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Impact of commercial salt production on wetland quality and waterbirds on coastal lagoons in Ghana

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A comparative study conducted on two saline coastal wetlands that have been developed into saltpans and two others (referred to as 'non-saltpans'), that are also saline but have no saltpans, describes the quality of lagoon water, benthic macroinvertebrates and waterbird communities characterising these wetlands. The wetlands were sampled monthly from September 2005–April 2006. Except for turbidity, which was significantly higher in the non-saltpans, (p < 0.05), all other physico-chemical parameters studied were not significantly different between the two wetland types (p > 0.05). The waterbird communities of the saltpans and non-saltpans, characterised by 48 and 50 species respectively, scored a Sorenson Index value of 0.88, indicating a high similarity. The population density of benthic macroinvertebrates in the saltpans and the non-saltpans was statistically similar (p > 0.05) but the population densities of waterbirds feeding exclusively on benthic macroinvertebrates were significantly higher in the non-saltpans (p < 0.05). Although the shallow ponds created for salt production might be providing more suitable feeding habitats for fish-eating birds, the development of these ponds has also reduced the exploitable area available to the birds feeding exclusively on invertebrates, requiring them to depend largely on the non-saltpans. Birds feeding exclusively on fish had significantly higher population densities in the saltpans (p < 0.05) than in non-saltpans. This was attributed to reduced efficiency of piscivory, due to the high turbidity associated with the non-saltpans. Waterbirds feeding on a wide range of food types showed no significant differences in their population densities (p > 0.05) in the two wetland types.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 2007

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