Expansion of sandhill cranes (Grus canadensis) in east Asia during the non-breeding period.
ABSTRACT: Aim:Historically, the distribution of Sandhill Cranes included much of North America and extending in summer into northeast Russia. In recent years, observations of sandhill cranes in Asia during the non-breeding period have been frequently reported. However, the distribution and abundance of sandhill cranes during the non-breeding period in Asia have rarely been summarized and studied. Our study aimed to analyze the status of sandhill cranes that have spread south into East Asia during the non-breeding period and to assess the possible impacts of their potential spread. Methods:Based on opportunistic data collected in the field and occurrence data collected online over the past half century, we used Geographic Information System to visualize the spatial distribution changes and regression analysis to analyze and visualize the changes in the amount of individuals over time. Results:In the last 50 years, the distribution of sandhill cranes during the non-breeding season in Asia spanned 31 degrees in longitude to the west and 15 degrees in latitude to the south. Their distribution in Asia has expanded to 17 provinces and municipalities in China, Japan and South Korea. The amount of cranes in the non-breeding period in Asia increased significantly from 1963 to 2017. According to the historical records in East Asia, sandhill cranes were mixed with five other species of crane groups. Main conclusions:These results indicate that the range and amount of sandhill cranes have expanded. Sandhill cranes were mixed with five other crane species, which indicate their adaptability to a range of habitat types and food resources. The implications of these trends in sandhill cranes in East Asia for this and other crane species warrants further research.
Project description:The population growth of endangered whooping cranes (Grus americana) is not consistent with species recovery goals, and the impact of parasite infection on whooping crane populations is largely unknown. Disease ecology and epidemiology research of endangered species is often hindered by limited ability to conduct invasive sampling on the target taxa. Accordingly, we hypothesized that sandhill cranes (Grus canadensis) would be a useful surrogate species to investigate the health impacts of Haemosporida infection in whooping cranes. Our goal was to compare the prevalence and diversity of Haemosporida infection between whooping cranes and sandhill cranes. We detected an overall infection prevalence of 83·6% (n = 61) in whooping cranes and 59·6% (n = 47) and 63·6 (n = 22) in two sympatric sandhill crane populations captured in Texas. Prevalence was significantly lower in allopatric sandhill cranes captured in New Mexico (12·1%, n = 33). Haemoproteus antigonis was the most abundant haemoparasite in cranes, present in 57·4% of whooping cranes and 39·2% of sandhill cranes; Plasmodium and Leucocytozoon were present at significantly lower levels. The high prevalence of Haemosporida in whooping cranes and sympatric sandhill cranes, with shared parasite lineages between the two species, supports sandhill cranes as a surrogate species for understanding health threats to endangered whooping cranes.
Project description:Understanding the habitat use and spatial distribution of wildlife can help conservationists determine high-priority areas and enhance conservation efforts. We studied the wintering habitat use, preference, and utilization distribution of two crane species, that is, the black-necked crane (Grus nigricollis, Przevalski, 1876) and common crane (Grus grus, Linnaeus, 1758), in Huize National Natural Reserve, Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau, southwestern China. Line transects indicated that anthropogenic farmland habitat was highly utilized and was positively selected by both crane species (>90% of flocks observed for both species). Black-necked cranes preferred marshland in spring (February and March) but avoided grassland during the entire wintering period, whereas common cranes avoided both marshland and grassland throughout the entire period. The two cranes species had communal nightly roosting sites and separate daily foraging sites. Black-necked cranes were distributed within two km (1.89 ± 0.08 km) of the roosting site, covering an area of 283.84 ha, with the core distribution area encompassing less than 100 ha. In contrast, common cranes were distributed far from the roosting site (4.38 ± 0.11 km), covering an area of 558.73 ha, with the core distribution area encompassing 224.81 ha. Thus, interspecies competition may have influenced the habitat preference and spatial distribution divergence of these two phylogenetically related species. This study should help guide habitat management as well as functional zoning development and adjustment in the future. Based on our results, we recommend restoration of additional wetlands, retention of large areas of farmland, and protection of areas that cranes use most frequently.
Project description:Reed beds represent an important habitat for the survival of birds by providing favorable foraging and reproduction conditions. Reed management, as a traditional agricultural activity, primarily includes water level control and vegetation removal by cutting. Red-crowned crane (Grus japonensis) is one of the most endangered cranes, and their population continues to decline due to habitat loss caused by artificial activities. A lack of research relating to how reed management affects crane habitat distribution patterns throughout the wintering period hinders our ability to offer conservation recommendations. In the present study, we explored the effect of reed management on the habitat distribution patterns and analyzed the food resources of red-crowned crane in the Yancheng National Nature Reserve (YNNR). According to the reed management activities in December, we divided the wintering period into two phases: the preharvest period and the postharvest period. Throughout the wintering period, the number of cranes recorded in the common seepweed (Suaeda glauca) tidal flats remained stable, but cranes were rarely recorded in the smooth cordgrass (Spartina alterniflora) tidal flats and aquaculture fish ponds. The number of cranes, however, showed a noticeable fluctuation in the reed beds during the two periods. Before the reed harvest, only a small proportion of cranes were recorded in the reed beds (relative abundance = 2.9%). However, more cranes (relative abundance = 61.0%) were recorded after the reed harvest. Water was introduced from adjacent rivers and fish ponds to submerge the cut reed beds. Changes in potential animal food resources (items and biomass) might be one of the vital reasons for the preference of cranes to the postharvest reed beds. Our results suggest that traditional reed management in the YNNR could benefit this flagship crane species that winters in the wetland system. However, as reed harvest has been forbidden in the core zone for conservation purposes since 2016, further research is needed to verify whether forbidding the harvest of reeds is reasonable.
Project description:River ecosystems in semi-arid environments provide an array of resources that concentrate biodiversity, but also attract human settlement and support economic development. In the southwestern United States, land-use change, drought, and anthropogenic disturbance are compounding factors which have led to departures from historical conditions of river ecosystems, consequently affecting wildlife habitat, including important wintering areas for migratory birds. The Rio Grande (River) in central New Mexico is the lifeblood of the Middle Rio Grande Valley (MRGV), maintaining large urban and agricultural centers and riparian and wetland resources, which disproportionately support a diversity of wildlife. The MRGV has been identified as the most important wintering area for the Rocky Mountain Population of greater sandhill cranes (Antigone canadensis tabida). Presently, however, changes in the hydrogeomorphology of the Rio Grande and landscape modification by humans have reshaped the MRGV and winter habitat for sandhill cranes. To evaluate these impacts, we investigated how land-use practices, anthropogenic disturbance, and river morphology influenced patterns of diurnal and roosting habitat selection by sandhill cranes. During the diurnal period, sandhill cranes relied heavily on managed public lands selecting agriculture crops, such as corn fields, and wetlands for foraging and loafing while avoiding areas with increasing densities of human structures. Sandhill cranes selected areas for roosting in the Rio Grande characterized by shallower water interspersed with sandbars, wide channel width, low bank vegetation, and farther away from disturbances associated with bridges. Our results establish and identify the central processes driving patterns of diel habitat selection by wintering sandhill cranes. Land use and riverine trends have likely gradually reduced winter habitat to managed public lands and limited reaches of the Rio Grande, underscoring the importance of natural resources agencies in supporting migratory birds and challenges involved when managing for wildlife in highly pressured semi-arid environments.
Project description:Reintroduction of the threatened red-crowned crane has been unsuccessful. Although gut microbiota correlates with host health, there is little information on gut microbiota of cranes under different conservation strategies. The study examined effects of captivity, artificial breeding and life stage on gut microbiota of red-crown cranes. The gut microbiotas of wild, captive adolescent, captive adult, artificially bred adolescent and artificially bred adult cranes were characterized by next-generation sequencing of 16S rRNA gene amplicons. The gut microbiotas were dominated by three phyla: Firmicutes (62.9%), Proteobacteria (29.9%) and Fusobacteria (9.6%). Bacilli dominated the 'core' community consisting of 198 operational taxonomic units (OTUs). Both captivity and artificial breeding influenced the structures and diversities microbiota of the gut. Especially, wild cranes had distinct compositions of gut microbiota from captive and artificially bred cranes. The greatest alpha diversity was found in captive cranes, while wild cranes had the least. According to the results of ordination analysis, influences of captivity and artificial breeding were greater than that of life stage. Overall, captivity and artificial breeding influenced the gut microbiota, potentially due to changes in diet, vaccination, antibiotics and living conditions. Metagenomics can serve as a supplementary non-invasive screening tool for disease control.
Project description:Identifying climatic drivers of an animal population's vital rates and locating where they operate steers conservation efforts to optimize species recovery. The population growth of endangered whooping cranes (Grus americana) hinges on juvenile recruitment. Therefore, we identify climatic drivers (solar activity [sunspots] and weather) of whooping crane recruitment throughout the species' life cycle (breeding, migration, wintering). Our method uses a repeated cross-validated absolute shrinkage and selection operator approach to identify drivers of recruitment. We model effects of climate change on those drivers to predict whooping crane population growth given alternative scenarios of climate change and solar activity. Years with fewer sunspots indicated greater recruitment. Increased precipitation during autumn migration signified less recruitment. On the breeding grounds, fewer days below freezing during winter and more precipitation during breeding suggested less recruitment. We predicted whooping crane recruitment and population growth may fall below long-term averages during all solar cycles when atmospheric CO2 concentration increases, as expected, to 500 ppm by 2050. Species recovery during a typical solar cycle with 500 ppm may require eight times longer than conditions without climate change and the chance of population decline increases to 31%. Although this whooping crane population is growing and may appear secure, long-term threats imposed by climate change and increased solar activity may jeopardize its persistence. Weather on the breeding grounds likely affects recruitment through hydrological processes and predation risk, whereas precipitation during autumn migration may influence juvenile mortality. Mitigating threats or abating climate change should occur within ≈30 years or this wild population of whooping cranes may begin declining.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Malaria parasites and related haemosporidian parasites are widespread and may cause severe diseases in birds. These pathogens should be considered in projects aiming breeding of birds for purposes of sustained ex situ conservation. Cranes are the 'flagship species' for health assessment of wetland ecosystems, and the majority of species are endangered. Malaria parasites and other haemosporidians have been reported in cranes, but the host-parasite relationships remain insufficiently understood. Morbidity of cranes due to malaria has been reported in Beijing Zoo. This study report prevalence, diversity and distribution of malaria parasites and related haemosporidians in cranes in Beijing Zoo and suggest simple measures to protect vulnerable individuals. METHODS:In all, 123 cranes (62 adults and 61 juveniles) belonging to 10 species were examined using PCR-based testing and microscopic examination of blood samples collected in 2007-2014. All birds were maintained in open-air aviaries, except for 19 chicks that were raised in a greenhouse with the aim to protect them from bites of blood-sucking insects. Bayesian phylogenetic analysis was used to identify the closely related avian haemosporidian parasites. RESULTS:Species of Plasmodium (5 lineages), Haemoproteus (1) and Leucocytozoon (2) were reported. Malaria parasites predominated (83% of all reported infections). The overall prevalence of haemosporidians in juveniles was approximately seven-fold higher than in adults, indicating high susceptibility of chicks and local transmission. Juvenile and adult birds hosted different lineages of Plasmodium, indicating that chicks got infection from non-parent birds. Plasmodium relictum (pSGS1) was the most prevalent malaria parasite. Mortality was not reported in adults, but 53% of infected chicks died, with reports of co-infection with Plasmodium and Leucocytozoon species. All chicks maintained in the greenhouse were non-infected and survived. Species of Leucocytozoon were undetectable by commonly used PCR protocol, but readily visible in blood films. CONCLUSION:Crane chicks often die due to malaria and Leucocytozoon infections, which they likely gain from wild free-living birds in Beijing Zoo. Molecular diagnostics of crane Leucocytozoon parasites needs improvement. Because the reported infections are mainly chick diseases, the authors recommend maintaining of juvenile birds in vector-free facilities until the age of approximately 6 months before they are placed in open-air aviaries.
Project description:The risk to human health of the annual sandhill crane (Grus canadensis) migration through Nebraska, which is thought to be a major source of fecal pollution of the central Platte River, is unknown. To better understand potential risks, the presence of Campylobacter species and three fecal indicator bacterial groups (Enterococcus spp., Escherichia coli, and Bacteroidetes) was assayed by PCR from crane excreta and water samples collected during their stopover at the Platte River, Nebraska, in 2010. Genus-specific PCR assays and sequence analyses identified Campylobacter jejuni as the predominant Campylobacter species in sandhill crane excreta. Campylobacter spp. were detected in 48% of crane excreta, 24% of water samples, and 11% of sediment samples. The estimated densities of Enterococcus spp. were highest in excreta samples (mean, 4.6 × 10(8) cell equivalents [CE]/g), while water samples contained higher levels of Bacteroidetes (mean, 5.1 × 10(5) CE/100 ml). Enterococcus spp., E. coli, and Campylobacter spp. were significantly increased in river water and sediments during the crane migration period, with Enterococcus sp. densities (~3.3 × 10(5) CE/g) 2 to 4 orders of magnitude higher than those of Bacteroidetes (4.9 × 10(3) CE/g), E. coli (2.2 × 10(3) CE/g), and Campylobacter spp. (37 CE/g). Sequencing data for the 16S rRNA gene and Campylobacter species-specific PCR assays indicated that C. jejuni was the major Campylobacter species present in water, sediments, and crane excreta. Overall, migration appeared to result in a significant, but temporary, change in water quality in spring, when there may be a C. jejuni health hazard associated with water and crops visited by the migrating birds.
Project description:The Endangered Red-crowned Crane (Grus japonensis) is one of the most culturally iconic and sought-after species by wildlife tourists. Here we investigate how the presence of tourists influence the vigilance behaviour of cranes foraging in Suaeda salsa salt marshes and S. salsa/Phragmites australis mosaic habitat in the Yellow River Delta, China. We found that both the frequency and duration of crane vigilance significantly increased in the presence of wildlife tourists. Increased frequency in crane vigilance only occurred in the much taller S. salsa/P. australis mosaic vegetation whereas the duration of vigilance showed no significant difference between the two habitats. Crane vigilance declined with increasing distance from wildlife tourists in the two habitats, with a minimum distance of disturbance triggering a high degree of vigilance by cranes identified at 300?m. The presence of wildlife tourists may represent a form of disturbance to foraging cranes but is habitat dependent. Taller P. australis vegetation serves primarily as a visual obstruction for cranes, causing them to increase the frequency of vigilance behaviour. Our findings have important implications for the conservation of the migratory red-crowned crane population that winters in the Yellow River Delta and can help inform visitor management.
Project description:While the microbial water quality in the Platte River is seasonally impacted by excreta from migrating cranes, there are no methods available to study crane fecal contamination. Here we characterized microbial populations in crane feces using phylogenetic analysis of 16S rRNA gene fecal clone libraries. Using these sequences, a novel crane quantitative PCR (Crane1) assay was developed, and its applicability as a microbial source tracking (MST) assay was evaluated by determining its host specificity and detection ability in environmental waters. Bacteria from crane excreta were dominated by bacilli and proteobacteria, with a notable paucity of sequences homologous to Bacteroidetes and Clostridia. The Crane1 marker targeted a dominant clade of unclassified Lactobacillales sequences closely related to Catellicoccus marimammalium. The host distribution of the Crane1 marker was relatively high, being positive for 69% (66/96) of the crane excreta samples tested. The assay also showed high host specificity, with 95% of the nontarget fecal samples (i.e., n = 553; 20 different free-range hosts) being negative. Of the presumed crane-impacted water samples (n = 16), 88% were positive for the Crane1 assay, whereas none of the water samples not impacted by cranes were positive (n = 165). Bayesian statistical models of the Crane1 MST marker demonstrated high confidence in detecting true-positive signals and a low probability of false-negative signals from environmental water samples. Altogether, these data suggest that the newly developed marker could be used in environmental monitoring studies to study crane fecal pollution dynamics.