The State of Migratory Landbirds in the East Asian Flyway: Distributions, Threats, and Conservation Needs

Ding Li Yong, Wieland Heim, Sayam U. Chowdhury, Chang Yong Choi, Pavel Ktitorov, Olga Kulikova, Alexander Kondratyev, Philip D. Round, Desmond Allen, Colin R. Trainor, Luke Gibson, Judit K. Szabo

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    With nearly 400 migratory landbird species, the East Asian Flyway is the most diverse of the world’s flyways. This diversity is a consequence of the varied ecological niches provided by biomes ranging from broadleaf forests to arctic tundra and accentuated by complex biogeographic processes. The distribution and migration ecology of East Asian landbirds is still inadequately known, but a recent explosion in the number of studies tracking the migration of raptors, cuckoos, kingfishers and passerines has greatly increased our knowledge about the stopover and wintering ecology of many species, and the migratory routes that link northeast Eurasia and the Asian tropics. Yet the East Asian Flyway also supports the highest number of threatened species among flyways. Strong declines have been detected in buntings (Emberizidae) and other long-distance migrants. While the conservation of migratory landbirds in this region has largely focused on unsustainable hunting, there are other threats, such as habitat loss and increased agro-chemical use driven directly by land cover change and climate-related processes. Important knowledge gaps to be addressed include (1) threats affecting species in different parts of their annual cycle, (2) range-wide population trends, (3) ecological requirements and habitat use during the non-breeding season, and (4) the conservation status of critical wintering sites (including understudied farming landscapes, such as rice fields) and migration bottlenecks along the flyway.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number613172
    Pages (from-to)1-22
    Number of pages22
    JournalFrontiers in Ecology and Evolution
    Publication statusPublished - 13 Apr 2021


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