North American Crane Working Group


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Marrero Garcia, D., J.A. Osorio, X. Galvez Aguilera, and F. Chavez-Ramirez. The Cuban sandhill crane as umbrella species: relationship with plant diversity in threatened white sand savannahs. In: Folk, MJ and SA Nesbitt, eds. 2008. Proceedings of the Tenth North American Crane Workshop, Feb. 7-10, 2006, Zacatecas City, Zacatecas, Mexico: North American Crane Working Group. p. 163.


Reproduced by permission of the North American Crane Working Group.


This project describes relationships between the Cuban sandhill crane (Grus canadensis nesiotes) distribution and habitat use and plant diversity in white sand savannahs, a threatened ecosystem in Cuba. Data are based on habitat use and selection of 10 radio-tagged sandhill cranes in the Los Indios Ecological reserve, Isle of Youth. We used Arcview and satellite imagery to map broad vegetation categories. Within the general Pine-Palm savannahs specific plant communities were characterized using species composition and dominant plant life forms. Habitat types most used by cranes for feeding and nesting were also those with highest plant species richness and diversity, particularly of shrubs. Habitat used by cranes also had a greater number and proportion of endemic plant species. Our results suggest that focusing conservation on areas used by Cuban sandhill cranes may serve to protect plant species diversity in the same areas and may help in protecting areas with significant levels of endemic plants.