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Long lengths of stay, large numbers, and trends of the Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa in rice fields during spring migration

  • JOSÉ A. MASERO (a1), FRANCISCO SANTIAGO-QUESADA (a1), JUAN M. SÁNCHEZ-GUZMÁN (a1), AUXILIADORA VILLEGAS (a1), JOSÉ M. ABAD-GÓMEZ (a1), RICARDO J. LOPES (a2), VITOR ENCARNAÇÃO (a3), CASIMIRO CORBACHO (a1) and RICARDO MORÁN (a1)...
Summary
Summary

Rice fields provide functional wetlands for declining shorebirds and other waterbirds around the world, but fundamental aspects of their stopover ecology in rice fields remain unknown. We estimated the length of stay of Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa migrating through rice fields, and showed the international importance of Extremadura’s rice fields (south-west Spain) for this Near Threatened shorebird species. Overall, large numbers of Black-tailed Godwits en route to their breeding grounds had long lengths of stay in the rice fields (34.7 ± 1.7, 14.4 ± 2.0 and 8.3 ± 1.2 days in godwits radio-tagged in late January, early February, and late February, respectively). The long lengths of stay of godwits in rice fields, together with some aspects of their feeding ecology, suggest that rice fields are suitable staging habitats, and therefore they could play an important role as buffer habitats against the loss or degradation of natural wetlands. Extremadura’s rice fields supported at least 14% of the declining Western European population of Black-tailed Godwit, and its increasing number in south-west Spain probably reflects a population shift towards the northern part of the winter range. We strongly suggest the inclusion of Extremadura’s rice fields as a Special Protection Area for birds under the European Union Directive on the conservation of wild birds.

Sumário

Os arrozais proporcionam zonas húmidas funcionais para aves limícolas e outras aves aquáticas mas aspectos fundamentais da sua ecologia durante as paragens migratórias em arrozais continuam por analisar. Nós estimámos a duração da paragem durante a migração em arrozais de Milherango Limosa limosa e demonstrámos a importância internacional dos arrozais da Extremadura (Sudoeste de Espanha) para esta espécie quase ameaçada. A maioria dos milherangos em migração para os seus territórios de nidificação evidenciam longos períodos de paragem (34.7 ± 1.7, 14.4 ± 2.0 e 8.3 ± 1.2 dias, estimados em milherangos com rádio transmissores colocados durante o final de Janeiro, principio de Fevereiro e final de Fevereiro, respectivamente). Os longos períodos de estadia de milherangos em arrozais, em conjunto com alguns aspectos da sua ecologia alimentar, sugerem que os arrozais são importantes habitats de paragem migratória e por essa razão podem actuar como habitats tampão contra a perda e degradação de zonas húmidas naturais. Os arrozais da Extremadura suportam pelo menos 14% da população Europeia ocidental de Milherango e o aumento do número de aves no Sudoeste de Espanha provavelmente reflecte uma mudança populacional para a zona norte da sua distribuição durante o Inverno. Nós sugerimos a inclusão dos arrozais de Extremadura como Zonas de Protecção Especial no âmbito da Directiva para a Conservação de Aves Selvagens da União Europeia.

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*Author for correspondence; e-mail: jamasero@unex.es
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