, Volume 16, Issue 3, pp 657-673
Date: 13 Nov 2012

Shorebirds and stakeholders: Effects of beach closure and human activities on shorebirds at a New Jersey coastal beach

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Abstract

Coastal habitats are critical for conservation of migrant shorebirds. We examined the effect of beach closure on recreationists and on shorebirds, at an important southbound stopover area for shorebirds at Brigantine, New Jersey. The study had three prongs: 1) involve stakeholders during all phases, 2) assess public use of the beach and responses to closure, and 3) assess shorebird use of the beach and response to closure. Stakeholders were involved in the design, implementation and evaluation of the project. The beach was used for fishing, walking, dog-walking, and other recreational activities. Sixty percent of recreationists were positive about the study and beach closure to protect shorebirds. The data indicate that: 1) involving a wide range of stakeholders early and often was important to our ability to conduct, design, and implement the study, 2) the beach was used by different types of recreationists 3) beach users were supportive of the closure, 4) spatial use by shorebirds depended upon whether the beach was open or closed, especially for red knot, and 5) all species of shorebirds used a small beach area behind a protective fence whether the beach was open or closed. Red knot behavior was most affected by beach closure; they spread out over the entire beach when it was closed, and concentrated at the tip when it was open. Conservation measures should take into account stakeholders views, human uses, beach physiognomy, and potential closure of refuge areas during critical migration times for shorebirds.