Ambio

, Volume 46, Issue 5, pp 613–620

Hunting or habitat? Drivers of waterbird abundance and community structure in agricultural wetlands of southern India

  • Ramesh Ramachandran
  • Ajith Kumar
  • Kolla S. Gopi Sundar
  • Ravinder Singh Bhalla
Report

Abstract

The relative impacts of hunting and habitat on waterbird community were studied in agricultural wetlands of southern India. We surveyed wetlands to document waterbird community, and interviewed hunters to document hunting intensity, targeted species, and the motivations for hunting. Our results show that hunting leads to drastic declines in waterbird diversity and numbers, and skew the community towards smaller species. Hunting intensity, water spread, and vegetation cover were the three most important determinants of waterbird abundance and community structure. Species richness, density of piscivorous species, and medium-sized species (31–65 cm) were most affected by hunting. Out of 53 species recorded, 47 were hunted, with a preference for larger birds. Although illegal, hunting has increased in recent years and is driven by market demand. This challenges the widely held belief that waterbird hunting in India is a low intensity, subsistence activity, and undermines the importance of agricultural wetlands in waterbird conservation.

Keywords

Avifauna Community structure Illegal hunting Tamil Nadu Waterbird 

Supplementary material

13280_2017_907_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (302 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 302 kb)

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Copyright information

© Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ramesh Ramachandran
    • 1
    • 3
  • Ajith Kumar
    • 1
    • 2
  • Kolla S. Gopi Sundar
    • 3
    • 4
  • Ravinder Singh Bhalla
    • 5
  1. 1.Post-Graduate Programme in Wildlife Biology and Conservation, Wildlife Conservation Society- India Program, National Centre for Biological SciencesTata Institute of Fundamental ResearchBangaloreIndia
  2. 2.Center for Wildlife StudiesBangaloreIndia
  3. 3.Cranes and Wetlands ProgrammeNature Conservation FoundationMysoreIndia
  4. 4.Program SarusScapeInternational Crane FoundationBarabooUSA
  5. 5.Foundation for Ecological Research, Advocacy and LearningAurovile PostIndia

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