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For plovers, manmade habitat falls short of the real thing

Cara J

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Efforts to use manmade habitat to help conserve threatened piping plovers (Charadrius melodus) on the Missouri River have helped, but they fell short of the work that nature would do, according to a recent study. Historically, the Missouri was a dynamic system as it flowed from South Dakota to Nebraska, said Kelsi Hunt, a research associate for the Virginia Tech Shorebird Program and lead author of the study on the shorebirds published in The Condor: Ornithological Applications. It experienced floods, which created sandbar habitat for the plovers. But in the mid-1900s, six dams built on the river made flooding less frequent, reducing piping plover habitat. In response to low population numbers, the Army Corps of Engineers created artificially engineered sandbars for the plovers between 2004 and 2009. Hunt and her colleagues were looking at the nesting success and survival of plovers on these engineered sandbars when, in 2010 and 2011, the river flooded again. The high waters created natural habitat for the plovers and allowed the team to compare the birds’ success on these new natural sandbars to their success on the engineered sandbars. Over 10 years, the team traveled to sandbars by boats to locate nests, returning every two [...]


Read more: http://wildlife.org/for-plovers-manmade-habitat-falls-short-of-the-real-thing/

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