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ISPRS Int. J. Geo-Inf. 2017, 6(8), 256; doi:10.3390/ijgi6080256

Spatiotemporal Assessment of Littoral Waterbirds for Establishing Ecological Indicators of Mediterranean Coastal Lagoons

1
Department of Ecology and Hydrology, University of Murcia, 30100 Espinardo, Spain
2
BC3-Basque Centre for Climate Change, Sede Building 1, 1st Floor, Scientific Campus of the University of the Basque Country, 48940 Leioa, Spain
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 24 July 2017 / Revised: 7 August 2017 / Accepted: 18 August 2017 / Published: 19 August 2017
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Abstract

Waterbirds are vital indicators of anthropogenic influence on the ecological status of Mediterranean coastal lagoons. Our study relates temporal waterbird data to key environmental gradients at catchment scale that have a structural or functional influence on littoral waterbird assemblages at different scales. During two full-year cycles and two additional wintering seasons, the nearshore waterbird assemblages of the Mar Menor coastal lagoon (Murcia Region, SE Spain) were monitored monthly. Several biological indicator variables were related to the anthropogenic environmental gradient in the catchment area. Results showed that there was a strong dependence of waterbird assemblages on the distance to shore, emphasizing the importance of the first 100-m band, in which many species relevant to conservation converge on food resources. Well-preserved shoreline tracts therefore had a clear positive effect on community richness and diversity values, and were correlated with the occurrence of some species. These results clearly support the need for effective protection and restoration measures of such littoral habitats. Specific responses to local disturbing processes were nested within habitat and landscape preferences, supporting the value of aquatic birds as integrative ecological signals in semi-enclosed coastal systems. Moreover, waterbird-based indicators responded positively to environmental improvements both qualitatively and quantitatively. View Full-Text
Keywords: waterbirds assemblages; ecological indicators; coastal lagoon; anthropogenic landscape gradient; natural habitats; land-use/land-cover; spatiotemporal assessment waterbirds assemblages; ecological indicators; coastal lagoon; anthropogenic landscape gradient; natural habitats; land-use/land-cover; spatiotemporal assessment
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Farinós-Celdrán, P.; Robledano-Aymerich, F.; Carreño, M.F.; Martínez-López, J. Spatiotemporal Assessment of Littoral Waterbirds for Establishing Ecological Indicators of Mediterranean Coastal Lagoons. ISPRS Int. J. Geo-Inf. 2017, 6, 256.

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