Site Nomination Form Date December 10, 2009 Please complete the following pages as completely as possible. Attach supporting documents & references whenever available. Include maps of the proposed site indicating the specific area. Also include websites when available.
Name of Site: Cabo Rojo Salt Flats Location: Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico
(refuge, park, local community, province/state, country.)
Geographic Coordinates: 170 57’ N, 670 11’ W
(maximum & minimum values of latitude & longitude)
Mean Geographic Coordinates:
(latitude & longitude of center of the site)
Total area: 1,249 acres(choose one: hectares or acres)
Do you have a digitized map of the area? Other GIS resources?
If so, please include with this application. Principal Contact for Nomination
Name: Verónica Méndez-Gallardo
Position/Title: Conservation Coordinator
Organization/Agency: Sociedad Ornitológica Puertorriqueña, Inc. (SOPI)
Postal Address: PO Box 195166 ____________________________
City: San Juan Prov/State:
Postal code: 00919-5166 Country: Puerto Rico
Telephone: (787)207-2849 Fax: ( )
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org/ email@example.com Web Site: www.avesdepuertorico.org
Principal Contact at Site (eg. manager, owner, etc.) (Use additional listings as needed if there are multiple ownerships or parcels)
Name: Oscar Díaz
Position/Title: Refuge Manager, Cabo Rojo National Wildlife Refuge
Organization/Agency: United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS)
The site qualifies for inclusion in the following WHSRN category:
More than 500,000 shorebirds per year
More than 30% of the flyway population for (name the species):
More than 100,000 shorebirds per year
More than 10% of the flyway population for (name the species):
More than 20,000 shorebirds per year
More than 1% of the flyway population for (name the species):
Species: Snowy Plover (5.33%)
Wilson Plover (2.51%)
Current ownership status (private, local, state, and/or federal), owner’s name(s) and address(es): Note that each landowner must sign a letter of understanding agreeing to the designation and to making shorebird conservation a high priority.
Land manager (federal): U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,
Is this site under some form of management? If so, what are the management priorities (present & future)?
The site is currently managed by the USFWS. A management plan is underway and schedule for completion during this year (2010). Non-permitted practices at the site included hunting and camping. Activities permitted are: birding, wildlife observation, hiking and biking in identified trails. Salt extraction by a local company is supervised by USFWS personnel, and water levels of the lagoons are controlled during the process. An Interpretative Center is managed by the Comité Caborrojeños Pro Salud y Ambiente (CCPSA), a local NGO. The site is promoted through press releases and internet. The main road to the beach is not asphalted, and in certain days quantity of visitors are controlled. Educational activities are also promoted.
Is the site of critical importance to other wildlife? (briefly)
The Cabo Rojo Salt Flats is an important habitat for the endemic and globally endangered Yellow-shouldered Blackbird (Agelaius xanthomus) and for the nesting of the Least Tern (Sternula antillarum). The endemic Blue-tailed ground lizard (Ameiva wetmorei), with restricted distribution in the island, inhabits this site. Plants of important relevance are: Woodbury’s Stopper (Eugenia woodburyana) (CR), Commoner Lignum Vitae (Guaiacum officinale) (EN), Sebucan (Leptocereus quadricostatus) (CR) and Yellow Sanders (Zanthoxylum flavum) (VU).
Has the site received recognition from other organizations (e.g. Ramsar, North American Waterfowl Management Plan, Important Bird Area)?
The Cabo Rojo Salt Flats is included within the Southwest Important Bird Area (IBA) (IBA del Suroeste), a designation leaded by SOPI and BirdLife International.
Describe any shorebird research projects completed, underway, or contemplated. Please describe any banding or monitoring activities.
Shorebirds species, populations, foraging activities and their relation with their habitat has been studied in the Cabo Rojo Salt Flats. A first estimate of native and migratory shorebirds populations identified 28 species in the Cabo Rojo Salt Flats (Collazo.et.al., 1995).
Researchers have studied populations of Black-necked Stilts, Snowy Plovers, Wilson Plovers and Semipalmated Sandpipers. Tamaris (2008) studied the food availability of the Black-necked Stilts and Rice and Collazo et.al. (2007) studied the migration of the Semipalmated Sandpipers. During 2002 and 2003, nests of the Willet were identified, being the first nesting records of this species documented in Puerto Rico (Colón and Tossas, 2006).
The subspecies Snowy Plover (Charadrius alexandrinus tenuirostris) has been of special concern at this site being the only one for its breeding in Puerto Rico. It is classified as a locally endangered species. Kupper and Morales (2009) studied the nesting of this bird and remark the importance of this site for the its surviving.
Since 1999, monthly census has been leaded by José Colón López a volunteer of the Sociedad Ornitológica Puertorriqueña, and other volunteers have also contributed to the Shorebird Monitoring Network a monitoring program of SOPI. Volunteers have also provided data and the Puerto Rico Breeding Atlas project has also contributed to the conservation of the site.
What habitat-type best describes the site? Is it influenced by the tide? Is it an inland wetland or marsh? Is it natural or "man-made"? You may use Ramsar categories if you’d like. See http://www.ramsar.org/key_ris_types.htm
The Cabo Rojo Salt Flats, part of the Cabo Rojo National Wildlife Refuge, is a 1,249 acre system of saline lagoons, salt flats and mangrove swamps. The adjacent area of the refuge is classified as a subtropical dry forest, also being the vegetation that surrounds the wetland. The Fraternidad and Candelaria are the two main lagoons included in the refuge. The system is located near other important natural areas as: the Boquerón State Forest, Punta Guaniquilla Natural Reserve, Cartagena Lagoon, Sierra Bermeja, La Parguera Natural Reserve and the Papayo Salt Flats.
Are there any current plans for development (or other plans) that may affect the site?
The Cabo Rojo Salt Flats are protected under the laws applying to a National Wildlife Refuge. There are no current plans of development in the site. Adjacent areas are threatened by tourism and residential development.
What are the threats to the area and the source of the threat? (e.g. a threat might be “altered hydrology” and the source of the threat would be “increased number of retirement communities.”
Threats to the Cabo Rojo Salt Flats includes: disturbance caused by the visitors to Playuela and Sucia beaches; trash brought by inadequate practices of visitors and sea currents; presence of exotic species and predators brought by illegal importation; unsustainable practices of nearby communities; and inadequate hydrology management by the Salt Extraction Company.
What are the major causes of disturbance to shorebirds at the site?
Major causes of disturbance are related by recreational activities in the adjacent beaches. The absence of an asphalt road and location of fences has helped to diminish the disturbance. Feral dogs and cats are another cause of disturbance.
What management issues should be made a priority? Research priorities?
Management should include as a priority to provide adequate available habitat during the nesting season of the Snowy Plover. This includes appropriate management of the water levels of the lagoons. Monitoring should be evaluated and improved to establish the species diversity and yearly total of individuals of migrant shorebirds.
If possible, list references/published materials that describe the location or the species using the area.
Broche Otero, M. 2006. Disponibilidad de presas para aves playeras en las Salinas de Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico y su relación con los factores físicos de la región. M.S. Thesis. Universidad de Puerto Rico, Recinto de Mayagüez.
Collazo, J. A., B. A. Harrington, J. S. Gear and J. A. Colón. 1995. Abundance and distribution of shorebirds at the Cabo Rojo Salt Flats, Puerto Rico. Journal of Field Ornithology, 66(3): 424-438.
Collazo, J. A., J. Knott, and J. A. Colón. 1987. Preliminary findings on several aspects of the ecology of the Snowy and Wilson’s Plover at the Cabo Rojo salt Flats. Report to the Caribbean Island Wildlife Refuges. US Fish and Wildlife Service, Region 4, Atlanta, GA, 17 pp.
Collazo, Jaime, Johanna Thomas and José Colón. 1988. Preliminary findings on several aspects of the ecology of Snowy and Wilson’s Plovers at the Cabo Rojo Salt Flats. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Report.
Colón, José A. and Adrianne G. Tossas. 2006. First breeding by Willet Cataptrophorus semipalmatus in Puerto Rico. Contiga, 25: 80-82.
Grear, Js. S. 1992. Habitat use by migratory shorebirds at the Cabo Rojo Salt Flats, Puerto Rico. M.S. Thesis, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida. 91 pp.
Lee, Gloria C. Breeding ecology and habitat use patterns of Snowy and Wilson’s Plovers at the Cabo Rojo Salt Flats. M.S. Thesis. Clemson University, Clemson, South Carolina. 76 pp.
Lewis, Allen R. Adrianne G. Tossas, José A. Colón and Beatriz Hernández. 2006. Endangered Pipping Plovers Charadrius melodus overwintering in Puerto Rico. Journal of Caribbean Ornithology, 19: 27-30.
Kimberly J. Tripp and Jaime A. Collazo. 2003. Density and distribution of water boatmen and brine shrimp at a major shorebird wintering area in Puerto Rico. Wetlands Ecology and Management, 11 (5): 331-341.
Küpper, Clemens and Alcides Morales. 2009. Breeding Ecology of the Snowy Plovers Charadrius alexandrinus tenuirostris at Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico. Fieldwork report. University of Bath and Sociedad Ornitológica Puertorriqueña, Inc.
Ramsey, Shanna. 2001. Observations of the Snowy Plover Charadris alexandrinus and other shorebirds at the Cabo Rojo Salt Flats, Puerto Rico. U. S. Fish and Wildlife Report.
Rice, Susan M., Jaime A. Collazo, Mathew W. Alldredge, Brian A. Harrington, and Allen R. Lewis.. 2007. Local annual survival and seasonal residency rates of Semipalmated Sandpipers Calidris pusilla in Puerto Rico. The Auk, 124(4): 1397-1406.
Staicer, Cynthia. 1985. Report on the bird species diversity of the Cabo Rojo Salt Flats . U.S. Fish and Wildlife Report.
Staicer, Cynthia. 1988. The behavioral ecology of resident and migrant birds at the Cabo Rojo National Wildlife Refuge. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Report.
Tamaris, Diana. 2008. Variación estacional en la disponibilidad de presas de la Viuda, Himantopus mexicanus, en las Salinas de Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico. M.S. Thesis. Universidad de Puerto Rico, Recinto de Mayagüez.
Tripp, Kimberly J. and Jaime Collazo. 1995. Factors affecting distribution and availability of prey of small Calidris Sandpipers at the Cabo Rojo Salt Flats, Puerto Rico. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Report.
Tripp, Kimberly J. and Jaime Collazo. 1997. Non-Breeding territoriality of Semipalmated Sandpipers. Wilson Bulletin, 109(4): 630-642.
Please list any special events, such as birding festivals, or public activities related to the site along with names and addresses of local contacts, people, or groups who have special interest, involvement, or knowledge about the area. Include e-mail addresses and web sites.
Shorebird Identification Workshop, Sociedad Ornitologica Puertorriquena, Inc. (SOPI) firstname.lastname@example.org
Caribbean Endemic Bird Festival, May 2010, SOPI and Society for the Conservation and Study of Caribbean Birds (SCSCB), email@example.com, Lisa Sorenson firstname.lastname@example.org
International Migratory Bird Day, October 2010, SOPI and Society for the Conservation and Study of Caribbean Birds (SCSCB), email@example.com, Lisa Sorenson firstname.lastname@example.org
World Bird Day, October 2010, SOPI and BirdLife International email@example.com
Comité Caborrojeños Pro Salud y Ambiente (CCPSA), Pedro Valle and Evelyn Cepeda, tel, 787-454-0115, firstname.lastname@example.org
How would you characterize the human community around the site? Are people informed, interested, aware of the importance of the area? Please list any contacts and e-mails.
Corozo residents have participated in different educational activities in the Refuge. During June, 2009 a summer camp was organized for student’s residents in this community.
Comité de Padres del Corozo (CODEPCO), Nanette Sorillo – president, email@example.com
Shorebird Species & Counts
This list is appropriate for North American sites. For Central & South America, a list with additional species (using scientific names) is available at www.whsrn.org.
Max. Count †
Source (if known)
October 29, 2007
Colón, José A. 2007. Unpublished data of censuses in the Cabo Rojo Salt Flats. Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico. US Fish and Wildlife Service and Puerto Rican Ornithological Society.
January 4, 1992
Collazo, Jaime A., Brian A. Harrington, Jason S. Gear and José A. Colón. 1995. Abundance and distribution of shorebirds at the Cabo Rojo Salt Flats, Puerto Rico. Journal of Field Ornithology, 66(3): 424-438.