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Key research issues concerning the conservation of migratory shorebirds in the Yellow Sea region

  • NING HUA (a1), KUN TAN (a1), YING CHEN (a1) and ZHIJUN MA (a1)

The widespread decline of migratory shorebirds in the East Asian-Australasian Flyway (EAAF) is one of the greatest crises for migrating birds. Among the migratory species with known population trends, 88% (22 of 25 species) show population declines, and seven have been listed as threatened or Near Threatened in the IUCN Red List. The decline of migratory shorebirds is related to the deterioration of stopping sites (including staging and stopping sites) in the Yellow Sea, including loss of intertidal wetlands, spread of invasive smooth cordgrass Spartina alterniflora on intertidal flats, an increase in pollution, and an increase in human disturbance. We review research concerning shorebird migration through the Yellow Sea and highlight key research activities required for the conservation of shorebirds in the region. These activities include: confirming the population consequences of loss of stopping sites, estimating migration timing and numbers of shorebirds at stopping sites, determining the differing abilities of species to use alternative habitats, understanding intra- and interspecific differences in the use of stopping sites, maintaining and expanding surveys on shorebirds and habitat condition, and identifying threats to shorebirds beyond habitat loss by reclamation. The information generated by these research activities is required for the design and selection of effective conservation actions to reverse the decline in shorebird populations.

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