, Volume 32, Issue 6, pp 1079-1089
Date: 02 Oct 2009

Trends in Abundance of Coastal Birds and Human Activity on a Texas Barrier Island Over Three Decades

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Abstract

Trends in abundance of the 28 most common species of coastal birds on Mustang Island, Texas, were assessed for a 29-year period (1979–2007) during which the study area experienced a substantial increase in human activity. Ten of the 28 species examined declined significantly (P < 0.05) over the study period. Six of these were larids (herring gull, Forster’s tern, royal tern, gull-billed tern, Caspian tern, black skimmer), which exhibited declines in mean abundance of 53% to 88%. Other significant species declines were the great blue heron (39% decline) and the shorebirds Wilson’s plover (63%), red knot (54%), and black-bellied plover (34%). Four species showed significant increases in local abundance. Mean number of people on the beach increased fivefold during the study period. This unique dataset allows for an extremely rare assessment of bird populations in direct relation to human disturbance and may have implications for managing coastal birds worldwide.

The results of this manuscript are the original work of the authors and have not been submitted for publication elsewhere.