WIWO Forward Plan 2008

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link to previous Forward Plan 1999-2003


1 WIWO Forward Plan

As the number and scope of WIWO's activities expanded in the 1980's, it became necessary to describe their scientific inter¬relations and the motivati¬on behind these activities, to provide a framework for guiding initiatives for future projects, and to provide financiers with information upon which a more stable form of funding could be based. This led to several Forward Plans (1989, 1994, 1999), in which such a framework was laid out. The Forward Plans identified the major gaps in our knowledge of the distribution, life cycle and population dynamics of migratory waterbirds, and translated these into a working scheme in which specific projects were listed that would especi¬ally merit carrying out. These Forward Plans served well in structuring initiatives and activities of the many people that together constitute the working force of WIWO.

The current Forward Plan (starting in 2008) is different from the previous ones, as it is both more concise and more dynamic. It is electronically available on the website of WIWO where it will be updated whenever necessary. Upon request it will be provided as hardcopy. The scientific background, published in the previous plans, is still valid but will not be updated or duplicated in the current plan for reasons of efficiency and readibility. For this background we refer to the previous plans.

In chapter 2 the projects that have been carried out in 1999-2007 will be evaluated in light of the research priorities for that period. Chapter 3 presents the research priorities for the coming years.


Regions in which WIWO performs projects

2. Evaluation of activities in the period 1999-2007

In this period 25 expeditions were carried out, of which 12 reports have been published to date. Several of the recent projects are still in the process of publication. Almost all of the projects addressed the priorities mentioned in the forward plan 1999-2003. Several projects covered new areas and contributed significantly to the coverage of midwinter waterbird census activities (International Waterbird Census). In this respect it is also worth mentioning that an expedition was carried out in Mongolia, a new region for WIWO. One project was not related to any fieldwork or region, concerning representation at an international Slender-billed Curlew meeting in the Ukraine in 2001. Furthermore, results from the projects were directly included in the estimates published in the recent volumes of Waterbird Population Estimates, and contributed to the knowledge on global flyway populations of waterbirds. In addition to the research on populations, several expeditions yielded knowledge on the ecology of waterbird species. The long running ecological research on waders in the arctic region was continued in this period.

2.1.Arctic

  • Biological monitoring of arctic breeding birds and factors affecting these.

    In 1999-2007 a total of five expeditions was carried out at Medusa Bay, western Taimyr, Russia. After the WIWO-expedition in 1998, during which a standardized method for biological monitoring was developed, the 1999 team tested and finalized the monitoring scheme. The scheme monitors densities of breeding birds, breeding biology including breeding success, and timing of migration, as well as densities and ecology of mammals and arthropods, flora and environmental parameters. Since 1999, WIWO-teams visited the same site in 2000, 2001, 2005 and 2007 (Willems et al. 2002, WIWO-report 77; Klaassen et al. 2003, WIWO-report 78). The monitoring was the main task of these expeditions and was conducted in co-operation with scientist from Russia, Ukraine, Poland and other countries. In years without WIWO-expeditions, parts of the monitoring scheme were carried out by other teams from the Netherlands, Russia and other countries.



2.2 Black Sea, Caspian & Middle East
  • Waterbird census of Lake Uromiyeh, northwest Iran, in spring and autumn.

    In autumn 2000 a WIWO-expedition was carried out at the Uromiyeh Lake, Northwest Iran (Jalving & Vos 2004, WIWO-report 79).

  • Waterbird census of the Gulf estuaries Helleh and Monde River deltas in autumn to check for moulting Broad-billed Sandpipers. Waterbird census of coastal wetlands in winter to check for Slender-billed Curlew.

    In 2000 an expedition was carried out in search for Slender-billed Curlews and potential stopover sites for this species (Van der Have et al. 2001, WIWO-report 72). In 2002 a survey of the Helleh delta took place (Willems in prep.). As a spin off of these expeditions, three large expeditions (2004,2005,2006) were carried out independently of WIWO. During these projects waterbirds were counted in the most important regions in Iran, in cooperation with the Iranian Ministry of Environment.

  • Feeding ecology studies of wintering waders, especially Broad-billed Sandpipers in UAE and Oman.

    In 2007 an expedition was carried out in Barr al Hikman in Oman to count waterbirds (especially waders) and to do research on their feeding and migration ecology.

  • No priority

    Additionally a survey on status and distribution of the Great Bustard at the Konya plains in central Turkey was organised during spring 2000 (Heunks et al. 2002, WIWO-report 76).

2.3 Mediterranean
  • Autumn counts of waterbirds in Gulf of Gabès (Tunisia), Nile Delta (Egypt), Çukurova deltas Turkey) and other wetlands.

    In 1999 the Gulf of Gabès was visited among other wetlands in Tunisia during a WIWO-expedition (Bos et al. 2001, WIWO-report 74).

2.4 Inland wetlands in the Sahel
  • Ground surveys of waterbirds in the Senegal Basin, Inner Niger Delta and Lake Chad Basin (Chad, Mali, Niger, and Senegal).

    Three WIWO expeditions have been carried out in the Lake Chad basin, the floodplains of the Logone river, Cameroon (1999, 2000 and 2001) (Dijkstra et al. 2002, WIWO-report 75, Ganzevles & Bredenbeek 2005, WIWO-report 82).

2.5 Coastal West Africa
  • Regular waterbird counts in areas, which are extremely important for Palaearctic waterbirds, during northern winter (e.g. Banc d'Arguin, Archipelago dos Bijagos, and other coastal wetlands); To assist in building capacity of local bird watchers in order to maintain field work activities by training in bird counts.

    Expeditions have taken place in the Banc d’Arguin in 1998 and 2000 (Hagemeijer et al. 2004, WIWO-report 81) and Diawling in 2003 (Poot in prep.) both in Mauretania.

  • Census of possible key areas, that have not previously been censused. Examples are Casamance Delta (Senegal), Gambian Delta and others.

  • An expedition has taken place to Sierra Leone in January-February 2005, in which the first more or less complete waterbird survey was carried out (Van der Winden in prep.). During a recent expedition in Cameroon (2007) several coastal wetlands were counted (Van der Waarde 2007, WIWO-report 83).

  • Surveys of endangered and vulnerable Palaearctic and/or Afrotropical waterbird species.

    In 2000 an expedition took place in Banc d’Arguin focussed on Eurasian Spoonbill (Overdijk et al. 2001, WIWO-report 70).

  • Feeding ecology studies in relation to food availability in various wetlands and/or for certain species, for wintering and (colonial) breeding bird species.

    The expedition in the Banc d’Arguin in 2000 included studies on feeding ecology of waders.

2.6 East Africa
No projects were carried out in 1999-2007.

2.7 Southern Africa

  • Inventory of waders and terns staying the non-breeding season along the coast between Gabon and Namibia.

    In February/March 1999 a survey was carried out of important waterbird areas the Namibian coast (Van der Have in prep.). An assessment was made of the importance of the Benguela upwelling area as a feeding ground for terns, notably Common and Black Tern. At all four counting sites, the results included counts of over 1% of the flyway population of several species for which this had not previously been noted.

References
See WIWO for a fully updated list of the WIWO-reports.

3. Research priorities

The new research priorities were developed based on the available priorities of previous Forward Plans. Some of the existing priorities were not continued in this Forward Plan as new knowledge was generated through (WIWO-) expeditions or other sources. Some new priorities were added where knowledge gaps were newly identified. Different from previous plans is the listing of endemic and threatened waterbirds that occur in each region (www.birdlife.org). These species provide research priorities on their own for their conservation status, although some of them might already have satisfactory scientific attention.

3.1 Arctic

Endemic and threatened waterbirds

No endemic waterbird occurs in the region. A number of species is listed on the threatened birds list (BirdLife International 2000), these include: Siberian Crane – critically endangered; Red-breasted Goose – endangered; Lesser White-fronted Goose, Steller’s Eider – vulnerable; Great Snipe, Ivory Gull – near threatened.

Research priorities

Waterbird censuses

  • Censuses in numerous less-visited areas, aiming at identification of important stop-over and post-breeding sites

Ecology and climate

  • Surveys of poorly known arctic breeding areas

  • Continuation of yearly ecological monitoring at Medusa Bay. This includes assessing snow cover, number of breeding pairs, timing of arrival and departure, laying date, reproductive success, abundance of lemmings and predators

  • Research on climate change effects on breeding birds.

3.2 Black Sea, Caspian and Middle East

Endemic and threatened waterbirds

Only one endemic waterbird occurs in the region, which is a passerine: Basra Reed-warbler. This species has its range restricted to the Mesopotamian Marshes.A number of species is listed on the threatened birds list (BirdLife International 2000), these include: Siberian Crane, Sociable Lapwing, Slender-billed Curlew - critically endangered; Red-breasted Goose, White-headed Duck, Basra Reed-warbler – endangered; Lesser White-fronted Goose, Marbled Teal, Socotra Cormorant, Dalmatian Pelican, Aquatic Warbler – vulnerable; Ferruginous Duck, Lesser Flamingo, Corncrake, Great Snipe, Black-winged Pratincole, Black-tailed Godwit, White-eyed Gull, Audouins Gull - near threatened.

Research priorities

Waterbird censuses

  • Breeding colony surveys in wetlands in the eastern Black Sea region.

  • Tern counts in the post breeding period in Azov Sea and Black Sea wetlands

  • Breeding bird surveys in wetlands along the eastern part of the Northern Black Sea.

  • Breeding bird surveys of riparian freshwater areas.

  • Census of wetlands in Georgia, northern Azov Sea and the Kuban Delta

  • Perform offshore waterbird counts at the Azov Sea and parts of the northern coastal Black Sea

  • Autumn counts of waterbirds in the Nile Delta, Çukurova deltas (Turkey) and other wetlands.

  • Monitoring waterbird numbers, habitat availability and food resources at a selected number of sites: Nile Delta.

  • Monitoring the impact of water management changes on populations of wintering and breeding waterbirds in Syria, Iran and Iraq.

  • Winter waterbird censuses in Syria, Jordan, Nile Delta and Iraq.

  • Continuation of waterbird censuses and capacity building in Iran.

Ecology and climate

  • Identification of most important food types for the majority of waterbirds or guilds of waterbirds.

  • Moult studies of waterbirds (e.g. terns) and foraging during this vulnerable period.

  • The importance of eelgrass for waterbirds in coastal lagoons and shallows.

  • The impact of the dry summer periods on wetlands and migration strategies of waterbirds.

  • The importance of steppe habitats for wetland birds.

  • Impact of fisheries on birds feeding on fish in lagoon systems or at sea

3.3 Mediterranean

Endemic and threatened waterbirds

No endemic waterbird occurs in the region. A number of species is listed on the threatened birds list (BirdLife International 2000), these include: Great Snipe, Black-tailed Godwit, Audouins Gull - near threatened; Marbled Teal, Dalmatian Pelican – vulnerable; White-headed Duck – endangered; Slender-billed Curlew - critically endangered. Research priorities

Waterbird censuses

  • Breeding bird surveys in wetlands in the Maghreb countries.

  • Monitoring waterbird numbers, habitat availability and food resources at a selected number of sites: Gulf of Gabès, Lake Kelbia (Tunisia).

  • Repeated counts of major Mediterranean wetlands in spring (monitoring concept).

  • Autumn counts of waterbirds in major wetlands.

Ecology and climate

  • Moult studies of waders and terns (e.g. autumn Gulf of Gabes).

  • The impact of water level variability on waterbirds: comparisons of dry periods (summer and autumn) with wet periods (spring).

  • Identification of foraging strategies of waterbirds.

  • General studies of fish eating birds in coastal lagoons and intertidal wetlands.

Ringing studies

  • Surveys of colour marked waterbirds and checking harbours and fishermen for ring recoveries.

4.4 Inland wetlands in the Sahel

Endemic and threatened waterbirds

No endemic waterbirds occur in the region. The following waterbird species are listed on the Threatened Bird list (BirdLife International 2000): Sociable Lapwing - critically endangered; Basra Reed Warbler – endangered; Shoebill, Aquatic Warbler – vulnerable; Ferrouginous Duck, Corncrake, Black-crowned Crane, Great Snipe, Black-tailed Godwit, Black-winged Pratincole - near threatened.

Research priorities

Waterbird censuses

  • Ground surveys of waterbirds in the Lake Chad Basin (emphasis on the Chad part) and Senegal basin. The Inner Niger Delta and the Cameroon part of the Lake Chad basin (Logone floodplain) have got a lower priority, due to several studies carried out in the recent past. However, gaps in knowledge still exist and these could be the targets for expeditions.

  • Ground surveys in the Nile basin, with emphasis on the Sudd Marshes in Sudan. Given the size and the historic and potential value for waterbirds and other wetland species, this area should have a high priority.

Ecology and climate

  • Field and desk studies on the relation between rainfall variation, habitat changes and abundance and condition of birds depending on wetlands during the non-breeding season (waterbirds and passerines).

  • Detailed studies of local movements of waterbirds (simulateous counts, ringing, colour marking) in the sahel region.

Ringing projects

  • Ringing activities of waterbirds in combination with waterbird censuses (ducks and terns).

Training and transfer of knowledge

  • To assist in building capacity of local birdwatchers in order to maintain field work activities by training in bird counts.

  • To transfer knowledge on organising, collecting, processing and reporting field data.

4.5 Coastal West Africa

Endemic and threatened waterbirds

No endemic waterbirds occur in the region. A number of species is listed on the threatened birds list (BirdLife International 2000), these include: Aquatic Warbler – vulnerable; Corncrake, Black-tailed Godwit, Audouin’s Gull, African Skimmer - near-threatened.

Research priorities

Waterbird censuses

  • Regular waterbird counts in areas, which are extremely important for Palaearctic waterbirds, during northern winter (focus on areas other than Banc d'Arguin, Archipelago dos Bijagos, because these have received relatively much attention).

  • Development of a monitoring strategy for the Banc d’Arguin and the Archipelago dos Bijagos, the two most important wintering areas of coastal waders along the coast of West Africa

  • Census of possible key areas, that have not previously been censused. Examples are Casamance Delta (Senegal), Gambian Delta and others.

  • Census of Afrotropical waterbirds and colonial breeding bird surveys in West-African wetlands.

  • Surveys of endangered and vulnerable Palaearctic and/or Afrotropical waterbird species.

  • Studies of the importance of coastal wetlands for summering waterbirds, especially for waders considering the high variability in breeding success of arctic species.

Ringing projects

  • Ringing of Palaearctic waterbirds and marshland birds on a regular basis, in order to set up bird ringing centres and/or constant effort sites in close co-operation with local organisations;

  • Ringing activities of waterbirds in combination with waterbird censuses (especially waders and terns).

Feeding ecology

  • Feeding ecology studies in relation to food availability in various wetlands and/or for certain species, for wintering and (colonial) breeding bird species.

Training and transfer of knowledge

  • To assist in building capacity of local birdwatchers in order to maintain field work activities by training in bird counts;

  • To transfer knowledge on organising, collecting, processing and reporting field data.

4.6 East Africa

Endemic and threatened waterbirds

Endemic waterbirds occur in Ethiopia and Madagascar. The two Ethiopian endemics, Blue-winged Goose and Spot-breasted Plover, are not threatened at the moment. Madagascar holds 9 endemic waterbirds: Meller’s Duck, Madagascar Pochard (first sighting since 15 years in 2006), Alaotra Grebe (probably extinct), Madagascar Fish-Eagle, Slender-billed Flufftail, Madagascar Rail, Madagascar Jacana and Madagascar Snipe. Threatened waterbirds include: Madagascar Fish Eagle, Madagascar Pochard– Critically Endangered; Madagascar Heron, Madagascar Pond-heron, Madagascar Sacred Ibis, Madagascar Teal, Sakalava Rail (sighted again from 2001 onwards for the first time since 1962) – Endangered; Slaty Egret, Shoebill, Wattled Crane, Madagascar Plover, Madagascar Pratincole, Madagascar Rail, Madagascar Grebe – Vulnerable; Maccoa Duck, Lesser Flamingo, Black-crowned Crane, Black-winged Pratincole, Chestnut-banded Plover, Great Snipe, Black-tailed Godwit, White-eyed Gull, African Skimmer, - Near Threatened.

Research priorities

Waterbird censuses

  • winter censuses of waders and terns along Indian Ocean coast of Somalia.

  • studies of endemic waterbirds of Madagascar and Ethiopia.

  • Census in the Moyowosi – Malagarasi system in Tanzania

Ringing projects

  • Ringing of waders and terns at coastal and inland sites.

Ecology & climate

  • invertebrate food resources of coastal mud- and sandflats

4.7 Southern Africa

Endemic and threatened waterbirds

No endemic waterbird species occur in the region. A number of species is listed on the threatened birds list (BirdLife International 2000), these include: Madagascar Pond Heron – endangered; Slaty Egret, Shoebill, Blue Crane, Wattled crane – vulnerable; Corncrake, African oystercatcher, Chestnut-banded Plover, Great Snipe, Black-winged Pratincole, Kerguelen Tern, Damara Tern, African Skimmer – near threatened.

Research priorities

Waterbird censuses

  • continue counts on the Namibian coast in order to monitor possible effects of (over)fishing of prey species, and to establish the importance of conservation of important tern roosting sites.

  • perform censuses in less well-known wetlands, such as Bangweulu Basin, the Barotse Floodplain and the Kafue Flats in Zambia; the Zambezi Delta in Mozambique.

Ringing projects

  • establish the breeding origin of wintering terns

Ecology & climate

  • study intake rates and seasonal movements of terns

Opportunities Another incentive for increasing the knowledge of waterbird distribution, especially for Palearctic migrants, is caused by the outbreak of avian influenza. Several missions have been caried out in 2006 and 2007 to sample waterbirds in Africa and the Middle East, combined with counts. These were organised by Wetlands International under supervision of the FAO. In the case of continuing avian influenza research, this offers opportunities to increase the coverage of census work in the region and subsequently offers opportunities for WIWO to be involved.

References BirdLife International, 2000. Threatened Birds of the World. Lynx Editions and BirdLife International, Barcelona.