Cover

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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. i-vi

Contents

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pp. vii-xii

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Series Editor’s Foreword

John W. Tunnell Jr

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pp. xiii-xiv

Birds have always intrigued and fascinated me. Early in my career, as a budding biology student in the mid-1960s at Texas A&I University (now Texas A&M University-Kingsville) in South Texas, my advisor and mentor Dr. Allan Chaney sparked my interest in birds. At first, it was required that we learn the local birds on our many field trips in his vertebrate zoology class. Then, he took selected students to count colonial nesting waterbirds on the dredged material islands in the Laguna Madre around the mouth of Baffin Bay. Wow! What an experience that was for a...

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Foreword

Carl Safina

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pp. xv-xvi

Though we in the United States think of “the Gulf” as the southernmost US coastline, the Gulf of Mexico is a vast region of almost unimaginable diversity. In a concentrated span of sea, the Gulf’s habitats range from salt marshes to coral reefs to the deep ocean and back.

No other book about birds treats the Gulf in its full regionality. No other book covers the whole Gulf and all its birds, not just the United States, but all the Gulf coasts including Mexico and Cuba. Not just the waterbirds, but also migrant songbirds, birds...

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Preface

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pp. xvii-xxii

A warm breeze blows off the water, ruffling the gently waving grasses and wildflowers that border the small stream meandering along the edge of the Gulf near Corpus Christi, Texas. Overhead, Brown Pelicans glide across the bay, in perfect formation until the leader falls back, letting another take the lead. They drift effortlessly, their wing tips nearly touching, the brilliant white crowns of the adults glistening in the sun. The scene is serene, except for the frenetic antics of a pair of Reddish Egrets dancing across the water. The egrets are yards apart,...

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xxiii-xxvi

This book was several years in the making, and I am grateful to the many people who helped me. Above all others, Michael Gochfeld read drafts and provided many useful comments, insights, references, and field experience, as well as loving moral support—sometimes more than I wanted. He also spent hours on the taxonomy, which I deeply appreciate. I especially thank my able research assistants, Christian Jeitner and Taryn Pittfield who helped with literature reviews, data extraction, figure design, and in countless other ways that have made my life easier and much enriched. All three made the book...

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Chapter 1: Overview and Approach

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pp. 1-15

Among vertebrates, birds are unique because they can fly long distances in a short period of time, and with some exceptions, they inhabit air, land, and water. There are a few flightless birds that avoid predators by being very large, such as ostriches in Africa, rheas in South America, and penguins in Antarctica, or by living secretively on inaccessible islands (flightless rails). Most birds, however, are quite adept at flying, often for hundreds or thousands of miles during migration. Birds that live in the waterland interface may be equally at home on land, in the air, and in the water. Most other organisms live their entire lives in either water (e.g., fish, whales,...

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Chapter 2: Laws, Regulations, andState Designations

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pp. 16-20

The United States borders the Gulf of Mexico on the north, Mexico borders it on the west and south, and Cuba lies to the east. Each has states and provinces, and each has their own laws, regulations, and procedures for dealing with coastal resources, including birds. Laws are required because some birds are on the verge of extinction. About 12% of birds worldwide are threatened or endangered (Tercek and Powell 2015), and some reside in the Gulf of Mexico. Laws and regulations provide the legal basis for environmental protection of birds in the Gulf of Mexico as well as for protection of habitat associated with different species. The Migratory Bird Treaty...

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Chapter 3: The Land-Water Interface

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pp. 21-73

The margin between land and large water bodies is dynamic, and exposed to the forces affecting land (subsidence and erosion), water (waves, tides, sealevel rise), and wind. The margins themselves are usually narrow, providing an opportunity for animals to move quickly from one habitat to another, or to remain in the same habitat by moving along the interface (Burger 1991a). Land-water interfaces, such as those that surround the Gulf of Mexico, usually have high species diversity and high biomass because they contain a range of different habitats with high productivity, habitats are intermixed in different patch sizes, and the interface serves as the gateway...

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Chapter 4: Avian Uses of Land-Water Interfaces

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pp. 74-114

Bird species use the land-water interfaces in different ways. Seabirds live mainly on the open ocean, coming to land only to breed. Seabirds usually breed on offshore, oceanic islands, although some species (mainly gulls and some terns) nest on islands in bays and along coasts. Other species live mainly along coasts (e.g., some shorebirds, spoonbills, some egrets and herons). And still others live mainly inland, coming to the coasts only during the winter (e.g., some gulls, some shorebirds, some ducks and geese).

4.1. Avian Uses of Coastal Habitats

Birds use coastal and pelagic habitats in many ways, resulting in overlapping activities, both within and...

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Chapter 5: Factors Affecting Avian Populations

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pp. 115-216

Several factors that affect avian populations form the basis for understanding the status and trends of birds of the Gulf of Mexico. These include natural environmental factors and anthropogenic events, biological events, and interactions among them. Natural environmental events include storms, hurricanes, tidal regimes and extreme tidal events, high winds, extreme cold, heat, or drought, and other extraordinary events, such as superstorms. Anthropogenic factors include contamination by oil, heavy metals, DDT, PCBs, and other pollutants (e.g., endocrine disruptors), as well as human activities that lead to disturbances (Coste and Skoruppa 1989). Biological events include social interactions (competition, cooperation, social facilitation), predation, infestations (ticks, mites), disease, and invasive species (e.g.,...

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Chapter 6: Status of Indicator Species in the Gulf of Mexico

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pp. 217-402

The Gulf of Mexico contains some of the most important habitats in North America for wintering and migrating shorebirds (Withers 2002a, b), migrant raptors (Gallardo et al. 2009), wintering waterfowl (Davis et al. 2014), and migrant songbirds (Rappole 1995; Moore 2000a; Moore et al. 2005), as well as breeding pelicans, gulls, terns, shorebirds, ibises, egrets, herons, and flamingos, among other resident species. Because there are nearly 400 species that reside, winter, or migrate to or over the Gulf of Mexico, it is impossible to give an accounting of each species. Instead, I use the selected...

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Chapter 7: Comparisons among Indicator Species

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pp. 403-425

Bird populations are usually examined by individual species, or by groups (e.g., colonial nesting birds, migrant hawks, Nearctic-Neotropical migrants), but not across guilds. It is useful to consider the population trends, behavior and habitat of species belonging to different groups that occupy the same geographical area. The examples in this chapter are meant to illustrate variations among species, particularly for the indicator species discussed above: 1) Breeding Bird Surveys (BBS) for the Gulf from 1966–2014; 2) breeding bird surveys of Galveston Bay, Texas, from 1973 to 1990 (Gawlik et al. 1998), and up to 2009 (GBST 2015); 3) breeding birds of Estero Bay, Florida (1977–2011; Clark and Leary 2013); 4) timing of incubation of seabirds in the northern Gulf (1976, Portnoy 1977); 5) timing of...

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Chapter 8: Indicator Species Groups and Unique Resources

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pp. 426-556

The Gulf of Mexico plays a critical role for some groups of birds. Many of the species that make up these groups have been discussed in previous sections as indicator species. However, they should be reviewed briefly as species groups because of their overall importance on the Gulf. Further, many of these groups are surveyed by state or local agencies, or other organizations. These species groups include pelagic seabirds, migratory hawks, wintering waterfowl, migratory and wintering shorebirds, nesting colonial birds, and Nearctic-Neotropical migrants.

In addition, there are some other topics that crosscut a number of species and species groups that are discussed in this chapter. The Christmas Bird Counts are used to examine overall...

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Chapter 9: The Future

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pp. 557-616

The Gulf of Mexico ecosystem is a classic example of a “commons” issue (Burger and Gochfeld 1998; Ostrom et al. 1999; Burger et al. 2001b). A full range of resources (e.g., water, land, wildlife, fish, oil) are held in common by the people (and governments) of the United States, Mexico, and Cuba. Because the lands and waters are held by different countries, and some are controlled by international laws and treaties, not to mention foreign investors, it is difficult to have complete surveys of bird distributions and abundances, to develop management plans, and to manage these resources in common. The common use of resources by people and wildlife, as well as commercial interests, makes it difficult to manage bird populations over decades (Fig. 9.1). The Gulf of Mexico is not only developed and used extensively...

Appendix

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pp. 617-648

References

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pp. 649-706

List of Tables

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pp. 707-708

Index

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pp. 709-750

Back Cover

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