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Wader Atlas: revealing the life-cycles of waders


By: Wetlands International

April 24, 2009 - The Wader Atlas is a milestone publication presenting the current knowledge of the numbers, distribution and movements of waders in the Africa-Western Eurasia region. Built on ten years of study, the Wader Atlas is a beautifully illustrated book, providing maps, trends, and a wealth of detailed information on this remarkable group of birds.

The Atlas of Wader Populations in Africa and Western Eurasia (full title) is the latest in the line of Flyway Atlases that so clearly demonstrate the need for international collaboration in the conservation of migratory birds. It brings together for the first time all the information that is needed to act as a basis for the conservation of wader species in the African-West Eurasian region. Waders are one of the most migratory groups of birds and successful conservation demands a strongly international approach. Data provided by thousands of experts, most of them volunteers, from over 80 countries, have been combined with published results of bird ringing and national bird atlases. These data are presented on precise maps showing the population boundaries as well as areas used for breeding and in the non-breeding season, and key sites at every stage of the life cycle.

Species accounts

In total, the Wader Atlas includes 90 species accounts, for example covering 32 species of lapwings and plovers and 33 species of sandpipers and their allies the snipes, godwits, curlews, stints and phalaropes. For each, a full-colour map shows populations and key sites; in-depth text describes movements and status of each population, including a colour photograph and a table of key sites.

Next to providing the necessary information for policy makers at national and international level, this complete and beautiful atlas is a key product for all dealing professionally with waterbirds and their wetland habitats. It will also appeal to all those with a personal interest in these amazing birds all along their flyways.


Authors: Wetlands International and Wader Study Group

Editors: Simon Delany, Derek Scott, Tim Dodman, David Stroud.

524 pages, including full colour photos and distribution maps.
Launch date: 20th of May 2009.
Price: 70 Pounds (75 Euros).
More information on: www.wetlands.org/waderatlas

About waders and wetlands

The Sociable Lapwing, a Globally Threatened species, is more numerous than thought, thanks to intensive research at breeding areas on the steppes of Kazakhstan. Another wader, the Ruff, has been found to migrate from the most eastern part of Russia to deep into South Africa. These and many other discoveries are described in detail and highlighted with maps in the new Atlas of Wader Populations in Africa and Eurasia, the latest release by Wetlands International..

From the African Black Oystercatcher to the White-fronted Plover, this Wader Atlas brings together international expertise concerning all stages of the life cycles of these fascinating and important birds. Moreover, the detailed count data presented and the adoption of a flyway approach provide the necessary empirical evidence as well as a framework for waterbird conservation.

Detailing the poorly known

One of the strengths of the Atlas is that it brings together data and information on many rather unknown wader species in Africa. For example, the Atlas includes information about 12 species of Lapwing and seven species of Courser that occur largely or entirely in grassland habitats in Africa that are under serious threat from climate change, overgrazing and other factors. Kittlitz's Plover, another African species, remains poorly known to most ornithologists outside Africa but its distribution, movements, numbers and population trends are described in detail.

The Crab Plover, a charismatic wader, has the unique habit of nesting colonially in burrows along the coasts of the north and western parts of the Indian Ocean. The Atlas brings together recent research on numbers and distribution of this species in Eritrea and Iran, where the biggest known breeding colonies are found, and on non-breeding sites along the shores of the Northern and Western Indian Ocean.

Discovering key sites

The Atlas's tables list key sites where the most species were recorded in Internationally Important numbers (i.e. more than 1% of their populations). The site holding the highest number of species in these numbers will surprise a lot of experts - it is Barr Al Hikman in Oman, where no less than 18 species have been found in numbers exceeding 1% of their populations. The site is unprotected and rather unknown, but its size and remoteness from centres of human population provide some safety from degradation.

The most important site for waders in Africa is another vast site remote from human populations, the Banc d'Arguin in Mauritania, where 15 species have been recorded in numbers exceeding 1% of their populations, and where over 2 million waders spend the northern winter.

In terms of overall numbers of waders, the most important "site" for waders in the region covered by the Atlas is the Dutch-German-Danish Wadden Sea. Taken as a whole, the Wadden Sea supports 17 wader species in numbers exceeding 1% of their populations, and higher numbers of waders- at times over 4 million - occur here than anywhere else in the Atlas region.

Despite being protected by many national and international measures and instruments, the Wadden Sea (and especially the Dutch part) has been subject to industrial scale shell fishing which has greatly affected its attractiveness to many wader species. The future effects of gas extraction remain unknown.

Network of experts

Wetlands International and the International Wader Study Group (WSG) have drawn on their wide-ranging network of wader experts to help prepare this Atlas. As the final product of ten years of labour it defines principal migration strategies, delineates separate units for conservation purposes, and provides the best current estimation of population size and status. A detailed map and table per species and authoritative interpretive texts ensure that, the Wader Atlas presents an unprecedented amount of information on this important and fascinating group of birds in the region covered by the African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbird Agreement (AEWA): http://www.unep-aewa.org/


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