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Predators can halt plover population success in Great Lakes

Cara J

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While piping plovers (Charadrius melodus) in the Great Lakes region have increased from 12 breeding pairs in 1990 to 76 breeding pairs — a sixfold increase in 28 years — researchers say rising merlin (Falco columbarius) populations, the plover’s biggest predator, may hinder their success. The piping plover was listed as endangered in the Great Lakes region since 1986. For much of the time since then, researchers have collected data on the birds at breeding sites throughout the Great Lakes region, including Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. But the datasets they collected were primarily used independently of each other, according to lead author of the study Sarah Saunders, a postdoctoral research associate at Michigan State University. “One of the innovative parts of this paper was that we integrated them all into one model together for a better understanding of how the population is doing,” she said. In the study published in the Journal of Applied Ecology, Saunders and her colleagues compiled information from three datasets — census data, nest monitoring of chicks and bird-banding data. Based on this information, they predicted that in 10 years, the plovers would increase to 91 breeding pairs on average. But there was a catch. [...]


Read more: http://wildlife.org/predators-can-halt-plover-population-success-in-great-lakes/

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