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Effects of wetland landscape changes on Waterfowl population dynamics: Fuente de Piedra Lagoon (Malaga, Spain)

Maviza, Auther (2010) Effects of wetland landscape changes on Waterfowl population dynamics: Fuente de Piedra Lagoon (Malaga, Spain).

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Abstract:Waterfowl are known to be very dependant on wetlands for various essential resources critical for their survival at various stages of their life cycle. In Fuente de Piedra lagoon, little is known about spatiotemporal changes of the landscape structure inherent to water level fluctuations and how these changes are related to waterfowl communities occurring thereof. In this study, the landscape was systematically characterised into four distinct classes (namely deep water, shallow water, wet-muddy flat and land) using a high resolution DEM reclassified using historic water level data from 1991to 2008. The classes represented waterfowl microhabitats and these were validated using Landsat NDVI imagery to check for consistency of the delineation approach. The waterfowl community was divided into four guilds (swimmers, waders, shoreliners and ‘others’) and then a three-level hierarchy (from guild to family to species) formed under each guild. Swimmers included mostly anatidae such as ducks, while waders included the gruidae and recurvirostridae such as cranes and stilts respectively. Shoreliners were mostly sandpipers. Spatiotemporal changes of each landscape class were quantified in FRAGSTATS and correlated with the total population numbers of the waterfowl in the three-level hierarchy to assess strength and significance of relationships and identify preferred microhabitats. Results showed that as water levels fluctuate, the landscape composition also changes i.e. the areal cover of each class varied as well. High water levels >20cm meant more areal cover by deep water class and less by other classes, while less water was related to more land and varying percentage covers by shallow water and wet-muddy flat class. Swimmers were found to have preference of deep water shown by a significant (p< 0.001) R of 0.523 with this class, while waders showed a relatively strong correlation with the shallow water class. For both these groups, the guild level showed the best correlations with the landscape classes hence preferable over use of a dominant family or an indicator species in making inferences about these groups. Shoreliners showed unexpected results by having a relatively highest positive correlation of 0.463 with shallow water compared to 0.424 with wet-landscape class. They were also found to be significantly (p<0.001) positively related to spatiotemporal changes in total perimeter of the wet-muddy class. The family level was identified as best to use if any inferences about shoreliner community are to be made. The preferred microhabitat for shoreliners could not be conclusively determined from this study. All the groups had consistent negative significant (p<0.001) relationships with the land class. The conclusion made was that presence of water and its temporal fluctuations were critical in determining waterfowl species abundance through influencing landscape spatial structural changes. The effects vary from guild to guild as well as among levels of the community hierarchy. Therefore, management efforts could focus on manipulating landscape composition and configuration through effective water level management strategies that will ensure a balance within the waterfowl community in Fuente de Piedra lagoon. Key words: Waterfowl, landscape ecology, DEM, water level, spatiotemporal, NDVI, Landsat, Fuente de Piedra, Malaga.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:ITC: Faculty of Geo-information Science and Earth Observation
Programme:Geoinformation Science and Earth Observation MSc (75014)
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