An appraisal of the status and distribution of waterbirds of Algeria: indicators of global changes?
North Africa is generally thought to play a key role for wintering and staging migrant birds. This study presents a detailed assessment of the status of waterbirds of Algeria with an emphasis on changes in species composition and distribution of breeding wetland and marine birds. A total of 97 species of waterbirds were identified with 41 species breeding. Marked environmental changes in North Africa over the past two hundred years that are relevant to waterbirds have included wetland drainage, persecution, introduction of exotic fish, increases in open-air refuse dumps and climate change. These changes have affected waterbirds differentially with some species increasing in numbers and expanding their range and others teetering on the verge of local extinction. When examining changes in the present breeding avifauna since the nineteenth century or the mid-twentieth century, the guild renewal rates were 18.3% (with a net loss of 5 species) and 4.8% (with a net gain of 3 species), respectively. Data suggest that many Mediterranean waterbird populations are structured as metapopulations, prompting the need for international cooperation to study population dynamics on a wider scale and to devise conservation strategies that take into account the interconnectivity of wetlands on a regional level.