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  • Writer's picturejohnfmcevoy

New Publication: Migratory Geese and Water Levels on a Major Wetland in China

Updated: Jul 25, 2020

Poyang Lake in China. Possibly the most important lake in China for migrating birds stopping over on their journeys

My good friend and colleague Dr Yaara Aharon-Rotman was kind enough to invite me to collaborate with her on this work and it has just been published in Ecology and Evolution. I talked a bit about the work in another post here. Poyang Lake is the largest lake in the Yangtze River floodplain, supporting hundreds of thousands of migratory waterbirds in winter. Twenty-nine waterbird species occur in numbers exceeding 1% of their global population, including almost all of the world's population of Siberian cranes (Grus leucogetanus), oriental storks (Ciconia boyciana), and swan geese (Anser cygnoides).Extensive ephemeral wetlands at Poyang Lake created by dramatic seasonal changes in water level. Reductions in wetland area during the last 15 years have led to proposals to build a Poyang Dam to retain high winter water levels within the lake. Changing the natural hydrological system will affect waterbirds dependent on water level changes for food availability and accessibility. We tracked two goose species with different feeding behaviors; greater white-fronted geese (Anser albifrons) [grazing species] and swan geese (Anser cygnoides)[tuber-feeding species] during two winters with contrasting water and investigated the effects of water level change on their habitat selection based on vegetation and elevation.Our results suggest that high water levels in Poyang Lake should be retained during summer, but permitted to gradually recede, exposing new areas throughout winter to provide access for waterbirds from all feeding guilds.

Habitat and vegetation classes on Poyang Lake under high and low water conditons

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