Agricultural ponds as alternative habitat for waterbirds: spatial and temporal patterns of abundance and management strategies
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- Sebastián-González, E., Sánchez-Zapata, J.A. & Botella, F. Eur J Wildl Res (2010) 56: 11. doi:10.1007/s10344-009-0288-x
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The progressive lost of natural wetlands as a consequence of human activities has lead to the use of new habitats by the species linked to water presence. In Southeast Spain, thousands of irrigation ponds have been lately constructed to store water for agriculture and are used by waterbirds as an alternative habitat. For this study, breeding and wintering waterbirds were counted in a subset of irrigation ponds between 2002 and 2007. Breeding communities were more abundant than wintering communities, but they presented a similar richness and diversity. The ponds were selected by waterbirds according to their characteristics, and breeding communities were more selective than wintering communities. Our results enhance the importance of pond size (area), connectivity (distance to the nearest wetland) and habitat quality (resource offer and construction material) in the pond selection process. The presence and design of these impoundments could be playing a crucial role for some waterbirds species. Therefore, the long-term information provided here can be useful for establishing management strategies for these artificial wetlands.