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Feb 29 2012

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Protecting Birds at the Lesser Antilles: EPIC Program


EPIC logo

EPIC logo

At PoB we support efforts to protect the avian wildlife vigoriously. This post is dedicated to all participating in the EPIC program. This program resulted in the first breeding altas of the Lesser Antilles. On the website [http://www.epicislands.org/] all information about this major effort is compiled. Visit the site and, if nothing else, state your support or even better donate to the cause. Below a short description of the three major programs currently enrolled on the Lesser Antilles.

EPIC programs currently enforced:

Songbirds as environmental indicators
This EPIC program combines research, training, equipment provisioning, and legislation to increase awareness of songbird populations as environmental indicators.

Research by EPIC biologists will evaluate the status of songbird populations as well as the health of Lesser Antillean habitats. Training regional biologists to assess songbird populations leads to increased awareness within the Caribbean region while providing banding equipment off-sets research costs. Providing local and regional governments with songbird population trends and habitat requirements allows the governing body to implement appropriate conservation legislation and management practices to protect birds.

Conservation of Wetlands and Coastal Habitats
This EPIC program uses water quality and bird species composition to determine key conservation areas and threats. Conservation actions are then initiated based on research findings.

Potential actions include mangrove restoration, educational programs, and proposing legislative measures for protection. Wetlands serve as a catchment for land based rainwater run-off and as such are excellent indicators of the pollution in our terrestrial and coastal areas. Wetlands are also critical biodiversity areas, supporting a wide spectrum of aquatic and terrestrial species. However, coastal habitats are also primary targets for development and are rapidly decreasing in the Caribbean with few, if any, protective measures in place

Conservation of Key Marine Bird Habitats
This EPIC program uses seabird census and nest monitoring to determine key marine bird areas and major threats to individual nesting colonies. Conservation actions are then initiated based on research findings.

Potential actions include measures to reduce human disturbance and removal of invasive species. Seabirds are indicators of the health of the marine environment. By following nesting success, it is possible to determine if nest failure is due to ecological factors such as insufficient prey, indicating a loss of local marine life. In addition, changing seabird diet can indicate a concurrent change in the composition of fish stocks. Conservation of these offshore and main island refuges provides an opportunity to preserve the natural treasures of each Caribbean island and provide a better understanding the ecology of our marine environment.


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