An assessment of the current and potential future natural and anthropogenic issues facing migratory shorebirds

Sutherland, W.J.; Alves, J.A.; Chang, C.H.; Davidson, D.C.; Finlayson, C.M.; Gill, J.A.; Gill, R.E.; González, P.M.; Gunnarsson, T.G.; Kleijn, D.; Spray, C.J.; Szekely, T.; Thompson, D.B.A.


We review the conservation issues facing migratory shorebird populations that breed in temperate regions and use wetlands in the non-breeding season. Shorebirds are excellent model organisms for understanding ecological, behavioural and evolutionary processes and are often used as indicators of wetland health. A global team of experienced shorebird researchers identified 45 issues facing these shorebird populations, and divided them into three categories (natural, current anthropogenic and future issues). The natural issues included megatsunamis, volcanoes and regional climate changes, while current anthropogenic threats encompassed agricultural intensification, conversion of tidal flats and coastal wetlands by human infrastructure developments and eutrophication of coastal systems. Possible future threats to shorebirds include microplastics, new means of recreation and infectious diseases. We suggest that this review process be broadened to other taxa to aid the identification and ranking of current and future conservation actions.