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21. Hooded Grebe

Podiceps gallardoi

About

Only discovered in 1974 the Hooded Grebe is found in regions across Argentina and possibly Chile.

They come from the only taxonomic family within the order Podicipediformes, which date back at least 25-35 million years.

Since it’s discovery, the population has dropped by as much as 95% in some areas and there are thought to be between 800 and 1,000 individuals left – but the population trend now is stable due to active conservation actions. .

Climate change is dramatically impacting these birds. The high elevation lakes, where they breed in the Argentinian summer, are drying up as less and less snow falls during the winter. The grebes feed on the milfoil plant (Myriophillum sp.) which grows in the lakes, so climate change is causing rapid declines in a key food source. Hooded Grebes also have very low reproductive rates, producing only 1 chick in each breeding season. As a result, they are highly susceptible to predation by the invasive American mink and Kelp Gulls which eat the eggs and the juveniles. The mink can kill large numbers of adults in a day, potentially wiping out entire local populations. In addition, introduced salmonids compete for the grebe’s food and change the structure of the lakes where Hooded Grebes live. These threats are exacerbated by the altered weather conditions caused by climate change.

However, recent conservation action, such as controlling invasive mink, has stabilized the population, and since 2014 the Hooded Grebes reproductive success rate seems to be increasing.

  • Order: Podicipediformes
  • Family: Podicipedidae
  • Population: 800-1000
  • Trend: stable
  • Size: 32cm

EDGE Score

EDGE Score: 5.59 (?)
ED Score: 15.67 (?)
GE / IUCN Red List (?)
Not Evaluated Data Deficient Least Concern Near Threatened Vulnerable Endangered Critically Endangered Extinct in the Wild Extinct

Distribution

They are found predominantly in the Patagonian province of Santa Cruz, Argentina. The lakes used for breeding are found in the interior of the state whilst the hooded grebe can be found wintering at three estuaries on the Atlantic coast.

Habitat and Ecology

They are found in basaltic lakes during the breeding season, and their currently only recorded wintering sites are estuaries on the Atlantic coast of Argentina. The breeding season is from October to March when it can be found in colonies of up to 130 pairs. The breeding lakes must feature aquatic vegetation where this species can build floating nests. Their diet consists mainly of aquatic invertebrates.

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This wordcloud illustrates the threats facing this species. The size of each word indicates the extent of a species range that is affected by that threat (larger size means a greater area is affected). The colour of the word indicates how much that threat impacts the species (darker shades of red mean the threat is more severe).

Volcanoes Habitat change Livestock Mining Invasive species Native species

Threat wordcloud key:

Small area affected
a
a
a
a
a
a
a
Large area affected
Least severe
Most severe
Severity unknown
Source: The IUCN List of Threatened Species. Version 2017.1.
Available at: http://www.iucnredlist.org

Vision (30-50 years)

Recover Hooded Grebe populations numbers and occupancy area to similar levels known in the 1980’s

Goal (5-10 years)

Recover important population by controlling major threats and by creation of new protected areas.

Objectives

Priority
Expansion and consolidation of invasive species control programmes Critical
Understand biological characteristic fundamental for its conservation (e.g. migration patterns) Critical
Creation of protected areas in breeding grounds (national and provincial) Critical
Creation of protected areas in the winter grounds (national and provincial) Critical
Reinforcement of the educational/divulgation programme at local, provincial, national and international level High
Consolidation of local network of local leaders and local participant for the protection of important areas (winter and summer) High
Promotion of sustainable activities (e.g. ecotourism) High
Promotion of scientific research to different component of the ecosystem. Medium

Mapping the mysterious migration route of the Critically Endangered Hooded Grebe

  • Locations: Santa Cruz province, Patagonia, Argentina
  • Active dates: 2017 - ongoing
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Kini Ignacio Roesler

  • Project name: Unraveling the major gap for Hooded Grebe conservation: migration and movements
  • Project site: Santa Cruz Province, Argentina
  • Active: 2015 - ongoing
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