The Importance of Supratidal Habitats for Wintering Shorebirds and the Potential Impacts of Shrimp Aquaculture

Publication Type: Journal Article

Year of Publication: 2009

Authors: Yasué, M, Dearden P

Journal: Environmental Management

Volume: 43

Issue: 6

Pagination: 1108 - 1121

Date Published: 6/2009

ISSN: 1432-1009

Keywords: Foraging ecology, Habitat change, Invertebrates, Thailand, Wetlands


Intensive black tiger shrimp ( Penaeus monodon) aquaculture ponds have replaced significant areas of coastal wetlands throughout tropical Asia. Few studies have assessed potential impacts on avian foraging habitats. At Khao Sam Roi Yod National Park, Thailand, seminatural wetlands have been converted to either shrimp ponds or to salinization ponds that provide saline water for shrimp aquaculture. Although shorebirds cannot feed in aquaculture ponds, hypersaline ponds can provide productive foraging areas. Thus, the overall impact of the shrimp industry on shorebirds depends partly on the relative quality of the salt ponds compared to seminatural wetlands. In this study, we examined wintering shorebird use of tidal ( N = 5 sites) and supratidal areas (four wetland sites, four salt pond sites) and compared the shorebird community (14 species), prey availability, profitability, and disturbance rates between wetlands and salt ponds. Two shorebird species fed in higher densities in wetlands, whereas seven species were more abundant in salt ponds. Large juvenile fish and dragonfly larvae were more abundant in wetlands, whereas there were more small Chironomid midge and fly larvae in salt ponds. We conclude that salt ponds might provide higher-quality foraging habitats compared to wetlands for small shorebirds species because of the abundance of small larvae. However, the shrimp aquaculture industry reduces habitat availability for shorebirds feeding on larger prey. This study demonstrates a comprehensive, multispecies approach to assess the impacts of a large-scale change in coastal habitats for wintering shorebirds.

DOI: 10.1007/s00267-008-9255-7

Short Title: Environmental Management