Medardo Cruz

October 21, 2019

Development and Implementation of a Plan to Restore Water Flows to Favor Shorebird Habitat

Project Site: Ceuta Bay, Sinaloa Mexico
Sector: Academic
Disciplines: Ornithology, Restoration, Hydraulic Engineering, Hydrology
Collaborators: Institute for Marine Sciences and Limnology – UNAM, TUVANOSA, Max Planck Institute, National Commission on Natural Protected Areas (CONANP), Point Blue Conservation Science

Medardo is a PhD candidate at the Marine Sciences and Limnology Institute of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) in Mazatlán, Sinaloa. His focus has been the ecology of shorebirds in Northwestern Mexico, where his involvement in different projects and long-term data collection has guided him to understand the populations of these birds. Through his research, Medardo seeks to understand how ecological processes are related with changes in shorebird abundances, in order to generate solutions to address the biodiversity crisis that is experienced worldwide.

The Northwestern region of Mexico is home to up to 50% of the shorebird populations that use the Pacific Flyway and host a significant number of breeding populations. However, this region experiences habitat degradation and loss of wetland area. An example of this is Ceuta Bay in Sinaloa. In the last decade, we have observed decreases in the number of wintering and breeding birds associated with habitat degradation, particularly the loss of hydrological connectivity. Through the inter-sectoral collaboration of experts in hydrological modeling, hydraulic engineers, experts in wetland ecology and restoration, as well as shorebird ecologists, we will develop a restoration plan that will be implemented, re-establishing the water flows that naturally reached the area. This project will restore around 270 hectares that previously hosted up to 70% of the shorebird populations that use the bay during migration and supported at least four species of breeding shorebirds. Additionally, with the collaboration of the local government and federal conservation agencies, we will implement a governance plan and a communication campaign on the importance of these wetlands. With this, we hope to involve the different sectors that interact in the wetland and secure the long-term success of the project.

The host institution for this project is Instituto de Ciencias del Mar y Limnologia de la Universidad Autónoma de Mexico, UNAM (Institute for Marine Sciences and Limnology of the National Autonomous University of Mexico), a leader in international research in the Gulf of California region. Researchers from this Academic Unit have contributed extensively to the knowledge of biodiversity and conservation of the Mexican Pacific coast for over 40 years.

Satellite image of the salt flat and areas to rehabilitate. The red polygon shows the main tidal channel, the pink polygon corresponds to the area that will be used to reforest mangroves, while in blue are the ponds that will be rehabilitated and finally, the white polygon shows the pond where the tidal water has stopped flowing.
Shorebird population trends in Ceuta Bay: (a) models trends for the number of breeding snowy plovers, the red line represents the real trend and the black line the simulation average. (b) number of nests registered during a thirteen-year study. (c) number of shorebirds recorded during the Migratory Shorebird Project census.