The Waterbirds and Dynamics of Lagoa Santa Karst Temporary Lakes


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Lagoa Santa Karst:Brazil Iconic Karst Region


We provide a review of how waterbirds utilize the temporary lakes of the karst area of Lagoa Santa in southeastern Brazil. The area is punctuated by dozens of shallow depressions of different sizes and shapes, which are located at different altitudes, sometimes fed by creeks and connected in some situations to the endokarst by sinks. With the onset of the wet season, in years with typical rainfall levels, these depressions become lakes, most of which disappear during the dry season. Species richness, abundance, and foraging guilds of waterbirds vary according to lake area, depth, and available food types. Common species appear as soon as a thin film of water accumulates in the shallow depressions, while more specialized or migratory birds respond to water level, food availability, and migratory movements. Birds may use different lakes on different occasions, and they may abandon drying lakes, and even the entire region when lake conditions change with the advance of the dry season. We describe the behavior of the assemblage of birds associated with the flooding and receding waters of lakes of different sizes. We update the species list of nonpasserine waterbirds for this karst ecosystem, call attention to the growing threats to it and its sensitive lakes, and describe our initiative to protect it.

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