Diversity of wintering waterbirds enhanced by restoring aquatic vegetation at Shengjin Lake, China.

Research paper by Jian J Zhou, Lizhi L Zhou, Wenbin W Xu

Indexed on: 14 Aug '20Published on: 14 Aug '20Published in: Science of the Total Environment


The restoration of planted vegetation contributes towards improving the habitat quality of waterbirds and enhancing the diversity of their communities. Thus, the success of projects attempting to restore aquatic vegetation could, in part, be quantified by evaluating the community structure of wintering waterbirds. Here, we evaluated the effect of wetland restoration (through planting aquatic vegetation) by comparing waterbird communities in restored versus unrestored areas over two wintering periods (2017-2018 and 2018-2019). Specifically, the use of aquatic vegetation by waterbirds was evaluated following restoration, and was compared against three control (unrestored) areas; namely, a Euryale ferox planting area, freshwater aquaculture area, and rice planting area. Twenty-nine species belonging to eleven families of waterbirds were recorded across the four habitats. Species richness and density of waterbirds in the restored aquatic vegetation area were significantly higher than those in the three control areas. The restored aquatic vegetation area had the highest absolute value of Temporal Beta-diversity Index (TBI), while species gains (C) were significantly greater than species losses (B). Additionally, there was a significant increase in the number of wintering waterbird species from three foraging guilds in the restored aquatic vegetation area during the wintering period of 2018-2019 compared to 2017-2018 (Granivore guild; Invertivore guild; Piscivore guild). The restoration of aquatic vegetation mainly caused the number of Anatidae species to increase, including ruddy shelduck (Tadorna ferruginea), common teal (Anas crecca), common mallard (Anas platyrhynchos), spot-billed duck (Anas poecilorhyncha), and common pochard (Aythya ferina). Submerged vegetation provides ducks with important food resources, such as seeds. And emerging vegetation facilitating the concealment of waterbirds. In conclusion, the artificial promotion of aquatic vegetation restoration at Shengjin Lake has contributed towards maintaining the structure of wintering waterbird communities. Copyright © 2020 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.