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Banding Together for Waterfowl

Gulf Coast / Yucatan - Mexico - More Information

Background information on DU's Gulf Coast / Yucatan - Mexico conservation priority area
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Importance to other wildlife

Laguna Madre Tamaulipas

173 species of birds are found in this region, which account for 17% of Mexican (Peterson and Chalif 1989). Eighty-one are acquatic, 92 are terrestrial and 46% are migratory. About 1,500 reddish egrets winters in the Laguna Madre This is about 50% of all the species that migrate into Mexico in the fall (Farmer and Carrera 1993). This area is also a key wintering ground for the piping plover. Over 300 individuals have been counted, which represents about 30% of the North American population.

Tamiahua and Alvarado Lagoons

19,071 pairs of colonial birds were reported in these areas by Sprunt and Knoder (1980). Between 30 and 50 species of fish are found in the Tamiahua Lagoon, with between 50-70 species in the Alvarado Lagoon. Out of 647 species of birds in the state of Veracruz, 113 species are aquatic and 534 are terrestrial. Resident species make up 73% of the total and 27 species are migratory.

Tabasco Wetlands

540 wildlife species have been reported from this area, of which 49% are birds, 19% mammals, 16% reptilians, 14% fish and 2% amphibians. Twelve species are threatened or endangered. The Tabasco wetlands account for 11% of all the aquatic and sub-aquatic vegetation in Mexico. 374 species of 84 families of plants are reported for the area, of which 3 are considered threatened or endangered.

Campeche and Yucatan Lagoons

In the Yucatan, 271 species of birds have been recorded, of which 38% are migratory, 14 endemic, 18 threatened and 9 endangered. About 24,000 American flamingos are found in the Yucatan. They are an important tourist attraction for thousands of national and foreign tourists as are four species of cats: panther, cougar, ocelot and jaguar.

For the Campeche area, a total of 1,468 species of wildlife are reported, of which 79 species are protected, either at risk or endangered. The most charismatic species that can be found in the area include the manatee, jabiru, 2 species of crocodiles, and the 4 cat species.

Conservation programs

DU must work in partnership with municipal, state and federal governments and with local and national non-government institutions to conserve the most important wintering habitats for migratory and resident waterfowl. The Laguna Madre and the Tamiahua and Alvarado Lagoons are in need of formal protection through legislation or regulation. There are many opportunities to carry out restoration projects on the coast of Tamaulipas and Yucatan. In addition, there is a great need to work with state and federal governments to design roads that cross wetland areas to avoid future wetland loss and to correct past negative impacts.

Along the coastal plain of Tamaulipas, adjacent to the Laguna Madre, freshwater wetlands are key water sources for migratory waterfowl and are in need of protection or restoration. Close cooperation with the cattle industry will be key to the success of these programs.

Baseline wetland classification information is needed to document changes in habitat area and quality and to support future conservation planning. In addition, basic ecological studies of the structure and function of those habitats will provide essential guidance. This information is being gathered for the Yucatan Peninsula.

There are 20,000 ha of rice fields in the state of Campeche in the Edzna and Yohaltoon Valleys that are used by migratory and resident waterfowl. Unfortunately, the agricultural community sustains considerable economic loss (>$1 million/yr) because of waterfowl feeding in rice fields. Many waterfowl are poisoned every year to reduce their impact on the crops. Research is needed to evaluate the real effects of waterfowl on rice to support propose management activities that will minimize damage to both the rice and the waterfowl.

Public awareness will be a key factor in supporting the long-term conservation of wetlands and waterfowl.

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