Distribution and protection of meadow-breeding waders in the Polissia area (Eastern Europe): using a species distribution modeling approach


77 – 86

1 April 21

Iurii Strus


Iurii Strus
State Museum of Natural History of NAS of Ukraine, 18 Teatralna str., Lviv, 79008, Ukraine
“Roztochia” Nature Reserve, 7 Sichovyh Striltsiv str., Ivano-Frankove, Lviv region, 81071, Ukraine


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In times of rapid population decline and range contraction of waders in Europe, protection of important breeding sites and habitat management are required. However, in some parts of the breeding range in E Europe, information on species distribution is absent, fragmentary, or remains inaccessible, due to the lack of nationwide monitoring activities and regular fine-scale atlas works. In this paper, I estimate the current distribution of three species of meadow-breeding waders, Northern Lapwing Vanellus vanellus, Common Redshank Tringa totanus and Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa, in the Polissia area of E Europe using counted occurrences and species distribution models. I then use predicted distribution maps to assess the proportion of the range of each species covered by the existing nature protection network. Modeling was based on environmental predictors derived from open sources, such as series of vegetation indices and Tasseled-Cap transformation products built on the basis of Landsat 8 OLI images, global land cover data, a digital elevation model, and other derived products. Predictions indicate that the breeding distribution of the three species overlap with each other by up to 30%, with Lapwing being the most widespread species. Suitable habitats are largely in the floodplains of the Pripyat, Dnieper and Desna river basins on wet meadows and pastures. Nature protection areas of different levels cover nearly 42, 46 and 50% of the predicted ranges of Lapwing, Redshank and Black-tailed Godwit, respectively. These numbers, however, include both territories in areas with low conservation status, which may allow agricultural use (e.g. regular Emerald and Natura 2000 sites), and territories in areas that are more comprehensively protected (national parks and reserves). About 11% of the predicted ranges of Lapwings and Redshanks and 14% of the Black-tailed Godwit predicted range are within national parks and reserves. Further expansion of conservation areas (e.g. Emerald network) in the valleys of the Styr, Goryn, Dnieper, Sozh, Iput and Besed rivers would increase coverage by an additional 10%, and is recommended.