, Volume 48, Issue 3, pp 293–303 | Cite as

Effects of ecological and anthropogenic factors on waterbird abundance at a Ramsar Site in the Yangtze River Floodplain

  • Yong ZhangEmail author
  • Anthony D. Fox
  • Lei CaoEmail author
  • Qiang Jia
  • Changhu Lu
  • Herbert H. T. Prins
  • Willem F. de Boer
Research Article


Continuing declines in abundance of many waterbird species on wetland ecosystems require explanations to support effective management interventions. We used 6 year survey data from Shengjin Lake National Nature Reserve in the Yangtze River Floodplain, China, to study the effects of ecological and anthropogenic variables as determinants of waterbird species abundance. Our results showed that effects were guild-dependent, although distance to nearest human settlements had the largest adverse effects on bird abundance across all guilds. These results suggested that although the abundance of waterbird species could be affected by habitat conditions and buffalo grazing activities, Yangtze River Wetlands would most likely benefit most from reduced pressure from the proximity to the surrounding human population. We suggest that screening and/or restricting public access at some key sites may be the most cost-efficient way to restrict or reduce human activity in these wetlands, to improve the conservation status and wintering conditions for these waterbirds.


Conservation Feeding guilds Waterbirds Wetland management Yangtze Wetlands 



We thank the late Mark Barter, Meijuan Zhao, Xiuli Yang, Jing Liu, Keqiang Shan, and Yan Chen for their assistance during the surveys, and the Staff of the Shengjin Lake National Nature Reserve for facilitating the studies. We also thank three anonymous referees for all their constructive comments. This study was supported by the Natural Science Foundation of Jiangsu Province (Grant No. BK20170922), the Key Strategic Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Water Ecological Security Assessment and Great Strategy Research of Middle and Lower Yangtze River (Grant No. ZDRW-ZS-2017-3), and the Priority Academic Program Development of Jiangsu Higher Education Institutions.

Supplementary material

13280_2018_1076_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (30 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 31 kb)


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Copyright information

© Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Co-Innovation Center for Sustainable Forestry in Southern ChinaNanjing Forestry UniversityNanjingChina
  2. 2.College of Biology and the EnvironmentNanjing Forestry UniversityNanjingChina
  3. 3.Department of BioscienceAarhus University, KaløRøndeDenmark
  4. 4.State Key Laboratory of Urban and Regional Ecology, Research Center for Eco-Environmental SciencesChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  5. 5.University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  6. 6.School of Life ScienceUniversity of Science and Technology of ChinaHefeiChina
  7. 7.Resource Ecology GroupWageningen UniversityWageningenThe Netherlands

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