Placencia Avian Health Survey

Project Info

Project Description

In late 2015, the CRC began to notice during their monthly biodiversity surveys around the Placencia Lagoon various water birds ill, dead, or having issues with flying or walking. After one particular night during a routine crocodile eyeshine survey in which a bird just fell out of the mangroves and almost hit our kayak, the CRC realized it was time to take action and investigate what was causing the unusual behavior, illness and mortality in the local avian community. We consulted with the Belize Bird Networking Group who agreed that an investigation was highly warranted to assess if there was a virus, bacteria, parasite, or something human-related (such as pesticide run-off) impacting the health of the birds around the Placencia Lagoon. Thanks to the Belize Bird Rescue, the CRC was put in contact with two avian experts from the United States.  Dr. Sheila Scoville is currently a professor at the Eastern Virginia Medical School in the Department of Pathology and Anatomy, which includes a background in investigating the effects of environmental contamination on avian health. Peter Doherty is a freelance field ornithologist, and builder of custom nets to capture birds for ornithological research (Hawkseye Nets). 

As of mid February 2018, the CRC in collaboration with Dr. Scoville and Mr. Doherty are still collecting data of the resident and migratory birds around the Placencia Lagoon, which includes various morphometric data, muscle and fat examination, blood and fecal smears. We will continue collection until mid-March 2018, and then begin analysis of all data to obtain a baseline in which we can utilize for future reference. CRC will continue to monitor the health and behavior of the birds as part of their long-term monitoring project of the the biodiversity and health of the wildlife of Placencia Lagoon.

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