Mauritania : Changes in the waterbird community of the Parc National du Banc d’Arguin,

The Parc National du Banc d’Arguin in Mauritania hosts the largest concentrations of coastal waterbirds along the East Atlantic Flyway. In spite of this importance, a review of the changes in the numbers of waterbirds in the area is lacking since the first complete count in 1980. Here we analysed the seven complete waterbird counts made since then, and the additional yearly counts made in one subunit (Iwik region) since 2003.

We present evidence for changes in the community composition of waterbirds over the past four decades. Total waterbird numbers showed a decrease between 1980 and 2017, with only Great White Pelican Pelecanus onocrotalus showing a significant increase in numbers. Five species showed significant declines: Long-tailed Cormorant Phalacrocorax africanus, Red Knot Calidris canutus, Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica, Eurasian Curlew Numenius arquata, and Western Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus.

In the remaining species, the variation in numbers between counts was too large, and the number of complete counts too small, for trends to be detected. The yearly counts at Iwik region also showed sharp decreases in the numbers of Red Knot, Bar-tailed Godwit, and Marsh Harrier, but not of Long-tailed Cormorant and Eurasian Curlew. A multivariate analysis revealed a significant change in species composition over time, which was caused mainly by changes in the species depending on the intertidal mudflats for feeding (generally in decline) vs. the species depending on fish and crustaceans in the sublittoral and offshore zones (often showing increases).

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Authors : Thomas Oudman1, Hans Schekkerman2, Amadou Kidee3, Marc Van Roomen2, Mohamed Camara3 Cor Smit4, Job Ten Horn1, Theunis Piersma1 and El-Hacen Mohamed El-Hacen4

  1. NIOZ Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research, Department of Coastal Systems and
  2. Sovon Vogelonderzoek Nederland, Toernooiveld1,6525ED Nijmegen, The Netherlands
  3. Parc National du Banc d’Arguin (PNBA), Chami, Wilaya de Dakhlet Nouadhibou, B.P.5355,R.I. de Mauritania.
  4. Wageningen Marine Research, P.O. Box57,1780AB Den Helder, The Netherlands; currentaddress: Hogereind23,1793AD De Waal, The Netherlands
  5. Conservation Ecology Group, Groningen Institute for Evolutionary Life Sciences (GELIFES), University of Groningen, P.O. Box11103,9700CC Groningen, The Netherlands