September 18th, 2015

The completion of the Life+ Cap DOM programme!

After five years of work, the Life+ Cap DOM programme, supported by the European Commission and…
August 31st, 2015

[Video] The STOC in French Guiana

Since 2012, GEPOG has been running a STOC (point count) survey in French Guiana, along with the…
August 25th, 2015

[Video] SEOR: a look back over the five years of the programme

A few weeks before the end of the Life+ Cap DOM programme, François-Xavier Couzi, Director of…


Better protection through better knowledge

Which species?

The huge colony of Agami herons in the Kaw-Roura Marshes, with more than 2,000 pairs, represents more than 90% of the world’s known breeding population of this species. The chance discovery of the colony by the IRD (French Institute of Research for Development) was made possible following the installation by helicopter of a floating platform in a totally isolated sector of the Marais de Kaw-Roura Nature Reserve. The species, which is nocturnal and discreet, is very difficult to observe, since it rarely leaves the forest cover bordering waterways.

Garza ágami, Guayana, S. Uriot

The Agami heron is ranked 13th among the world’s conservation priority heron species, and 2nd for the Americas. To date, nothing is known about the feeding grounds of this bird during the breeding season (it does not appear to feed in the Kaw Marshes), or about areas frequented during the nonbreeding season. In French Guiana, the location and characterization of these two types of areas as well as the identification of the geographic origin and routes travelled by breeding individuals is crucial in order to evaluate the threats weighing on the species and develop an effective conservation strategy both in the department and throughout the world.

Why ?

The Agami heron is known to frequent small forest creeks. In French Guiana, many waterways are exploited by legal and illegal mining operations, which work both in the flood plain and in the minor river beds. This habitat is clearly one of the most threatened in the department, due to the profound disturbances currently occurring. Gaps in knowledge about the key sectors used by this species hamper attempts to evaluate threats and conditions for its conservation. No detailed study has yet been undertaken on the Agami heron and virtually nothing is known about its reproductive biology, ecology, diet, behavior, movements and world population of this species.

Our actions

This data will be acquired by equipping 8 Agami herons with Argos satellite transmitters. Tagging the birds has already been tested, but was dropped due to the difficulty in capturing a significant number of birds and the virtual impossibility of obtaining controls outside of the colony. Transportation to this study site, which is very difficult to reach, will be carried out by helicopter. The Marais de Kaw-Roura Nature Reserve, the Tour du Valat Biological Station and the IMEP (Institut Méditerranéen de Biodiversité et d’Écologie marine et continentale - IMBE) will provide technical and scientific support.

Report, involve, raise awareness

A web interface will make it possible to monitor the movements of the Agami herons equipped with Argos transmitters. The data collected and analyzed will serve as a basis for the first conservation plan for the species, of which a summary and a poster will be published in English and Spanish.

Keywords : French Guiana, Kaw Marshes, Agami heron