The large-scale drivers of population declines in a long-distance migratory shorebird

Murray, Nicholas J., Marra, Peter P., Fuller, Richard A., Clemens, Robert S., Dhanjal-Adams, Kiran, Gosbell, Ken B., Hassell, Chris J., Iwamura, Takuya, Melville, David, Minton, Clive D.T., Riegen, Adrian C., Rogers, Danny I., Woehler, Eric J., and Studds, Colin E. (2018) The large-scale drivers of population declines in a long-distance migratory shorebird. Ecography, 41 (6). pp. 867-876.

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Abstract

Migratory species can travel tens of thousands of kilometers each year, spending different parts of their annual cycle in geographically distinct locations. Understanding the drivers of population change is vital for conserving migratory species, yet the challenge of collecting data over entire geographic ranges has hindered attempts to identify the processes leading to observed population changes. Here, we use remotely sensed environmental data and bird count data to investigate the factors driving variability in abundance in two subspecies of a long-distance migratory shorebird, the bar-tailed godwit Limosa lapponica. We compiled a spatially and temporally explicit dataset of three environmental variables to identify the conditions experienced by each subspecies in each stage of their annual cycle (breeding, non-breeding and staging). We used a Bayesian N-mixture model to analyze 18 years of monthly count data from 21 sites across Australia and New Zealand in relation to the remote sensing data. We found that the abundance of one subspecies L. l. menzbieri in their non-breeding range was related to climate conditions in breeding grounds, and detected sustained population declines between 1995 and 2012 in both subspecies (L. l. menzbieri, –6.7% and L. l. baueri, –2.1% year–1). To investigate the possible causes of the declines, we quantified changes in habitat extent at 22 migratory staging sites in the Yellow Sea, East Asia, over a 25-year period and found –1.7% and –1.2% year–1 loss of habitat at staging sites used by L. l. menzbieri and L. l baueri, respectively. Our results highlight the need to identify environmental and anthropogenic drivers of population change across all stages of migration to allow the formulation of effective conservation strategies across entire migratory ranges.

Item ID: 60289
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1600-0587
Copyright Information: © 2017 The Authors. Ecography © 2017 Nordic Society Oikos
Funders: Queensland Smithsonian (QS), Australian Research Council (ARC), Queensland Department of Environment and Resource Management, Commonwealth Department of Sustainability, Environment, Population and Communities, Queensland Wader Study Group, Port of Brisbane Corporation
Projects and Grants: ARC Linkage grant LP100200418
Date Deposited: 26 Sep 2019 06:12
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060207 Population Ecology @ 20%
05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0501 Ecological Applications > 050101 Ecological Impacts of Climate Change @ 60%
05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050206 Environmental Monitoring @ 20%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9603 Climate and Climate Change > 960310 Global Effects of Climate Change and Variability (excl. Australia, New Zealand, Antarctica and the South Pacific) @ 50%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960802 Coastal and Estuarine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 50%
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