AMUR-HEILONG RIVER BASIN

 

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Introduction

Climate

Waters and water management

Ecosystems and ecoregions

Species diversity and use of biological resources

Nature conservation: econet and protected areas

Countries & cultures

Economy

Land use

International policy

Species diversity and use of biological resources
Oriental White Stork
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The Amur-Heilong basin floodplains are the last remaining nesting area for 95 percent of the world population of Oriental White Stork(Ciconia boyciana), an important indicator of wetland health.  The birds breed only in the Amur-Heilong River basin and migrate south to China for the winter.

Map: Distribution of oriental stork breeding areas. 

The global population of this endangered species (IUCN Redlist) has declined by 75% in the past four decades to fewer than 2,500 birds today.  Outside Russia, the species nests only in northeastern China.  Oriental White Storks have disappeared completely from parts of their former range on the islands of Japan and the Korean Peninsula.  The bird’s nesting area in northeast China is also shrinking dramatically (slightly more than 120 pairs were reported in 2004).  The bulk of the population – about 380 to 430 pairs – occupies wetlands in the southern part of the Russian Far East.  The largest concentration of nests, about 100, is found in Amurskaya Province, around Khanka/Xinkhai Lake and in Honghe National Nature Reserve in the Sanjiang Plain in China.
Oriental White Storks nest in areas near oxbow and wetland lakes, rivers, and streams surrounded by large open wetlands with islands of tree clumps or individual trees.  They sometimes nest in groups.  Storks feed on fish, invertebrates, and amphibians, placing the species at the top of the food chain and making it an important keystone species.  The Oriental White Stork is also an indicator of wetland health, since it requires clean freshwater for survival. 
Until recently, Oriental White Stork has not been the focus of conservation efforts in the region, despite the critical status of the population.  No legends or traditions are associated with the Oriental White Stork in Asian cultures, as is the case with cranes.  Most  mortality occurs during migration and on wintering grounds.  In Slavic culture, the stork is considered a guardian of the home and a symbol of happiness, which can help motivate local people to help conserve the species.  Unlike the European White Stork, which commonly nests in villages and even on chimneys, the Oriental Stork shies away from human settlements and this limits the availability of suitable nesting habitat, particularly in largely deforested areas such as the Amur-Heilong floodplain.

Map collections:

Species richness

Distribution of charismatic species

 

Map:

Bird migrations

Detailed hydrography of Amur River basin

Wetlands of Amur

Terrestrial ecoregions

Major protected areas of Amur-Heilong

Upper Ussury –Lake Khanka

 

Photo:

Oriental White Storks (Photo by Klimenko)

Also look:

Species richness in Amur-Heilong River Basin

 

Bird migrations

Red-crowned crane

White-naped crane

Siberian Spruce Grouse

Swan Goose

Cranes and storks and climate change in Middle Amur

 

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