From May 2000 to November 2003 we studied waterbird use of mangroves, intertidal flats, shrimp ponds and coastal forests surrounding Leizhou Peninsula at the southernmost extent of mainland China. We recorded 61 waterbird species. The most species-rich habitat was intertidal flat with 45 species, followed by mangrove with 38 species, shrimp ponds with 37 species and coastal forest with 15 species. Greatest bird abundance was on intertidal flats, which supported 69% of all birds recorded and 81% of all migrants. Leizhou Peninsula is in the East Asian-Australasian flyway of migratory birds and is an important staging site for migrants. Intertidal flats proved important to nationally and provincially protected and threatened species. Species richness and abundance at shrimp ponds nearly equaled that in mangroves. Charadriids, scolopacids and ardeids used shrimp pond dikes as roosts and foraging habitats during high tides. Shrimp pond dikes play an important role by substituting for natural high-tide roosts such as sandbars, which, in many cases, they replaced. Mangrove-planting programs should avoid conversion of important intertidal flats. When restoring abandoned shrimp ponds, it is also important to retain some dikes as high-tide roosts and foraging areas. Because of the complexity of coastal-zone land administration on Leizhou Peninsula, it is critical that government departments work together to plan and implement mangrove restoration and intertidal flat conservation projects.
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Vol. 29 • No. 4