Periódicos Brasileiros em Medicina Veterinária e Zootecnia

How much can the number of jabiru stork (Ciconiidae) nests vary due to change of flood extension in a large Neotropical floodplain?

Mourão, GuilhermeTomas, WalfridoCampos, Zilca

The jabiru stork, Jabiru mycteria (Lichtenstein, 1819), a large, long-legged wading bird occurring in lowland wetlands from southern Mexico to northern Argentina, is considered endangered in a large portion of its distribution range. We conducted aerial surveys to estimate the number of jabiru active nests in the Brazilian Pantanal (140,000 km²) in September of 1991-1993, 1998, 2000-2002, and 2004. Corrected densities of active nests were regressed against the annual hydrologic index (AHI), an index of flood extension in the Pantanal based on the water level of the Paraguay River. Annual nest density was a non-linear function of the AHI, modeled by the equation 6.5 · 10-8 · AHI1.99 (corrected r² = 0.72, n = 7). We applied this model to the AHI between 1900 and 2004. The results indicate that the number of jabiru nests may have varied from about 220 in 1971 to more than 23,000 in the nesting season of 1921, and the estimates for our study period (1991 to 2004) averaged about 12,400 nests. Our model indicates that the inter-annual variations in flooding extent can determine dramatic changes in the number of active jabiru nests. Since the jabiru stork responds negatively to drier conditions in the Pantanal, direct human-induced changes in the hydrological patterns, as well as the effects of global climate change, may strongly jeopardize the population in the region.

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