New paper sheds light on distribution and conservation challenges for Baer’s Pochard

Baer's Pochard ©Luo Jianhong

An important new paper, led by Beijing Forestry University, was published in April 2022 about changes in the distribution of Baer's Pochard (Aythya baeri), a critically endangered duck in the EAAF.  The paper, entitled "Shifted to the South, Shifted to the North, but No Expansion: Potential Suitable Habitat Distribution Shift and Conservation Gap of the Critically Endangered Baer’s Pochard (Aythya baeri)" reflects seven years of surveys across its historical range.  The results show:

  • The southernmost breeding site is about 1400 km south of its current IUCN breeding range;
  • The northern-most wintering site is 800 km north of the IUCN wintering range;
  • Six newly discovered sites in Hebei, Henan, Shandong, Jiangxi and Hubei provinces in China are confirmed to be used all year round;
  • Most sites (81.8%) are not located in protected areas (PAs), and the majority of the suitable habitats (90%) are not protected by the current PA network.

Fig. 1. Updated Distribution Map of Baer’s Pochard based on this study.

The findings reveal substantial changes to the distribution of Baer’s Pochard and that there are many distribution overlaps throughout its annual migration circle (e.g., many historical stopover sites become breeding habitats). Moreover, most of the habitats overlap with urban developed areas and are outside the current PA network. The authors suggest that the existing PA network may be less effective for the conservation of this critically endangered species under predicted global climate change, and other effective area-based conservation measures should be part of the conservation strategy. More importantly, as the distribution of Baer’s Pochard covers at least 15 countries, closely coordinated cross-border cooperation will be critical for its future survival.

Access the full paper here.

Article prepared by Terry Townshend of Baer's Pochard Task Force.

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