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Waterbird population estimates for a key staging site in Kazakhstan: a contribution to wetland conservation on the Central Asian flyway

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  11 March 2008

Holger Schielzeth*
Affiliation:
Max Planck Institute for Ornithology, P. O. Box 1564, 82305 Starnberg (Seewiesen), Germany
Götz Eichhorn
Affiliation:
Animal Ecology, Centre for Ecological and Evolutionary Studies, University of Groningen, P. O. Box 14, 9750 AA Haren, The Netherlands
Thomas Heinicke
Affiliation:
Chausseestr. 1, 18581 Vilmnitz, Germany
Johannes Kamp
Affiliation:
Hindenburgstr. 3, 26122 Oldenburg, Germany
Maxim A. Koshkin
Affiliation:
Association for the Conservation of Biodiversity in Kazakhstan (ACBK), Off. 520, ul. Seifullina 597, Almaty 480072, Republic of Kazakhstan
Alexej V. Koshkin
Affiliation:
Korgalzhynskij zapovednik, ul. M. Rakhimzhana 20, p. Korgalzhyn 474210, Republic of Kazakhstan
Lars Lachmann
Affiliation:
Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), European Programmes Dept., The Lodge, Sandy, Bedfordshire, SG19 2DL, U.K
*
*Author for correspondence; email: schielz@orn.mpg.de
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Abstract

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Realistic population size estimates for waterbirds are crucial for the application of wetland conservation strategies, since the identification of internationally important wetlands is based on local numbers relative to the population size of the respective species. Central Asia is a poorly surveyed region that is situated at the intersection of migration routes that lead waterbirds from Western Siberia to the south-west (South-West Asia, East Africa) and to the south-east (South Asia, India). We calculated waterbird population estimates for the Tengiz–Korgalzhyn region, a large wetland complex in the steppe zone of Central Kazakhstan, based on waterbird surveys conducted between 1999 and 2004. For 20 of 43 species analysed the region supported more than 5% of the relevant flyway populations. Five species occurred with more than 40% of the flyway totals, including the Endangered White-headed Duck Oxyura leucocephala and the Vulnerable Dalmatian Pelican Pelecanus crispus. Peak numbers were recorded in summer and autumn and for most species numbers were more than an order of magnitude lower on spring migration compared with autumn migration. We identified 72 individual sites that held more than 20,000 waterbirds or more than 1% of a particular flyway population at least once. These sites are likely to constitute priorities for conservation. The general conservation status of the region is favourable, since many of the important sites are located within a strict nature reserve. However, outside the reserve hunting, fishing and powerline casualties represent conservation issues that should be monitored more carefully in the future.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Birdlife International 2008
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