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Effects of anthropogenic landscapes on population maintenance of waterbirds

Wang X, Li X, Ren X, Jackson MV, Fuller RA, Melville DS, Amano T & Ma Z (2022) Effects of anthropogenic landscapes on population maintenance of waterbirds. Conservation Biology, 36, e13808.

Anthropogenic impacts have reduced natural areas but increased the area of anthropogenic landscapes. There is debate about whether anthropogenic landscapes (e.g., farmlands, orchards, and fish ponds) provide alternatives to natural habitat and under what circumstances. We considered whether anthropogenic landscapes can mitigate population declines for waterbirds.We collected data on population trends and biological traits of 1203 populations of 579 species across the planet. Using Bayesian generalized linear mixed models, we tested whether the ability of a species to use an anthropogenic landscape can predict population trends of waterbird globally and of species of conservation concern. Anthropogenic landscapes benefited population maintenance of common but not less-common species. Conversely, the use of anthropogenic landscapes was associated with population declines for threatened species. Our findings delineate some limitations to the ability of anthropogenic landscapes to mitigate population declines, suggesting that the maintenance of global waterbird populations depends on protecting remaining natural areas and improving the habitat quality in anthropogenic landscapes.

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