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Influence of hydrological regime and climatic factor on waterbird abundance in Dongting Lake Wetland, China: Implications for biological conservation

Zhang, Chang, Yuan, Yujie, Zeng, Guangming, Liang, Jie, Guo, Shenglian, Huang, Lu, Hua, Shanshan, Wu, Haipeng, Zhu, Yuan, An, Hongxue, Zhang, Lihua
Ecological engineering 2016 v.90 pp. 473-481
climatic factors, environmental protection, habitats, hydrology, lakes, migratory behavior, response surface methodology, water birds, wetland conservation, wetlands, wintering grounds, China
Understanding how migratory waterbirds respond to hydrology and climate is of great importance for providing valuable insight into conservation in wetland system. Dongting Lake Wetland is an important wintering habitat in the East Asian-Australasian Flyway. However, little is known about the effects of hydrology and climate on wintering waterbirds. Therefore, it is urgent to analyze the relationship between them. To better interpret the ecological significance, we divided the bird species into five functional groups on the basis of their typical feeding habits. Redundancy analysis (RDA) combined with forward selection procedure was applied to select the hydrological and climatic variables with significant influences. Then, response surface methodology (RSM) was carried out to identify the thresholds of the variables. The results showed that inflow and water level were probably the two critical variables accounting for 52.13% and 47.87% of the variation in the bird species, respectively. However, other variables did not reach a significant level in this study. As for the group-level, different functional bird groups had different reflections to inflow and water level. Minimal guaranteed values of the two variables were identified as 3518.82–3736.28m3/s and 22.61–23.49m respectively based on the hydrological requirements and the weights of all groups. The results highlighted that the minimal requirements of inflow and water level should be satisfied to provide appropriate habitats for waterbirds. Besides, the regulatory authorities and environmental protection agencies should develop relevant law or regulation to protect waterbird habitats from human destruction especially the activities which could change the hydrological regime.