Anatidae WG organized Symposium in the 9th EAFES International Congress in Hohhot, China

The 9th EAFES International Congress was held in Hohhot, Inner Mongolia, China, from 10-13th July 2021, hosted by the East Asian Federation of Ecological Societies (EAFES), with eight symposiums included. The symposium 04 was organized by the Anatidae Working Group (AWG) and Research Center for Eco-Environmental Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences (RCEES, CAS), entitled with “Recent telemetry technology helps waterbird and wetland conservation in East Asia”.

Professor Lei CAO of RCEES is the Principal organizer of symposium 04, co-organized by the Chair Masayuki KURECHI and the coordinator Katsumi USHIYAMA of the AWG, and Dr. Hansoo LEE from Korea Institute of Environmental Ecology.

This has been an exhilarating online meeting and we can all be deeply grateful to old friends and new friends for contributing an inspiring program of excellent talks. We are so grateful to everybody for helping to overcome the challenges of not being able to be together but to continue to build our collaborations through the internet.

The symposium 04 aimed to think about how to work together to save waterbirds and wetlands for our next generation, including 4 sections and 29 oral reports. 4 sections are included: Waterbird monitoring and population trends, Recent research on Common waterbird species, Recent research on globally threatened waterbird species, Waterbird and wetland conservation. A number of highlights from the meeting have emerged.

The first is the need for continued long-term monitoring of waterbird abundance on breeding, staging and wintering areas to monitor the state of the populations (mainly in winter when most aggregated) but also at other times of year. This is essential to check the quality of our protected areas and effects of positive and adverse management activities to better understand how to protect sites and the waterbirds that use them.

The extraordinary value of combining tracking studies with site protection. Telemetry has revealed discrete biogeographical populations, but also shown links between disease and these migration routes and identified new important key sites but also taught us much about how birds use the protected site and their networks. As we have seen with the rare species such as the Swan Goose and Black-faced Spoonbill, and vulnerable subspecies Tibetan Common Crane, we need to increasingly combine these sources of knowledge if we are going to identify the key factors affecting their abundance and make sure we create adequate areas of sufficient quality to protect our waterbirds for future generations. We also heard how the description of flyway routes can aid with spatial planning, especially with regard to the location of wind turbines, which is crucial in case of Japan, where offshore big wind farms are planned along Japan Sea coast. In Akita prefecture and other northern part of Honshu Island, thousands of big wind turbines (maximum 260 m high) are on the way to be built along the sea coast about 1-3km off the coast.  That is likely to affect many waterbirds (swans, geese, ducks and other sea birds) of this flyway especially during migration. We are much concerned about the expected damage on waterbirds and feel the need to establish a guideline to avoid such damages.

We need to be better at seeing adverse trends earlier, the worrying declines in the Aythya duck in Japan show that the common species of today can become the rare species of tomorrow if we do not generate populations’ trends and act to find the reasons for their unfavorable conservation status. It also reminds of the need to develop more demographic monitoring, including sampling sex and age ratios, to estimate per capita reproductive success and survival so that we can interpret observed changes in population size. It is vital we know if populations are declining because of poor reproductive success and/or increasing mortality so we can investigate why.

Kurechi-San also reminded us of the value of recovery and restoration to supplement our research and conservation efforts to rescue species. He also reminded us of the tragic loss this year of Prof Andreev, who was such a knowledgeable giant of waterbird ecology in our flyway. Wind farms as an emerging threat for waterbirds, and the need to provide evidence-based solutions for such threats. The Liaohe River study reminds us of the continued loss of habitat in the face of development and the continued need to be vigilant, but also reminds us of the importance of gathering scientific data to fight for the protection of our globally important waterbird populations.

Most of all, we see the increasing benefit of countries and researchers working together to the benefit of our waterbirds. It is so exciting and encouraging to see the strengthening links and bonds between all the countries along the East Asian flyway to the benefit of our shared waterbirds, reflected in the work of the Crane Working Group of Eurasia, but also in the multinational authorship of the all talks we have heard the last two days. We still have no idea about Brent Goose flyways and the true status of this species in our region, yet researchers in six countries are doing their best to plug this gap. This type of collaboration is vital if we are going to see more success stories like those of Oriental Stork, Black-faced Spoonbill, and Crested Ibis about which we have heard. Such successes were unthinkable a few years ago, yet they are real achievements today. Let us make sure we do not let down the waterbirds tomorrow by ensuring the continued fruitful collaboration we have celebrated at this meeting the last two days. We definitely need more public support to mainstream conservation of waterbirds and wetlands in Asia, and waterbird research will have an important role by unraveling the amazing lives of the birds and revealing serious threats that is happening right near us.  We could share various local problems for conservation of waterbirds. Those situations might be already resolved in some area, and going to be experienced other area in near future. In order to moving forward waterbird conservation in Asia, we can more cooperate with each other.

Many thanks again to the organizers of a very productive symposium covering so much information. The discussion will be carried on in different working group, Such as the AWG (Anatidae Working Group), and every suggestion and help will be welcomed.

ⓒ Research Center for Eco-Environmental Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, July 2021

To learn more about 9th EAFES International Congress, click [here].

*The article was prepared by the Anatidae Working Group.

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