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Mr. Hu Zhengpen, Vice Governor of Jiangxi Province, addresses conference participants. Photo by Bao Shuming





International Conference on Poyang Lake Wetland Environment
and Biodiversity
, Nanchang, China

A meeting of scientists from universities in China, France, The Netherlands, and the United States convened in Nanchang (Jiang Xi Province), China November 5-9, 2007. The goal of this meeting was to further the understanding and conservation of Poyang Lake for the human and natural resources arising from this system.  Specifically our objectives were to: 1) present on-going research and compare new data with past research presented previously; 2) identify gaps in our knowledge about the system and threats to the lake that should be addressed; and 3) propose new research projects and to coordinate these efforts among various interested groups.  This meeting represented an important installment in what has become an annual meeting that gathers scientists who work on Poyang Lake and builds upon the meeting supported by UNEP/GEF SCWP in July, 2006.  Previous meetings were sponsored by the University of Michigan and Jiang Xi Normal University in 2005 and 2004.

Photo by Bao Shuming

The following universities and research organizations were represented at the November 2007 meeting:

Chinese Academy of Sciences
International Crane Foundation
International Institute of Geo-information Science and Earth Observation
Institute of Geography Science and Natural Resources
Jiang Xi Bureau of Hydrology
Jiang Xi Normal University
Jiang Xi Mountains, Rivers and Lakes Office
Nanchang University
National Science Foundation
Poyang Lake National Nature Reserve
University of Alabama
University of Louis Pasteur
University of Michigan
University of Southern California - Berkeley
University of Wisconsin – Madison
United States Geological Survey
Wageningen University
Wuhan University

Photo by Bao Shuming

A total of 36 research papers were presented that represented hydrological, social, economic, biological, botanical, soil, geographical and ecological sciences.  Discussion sessions among subsets of participants followed groupings of three papers within a particular theme and helped to generate inter-disciplinary analysis of the information presented.  From these discussions, along with a final day of open discussion, the teams developed additional research projects from gaps that were identified throughout the meeting.

Meeting participants proposed several new research initiatives.  The team of researchers from the University of Michigan and Jiang Xi Normal University will submit a NSF proposal for coupling human and natural ecosystems.  This proposal is due late in 2008.  Funding from this grant will support work primarily in analysis of human land-use around Poyang Lake with fisheries culture being especially important.  This grant would also provide substantial support for modeling the interactions between human and natural systems.  Partial support from this proposal would also support work on two components of the natural system: 1) understanding the spatial and temporal dynamics of wild celery in the Poyang Lake ecosystem and 2) extrapolating the relationships between tuber-feeding guilds and plant environmental characteristics in a subset of Poyang Lake to the system as a whole.  This work includes Siberian cranes but also tundra swans, swan geese and many other species that winter at Poyang Lake.

A second NSF proposal will be submitted by David Shankman at the University of Alabama that will focus on hydrology and sedimentation in Poyang Lake.  This work would be done in conjunction with Jan de Leeuw at ITC (The Netherlands) and with Wu Guofeng (Wuhan University).  This research will also inform the efforts on modeling wild celery and tuber-feeding species research at Poyang Lake, as well as the efforts by the University of Michigan and Jiang Xi Normal University.

The University of Wageningen is developing research proposals for work on grazing guilds of waterbirds that winter at Poyang Lake.  This important guild feeds on the sedges and grasses along the margin of the system and forms a major component of the avian biomass occurring at Poyang.  The approach of this project would focus on the energetics and foraging ecology of several grazing species.  This project, as with the wild celery work, will depend upon spatial models that are being developed through the SERTIT program at the University of Louis Pasteur (ULP) in Strasbourg, France.  Additional proposals will need to be sought to fund the participation of ULP.

ICF and the University of Southern California – Berkeley will collaborate with the research projects mentioned above as well as seek additional funding support for research that focuses on wild celery and tuber feeding guilds of birds.

In addition to devising a coordinated plan for research that can be accomplished at Poyang Lake, the group presented a list of recommendations that reflected the general research conclusions presented.

For more information, please contact:

Jeb Barzen, Director
Field Ecology Department, International Crane Foundation

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