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Waterbird Populations and Pressures in the Baltic Sea

image of Waterbird Populations and Pressures in the Baltic Sea

This report outlines the results of the internationally coordinated census of wintering waterbirds in the Baltic Sea 2007-2009 undertaken under the SOWBAS project (Status of wintering Waterbird populations in the Baltic Sea). The estimated total number of wintering waterbirds was 4.41 million compared to 7.44 million during the last co-ordinated census 1992-1993. Despite the general declines stable or increasing populations of herbivorous species were recorded. While benthic carnivores with a coastal distribution have either shown moderate declines, stable or increasing populations seaducks with an offshore distribution have declined seriously. Based on analyses of trends in wintering waterbirds and pressures indicators are suggested as performance indicators in relation to the international and national actions taken to reduce the anthropogenic pressures in the Baltic Sea.

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Interactions between human activities and waterbirds in the Baltic Sea

As reported in Chapter 6 and 7 large-scale declines (> 30%) are documented for 7 out of 20 species of waterbirds since 1993. Moderate declines are documented for three species, stable populations are documented for two species, moderate increases for three species and large-scale increases for four species. Thus, the overall picture which has emerged from SOWBAS is that the majority of the wintering waterbird species currently show decreasing trends. A range of potential pressures behind these declines has been suggested, including climate change, oil pollution and incidental bycatch (Rönkä et al. 2005, Skov 2007, Lehikoinen et al. 2008, Nilsson 2008, Hario et al. 2009a, Zydelis et al. 2009). In the following, the available information on relevant regional pressures in relation to wintering waterbirds in the Baltic Sea will be reviewed. The reviews are presented pressure by pressure and focus on recent (after 2000) data and references, and include trends for selected pressures to ease comparisons with the trends in waterbird numbers. At the end of the chapter results of correlations between trends in selected pressures and numbers of wintering waterbirds are presented, and key pressures are identified for the main ecological guilds present in the wintering waterbird community.

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