An Eco-Compensation Policy Increases Shorebird Diversity during the Non-farming Period for Aquaculture

Wenzhang Dai, Eben Goodale, Ruchuan He, Christos Mammides, Shilong Liu, Liping Zhou, Shangbo Tang, Bo Su, Xiangyue Lao, Aiwu Jiang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Although eco-compensation policies have been used with great success in many aspects of ecological restoration in China, previous policies have not shown strong increases in habitat for biodiversity. At the same time, agricultural expansion and urbanization has contributed to the rapid decline of wetlands in the country, as well as their associated fauna and flora, and specifically shorebird populations. Using capital from a new national eco-compensation plan for wetlands, we rented aquaculture ponds in five villages in southern China, and lowered the water depth during the winter and spring when the ponds were not used. The species richness of shorebirds in the treated ponds was approximately twice that in the control ponds, and abundances were approximately 10 times higher. The birds were not strongly affected by measures of human presence and disturbance. Our results demonstrated that this simple intervention can be useful to increase the potential habitats of shorebirds, including overwintering migrants. Yet despite the success of the project, a delay in funding dramatically downsized its size. This illustrates how flexible funding streams, combined with biological assessments, are necessary for effectively using the government’s limited funds for eco-compensation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Aquaculture
  • Artificial wetlands
  • Conservation capital
  • Migratory birds
  • Wetland management


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