Scaly-sided Merganser (Mergus squamatus)
Mohamed bin Zayed Species project number 10251550
I established the Scaly-sided Merganser Project (SSMP) as public initiative in April 2000. The project is non-registered group of conservationists and volunteers acting to help recovering of the Scaly-sided Merganser in Russia. About 50 professionals and volunteers worked in the project by now. World population of Scaly-sided Merganser numbers 8,000-8,500 individuals with 95% of population breeding in Russian Far East, and the rest 5% of world population breeds in China. Core breeding area in Russia is Primorye where 1,300 pairs bred in 2000-09 according to our estimations. SSMP area includes S and C Primorye (area aprr. 350 km long in NE-SW direction and 140 km wide in W-E direction, see map attached). Long-term aims of SSMP is to estimate the number and current status of the threatened Scaly-sided Mergansers on the Russian breeding grounds, to investigate factors affecting breeding population in order to improve conservation efforts and attract public attention to the conservation of the species. Project was nominated among 13 conservation projects by IUCN Species Survival Commission in 2005. Pilot stage of SSMP (2000-2003) included searching for important nesting habitats (rivers) in Russia and testing of artificial nest program. During pilot study we also developed methods for Scaly-sided Merganser catching for ringing. Second phase of project (2004-2007) was related to testing of hypothesis that habitat loss via logging of riverine forest may be compensated with artificial cavities. We set up 180 artificial nest boxes along logged and un-logged rivers and checked them annually in spring for occupation by Scaly-sided Mergansers. We confirmed occupation rate is significantly higher along logged rivers than along un-logged (Solovieva et al, in press). At the same time we set up permanent study plot in Kievka-River basin and established annual surveys for population dynamics on five rivers. We got data on Scaly-sided Merganser annual cycle, breeding biology, reproduction success, habitat use, survival and sources of mortality. Since 2006 we are working on on location of winter grounds and stop-over sites and drawing up of flyway for Scaly-sided Mergansers nesting in S Primorye. We put 24 geolocating loggers on nesting hens and we got 10 recoveries next year and 2 recoveries after two years (all together 14 annual records). We found that the main sources of mortality were poaching (shooting during and out of waterfowl season) and death in salmon fishing nets. Information-and-Education program for target group of people (local fisherman and hunters) was initiated in 2006 and it includes poster distribution and public lectures.
Project 10251550 location - Russia, Asia