Moving forward: how best to use the results of waterbird monitoring and telemetry studies to safeguard the future of Far East Asian Anatidae species

Lei Cao, Fanjuan Meng, Junjian Zhang, Xueqin Deng, Yasuke Sawa, Anthony D. Fox


This special issue of Wildfowl has summarised our knowledge of the biogeographical populations of ten key Anatidae species in East Asia, their current and recent estimated abundance and distributions, their migration routes and movements, and sites of importance to these populations at key stages of their annual cycles. The analysis was possible only through the active cooperation of the many biologists and site managers involved in studies of these species in different countries participating in a collaborative programme of monitoring, research and analysis. Development of new telemetry and bio-logging technology has played a key role in our ability to describe linkages between the breeding, moulting, staging and wintering areas used by individual waterbirds. Compilation of movement data recorded for tracked individuals of each species has provided initial information on flyway delineation and range definition, which forms the basis for future identification of biogeographical populations. Additionally, the tracking data have identified critical stopover and wintering sites for the different species which, when overlaid upon site protection boundaries, has enabled a preliminary appraisal of the effectiveness of current site safeguarded networks in providing adequate protection for waterbird populations along their flyways. Synthesis and analysis of new count data has permitted a description of recent population trends and a reassessment of their current size, together with recommendations for improving population monitoring into the future. High rates of utilisation of farmland habitats during staging periods within China, especially during spring migration, contrast with low levels of winter use, when most species are largely confined to natural habitats. We discuss the significance of these facets of habitat use and the need for improved study of feeding ecology throughout the non-breeding periods, to determine optimal land management and thus inform their conservation requirements at different times of year. Finally, we consider the way forward, with a view to maintaining and building on the impressive international collaboration established to date, in order to ensure that these long distance migratory waterbirds are safeguarded for future generations.

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