Environmental Management

, 43:1108 | Cite as

The Importance of Supratidal Habitats for Wintering Shorebirds and the Potential Impacts of Shrimp Aquaculture



Intensive black tiger shrimp (Penaeus monodon) aquaculture ponds have replaced significant areas of coastal wetlands throughout tropical Asia. Few studies have assessed potential impacts on avian foraging habitats. At Khao Sam Roi Yod National Park, Thailand, seminatural wetlands have been converted to either shrimp ponds or to salinization ponds that provide saline water for shrimp aquaculture. Although shorebirds cannot feed in aquaculture ponds, hypersaline ponds can provide productive foraging areas. Thus, the overall impact of the shrimp industry on shorebirds depends partly on the relative quality of the salt ponds compared to seminatural wetlands. In this study, we examined wintering shorebird use of tidal (N = 5 sites) and supratidal areas (four wetland sites, four salt pond sites) and compared the shorebird community (14 species), prey availability, profitability, and disturbance rates between wetlands and salt ponds. Two shorebird species fed in higher densities in wetlands, whereas seven species were more abundant in salt ponds. Large juvenile fish and dragonfly larvae were more abundant in wetlands, whereas there were more small Chironomid midge and fly larvae in salt ponds. We conclude that salt ponds might provide higher-quality foraging habitats compared to wetlands for small shorebirds species because of the abundance of small larvae. However, the shrimp aquaculture industry reduces habitat availability for shorebirds feeding on larger prey. This study demonstrates a comprehensive, multispecies approach to assess the impacts of a large-scale change in coastal habitats for wintering shorebirds.


Foraging ecology Habitat change Invertebrates Thailand Wetlands 


  1. Alongi DM (2002) Present state and future of the world’s mangrove forests. Environmental Conservation 29:331–349CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Asian Development Bank (2006) Asian development outlook 2006 update. Asian Development Bank, PhilippinesGoogle Scholar
  3. Burger J, Jeitner C, Clark K, Niles LJ (2004) The effect of human activities on migrant shorebirds: successful adaptive management. Environmental Conservation 31:283–288CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Chettamart S, Emphandu D (2002) Experience with coastal and marine protected area planning and management in Thailand. In: Dearden P (ed) Environmental protection and rural development in Thailand: challenges and opportunities. White Lotus Press, Bangkok, pp 113–136Google Scholar
  5. Durell SEALVD, Goss-Custard JD, Clarke RT, McGrorty S (2000) Density-dependent mortality in oystercatchers Haematopus ostralegus. The Ibis 142:132–138CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Elphick CS, Oring LW (1998) Winter management of Californian rice fields for waterbirds. The Journal of Applied Ecology 35:95–108CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Enright J (1995) Aquaculture degrades Khao Sam Roi Yod National Park. Coastal Management in Tropical Asia 4:24–25Google Scholar
  8. Esselink P, Zwarts L (1989) Seasonal variation in burrow depth and tidal variation in feeding activity of Nereis diversicolor. Marine Ecology Progress Series 56:243–254CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Evans PR, Pienkowski MW (1983) Implications for coastal engineering projects of studies, at the Tees estuary, on the effects of reclamation of part of Seal Sands, Teesmouth on wintering waders and shelduck. Oecologia 41:183–256CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Flaherty M, Karnjanakesorn C (1995) Marine shrimp aquaculture and natural resource degradation in Thailand. Environmental Management 19:27–37CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Flaherty M, Vandergeest P (1998) “Low-salt” shrimp aquaculture in Thailand: goodbye coastline, hello Khon Kaen! Environmental Management 22:817–830CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Garnett ST, Crowley GM (2000) The action plan for Australian birds. Environment Australia, CanberraGoogle Scholar
  13. Gill JA, Norris K, Potts PM, Gunnarsson TG, Atkinson PW, Sutherland WJ (2001) The buffer effect and large-scale population regulation in migratory birds. Nature 412:436–438CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Goss-Custard JD (1977) The energetics of prey selection by redshank, Tringa totanus (L.), in relation to prey density. The Journal of Animal Ecology 46:1–19CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Goss-Custard JD, Verboven N (1993) Disturbance of feeding shorebirds in the Exe Estuary. Wader Study Group Bulletin 68:59–66Google Scholar
  16. Goss-Custard JD, Caldow RWG, Clarke RT, Al SE, Durell Vd, Sutherland WJ (1995) Deriving population parameters from individual variation in foraging behaviour. I. Empirical game theory distribution model of oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus feeding on mussels Mytilius edulis. The Journal of Animal Ecology 64:265–276CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Huitric M, Folke C, Kautsky N (2002) Development and government policies of the shrimp farming industry in Thailand in relation to mangrove ecosystems. Ecological Economics 40:441–455CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. International Wader Study Group (2003) Waders are declining worldwide. Conclusions from the 2003 Wader Study Group conference. Cadiz, SpainGoogle Scholar
  19. Jarupongsakul T (1999) Potential impacts of sea-level rise and the coastal zone management in the upper gulf of Thailand. Geological Survey Division, Department of Mineral Resources, BangkokGoogle Scholar
  20. Kaosaard M, Wijukprasert P (2000) The state of environment in Thailand: a decade of Change Bangkok. Natural Resources and Environmental Program, Asian Institute of TechnologyGoogle Scholar
  21. Kersten M, Piersma T (1987) High levels of energy expenditure in shorebirds: metabolic adaptations to an energetically expensive way of life. Ardea 75:175–187Google Scholar
  22. Kleijn D, van Zuijlen GJC (2004) The conservation effects of meadow bird agreements on farmland in Zealand in the period of 1989–1995. Biological Conservation 117:443–451CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Masero JA (2003) Assessing alternative anthropogenic habitats for conserving waterbirds: salinas as buffer areas against the impact of natural habitat loss for shorebirds. Biodiversity and Conservation 12:1157–1173CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Masero JA, Pérez-Hurtado A (2001) Importance of the supratidal habitats for maintaining overwintering shorebirds populations: how redshanks use tidal mudflats and adjacent saltworks in southern Europe. The Condor 103:21–30CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Masero JA, Pérez-Gonzalez M, Basadre M (1999) Food supply for waders (Aves Charadrii) in an estuarine area in the Bay of Cadiz (S.W. Iberian Peninsula). Acta Oecologica 20:429–434CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Masero JA, Pérez-Hurtado A, Castro M, Arroyo GM (2000) Complementary use of intertidal mudflats and adjacent salinas for foraging waders. Ardea 88:177–191Google Scholar
  27. Miller JR, Hobbs RJ (2002) Conservation where people live and work. Conservation Biology 16:330–337CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Milton D (2003) Threatened shorebird species of the East Asian–Australasian Flyway: significance for Australian wader study groups. Wader Study Group Bulletin 100:110Google Scholar
  29. Myers JP, Morris RIG, Antas PZ et al (1987) Conservation strategy for migratory species. American Scientist 75:18–26Google Scholar
  30. Páez-Osuna F (2001) The environmental impact of shrimp aquaculture: a global perspective. Environmental Pollution 112:229–231CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Parr JWK, Mahannop N, Charoensiri V (1993) Khao Sam Roi Yot: one of the world’s most threatened parks. Oryx 27:245–249CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Pedersen A, Nielsen SS, Thuy LD, Trai HT (1996) Northward migration of shorebirds through the Red River Delta, Vietnam. The Stilt 28:22–31Google Scholar
  33. Potaros M (1995) Country report on Thailand. Annex 11–16 Network of Aquaculture Centres in Asia and the Pacific, BangkokGoogle Scholar
  34. Primavera JH (1998) Tropical shrimp farming and its sustainability. In: Silva SD (ed) Tropical mariculture. Academic Press, New York, pp 257–289CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. R Development Core Team (2007) R: A language and environment for statistical computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, ViennaGoogle Scholar
  36. Sathirathai S, Barbier EB (2007) Valuing mangrove conservation in southern Thailand. Contemporary Economic Policy 19:109–122CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Seto KC, Fragkias M (2007) Mangrove conversion and aquaculture development in Vietnam: a remote sensing-based approach for evaluating the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. Global Environmental Change 17:486–500CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Stevenson NJ (1997) Disused shrimp ponds: options for redevelopment of mangrove. Coastal Management 25:423–425CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Stevenson NJ, Lewis RR, Burbridge PR (1999) Disused shrimp ponds and mangrove rehabilitation. In: Streever W (ed) An international perspective on wetland rehabilitation. Kluwer Academic, Amsterdam, 277–297CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Sutherland WJ (1998) The importance of behavioural studies in conservation biology. Animal Behaviour 1998:801–809CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Turpie J, Hockey PAR (1993) Comparative diurnal and nocturnal foraging behaviour and energy intake of premigratory grey plovers Pluvialis squatarola and whimbrels Numenius phaeopus in South Africa. The Ibis 135:156–165CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Vaiphasa C, de Boer WF, Skidmore AK, Panitchart S, Vaiphasa T, Bamrongrugsa N (2007) Impact of solid shrimp pond waste materials on mangrove growth and motrtality: a case study from Pak Phanang, Thailand. Hydrobiologia 591:47–57CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Velasquez CR, Hockey PAR (1992) The importance of supratidal foraging habitat for waders of a south temperate estuary. Ardea 80:243–253Google Scholar
  44. Venables WN, Ripley BD (2002) Modern applied statistics with S-plus. Springer, New YorkCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Waiyasilp M (2004) Aquaculture shrimp statistics for Thailand. Department of Fisheries Thailand, BangkokGoogle Scholar
  46. Walton MEM, Samonte-Tan GPB, Primavera JH, Edwards-Jones G, Vay LL (2006) Are mangroves worth replanting? The direct economic benefits of a community-based reforestation project. Environmental Conservation 33:335–343CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Weber LM, Haig SM (1997) Shorebird use of South Carolina managed and natural coastal wetlands. The Journal of Wildlife Management 60:73–82CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Wilhelm FM, Lasenby DC (1998) Seasonal trends in the head capsule length and body length/weight relationship of two amphipod species. Crustaceana 71:399–410CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. World Resources Institute (2006) Earthtrends database. www.earthtrends.wri.org. Accessed 1 November 2006
  50. Yasué M, Dearden P (2006) The potential impact of tourism development on habitat availability and productivity of Malaysian plovers Charadrius peronii. The Journal of Applied Ecology 43:978–989CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Yasué M, Patterson A, Dearden P (2007) Are salt flats suitable alternative breeding habitats for Malaysian plovers Charadrius peronii threatened by beach habitat loss in Thailand? Bird Conservation International 17:211–223CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Zharikov Y, Skilleter GA (2003) Slaves to their stomachs: digestive limitations to the pre-migratory increase in energy intake rate in Non-breeding Eastern Curlews Numenius madagascariensis. Physiological and Biochemical Zoology 76:704–715CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Zwarts L, Blomert AM (1990) Selectivity of whimbrels feeding on fiddler crabs explained by component specific digestibilities. Ardea 78:193–208Google Scholar
  54. Zwarts L, Blomwert AM, Ens BJ, Hupkes R, Van Spange TM (1990) Why do waders reach high feeding densities on the intertidal flats of the Banc D’Arguin Mauritania. Ardea 78:39–52Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Marine Protected Areas Research Group, Department of GeographyUniversity of VictoriaVictoriaCanada
  2. 2.Project Seahorse, Fisheries CentreUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverBCCanada

Personalised recommendations