Waterbird communities along the estuarine salinity gradient of the Schelde estuary, NW-Europe

Tom Ysebaert, P. L. M Meininger, Patrick Meire, Koen Devos, C. M Berrevoets, R. C. W Strucker, Eckhart Kuijken

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    The zonation of non-breeding waterbirds along the Schelde estuary (The Netherlands-Belgium), one of the longest estuaries in NW-Europe with still a complete salinity gradient, including a large freshwater tidal area, was described. Numbers of birds were counted monthly over the period October 1991 to June 1997. Highest numbers of waterbirds were observed in late autumn and winter, with annual peak numbers ranging between 150,000 and 235,000 individuals for the whole estuary. Based on a multivariate analysis different waterbird communities were observed along the salinity gradient. The polyhaline areas of the estuary were numerically dominated by the waders Oystercatcher and Dunlin. Due to the presence of a large brackish marsh in the mesohaline zone, the waterbird community in this area was dominated by the herbivores Wigeon and Greylag Goose. In the oligohaline and freshwater tidal areas, the waterbird community was dominated by duck species, with Teal and Mallard being the most important. The international importance of the Schelde estuary for waterbirds was evidenced by the fact that for 21 waterbird species the 1% level criterion, according to the Ramsar convention, was exceeded. The relation of the observed diversity and community patterns with the functional and habitat diversity of the Schelde estuary as well as the effect of recent conservation measures to preserve this habitat were discussed.
    TaalEngels
    TijdschriftBiodiversity and Conservation
    Volume9
    Exemplaarnummer9
    Pagina's (van-tot)1275-1296
    Aantal pagina's22
    DOI's
    StatusGepubliceerd - 2000

    Thematische Lijst 2020

    • Water
    • Faunabeheer

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