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Low renesting propensity and reproductive success make renesting unproductive for the threatened Piping Plover (Charadrius melodus)

February 18, 2020

Upon reproductive failure, many bird species make a secondary attempt at nesting (hereafter, “renesting”). Renesting may be an effective strategy to maximize current and lifetime reproductive success, but individuals face uncertainty in the probability of success because reproductive attempts initiated later in the breeding season often have reduced nest, pre-fledging, and post-fledging brood survival. We evaluated renesting propensity, renesting intervals, and renest reproductive success of Piping Plovers (Charadrius melodus) by following 1,922 nests and 1,785 unique breeding adults from 2014 to 2016 in the Northern Great Plains of the United States. The apparent renesting rate for individuals was 25% for reproductive attempts that failed in the nest stage (egg laying and incubation) and only 1.2% for reproductive attempts when broods were lost. Renesting propensity declined if reproductive attempts failed during the brood-rearing stage, nests were depredated, reproductive failure occurred later in the breeding season, or individuals had previously renested that year. Additionally, plovers that nested on reservoirs were less likely to renest compared to other habitats. Renesting intervals declined when individuals had not already renested, were after-second-year adults without known prior breeding experience, and moved short distances between nest attempts. Renesting intervals also decreased if the attempt failed later in the season. Overall, reproductive success and daily nest survival were lower for renests than first nests throughout the breeding season. Furthermore, renests on reservoirs had reduced apparent reproductive success and daily nest survival unless the predicted amount of habitat on reservoirs increased within the breeding season. Our results provide important demographic measures for this threatened species and suggest that predation- and water-management strategies that maximize success of early nests would be more likely to increase productivity. Altogether, renesting appears to be an unproductive reproductive strategy to replace lost reproductive attempts for Piping Plovers breeding in the Northern Great Plains.

Publication Year 2020
Title Low renesting propensity and reproductive success make renesting unproductive for the threatened Piping Plover (Charadrius melodus)
DOI 10.1093/condor/duz066
Authors Rose J. Swift, Michael J. Anteau, Megan Ring, Dustin L. Toy, Mark H. Sherfy
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title The Condor
Index ID 70210706
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center