October 2, 2017

Lourdes Mugica

LM

Lourdes had been working in the Faculty of Biology, University of Havana for 36 years where she belongs to the Bird Ecology Group. Currently she is a Full Professor dedicated to teaching, avian research, environmental education and capacity building. She is author of 87 publications, 71 of them are scientific papers, 16 are book chapters, most of them related to different ecological aspects of Cuban aquatic birds in rice cultures and natural wetlands. She had been invited speaker in 18 academic institutions and events. She has organized several Environmental Education Campaigns and Capacity Building workshops, in relation to bird conservation and monitoring. She is a member of the American Waterbird Council and was Director at Large in BirdCaribbean for 12 years. Her results had been recognized with 32 awards, the most important are three Cuban Academy of Sciences Awards, the Whitley Award for Bird Conservation in UK 2002, the Environment National Award, from Cuban government in 2008 and two Lifetime Achievement Awards from Havana University and BirdsCaribbean in 1917 in grateful aprpreciation of her excepcional contribution to avian knowledge and conservation in Cuba and the Caribbean.

 

Rice Fields and Waterbirds in Cuba: A general overview

Rice is the second most important crop in Cuba with about 200 000ha dedicated to the culture. The main plantations are along the south coast, nearby natural wetlands. Because they are considered seasonal and temporary wetlands they may have an important role as substitute and/or complementary habitat for waterbirds. The Bird Ecology Group from Havana University have studied the ecology of the bird community associated to rice culture in several plantations for more than 25 years, and found that about 110 bird species were using the paddies, mainly as feeding areas and consuming about 46 different items. Different aspects of the ecology of the birds using the paddies will be presented including their importance for migrant birds (eg daily consumption was five times greater in winter time than the summer, due to the influence of the migrant duck population). As the birds are using an antropogenic ecosystem there may be negative human interference through farming practices with the potential for drastically affecting wildlife associated to this habitat. For this reasons awareness of the issues surrounding waterbirds and the importance of rice culture to them was promoted among farmers and communities near the paddies through several environmental education campaigns that involved about 8 000 people from rural areas. Cooperative efforts are necessary to understand the complex ecological interactions that are taking place in the paddies and to enhance this important waterbird habitat where rice farmers and conservationist should work together to reduce losses and enhance the conservation side of the culture.

 

Las arroceras y las aves acuáticas: una perspectiva cubana

El cultivo del arroz es el segundo más importante en Cuba donde ocupa unas 200 000 ha. Las mayores plantaciones se encuentran ubicadas en la costa sur asociadas a humedales costeros. Las arroceras tienen una gran importancia como hábitat sustituto y/o complementario para numerosas especies de aves, ya que se consideran como hábitats de humedales temporales y estacionales. Por esta razón el grupo de Ecología de Aves de la Universidad de la Habana ha estudiado la ecología de las aves asociadas al cultivo del arroz por más de 25 año en varias granjas del país y ha registrado alrededor de 110 especies de aves usando las arroceras, fundamentalmente, como sitio de alimentación, donde consumen unos 46 artículos alimentarios diferentes. Se presentarán numerosos aspectos de la ecología de las aves usando este agroecosistema, incluyendo su importancia para las aves migratorias (por ejemplo el consumo diario por parte de la comunidad es cinco veces superior en el invierno, debido a la influencia de los patos migratorios). Como las aves están usando un sistema manejado por el hombre, pueden existir interferencias negativas por prácticas de siembra y manejo del cultivo no amigable, con consecuencias negativas que afecten a la vida silvestre asociada a estos hábitats. Por esta razón es de crucial importancia elevar la conciencia sobre el papel que juegan las aves en el cultivo del arroz, por lo que se han organizado varias campañas de educación ambiental dirigidas a los campesinos y las comunidades rurales asociadas al cultivo del arroz, donde participaron unas 8000 personas. Se requieren esfuerzos cooperativos para continuar estudiando las complejas interacciones que se establecen entre el cultivo y la biodiversidad asociada, que permitan destacar el valor de este cultivo para la conservación. De aquí que arroceros y conservacionistas deben trabajar juntos para reducir las pérdidas a las cosechas y estimular las prácticas que promueven la conservación de las aves.