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Piping Plovers May Not Benefit From Watershed Drainage

Cara J

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Draining watersheds may not be helping federally threatened plovers, according to new research. “We could be continually making it harder for them to maintain and grow their population because there’s less suitable habitat for them to grow on,” said Lisa McCauley of the Northern Great Plains population of piping plovers (Charadrius melodus), which is listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act. McCauley conducted the study recently published in the Journal of Fish and Wildlife Management during post-doctoral work at South Dakota State University. A wetland in eastern North Dakota. The left image shoes pre-drainage while the right shows post-drainage. Image Credit: McCauley et al In North Dakota, these birds generally prefer to nest along the bare shores of water, sometimes in the so-called Prairie Pothole region in the east of the state, an ecosystem traditionally characterized by a number of seasonal and permanent ponds and lakes. But by examining aerial photos of the region and piping plover survey data from 1979 to 2011, McCauley and others have found that watersheds that feed lakes have been drained over the years by farmers and agricultural companies. While the amount of water overall may be the same, the water is now [...]


Read more: http://wildlife.org/piping-plovers-may-not-benefit-from-watershed-drainage/

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