In more depth...
Project Partners and PersonnelOur partner is the Argentinian conservation organization Ascociación Ambiente Sur, with project leader Santiago Imberti. Ambiente Sur works together on hooded grebe conservation and research with another Argentinean conservation organization, Aves Argentinas (with project leader Hernán Casañas).
BackgroundThe Hooded Grebe, Podiceps gallardoi, is virtually endemic to Santa Cruz province in southern Argentina. Its breeding range is restricted to upland plateaus (above 700 m asl) where grasslands are interspersed with basaltic lagoons where the grebes breed and sheltered areas with shrubs. During the austral winter (non-breeding season) the grebe migrates to the Atlantic coast where it winters in several river estuaries, areas that are also important for wintering shorebirds, both Patagonian and Neartic.
The species has declined from 3000-5000 in the mid-1980s to a population "not exceeding 1000 birds" and is now listed as Critically Endangered. The good news is that the chief causes of its decline have been identified and can be readily addressed. The Argentinian NGO Ambiente Sur has a comprehensive plan to do so, and this project entails key actions. Ambiente Sur has already been successful in reducing drowning in fishing nets at coastal wintering areas by shifting fishing activities away from ares used by the grebes.
Following years of promotion by Argentinean conservation organizations (our partner, Ambiente Sur, and Aves Argentinas and Fundación Flora y Fauna Argentina), a new national park — Parque Nacional Patagonia — was created in March 2013 and now protects a sizeable portion of the breeding habitat of the hooded grebe. The plan to secure the grebe's future entails the acquisition of additional land to augment this new protected area.
PurposeTo prevent extinction of the Hooded Grebe and reverse its population decline by addressing various human-related factors limiting breeding success and causing excess mortality.
- At breeding areas:
- Trap American mink and develop a system to prevent nest predation by Kelp Gulls, plus related training.
- Conduct surveys to estimate breeding population and locate colonies; assign a guardian to each active colony and train volunteers.
- Design and implement wind-breaks so that wind storms do not destroy nests.
- Continue to pursue creation of National Park (this is well underway) to protect existing public land for breeding hooded grebes.
- Funded separately:
Remove trout completely from lakes (using a team of artisanal fisherman) and prevent introduction
of trout to new areas.
At wintering areas:
- Survey and monitor wintering sites (Atlantic coastal estuaries);
- Produce displays on the hooded grebe for Ambiente Sur's interpretive centre at Rio Gallegos;
- Continue theatre production on the hooded grebe and other Patagonian conservation issues for
students visiting the interpretive centre.
Future measures (not part of this project):
- Acquire private lands to be managed by Ambiente Sur as a reserve to supplement the new national park, Parque Nacional Patagonia, and protect sufficient breeding habitat to secure the species' recovery and future. (The market price for land in the area is ~$40-70/ha.)
Board and Staff
Argentina: Hooded Grebe
Brazil: Abrolhos MPA
Costa Rica: ACG
Guatemala: Laguna Grande
Guatemala: Sierra Caral
Mali: Desert elephants
Peru: Los Amigos
Argentina: Pino Paraná
Mexico: Sierra de Alamos
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