How important are saltpans for the waterfowl migration?

In December 2018, Bird Conservation International magazine published a paper that remarks the role that the saltplans play during the waterfowl migration. The title of this paper is “Alternative habitat: the importance of the Nanpu Saltpans for migratory waterbirds in the Chinese Yellow Sea” and is signed by an international team with members of the Peking University of China, the University of Extremadura, Spain, University of Groningen and University of Utrecht, the Netherlands.

The work is carried out in the Nanpu Saltpans, located north of Bohai Bay in the Yellow Sea, being one of the largest saltpans complexes in the world with 290 km2. These salpans are in the migratory route known as Asian-Australasian route, being the one with more species passing but also the one facing more threats than any other migration route in the world.

The study analyzes data from waterbird censuses conducted from 2013 to 2016 in which all birds were counted, as well as their location in the saltpans and their activity. In total, 89 species were recorded, 27 of them in numbers of international importance and 13 of them were species listed as threatened or “Near Threatened” by the IUCN Red List. In the article they analyze the use made by each species at the saltpans and at the intertidal zone near the saltpans, as well as the use patterns according with the tides.

The study confirms the important role of these salpans for the waterfowl migration. Large numbers of birds used the salpans both to feed and to rest and both during pre-nuptial and post-nuptial migration.
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