The greatest threats to cranes worldwide are related to agricultural activities. They include direct losses of wetlands or grasslands; altered wetland hydrology due to water control systems such as dams or irrigation ditches; fire; direct and indirect impacts from agricultural chemicals; human disturbances; disease risks where cranes congregate in high densities on crops or in association with domestic birds; and collisions with power lines in cropland areas. Loss and degradation of wetland and grassland habitats by conversion to agriculture pose the greatest threats to all crane species. However, some agricultural uses of these ecosystems, such as paddy wetlands and grazing, can be beneficial to cranes and allow sustainable use by both cranes and farmers. Effects of agricultural burning on crane habitats can vary widely depending on fire severity, timing relative to plant growth and its response to burning, environmental conditions during and after fire, impact on predators and alternative prey, and relation of these factors to life-history stage for cranes. Cranes are increasingly exposed to agricultural chemicals that may affect them directly, through consumption of contaminated foods, or indirectly, through loss of important foods, or altered habitats. Cranes in agricultural areas can be intentionally or unintentionally disturbed by normal farming activities; where they directly threaten crops, farmers may destroy nests or kill birds. Birds may become habituated to some disturbances, but repeated, intensive, or targeted disturbances can result in reproductive failure, abandonment of breeding territories, or avoidance of roost or foraging areas. Dense congregations of cranes on crops increase risks of rapid spread of infectious diseases. Widespread concerns about avian collisions with power lines, a leading source of mortality or injury for some crane populations, have led to various approaches to reduce or prevent avian mortalities in problem areas. Alternative actions or programs that could help prevent or mitigate these threats are outlined.
|Title||Threats to cranes related to agriculture|
|Authors||Jane E. Austin|
|Publication Type||Book Chapter|
|Publication Subtype||Book Chapter|
|Record Source||USGS Publications Warehouse|
|USGS Organization||Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center|