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Population size of snowy plovers breeding in North America

June 6, 2012

Snowy Plovers (Charadrius nivosus) may be one of the rarest shorebirds in North America yet a comprehensive assessment of their abundance and distribution has not been completed. During 2007 and 2008, 557 discrete wetlands were surveyed and nine additional large wetland complexes sampled in México and the USA. From these surveys, a population of 23,555 (95% CI = 17,299 – 29,859) breeding Snowy Plovers was estimated. Combining the estimate with information from areas not surveyed, the total North American population was assessed at 25,869 (95% CI = 18,917 – 32,173). Approximately 42% of all breeding Snowy Plovers in North America resided at two sites (Great Salt Lake, Utah, and Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge, Oklahoma), and 33% of all these were on wetlands in the Great Basin (including Great Salt Lake). Also, coastal habitats in central and southern Texas supported large numbers of breeding plovers. New breeding sites were discovered in interior deserts and highlands and along the Pacific coast of México; approximately 9% of the North American breeding population occurred in México. Because of uncertainties about effects of climate change and current stresses to breeding habitats, the species should be a management and conservation priority. Periodic monitoring should be undertaken at important sites to ensure high quality habitat is available to support the Snowy Plover population.

Publication Year 2012
Title Population size of snowy plovers breeding in North America
DOI 10.1675/063.035.0101
Authors Susan M. Thomas, James E. Lyons, Brad A. Andres, Elise Elliot T-Smith, Eduardo Palacios, John F. Cavitt, J. Andrew Royle, Suzanne D. Fellows, Kendra Maty, William H. Howe, Eric Mellink, Stefani Melvin, Tara Zimmerman
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Waterbirds
Index ID 70038484
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center; Patuxent Wildlife Research Center