Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Irrigated agriculture: precious habitat for the long-billed curlew

Date:
April 16, 2014
Source:
Point Blue Conservation Science
Summary:
Despite the recent rainfall, California is still in a drought, so not only are water supplies limited, but demand for water is increasing from a variety of uses. In a recent study, scientists document the importance of irrigated agricultural crops in California's Central Valley to a conspicuous shorebird.

Crops like alfalfa provide critical habitat for the Long-billed Curlew, the largest shorebird in North America and a species of continental conservation concern.
Credit: Mike Baird

Despite the recent rainfall, California is still in a drought (snowpack 32% of average), so not only are water supplies limited, but demand for water is increasing from a variety of uses. In a recent study published by Point Blue Conservation Science (Point Blue) and Audubon California in the journal Western Birds, scientists document the importance of irrigated agricultural crops in California's Central Valley to a conspicuous shorebird.

Related Articles


Crops like alfalfa provide critical habitat for the Long-billed Curlew, the largest shorebird in North America and a species of continental conservation concern. As the drought continues, mirroring conditions that are projected to be more common in the future, scientists say the need for allocating water reliably to wetlands and flooded agricultural lands will only grow stronger for wetland-dependent birds.

"Curlews can't survive in the Central Valley without irrigated agriculture, given the loss of most of their historic shallow-water habitats in summer and fall," says Dave Shuford, Point Blue ecologist and lead author of the publication.

The Central Valley's protected wetlands (federal wildlife refuges, state wildlife areas, and private lands) and certain types of agriculture (e.g. rice, alfalfa), provide nearly all of the habitat used by millions of ducks, geese, shorebirds, and other waterbirds every fall, winter, and spring. In early fall -- the driest time of year in the Valley -- it is especially important that these birds can find flooded fields and wetlands for their survival. In the study, Point Blue scientists, Audubon California, and a host of volunteers studied the curlews for three years. Observers recorded over 20,000 curlews: about 93% were in the central and southern portions of the Central Valley, concentrating in areas extensively flood irrigated for alfalfa and irrigated pasture.

"Millions of migratory birds rely on the flooded agricultural fields each year. Conservation and agricultural groups can work together to benefit birds and people," says Meghan Hertel, Audubon Working Lands Director.

In the future, irrigated agriculture will face increased water costs driven by competing needs of an increasing human population and probably drier conditions under a changing climate. These threats might be offset if a program of economic incentives can be devised for farmers to maintain flooding of crops, such as alfalfa and irrigated pasture, to the benefit of both farmers and curlews.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Point Blue Conservation Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Shuford, W. D., G. W. Page, G. M. Langham, and C. M. Hickey. The importance of agriculture to Long-billed Curlews in California’s Central Valley in fall. Western Birds, 44:196-205

Cite This Page:

Point Blue Conservation Science. "Irrigated agriculture: precious habitat for the long-billed curlew." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 April 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140416101632.htm>.
Point Blue Conservation Science. (2014, April 16). Irrigated agriculture: precious habitat for the long-billed curlew. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140416101632.htm
Point Blue Conservation Science. "Irrigated agriculture: precious habitat for the long-billed curlew." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140416101632.htm (accessed December 19, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Friday, December 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Dec. 18, 2014) The U.S. Navy unveils an underwater device that mimics the movement of a fish. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Kids Die While Under Protective Services

Kids Die While Under Protective Services

AP (Dec. 18, 2014) As part of a six-month investigation of child maltreatment deaths, the AP found that hundreds of deaths from horrific abuse and neglect could have been prevented. AP's Haven Daley reports. (Dec. 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
When You Lose Weight, This Is Where The Fat Goes

When You Lose Weight, This Is Where The Fat Goes

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) Can fat disappear into thin air? New research finds that during weight loss, over 80 percent of a person's fat molecules escape through the lungs. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Hottest Food Trends for 2015

The Hottest Food Trends for 2015

Buzz60 (Dec. 17, 2014) Urbanspoon predicts whicg food trends will dominate the culinary scene in 2015. Mara Montalbano (@maramontalbano) has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins