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The effect of rice field fragmentation on wintering waterbirds at the landscape level

Chan, Shih-Fan, Severinghaus, Lucia L., Lee, Chin-Kuo
Journal für Ornithologie 2007 v.148 no.2 pp. 333-342
animal communities, community structure, habitat fragmentation, habitat preferences, habitats, landscapes, migratory behavior, paddies, species diversity, water birds, wetlands, wildlife management, Taiwan
Landscape structure is a potentially crucial factor that affects the distribution of waterbirds in wetlands. Our study aims to find the relationship between the waterbird community in the rice fields and the landscape. We surveyed wintering waterbirds in rice field habitats in Yilan, Taiwan, and examined the relationships between landscape variables and waterbird community structure, species richness, and total abundance. Percentage of open water areas adjacent to the sample plot was the most influential variable for the waterbird community. Percentage of rice fields adjacent to the sample plot was crucial to the abundance of two regionally important species. Yet this variable was spatially structured and its effect on the waterbird community needs further investigation. The other variables, including the largest patch index for rice field, the number of rice field patches, and the percentage of developed areas, were less important to the waterbird community as they were each associated with the abundance of only a few species. Different species responded differently to certain landscape factors, possibly due to their habits and habitat preferences. Some species responded differently to the same landscape factor under different spatial extents. We discuss the conservation implications of these results.