along the Yellow Sea (where these birds refuel during long-distance migrations), indicate a flyway under threat. 3. If habitat loss at staging areas indeed leads to flyway-wide bird losses, we would predict that: (i) decreases in survival only occur during the season that birds use the Yellow Sea, and (ii) decreases in survival occur in migrants that share a reliance on the vanishing intertidal flats along the Yellow Sea, even if ecologically distinct and using different breeding grounds. 4. Monitored from 2006–2013, we analysed seasonal apparent survival patterns of three shorebird species with non-overlapping Arctic breeding areas and considerable differences in foraging ecology, but a shared use of both north-west Australian non-breeding grounds and the Yellow Sea coasts to refuel during northward and southward migrations (red knot Calidris canutus piersmai, great knot Calidris tenuirostris, bar-tailed godwit Limosa lapponica menzbieri). Distinguishing two three-month non-breeding periods and a six-month migration and breeding period, and analysing survival of the three species and the three seasons in a single model, we statistically evaluated differences at both the species and season levels. 5. Whereas apparent survival remained high in north-west Australia, during the time away from the non-breeding grounds survival in all three species began to decline in 2011, having lost 20 percentage points by 2012. By 2012 annual apparent survival had become as low as 0.�71 in bar-tailed godwits, 0.�68 in great knots and 0.�67 in red knots. In a separate analysis for red knots, no mortality occurred during the migration from Australia to China. In the summers of low summer survival, weather conditions were benign in the Arctic breeding areas. 6. We argue that rapid seashore habitat loss in the Yellow Sea is the most likely explanation of reduced summer survival, with dire (but uncertain) forecasts for the future of these flyway populations. This interpretation is consistent with recent findings of declining shorebird numbers at seemingly intact southern non-breeding sites.7. Policy implications. Due to established economic interests, governments are usually reluctant to act for conservation, unless unambiguous evidence for particular cause–effect chains is apparent. This study adds to an increasing body of evidence that habitat loss along the Yellow Sea shores explains the widespread declines in shorebird numbers along the East Asian–Australasian Flyway and threatens the long-term prospects of several long-distance migrating species. To halt further losses, the clearance of coastal intertidal habitat must stop now.
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Background: China's coastal wetlands belong to some of the most threatened ecosystems worldwide. The loss and degradation of these wetlands seriously threaten waterbirds that depend on wetlands. Methods: The China Coastal Waterbird Census was organized by volunteer birdwatchers in China's coastal region. Waterbirds were surveyed synchronously once every month at 14 sites, as well as irregularly at a further 18 sites, between September 2005 and December 2013. Results: A total of 75 species of waterbirds met the 1 % population level Ramsar listing criterion at least once at one site. The number of birds of the following species accounted for over 20 % of the total flyway populations at a single site: Mute Swan (Cygnus olor), Siberia Crane (Grus leucogeranus), Far Eastern Oystercatcher (Haematopus osculans), Bar-tailed Godwit (Limosa lapponica), Spotted Greenshank (Tringa guttifer), Great Knot (Calidris tenuirostris), Spoon-billed Sandpiper (Calidris pygmeus), Saunders's Gull (Larus saundersi), Relict Gull (Larus relictus), Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo), Eurasian Spoonbill (Platalea leucorodia), Black-faced Spoonbill (Platalea minor) and Dalmatian Pelican (Pelecanus crispus). A total of 26 sites supported at least one species of which their number met the 1 % criterion. Forty-two species met the 1 % criterion in the Yellow River Delta, Shandong; 29 at the Cangzhou coast, Hebei and 26 species at the Lianyungang coast, Jiangsu. Conclusions: The results highlight the international importance of China's coastal wetlands for waterbirds. This study also demonstrates that participation of local birdwatchers in waterbird surveys results in data that are invaluable not only for understanding the current status of waterbirds in China's coastal regions but also for waterbird conservation and management.
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The distributions of many species are dynamic in space and time, and movements made by individuals range from regular and predictable migrations to erratic, resource-driven nomadism. Conserving such mobile species is challenging; the effectiveness of a conservation action taken at one site depends on the condition of other sites that may be geographically and politically distant (thousands of kilometers away or in another jurisdiction, for example). Recent work has shown that even simple and predictable linkages among sites caused by "to-and-fro" migration can make migratory species especially vulnerable to habitat loss, and substantially affect the results of conservation prioritizations. Species characterized by more erratic or nomadic movements are very difficult to protect through current conservation planning techniques, which typically view species distributions as static. However, collaborations between migration ecologists, conservation planners, and mathematical ecologists are paving the way for improvements in conservation planning for mobile species.
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Every year 50 million migratory waterbirds migrate from southern non-breeding areas in Southeast Asia and Australasia, to northern breeding grounds, mostly in Russia, but also in China, Mongolia, Japan, the Korean peninsula, and Alaska. The sum of these migration routes through 22 countries is defined as the East Asian-Australasian Flyway (EAAF). The EAAF is the most species-rich of the world’s nine major flyways. Unfortunately, the EAAF also has the highest proportion of declining waterbird populations. Waterbirds in the EAAF are in crisis.This report is an initiative for regional prioritization of the status of shorebird species using the EAAF, and is an objective assessment of the conservation status of EAAF populations using the latest available data on population size, trends, and distribution (e.g., endemism and use of sites), to determine which populations are most likely to reach or approach extinction if measures are not taken.
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Bar-tailed Godwits Limosa lapponica and Great Knots Calidris tenuirostris are long-distance migratory shorebirds with declining numbers in the East Asian-Australasian Flyway. One of the most important staging sites for these two species during northward migration is Yalu Jiang coastal wetland in the north Yellow Sea. Historical counts have been limited to once a year and conducted at different periods; these yield inadequate data for population monitoring. We estimated the numbers of Bar-tailed Godwits and Great Knots and described their migration phenology during northward migration from 2010 to 2012 at the Yalu Jiang coastal wetland, using a combination of periodic area-wide counts over the migration period and a modelling approach that estimates passage times and total numbers of birds transiting. The mean arrival date for L. l. baueri godwits was 29 March and mean departure date was 8 May. Corresponding dates were 11 April and 15 May for L. l. menzbieri godwits and 7 April and 14 May for Great Knots. We estimated that an annual average of over 68,000 Bar-tailed Godwits and 44,000 Great Knots used the area on northward migration from 2010-2012. Our results indicate that the Yalu Jiang coastal wetland supports on average at least 42% of the flyway's northward-migrating L. l. baueri godwits, 19% of L. l. menzbieri godwits, and 22% of the Great Knots. Comparisons with historical counts conducted during peak migration periods indicate a 13% decline in Bar-tailed Godwits since 2004 and an 18% decline in Great Knots since 1999. Our results confirm that the study area remains the most important northward migration staging site for Bar-tailed Godwits and indicate that it has become the most important northward migration staging site for Great Knots along the flyway.
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Governments have agreed to expand the global protected area network from 13% to 17% of the world's land surface by 2020 (Aichi target 11) and to prevent the further loss of known threatened species (Aichi target 12). These targets are interdependent, as protected areas can stem biodiversity loss when strategically located and effectively managed. However, the global protected area estate is currently biased toward locations that are cheap to protect and away from important areas for biodiversity. Here we use data on the distribution of protected areas and threatened terrestrial birds, mammals, and amphibians to assess current and possible future coverage of these species under the convention. We discover that 17% of the 4,118 threatened vertebrates are not found in a single protected area and that fully 85% are not adequately covered (i.e., to a level consistent with their likely persistence). Using systematic conservation planning, we show that expanding protected areas to reach 17% coverage by protecting the cheapest land, even if ecoregionally representative, would increase the number of threatened vertebrates covered by only 6%. However, the nonlinear relationship between the cost of acquiring land and species coverage means that fivefold more threatened vertebrates could be adequately covered for only 1.5 times the cost of the cheapest solution, if cost efficiency and threatened vertebrates are both incorporated into protected area decision making. These results are robust to known errors in the vertebrate range maps. The Convention on Biological Diversity targets may stimulate major expansion of the global protected area estate. If this expansion is to secure a future for imperiled species, new protected areas must be sited more strategically than is presently the case.
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In the Yellow Sea region of East Asia, tidal wetlands are the frontline ecosystem protecting a coastal population of more than 60 million people from storms and sea-level rise. However, unprecedented coastal development has led to growing concern about the status of these ecosystems. We developed a remote-sensing method to assess change over ~4000 km of the Yellow Sea coastline and discovered extensive losses of the region’s principal coastal ecosystem – tidal flats – associated with urban, industrial, and agricultural land reclamations. Our analysis revealed that 28% of tidal flats existing in the 1980s had disappeared by the late 2000s (1.2% annually). Moreover, reference to historical maps suggests that up to 65% of tidal flats were lost over the past five decades. With the region forecast to be a global hotspot of urban expansion, development of the Yellow Sea coastline should pursue a course that minimizes the loss of remaining coastal ecosystems.
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We re-assessed the population size and trend of 52 species and 75 taxa of shorebirds that occur in North America by reviewing published papers, soliciting unpublished data, and seeking the opinions of experts. New information resulted in changing population estimates for 35 of the 71 taxa that could be compared directly to the estimates published in 2006; from this comparison, 28 estimates increased and seven decreased. Almost all of the increases (88%) were the result of more comprehensive surveys being conducted or re-analyses of existing data rather than actual increases in numbers. Retaining the previous estimate was almost always due to a lack of new information. Recent trend analysis indicates that many shorebird populations have stabilized in recent years after large declines during the early 1980s and mid-1990s. Although many shorebird populations listed as threatened or endangered by the U.S. and Canadian governments have increasing population trends, none have reached recovery targets. Information on population trends remains virtually unknown for 25% of the shorebirds occurring in North America, and surveys are needed to determine the state of these populations.
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Protected areas worldwide are facing increasing pressures to co-manage human development and biodiversity conservation. One strategy for managing multiple uses within and around protected areas is zoning, an approach in which spatial boundaries are drawn to distinguish areas with varying degrees of allowable human impacts. However, zoning designations are rarely evaluated for their efficacy using empirical data related to both human and biodiversity characteristics. To evaluate the effectiveness of zoning designations, we developed an integrated approach. The approach was calibrated empirically using data from Wolong Nature Reserve, a flagship protected area for the conservation of endangered giant pandas in China. We analyzed the spatial distribution of pandas, as well as human impacts (roads, houses, tourism infrastructure, livestock, and forest cover change) with respect to zoning designations in Wolong. Results show that the design of the zoning scheme could be improved to account for pandas and their habitat, considering the amount of suitable habitat outside of the core zone (area designated for biodiversity conservation). Zoning was largely successful in containing houses and roads to their designated experimental zone, but was less effective in containing livestock and was susceptible to boundary adjustments to allow for tourism development. We identified focus areas for potential zoning revision that could better protect the panda population without significantly compromising existing human settlements. Our findings highlight the need for evaluating the efficacy of zoning in other protected areas facing similar challenges with balancing human needs and conservation goals, not only in China but also around the world.
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Protected areas are a cornerstone of local, regional, and global strategies for the conservation of biodiversity. However, the ecological performance of these areas, both in terms of the representation and the maintenance of key biodiversity features, remains poorly understood. A large and rapidly expanding literature bears on these issues, but it is highly fragmented, principally comprises particular case studies, and employs a diverse array of approaches. Here we provide a synthetic review of this work, discriminating between issues of performance of inventory and condition at the scale of individual protected areas, portfolios, and networks of protected areas. We emphasize the insights that follow and the links between the different issues, as well as highlight the major problems that remain unresolved.
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Western Willets (Catoptrophorus semipalmatus inornatus) were banded (it = 146 breeding adults and chicks) and radio-marked (it = 68 adults) at three western Great Basin wetland complexes to determine inter- and intraseasonal space use and movement patterns (primarily in 1998 and 1999). Birds were then tracked to overwintering sites where migratory connectivity and local movements were documented. Willets arrived synchronously at breeding sites during mid-April and spent less than 12 weeks in the Great Basin. There were no movements to other sites in the Great Basin during the breeding or postbreeding season. However, most breeding birds moved locally on a daily basis from upland nest sites to wetland foraging sites. The mean distance breeding birds were detected from nests did not differ between sexes or between members of a pair, although these distances were greater among postbreeding than breeding birds. Home-range estimates did not differ significantly between paired males and females during breeding or postbreeding. However. female home ranges were larger following breeding than during breeding. Shortly after chicks fledged, adult Willets left the Great Basin for locations primarily at coastal and estuarine sites in the San Francisco Bay area. Limited data revealed little among-site movements once Willets arrived at the coast, and birds appeared to be site faithful in subsequent winters. Winter sites of western Great Basin Willets differed from those used by birds from other areas in the subspecies' range, suggesting another subspecies or distinct population segment may exist. This study illustrates the importance of understanding movements and space use throughout the annual cycle in conservation planning.
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The coast of Bohai Bay, north-western Yellow Sea, is critical for waterbirds migrating along the East Asia-Australasian Flyway. Between 1994 and 2010, a total of 450 km(2) of offshore area, including 218 km2 of intertidal flats (one third of the original tidal area in the bay), has been reclaimed along the bay for two industrial projects. This has caused the northward migrants to become concentrated in an ever smaller remaining area, our core study site. The spring peak numbers of two Red Knot subspecies in the East Asia-Australasian Flyway, Calidris canutus piersmai and C. c. rogersi, in this so far little affected area increased from 13% in 2007 to 62% in 2010 of the global populations; the spring peak numbers of Curlew Sandpiper C. ferruginea increased from 3% in 2007 to 23% in 2010 of the flyway population. The decline in the extent of intertidal mudflats also affected Relict Gulls Larus relictus, listed by IUCN as 'Vulnerable'; during normal winters 56% of the global population moved from the wintering habitats that were removed in Tianjin to the relatively intact areas around Tangshan. Densities of wintering Eurasian Curlew Numenius arquata, and spring-staging Broad-billed Sandpiper Limicola falcinellus and Sanderling Calidris alba have also increased in the remaining areas. With the proposed continuation of land reclamation in Bohai Bay, we predict waterbird densities in the remaining areas to increase to a point of collapse. To evaluate the future of these fragile, shared international resources, it is vital to promote an immediate conservation action plan for the remaining coastal wetlands in this region, and continued population monitoring to determine the effects of this action.
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Western Willets (Catoptrophorus semipalmatus inornatus) were banded (n = 146 breeding adults and chicks) and radio-marked (n = 68 adults) at three western Great Basin wetland complexes to determine inter- and intraseasonal space use and movement patterns (primarily in 1998 and 1999). Birds were then tracked to overwintering sites where migratory connectivity and local movements were documented. Willets arrived synchronously at breeding sites during mid-April and spent less than 12 weeks in the Great Basin. There were no movements to other sites in the Great Basin during the breeding or postbreeding season. However, most breeding birds moved locally on a daily basis from upland nest sites to wetland foraging sites. The mean distance breeding birds were detected from nests did not differ between sexes or between members of a pair, although these distances were greater among postbreeding than breeding birds. Home-range estimates did not differ significantly between paired males and females during breeding or postbreeding. However, female home ranges were larger following breeding than during breeding. Shortly after chicks fledged, adult Willets left the Great Basin for locations primarily at coastal and estuarine sites in the San Francisco Bay area. Limited data revealed little among-site movements once Willets arrived at the coast, and birds appeared to be site faithful in subsequent winters. Winter sites of western Great Basin Willets differed from those used by birds from other areas in the subspecies' range, suggesting another subspecies or distinct population segment may exist. This study illustrates the importance of understanding movements and space use throughout the annual cycle in conservation planning. Uso del Espacio, Conectividad Migratoria y Segregación Poblacional entre Catoptrophorus semipalmatus que se Reproducen en el Great Basin Occidental Resumen. Un total de 146 individuos reproductivos y polluelos de Catoptrophorus semipalmatus inornatus fueron anillados y 68 marcados con radio transmisores en tres complejos de humedales del Great Basin occidental para determinar patrones inter- e intraestacionales en el uso del espacio y los movimientos, principalmente en 1998 y 1999. Las aves fueron seguidas mediante radio telemetría hasta sus áreas de invernada, donde se documentaron la conectividad migratoria y los movimientos locales. Las aves arribaron sincrónicamente a sus sitios reproductivos a mediados de abril, donde permanecieron menos de 12 semanas. No hubo movimientos hacia otros sitios del Great Basin durante la estación reproductiva o post-reproductiva. Sin embargo, muchas aves se movieron a diario localmente desde sitios de anidación en zonas altas hasta sitios de forrajeo en humedales. La distancia media entre las aves y sus nidos no difirió entre sexos ni entre miembros de una pareja, aunque estas distancias fueron mayores entre aves post-reproductivas que entre aves que estaban reproduciéndose. Los rangos de hogar no difirieron significativamente entre machos y hembras de una misma pareja durante o después de la reproducción, pero los de las hembras fueron mayores luego del período reproductivo. Poco después de que los polluelos emplumaron, los adultos abandonaron el Great Basin principalmente hacia sitios costeros o estuarinos de la Bahía de San Francisco. Una vez que las aves llegaron a la costa, se movieron poco entre sitios, y los individuos parecieron ser fieles a sus sitios en inviernos subsiguientes. Los sitios de invierno de C. s. inornatus en el Great Basin occidental difirieron de aquellos usados por aves de otras áreas del rango de esta subespecie, sugiriendo que otra subespecie o una sección poblacional distinta podría existir. Este estudio ilustra la importancia de entender los movimientos y el uso del espacio a través del ciclo anual para establecer planes de conservación.
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The drastic land cover change and its impacts in the Yellow Sea have long been significant issues in terms of coastal vulnerabilities, but holistic data analysis is limited. The present study first reports 40 years long geographical changes of the Yellow Sea coasts including all three neighboring countries of China, North Korea, and South Korea. We delineated tidal flats by analysis of Landsat series satellite imageries (662 scenes) between 1981 and 2016. A total area of the Yellow Sea tidal flats has been considerably reducing for the past 36 years, from ~10,500 km 2 (1980s) to ~6700 km 2 (2010s), say ~1% annual loss. A majority loss of tidal flats was mainly due to the grand reclamations that conducted in almost entire coast of the Yellow Sea, particularly concentrated in the 1990s-2000s. Coastal reclaimed area during the past four decades reached ~9700 km 2 , including ongoing and planned projects, which corresponds to over half the area of precedent natural tidal flats of the Yellow Sea. The potential carbon stocks in the eight representative regions with large scale reclamation indicated significant loss in carbon sink capacity in the South Korea's coast (~99%), while evidenced a lesser loss from the China's coast (~31%). It was noteworthy that the progradation of tidal flats after the reclamation in China's coast significantly reduced the loss of carbon sequestration. According to the ecosystem services valuation for the Yellow Sea, a total loss was estimated as ~8 billion USD yr À1 with relatively high proportional loss (up to 25%) of climate regulating services (viz., carbon sequestration). Overall, huge losses in ecosystem services being provided by the Yellow Sea natural tidal flats need immediate action to prevent or at least alleviate accelerating ecological deteriorations. Finally, future conservative policy direction on coastal wetlands management has been proposed towards enhancement of marine ecosystem services.
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The establishment of nature reserves offers the most basic guarantee to in-situ conservation of biodiversity. However, the contradiction between community development and resource conservation in the reserves has been getting more and more intense, with the country strengthening its effort on in-situ conservation, how to harmonize the development with the conservation has become one of the core tasks for nature reserve management. Distribution of local residents in and its impacts on the nature reserves in China were analyzed, based on the basic survey program of nature reserves and the literature available. Results show that by the end of 2014, a total of 12.56 million residents had dwelled in the 1657 boundary-defined nature reserves, averaging 0.1 ind·hm⁻². The activities of the residents inevitably rendered some impacts on the nature reserves, mainly in the aspects of land resources, wildlife and environmental quality. For the first time, this study systematically elucidated distribution patterns of local residents in the nature reserves and their impacts on the reserves in China, which is of important significance to formulation of related policies for in-situ conservation of biodiversity and promotion of harmonized development of the nature reserves and the community economy. © 2016, China Environmental Science Press. All rights reserved.
Article
Coastal reclamation is the gain of land from the sea or coastal wetlands for agricultural purposes, industrial use or port expansions. Large-scale coastal land reclamation can have adverse effects on the coastal environment, including loss of marine habitats and deterioration of coastal water quality. In recent decades, coastal land reclamation has occurred extensively to meet the increasing needs of rapid economic development and urbanization in China. The overall objective of this study is to understand the coastal reclamation status of China from 1979 to 2014 and analyzed its driving factors for mitigating negative ecological effects. The data of coastal reclamation were done with the ERDAS Imagine V9.2 platform and ArcGIS software based on remote images including Landsat, SPOT, ZY-2 and ZY-3. Potential driving factors for sea reclamation were selected based on statistics bulletins and the knowledge of experts in coastal management. In order to understand the relationships among possible impact factors and coastal reclamation, the Partial Least-Squares Regression models was constructed. The analysis results indicated that the total area of reclamation was 11162.89 km² based on remote sensing images between 1979 and 2014. Shandong Province is the largest reclamation area, reaching 2736.54 km², and the reclamation is mainly concentrated in Zhejiang, Jiangsu and Liaoning, where the reclamation areas were all more than 1000 km². According to the remote sensing images, there are three coastal reclamation hotspot regions including Bohai bay (in which is located Liaoning, Tianjin and Hebei), Jiangsu province coastal area and Hangzhou bay (in Zhejiang province). A large scale land reclamation plan of more than 5880 km² has been made by local government and 2469 km² has approved by the State Council. From the analyzed results, there is a significant collinearity between these indicators, and no significant correlation between the area of reclamation and selected indicators. Economic development and employees in marine industries have weak positive correlation and correspondingly, the area of cultivated land (ACL) had a negative correlation. Because of the weak correlation, there is an assumption that economic development, outcome of coastal reclamation and population growth were not only was the direct driving factor, but also the outcome of coastal reclamation and population growth was not the direct driving indicator. Construction land quota and huge economic returns to local government may be the direct driving factors according to our field investigation. To resolve the contradiction between the need for land and coastal wetland conservation, it is recommended that China should establish a special management agency and coordination mechanisms, reconsidered the implementation of the reclamation plans and projects that have been approved, enhance law enforcement and increase penalties and strengthen public participation in reclamation management.
Article
Migratory animals are threatened by human-induced global change. However, little is known about how stopover habitat, essential for refuelling during migration, affects the population dynamics of migratory species. Using 20 years of continent-wide citizen science data, we assess population trends of ten shorebird taxa that refuel on Yellow Sea tidal mudflats, a threatened ecosystem that has shrunk by 465% in recent decades. Seven of the taxa declined at rates of up to 8% per year. Taxa with the greatest reliance on the Yellow Sea as a stopover site showed the greatest declines, whereas those that stop primarily in other regions had slowly declining or stable populations. Decline rate was unaffected by shared evolutionary history among taxa and was not predicted by migration distance, breeding range size, non-breeding location, generation time or body size. These results suggest that changes in stopover habitat can severely limit migratory populations.
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The past 40 years witnessed a boom of protected areas (PAs) in China. To date, China has established 11 types of PAs, whose conservation objectives vary from protecting biodiversity and geological features, preserving scenic landscapes and seascapes, to restoring and maintaining ecosystem services. Covering over 17% of the land and 3.5% of the marine territory of China, the PAs have had beneficial effects on conservation in this country. However, the success of these PAs is largely restricted by ecological gaps in PA structure, defects of the management system, and is also negatively influenced by local development and urbanization driven by a growing economy. To improve the conservation efficiency of China's PAs, we suggest structural adjustment based on integrative research, practical strategies to alleviate administrative conflicts, increased engagement of local communities, transparent allocation of conservation funding, strengthened supervision and penalty mechanisms for destructive activities, and improved large-scale designation to coordinate demands of conservation and socioeconomic development.
Article
Globally, populations of migratory shorebirds are threatened and steeply declining. This is especially true for those using the East Asian-Australasian Flyway (EAAF). Loss of intertidal mudflats in crucial staging areas, especially around the Yellow Sea, is considered to be the primary driver of these declines. Migratory shorebird conservation faces considerable challenges, including competing demands on wetland habitats, compounded by differing economic priorities, jurisdictions and attitudes towards wildlife among countries along their migratory route. A key part of addressing these challenges is to improve shorebird habitat management, both in protected and unprotected areas. This ultimately requires stronger commitment from national governments, for instance by enforcing and strengthening multi-, and bilateral agreements. However, economic drivers for development have considerable consequences for shorebird conservation and erode the effectiveness of these policy tools. Here, we highlight socio-political approaches for implementing conservation actions: the success of these actions will hinge on stronger engagement of citizens and governments in habitat protection and shorebird monitoring. One part of this strategy is to increase awareness in communities and governments of shorebird issues through international collaboration, knowledge sharing, capacity-building and support for local action (of both citizens and government officials). Internationally-mediated economic solutions accompanied by political actions among flyway partners, for example bilateral agreements on intertidal mudflat reservation and co-funding to support this, are critical to halt shorebird population declines.
Article
Rapid and extensive land-use change in intertidal foraging habitat and coastal roosting habitat is thought to be driving major population declines of shorebirds migrating through the East Asian-Australasian Flyway. Along the Inner Gulf of Thailand, a critical stopover and wintering ground for these birds, artificial wetlands (saltpans and aquaculture ponds) have replaced much of the natural coastal ecosystem. 2.We conducted a two-part study to: (i) assess the importance of saltpans and semi-traditional aquaculture ponds to shorebirds and (ii) understand the economic forces that drive land-use change in this region by interviewing saltpan and aquaculture operators. 3.Saltpans provide important roost habitat, particularly for shorter-legged birds, which are less able to utilize aquaculture ponds due to their greater depth. Moreover, three focal shorebird species foraged extensively in saltpans and semi-traditional aquaculture ponds, even when intertidal mudflats were exposed, suggesting that artificial wetlands could buffer against the impacts of degraded intertidal foraging areas for some shorebird species. 4.Economic profits from salt production and semi-traditional aquaculture are similar. Risks to investment and per capita profitability are key factors in determining whether to convert land from one use (e.g. saltpan) to the other (aquaculture). 5.Synthesis and applications. Saltpans provide an important resource to migrating shorebirds. As development pressures increase, operators may need financial incentives if saltpans are to be maintained over large areas. Although semi-traditional aquaculture is used less by shorebirds, drained ponds provide opportunities to roost and forage. Semi-traditional aquaculture operators should drain their ponds regularly to provide supplementary habitat for shorebirds. Use of nets and pond liners should be discouraged in both systems. Optimizing aquaculture pond and saltpan management for shorebirds could provide a more pragmatic, cost-effective and geographically extensive solution to conserving these birds than protected areas alone. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Article
Many migratory species depend on staging sites at which they refuel while on migration, and effective protection of such habitats is crucial to their conservation. Here we investigate the extent to which protected areas cover and ameliorate loss of tidal flats in East Asia, the key staging habitat for threatened and declining shorebirds migrating through the East Asian-Australasian Flyway. We discover rapid losses of the tidal flat ecosystem both inside (−0.42 % year−1) and outside (−0.89 % year−1) protected areas. In China, tidal flats are well represented within protected areas (22.9 % of current tidal flats occur within protected areas), but habitat loss continued despite protection (−0.55 % year−1 inside, −0.97 % year−1 outside). By contrast, in South Korea, where 12.1 % of remaining tidal flat is in protected areas, the rate of habitat loss outside protected areas was the highest in our study region (−1.83 % year−1), yet inside protected areas there was tidal flat aggradation (+1.13 % year−1), indicating either that protected area placement is biased away from vulnerable habitats, or protected areas are highly effective in South Korea. Tidal flats across our study area were lost most rapidly in internationally important sites for migratory shorebirds (−1.66 % year−1), suggesting that transformative land use change of coastal areas is occurring disproportionately in regions that are important for migratory birds. We urge (1) improved management of existing protected areas in East Asia, particularly in China, (2) targeted designation of new protected areas in sites crucial for supporting migratory birds and (3) integrated decision-making that simultaneously plans for coastal development and coastal conservation.
Article
The Normalized Difference Water Index (NDWI) is a new method that has been developed to delineate open water features and enhance their presence in remotely-sensed digital imagery. The NDWI makes use of reflected near-infrared radiation and visible green light to enhance the presence of such features while eliminating the presence of soil and terrestrial vegetation features. It is suggested that the NDWI may also provide researchers with turbidity estimations of water bodies using remotely-sensed digital data.
Article
Many species of shorebird typically forage almost exclusively on intertidal habitats. When such strongly maritime species choose to forage on non-intertidal habitats, it may either be a response to deteriorating intertidal conditions or to the discovery of more profitable resources in non-intertidal areas. Methods which allow distinction between these two will clearly be important for identifying problems in intertidal habitats. Since January 1998, turnstone (Arenaria interpres) on the Wash estuary, eastern England have been foraging on the docksides of Port Sutton Bridge (mainly on spilt wheat and fishmeal), fields and river edges, resulting in concern that intertidal food supplies were no longer sufficient to support the population. We quantified the distribution and behaviour of turnstone within the Wash in relation to season, tidal state and weather and used a depletion model to predict the number of turnstone that could be supported by the port, under a range of resource densities and environmental conditions. Numbers of turnstone on non-intertidal habitats increased over the winter and use of the port was significantly greater around high tide and on colder days. The depletion model showed that under virtually all conditions, the port could support a much greater proportion of the turnstone population than current peak numbers. The use of non-intertidal habitats therefore suggests that the preferred intertidal food supplies are not currently capable of supporting the turnstone population throughout the winter. Habitat switches such as this can potentially be important advance warnings of ecological changes for species, which have not yet led to reductions in population size.
Article
Wildlife managers routinely compute sets of simultaneous confidence intervals to estimate the actual proportion of use of a set of k habitat types. Confidence intervals are determined by assuming that the counts of observed use are from k binomial populations. A set of k intervals is constructed from a large sample approximation for a confidence interval for a single binomial proportion. The simultaneous confidence level is controlled by use of the Bonferroni inequality. The coverage probability of these intervals can be less than the nominal (1-α) 100% level. This paper presents results of a simulation study comparing the performance of these intervals with 3 alternatives; the usual method with a continuity correction factor, and 2 methods of computing confidence intervals for multinomial proportions. The 2 latter methods are superior and should be used in place of the binomial intervals.
Article
a b s t r a c t Protected Areas (PAs) are a critical tool for maintaining habitat integrity and species diversity, and now cover more than 12.7% of the planet's land surface area. However, there is considerable debate on the extent to which PAs deliver conservation outcomes in terms of habitat and species protection. A system-atic review approach is applied to investigate the evidence from peer reviewed and grey literature on the effectiveness of PAs focusing on two outcomes: (a) habitat cover and (b) species populations. We only include studies that causally link conservation inputs to outcomes against appropriate counterfactuals. From 2599 publications we found 76 studies from 51 papers that evaluated impacts on habitat cover, and 42 studies from 35 papers on species populations. Three conclusions emerged: first, there is good evi-dence that PAs have conserved forest habitat; second, evidence remains inconclusive that PAs have been effective at maintaining species populations, although more positive than negative results are reported in the literature; third, causal connections between management inputs and conservation outcomes in PAs are rarely evaluated in the literature. Overall, available evidence suggests that PAs deliver positive out-comes, but there remains a limited evidence base, and weak understanding of the conditions under which PAs succeed or fail to deliver conservation outcomes.
Article
Conservation is particularly difficult to implement for “moving targets”, such as migratory species or landscapes subject to environmental change. Traditional conservation strategies involving static tools (eg protected areas that have fixed spatial boundaries) may be ineffective for managing species whose ranges are changing. This shortfall needs to be addressed urgently. More dynamic conservation-based approaches have been suggested but remain mostly theoretical, and so implementation issues and measures of success have yet to be explored. In recent years, however, the concept of biodiversity offsets has gained traction in the conservation community. Such offsets effectively replace biodiversity “lost” during current economic development projects, and are intended to ensure “no net loss” of biodiversity overall. Given their flexibility and unique no-net-loss requirement, offsets provide a platform for testing dynamic new approaches to conservation. Here we explore the potential for offsets to conserve moving targets, using a complex dynamic example: the migratory saiga antelope (Saiga tatarica) in Uzbekistan.
Article
Abstract Since the 1980s, there have been continuous increases in the coverage of marine protected areas (MPAs) in China, and a total of 158 MPAs have been declared. The MPA system in China is characterized by (1) decentralised designation and management with reduced control from the central government; (2) a dominance of de jure fully protected MPAs that are often implemented as de facto multiple-use areas; and (3) a lack of objective evaluation processes. To improve China's MPA system requires an appropriate integration of fully protected and multiple-use MPAs, and an approach that balances the advantages of top-down and bottom-up approaches.