At least 16 waterfowl species that breed in North America, including blue-winged teal, pintail and lesser scaup, spend the winter in Latin America and the Caribbean. Unfortunately, little is known about their numbers, their main staging and wintering areas, their natural history, or their basic ecological requirements. In the interest of North America's waterfowl, DU is working to learn more about this area and its wintering waterfowl, before it's too late. Since 2000, DU has worked with 11 countries in the Caribbean, Central America and South America to develop programs for monitoring the regions' waterfowl. As a result of this work, a number of important wetlands have been identified, but more information is needed.
Importance to waterfowl
- Of the 47 species of waterfowl found in Latin America and the Caribbean, 14 are shared with North America.
- At least four species are known to be threatened, but it is very possible that several more also are under immediate threat.
- None of the 47 species have been studied in detail in relation to their Latin American and Caribbean habitats, but habitat deterioration continues at a high rate further impacting the security of waterfowl species.
- Central America has experienced many threats to wetlands including wide-scale deforestation and erosion in the surrounding watersheds, unwise agricultural practices, wide use of agrochemicals, and reclamation of wetlands for banana, rice and sugarcane plantations.
- South American wetlands share many problems with those in Central America and the Caribbean.
- Caribbean wetlands probably are some of the least known, least protected and most threatened.
DU's conservation focus
- DU is using Geographical Information Systems (GIS) technology to develop a wetland inventory that will help monitor changes in habitats used by wintering waterfowl.
- Armed with this information, DU is learning where the birds are, what the most important areas are, what conservation problems those areas face and what we can do to help.
- Several conservation projects are already underway in Latin America and the Caribbean, including restoration efforts on the Nariva Swamp of Trinidad and Tobago.