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Schielzeth H.,Max Planck Institute for Ornithology (Seewiesen) | Schielzeth H.,Uppsala University | Kamp J.,Royal Society for the Protection of Birds RSPB | Eichhorn G.,CNRS Hubert Curien Multi-disciplinary Institute | And 5 more authors.
Bird Conservation International

Population size estimates of waders, gulls and terns passing through or breeding in Central Asia are very scarce, although highly important for global flyway population estimates as well as for targeting local conservation efforts. The Tengiz-Korgalzhyn region is one of the largest wetland complexes in Central Asia. We conducted surveys in this region between 1999 and 2008 and present estimates of population size as well as information on phenology and age structure for 50 species of Charadriiformes. The Tengiz-Korgalzhyn wetlands are especially important for Red-necked Phalaropes Phalaropus lobatus and Ruffs Philomachus pugnax with, respectively, 41% and 13% of their flyway populations using the area during spring migration. The region is also an important post-breeding moulting site for Pied Avocets Recurvirostra avosetta and Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa used by, respectively, 5% and 4% of their flyway populations. Besides its key importance as a migratory stopover site, the study area is a key breeding site for the Critically Endangered Sociable Lapwing Vanellus gregarius, the Near Threatened Black-winged Pratincole Glareola nordmanni and for Pallass Gull Larus ichthyaetus with 16%, 6% and 5% of their world populations, respectively. We identified 29 individual sites that held more than 1% of the relevant flyway populations of at least one species of Charadriiformes. Including data on other species of waterbirds (mainly waterfowl), there were 93 sites that qualify for Important Bird Areas (IBA). About half of them are protected in a state nature reserve, while an additional 20% are recognised as IBAs. Nevertheless, 28 important sites are currently not recognised as IBAs nor are they protected by other conservation means. These sites require conservation attention. Copyright © BirdLife International 2010. Source

Kamp J.,University of Munster | Kamp J.,Center for Conservation Science | Urazaliev R.,Association for the Conservation of Biodiversity in Kazakhstan ACBK | Balmford A.,University of Cambridge | And 6 more authors.
Journal of Applied Ecology

The break-up of the Soviet Union in 1991 led to the abandonment of >40 million ha of cropland, a collapse in livestock numbers and the recovery of depleted biodiversity on the steppe grasslands of Kazakhstan and southern Russia. More recently, large-scale reclamation of abandoned cropland and intensification of agriculture are observed, highlighting a need for strategies to reconcile agricultural development and biodiversity. We related bird densities along a land-use gradient to yield estimates from arable and livestock systems in central Kazakhstan to decide whether a land-sparing, a land-sharing or an intermediate strategy would result in the largest benefits for biodiversity. For 'loser species' (whose population size is reduced by farming), land sparing was predicted to support higher total populations of more species than was land sharing, at all production targets. 'Winners' (species benefitting from agriculture) profited from land sharing when judged from food energy or protein. Intermediate yields were best for very few species. Heavily grazed steppe grassland was important for several globally threatened and biome-restricted species. Government statistics suggested that over 50% of abandoned cropland has been reclaimed since 2000 and crop yields have increased. In the same period, there was significant progress towards the designation of new protected areas, but the total area in Kazakhstan still falls short of the Convention on Biological Diversity's 17% target. Policy implications. Further increases in agricultural production are likely to reduce populations of most birds, especially if they are achieved by conversion of abandoned cropland, or grassland. Our results suggest that production increases would do least harm if they resulted from increasing the output of existing cropland, using approaches such as snow accumulation, no-till and more efficient grain harvesting and storage, rather than from further reclamation of abandoned land that is now reverting back to steppe. Production increases should be offset by improved conservation planning through the designation of protected areas on land potentially suitable for cropland expansion. © 2015 British Ecological Society. Source

Fijen T.P.M.,Wageningen University | Kamp J.,University of Munster | Lameris T.K.,Wageningen University | Lameris T.K.,Netherlands Institute of Ecology | And 4 more authors.

We used observational and experimental approaches to assess the possible functional significance of the often extensive "pavements" of livestock dung constructed by female Black Larks (Melanocorypha yeltoniensis) around their nests. These pavements are conspicuous to human observers, suggesting that they may also attract predators. The size of the pavement was correlated with, but not limited by, the density of dung in the vicinity of the nest. The relationship between pavement size and local dung density did not differ significantly between habitats or years, suggesting that females might scale their pavements according to the perceived trampling risk. Even in heavily grazed areas nest trampling was rare, and nest survival rates were similar to those in areas with few grazing animals, suggesting that pavements may reduce trampling risk without incurring an additional predation risk or, alternatively, that trampling is currently not an important threat to lark nests. An experimental manipulation of grazing animals around artificial nests yielded equivocal support for a trampling-deterrent effect of dung pavements. Dung pavements might also provide thermal benefits; experiments on artificial nests suggested that dung pavements buffer nests against extremes of heat and cold, and there was equivocal support for a positive effect of pavement size on chick tarsus growth rates. These pavements may therefore be multifunctional, but identifying the adaptive drivers of the behavior requires further research. Source

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