Importance of Lake MacLeod, northwestern Australia, to shorebirds: a review and update
Faculty of Computing, Health and Science
School of Natural Sciences / Centre for Ecosystem Management
A number of surveys have been undertaken to determine Lake MacLeod’s significance for shorebirds (also called waders). Given the recent global declines in shorebird populations, a current understanding of the significance of Lake MacLeod to shorebirds is timely. We review all survey data in the context of the following criteria: presence of significant national, international and staging populations in the East Asia–Australasian Flyway; species covered by international agreements; and species listed as being of conservation concern in the Action Plan for Australian Birds 2011. Lake MacLeod hosts significant populations of 10 shorebird species. Of these, three species occurred in internationally significant numbers (red knot Calidris canutus, red-necked stint Calidris ruficollis and curlew sandpiper Calidris ferruginea), five species occurred in numbers representing significant proportions of the Australian populations (common greenshank Tringa nebularia, black-winged stilt Himantopus leucocephalus, banded stilt Cladorhynchus leucocephalus, rednecked avocet Recurvirostra novaehollandiae and red-capped plover Charadrius ruficapillus) and two species (sharp-tailed sandpiper Calidris acuminata and greater sand plover Charadrius leschenaultii) had populations that met the significant population staging criterion. The most notable of these populations were those of the curlew sandpiper and banded stilt that accounted for up to 31% and 47% of their Flyway and Australian populations, respectively. Lake MacLeod is of great importance to shorebird conservation both in Western Australia and internationally. We recommend that future management strategies focus on maintaining and enhancing shorebird habitats at Lake MacLeod.