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HOWISON RA, HOOIJMEIJER JCEW & PIERSMA T (2019) The Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa limosa as an indicator of changes in land use in the Sahel. LIMOSA 92 (3): 154-163.

Afro-Palearctic migratory birds are the most rapidly declining group of European breeding birds. Millions of these migrants, amongst which Black-tailed Godwits, seem to depend on freshwater wetlands in sub-Saharan Africa during boreal winters. However, these wetlands are undergoing massive changes due to land conversion to agriculture. Agriculturally used wetlands, such as rice fields, could potentially provide alternative habitat but little is known about Godwit habitat usage in this region in contrast to the extensively studied European breeding range. Distinguishing between both natural and agricultural African wetlands, we constructed novel spatiotemporal response models using remote sensing and ground surveys. We found that Godwits exhibit high fidelity to a narrow range of environmental conditions and avoid landscapes with intensified agriculture across the whole western Sahel. We recommend that future land-use planning should strive to conserve a functional network of wetland ecosystems, benefitting sustainable agriculture whilst providing essential habitat for bird species that depend on this habitat.

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limosa 92.3 2019
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