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Nest movement by piping plovers in response to changing habitat conditions

January 1, 2009

Birds that nest along reservoir or river shorelines may face fluctuating water levels that threaten nest survival. On Lake Sakakawea of the upper Missouri River, 37 and 70% of Piping Plover (Charadrius melodus) nests found in 2007 and 2008, respectively, were initiated at elevations inundated prior to projected hatch date. We describe eight events at seven nests in which adult Piping Plovers appeared to have moved active nests threatened by rising water or gathered eggs apparently displaced by rising water on Lake Sakakawea and the Garrison reach of the upper Missouri River. Additionally, we describe one nest that was moved after the habitat at the nest site had been disturbed by domestic cattle. Our observations and evidence indicate that adult Piping Plovers are capable of moving eggs and establishing nests at new sites during incubation. Furthermore, our results suggest that Piping Plovers evaluate their reproductive investment under potential threat of nest loss and may be capable of acting prospectively (moving nests prior to inundation) and reactively (regathering eggs after inundation) to avoid nest failure.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2009
Title Nest movement by piping plovers in response to changing habitat conditions
DOI 10.1525/cond.2009.080106
Authors Mark T. Wiltermuth, Michael J. Anteau, Mark H. Sherfy, Terry L. Shaffer
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Condor
Series Number
Index ID 70036116
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center