Wetland issues affecting waterfowl conservation in North America

Heath M. Hagy, Scott C. Yaich, John W. Simpson, Eduardo Carrera, David A. Haukos, W. Carter Johnson, Charles R. Loesch, Fritz A. Reid, Scott E. Stephens, Ralph W. Tiner, Brett A. Werner, Gregg S. Yarris


This paper summarises discussions by invited speakers during a special session at the 6th North American Duck Symposium on wetland issues that affect waterfowl, highlighting current ecosystem challenges and opportunities for the conservation of waterfowl in North America. Climate change, invasive species, U.S. agricultural policy (which can encourage wetland drainage and the expansion of row-crop agriculture into grasslands), cost and competition for water rights, and wetland management for non-waterfowl species were all considered to pose significant threats to waterfowl populations in the near future. Waterfowl populations were found to be faced with significant threats in several regions, including: the Central Valley of California, the Playa Lakes Region of the south-central U.S., the Prairie Pothole Region of the northern U.S. and western and central Canada, the boreal forest of northern Canada, the Great Lakes region and Latin America. Apart from direct and indirect threats to habitat, presenters identified that accurate and current data on the location, distribution and diversity of wetlands are needed by waterfowl managers, environmental planners and regulatory agencies to ensure focussed, targeted and cost-effective wetland conservation. Although populations of many waterfowl species are currently at or above long-term average numbers, these populations are thought to be at risk of decline in the near future because of ongoing and predicted nesting habitat loss and wetland destruction in many areas of North America.

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