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Habitat selection and movements of Piping Plover broods suggest a tradeoff between breeding stages

May 13, 2015

In precocial birds, adults select breeding areas using cues associated with habitat characteristics that are favorable for nesting success and chick survival, but there may be tradeoffs in habitat selection between these breeding stages. Here we describe habitat selection and intra-territory movements of 53 Piping Plover (Charadrius melodus) broods (320 observations) during the 2007–2008 breeding seasons on mainland- and island-shoreline habitats at Lake Sakakawea, North Dakota, USA. We used remotely sensed habitat characteristics to separately examine habitat selection and movements at two spatiotemporal scales to account for potential confounding effects of nest-site selection on brood-rearing habitat used. The scales used were (1) the entire brood-rearing period within available brood-rearing areas and (2) 2-day observation intervals within age-specific discrete habitat selection choice sets. Analyses at both scales indicated that broods selected areas which were non-vegetated, moderately level, and nearer to the shoreline. Rate of brood movement increased with age up to 5 days, then stabilized; broods that hatched >50 m away from the shoreline moved toward the shoreline. Brood movements were greater when they were in vegetated areas, when the brood-rearing area was of greater topographic complexity, and when broods aged 6–25 days were further away from the shoreline. Using inferences from our results and those of previously published work, we postulate how a potential tradeoff in habitat selection between nesting and brood-rearing can contribute to an ecological trap in a novel habitat. This work, in the context of published works, suggests that plover breeding habitat is a complex of both nesting and brood-rearing habitats and provides a basis for making remotely sensed abundance estimates of suitable breeding habitat for Piping Plovers.

Publication Year 2015
Title Habitat selection and movements of Piping Plover broods suggest a tradeoff between breeding stages
DOI 10.1007/s10336-015-1227-0
Authors Mark T. Wiltermuth, Michael J. Anteau, Mark H. Sherfy, Aaron T. Pearse
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Journal of Ornithology
Index ID 70148024
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center