LU and HKBWS study shows preservation of wetlands in Deep Bay area vital to protect declining waterbird species
The Science Unit and the Hong Kong Bird Watching Society (HKBWS) quantified the 20-year wintering population trends of 42 waterbirds species in the Deep Bay area to evaluate the impacts of different threats along the East Asian-Australasian flyway (EAAF), providing important baseline information and recommendations on conservation.
Taking the dataset collected from 1998 to 2017, the LU and HKBWS research team identified species traits correlating with population trends to shed light on the threats they experience in their breeding and migratory grounds.
The research team noted that population trends of wintering waterbirds are associated with breeding grounds and stopover sites. Species breeding in Southern Siberia have decreased more than those breeding in East Asia. And species that rely on the Yellow Sea have declined more than others, given that the tremendous ecological value of the tidal flats in the Yellow Sea area has declined by over 50 per cent in the last 50 years, mainly due to coastal reclamation. The research team also found that larger species, such as Dalmatian Pelican and ducks, decreased more than small species over this 20-year period, and this may be due to hunting.
Prof Sung Yik-hei, Assistant Professor of the Science Unit, said the study results demonstrate that urgent conservation actions are essential to reverse the negative impact of such rapid habitat loss and degradation.
Details of this discovery has been published recently in the international academic journal Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution.