Burrow ambient temperature influences Helice crab activity and availability for migratory Red-crowned cranes Grus japonensis.
ABSTRACT: For migratory birds that specialize on particular benthic macroinvertebrate species, the timing of migration is critical since prey availability may be temporally limited and a function of local ambient temperature. Hence, variation in local ambient temperature can influence the diet composition of migrant birds, and, consequently, they may be constrained by which stopover and wintering sites they are able to utilize during periods of colder temperatures. Here, we use fecal analysis, observer-based population counts, digital video recordings, and temperature data to test five predictions regarding the influence of local ambient temperature on the activity and availability of mudflat crabs-a key prey resource at three staging/wintering sites in eastern China, for migratory Red-crowned cranes (Grus japonensis) and how this subsequently influences crane diet and use of wetland sites. Pearson's correlations and generalized linear models revealed that mudflat crabs became significantly more surface active with increasing burrow ambient temperature. Piecewise regression analysis revealed that crab surface activity was largely limited to a burrow ambient temperature threshold between 12 and 13? after which activity significantly increased. Crab activity declining temporally during the crane's autumn migration period but increased during spring migration. Crabs accounted for a significant proportion of crane diet at two of three sites; however, the frequency of crab remains was significantly different between sites, and between autumn and spring migration. Analyses of crane count data revealed a degree of congruence between the migration timing of Red-crowned cranes with periods of warmer ambient temperature, and a significant, positive correlation between the percentage of crab remains in crane feces and site ambient temperature. Collectively, our data suggest that temperature-related mudflat crab activity may provide an important time window for migratory Red-crowned cranes to utilize critical stopover sites and the crabs' food resources.
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:The red-crowned crane is one of the rarest crane species, and its population is decreasing due to loss of habitat, poisoning, and infections. Using a viral metagenomics approach, we analyzed the virome of feces from wild and captive red-crowned cranes, which were pooled separately. Vertebrate viruses belonging to the families Picornaviridae, Parvoviridae, Circoviridae, and Caliciviridae were detected. Among the members of the family Picornaviridae, we found three that appear to represent new genera. Six nearly complete genomes from members of the family Parvoviridae were also obtained, including four new members of the proposed genus "Chapparvovirus", and two members of the genus Aveparvovirus. Six small circular DNA genomes were also characterized. One nearly complete genome showing a low level of sequence identity to caliciviruses was also characterized. Numerous viruses believed to infect insects, plants, and crustaceans were also identified, which were probably derived from the diet of red-crowned cranes. This study increases our understanding of the enteric virome of red-crowned cranes and provides a baseline for comparison to those of other birds or following disease outbreaks.
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:The effects of Spartina alterniflora invasion on macrobenthos have long been of concern; however, there is currently no unified conclusion regarding these effects. Most studies on crabs focus on one species or limited habitat types, and assessments of the community-level effects of S. alterniflora invasion considering multiple species and habitat types have rarely been conducted. In this study, we sampled crabs along a habitat gradient from the shoreline to inland areas on the Yellow Sea coast, including the mudflat, S. alterniflora marsh, Suaeda salsa marsh and Phragmites australis marsh. A total of 10 crab species were found among all habitats, with five species in the mudflat, six species in S. alterniflora marsh, seven species in S. salsa marsh and four species in P. australis marsh. The Shannon index values for the crab communities were similar between S. alterniflora marsh and S. salsa marsh, and these values were significantly higher than those for the mudflat and P. australis marsh. However, the total biomass of crabs was highest in the mudflat, and Metaplax longipes, Philyra pisum and Macrophthalmus dilatatus exclusively preferred the mudflat. The analysis of principal components and similarities showed that the crab community structure in S. alterniflora marsh was most similar to that in S. salsa marsh, while the crab community structure in the mudflat was most different from that in the other habitat types. Our results demonstrate that the distribution of crabs varies across a habitat gradient after S. alterniflora invasion and that the crab community in S. alterniflora marsh is slightly different from that associated with the local vegetation but shows a large difference from that in the mudflat. This study indicates that some crab species may have adapted to habitat containing alien S. alterniflora, while other crab species reject this new marsh type. The effects of the distribution of crabs after S. alterniflora invasion on the regional ecosystem need further study in the future.
Project description:Three species of cranes are distributed widely throughout southern Africa, but little is known about how they respond to the changes in land-use that have occurred in this region. This study assessed habitat preference of the two crane species across land-use categories of the self contained small scale commercial farms of 30 to 40 ha per household (A1), large scale commercial agriculture farms of > 50 ha per household (A2) and Old Resettlement, farms of < 5 ha per household with communal grazing land in Driefontein Grasslands Important Bird Area (IBA), Zimbabwe. The study further explored how selected explanatory (environmental) habitat variables influence crane species abundance. Crane bird counts and data on influencing environmental variables were collected between June and August 2012. Our results show that varying land-use categories had an influence on the abundance and distribution of the Wattled Crane (Bugeranus carunculatus) and the Grey Crowned Crane (Belearica regulorum) across Driefontein Grasslands IBA. The Wattled Crane was widely distributed in the relatively undisturbed A2 farms while the Grey Crowned Crane was associated with the more disturbed land of A1 farms, Old Resettlement and its communal grazing land. Cyperus esculentus and percent (%) bare ground were strong environmental variables best explaining the observed patterns in Wattled Crane abundance across land-use categories. The pattern in Grey Crowned Crane abundance was best explained by soil penetrability, moisture and grass height variables. A holistic sustainable land-use management that takes into account conservation of essential habitats in Driefontein Grasslands IBA is desirable for crane populations and other wetland dependent species that include water birds.
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: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:Habitat loss is one of the key factors underlying the decline of many waterbird species, including Siberian Crane (Grus leucogeranus), a threatened species worldwide. Wetlands are the primary stopover for many waterbirds and restoration of these wetlands involves both hydrological restoration and water resource management. To protect the stopover sites of Siberian Cranes, we collected Siberian Crane stopover numbers, meteorological and hydrological data, and remote sensing data from 2008 to 2011 in Momoge National Nature Reserve, one of the largest wetlands in northeastern China. A model was developed to estimate the suitability of Siberian Crane stopover sites. According to our results, the most suitable daily water level for Siberian Cranes between 2008 and 2012 occurred in the spring of 2008 and in the Scirpus planiculmis growing season and autumn of 2010. We suggest a season-dependent water management strategy in order to provide suitable conditions at Siberian Crane stopover sites.
Project description:Background:The black-necked crane (Grus nigricollis) is a vulnerable species and the only species that lives in the plateau. Five migration routes of different populations have been identified, but for cranes wintering in Nyingchi Prefecture, Tibet, the migration route and breeding/summering area are still unknown. The aim of this study was to investigate the spatio-temporal migration patterns of black-necked cranes in this area and to identify important areas for conservation. Methods:In 2016, we fitted seven black-necked cranes in Nyingchi with GPS-GSM satellite transmitters to record their migration routes. We used ArcGIS 10.2 to visualize important stopover sites and the 'ggplot' function in R to analyze the migration patterns. Results:From March 2016 to May 2019, we recorded nine spring migration and four autumn migration tracks from five individuals. Four individuals spent the breeding/summering season in Qinghai Lake, while the other spent the breeding/summering season in the Jinzihai Wetland of Dulan County, Qinghai Province. Detailed spatio-temporal information showed that the spring migration lasted 8.7 ± 4.6 days and covered 1,182.5 ± 90.4 km, while the autumn migration lasted 30 ± 10.6 days and covered 1,455.7 ± 138 km. Basom Lake and the Shazhuyu River were the most important stopover sites during the spring and autumn migrations, respectively. The cranes spent 4.4 ± 3.7 days in Basom Lake and 26.3 ± 10.7 days in the Shazhuyu River. The black-necked cranes mainly migrated during the daytime (>85 % of the fly points), and 81 % (17/21) of all stopover and roosting sites were in the valley or at lakeside swamps. Only 17.7% (516 / 2,914) of the data points for stopover and roosting sites were in protected areas. Main conclusions:Our study revealed the breeding/summering areas and migration routes of the black-necked cranes wintering in Nyingchi. These results contribute to a better understanding of the annual spatio-temporal migration patterns and the development of conservation plans for this vulnerable species.
Project description:BACKGROUND:South Korea conducts annual national surveillance programs to detect avian influenza (AI) in domestic poultry, live bird markets, and wild birds. In March 2017, an AIV was isolated from fecal samples in an outdoor aviary flight cage in a zoo in Korea. RESULTS:Nucleotide sequencing identified the isolate as low pathogenic avian influenza virus (LPAIV) H7N7, and DNA barcoding analysis identified the host species as red-crowned crane. This isolate was designated A/red-crowned crane/Korea/H1026/2017 (H7N7). Genetic analysis and gene constellation analysis revealed that A/red-crowned crane/Korea/H1026/2017 (H7N7) showed high similarity with four H7N7 LPAIVs isolated from wild bird habitats in Seoul and Gyeonggi in early 2017. CONCLUSIONS:Considering the genetic similarity and similar collection dates of the viruses, and the fact that zoo bird cages are vulnerable to AIV, it is likely that fecal contamination from wild birds might have introduced LPAIV H7N7 into the red-crowned crane at the zoo. Therefore, our results emphasize that enhanced biosecurity measures should be employed during the wild bird migration season, and that continued surveillance should be undertaken to prevent potential threats to avian species in zoos and to humans.