Restoration of Breeding by Snowy Plovers Following Protection from Disturbance

Abstract

Promoting recreation and preserving wildlife are often dual missions for land managers, yet recreation may impact wildlife. Because individual disturbances are seemingly inconsequential, it is difficult to convince the public that there is a conservation value to restricting recreation to reduce disturbance. We studied threatened western snowy plovers (Charadrius alexandrinus nivosus) at a public beach (Sands Beach, Coal Oil Point Reserve) in Santa Barbara, California (USA) before and during a period when a barrier directed foot traffic away from a section of upper beach where snowy plovers roost. The barrier reduced disturbance rates by more than half. Snowy plovers increased in abundance (throughout the season) and their distribution contracted to within the protected area. Snowy plovers that were outside the protected area in the morning moved inside as people began using the beach. Experiments with quail eggs indicated an 8% daily risk of nest trampling outside the protected area. Before protection, plovers did not breed at Coal Oil Point. During protection, snowy plovers bred in increasing numbers each year and had high success at fledging young. These results demonstrate how recreational disturbance can degrade habitat for shorebirds and that protecting quality habitat may have large benefits for wildlife and small impacts to recreation.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

References

  1. S.A. Boyle F.B. Samson (1985) ArticleTitleEffects of nonconsumptive recreation on wildlife: a review Wildlife Soc. Bull. 13 110–116

    Google Scholar 

  2. S. Brown C. Hickey B. Gill L. Gorman C. Gratto-Trevor S. Haig B. Harrington C. Hunter G. Morrison G. Page P. Sanzenbacher S. Skagen N. Warnock (2000a) National Shorebird Conservation Assessment: Shorebird Conservation Status, Conservation Units, Population Estimates, Population Targets, and Species Prioritization, Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences MA Manomet

    Google Scholar 

  3. S. Brown C. Hickey B.E. Harrington (2000b) The U.S. Shorebird Conservation Plan, Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences MA Manomet

    Google Scholar 

  4. J. Burger (1981) ArticleTitleThe effect of human activity on birds at a coastal bay Biol. Conserv. 21 231–241 Occurrence Handle10.1016/0006-3207(81)90092-6

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. J. Burger (Eds) (1984) Abiotic Factors Affecting Migrant Shorebirds Plenum Press New York 1–73

    Google Scholar 

  6. J. Burger (1986) ArticleTitleThe effect of human activity on shorebirds in two coastal bays in the northeastern United States Environ. Conserv. 13 123–130 Occurrence Handle10.1017/S0376892900036717

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. J. Burger (1989) ArticleTitleLeast tern populations in coastal New Jersey: monitoring and management of a regionally-endangered species J. Coastal Res. 5 801–811

    Google Scholar 

  8. J. Burger (1991) ArticleTitleForaging behavior and the effect of human disturbance on the Piping Plover Charadrius melodus J. Coastal Res. 7 39–51

    Google Scholar 

  9. J. Burger (1993) ArticleTitleShorebird squeeze Nat. Hist. 102 8–14

    Google Scholar 

  10. J. Burger (1994) ArticleTitleThe effect of human disturbance on foraging behavior and habitat use in piping plover Charadrius melodus Estuaries 17 695–701 Occurrence Handle10.2307/1352418

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. J. Burger (1995) Beach recreation and nesting birds R. Knight K. Gutzwiller (Eds) Wildlife and Recreationists: Coexistence Through Management and Research Island Press Washington, DC 281–295

    Google Scholar 

  12. J. Burger (1998) ArticleTitleEffects of motorboats and personal watercraft on flight behavior over a colony of common terns Condor 100 528–534

    Google Scholar 

  13. C. Cornelius S.A. Navarrete P.A. Marquet (2001) ArticleTitleEffects of human activity on the structure of coastal marine bird assemblages in central Chile Conserv. Biol. 15 1396–1404 Occurrence Handle10.1046/j.1523-1739.2001.00163.x

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. DeLong A.K. 2002. Managing Visitor Use and Disturbance of Waterbirds – a Literature Review of Impacts and Mitigation Measures. Appendix L. pp. 114 Stillwater National Wildlife Refuge Complex Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Comprehensive Conservation Plan and Boundary Revision (Vol. II), Department of the Interior, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Region 1, Portland, OR.

  15. Donefer C. 2003. Plover nesting areas compete with beachgoers. Land Lett. 10(11/20).

  16. S.P. Elias-Gerken (1994) Piping plover habitat suitability on central Long IslandNew York barrier islands Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University Blacksburg, Virginia 48

    Google Scholar 

  17. S. Fitzpatrick B. Bouchez (1998) ArticleTitleEffects of recreational disturbance on the foraging behaviour of waders on a rocky beach Bird Study 45 157–171 Occurrence Handle10.1080/00063659809461088

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. G.W. Gabrielsen E.N. Smith (1995) Physiological responses of wildlife to disturbance Island Press Washington, DC 95–107

    Google Scholar 

  19. D. Hockin M. Ounsted M. Gorman D. Hill V. Keller M.A. Barker (1992) ArticleTitleExamination of the effects of disturbance on birds with reference to its importance in ecological assessments J. Environ. Manage. 36 253–286 Occurrence Handle10.1016/S0301-4797(08)80002-3

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. E.M. Hoopes (1993) Relationships between human recreation and piping plover foraging ecology and chick survival University of Massachusetts Amherst, Massachusetts 106

    Google Scholar 

  21. M.A. Howe P.H. Geissler B.A. Harrington (1989) ArticleTitlePopulation trends of North American shorebirds based on the International Shorebird Survey Biol. Conserv. 49 185–200 Occurrence Handle10.1016/0006-3207(89)90035-9

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. L.A. Ikuta D.T. Blumstein (2003) ArticleTitleDo fences protect birds from human disturbance? Biol. Conserv. 112 447–452 Occurrence Handle10.1016/S0006-3207(02)00324-5

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. M.L. Klein (1993) ArticleTitleWaterbird behavioral responses to human disturbance Wildlife Soc. Bull. 21 31–39

    Google Scholar 

  24. K.D. Lafferty (2000) Status, Trends and Conservation of the Western Snowy Plover with a Focus on the Devereux Slough population at Coal Oil Point Reserve, Santa Barbara County, CA, Museum of Systematics and Ecology University of California Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA

    Google Scholar 

  25. K.D. Lafferty (2001a) ArticleTitleBirds at a southern California beach: seasonality, habitat use and disturbance by human activity Biodiv. Conserv. 10 1–14 Occurrence Handle10.1023/A:1016670708413

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. K.D. Lafferty (2001b) ArticleTitleDisturbance to wintering western snowy plovers Biol. Conserv. 101 315–325 Occurrence Handle10.1016/S0006-3207(01)00075-1

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. A. Lord J.R. Waas J. Innes (1997) ArticleTitleEffects of human activity on the behaviour of Northern New Zealand dotterel Charadrius obscurus aquilonius chicks Biol. Conserv. 82 15–20 Occurrence Handle10.1016/S0006-3207(97)00013-X

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. M.D. McCrary M.O. Pierson (2000) Influence of human activity on shorebird beach use in Ventura County, California D.R. Brown K.L. Mitchell H.W. Chang (Eds) Fifth California Islands Symposium, OCS Study, MMS 99–0038 Santa Barbara CA 424–427

    Google Scholar 

  29. R.L. Nudds D.M. Bryant (2000) ArticleTitleThe energetic cost of short flights in birds J. Exp. Biol. 203 1561–1572 Occurrence Handle10769218 Occurrence Handle1:STN:280:DC%2BD3c3jtlyltA%3D%3D

    PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  30. G.W. Page L.E. Stenzel (1981) ArticleTitleThe breeding status of the snowy plover Charadrius alexandrinus in California, USA Western Birds 12 1–40

    Google Scholar 

  31. J.M. Peek (1986) A Review of Wildlife Management Prentice-Hall NJ 486

    Google Scholar 

  32. C. Pfister B. Harrington M. Lavine (1992) ArticleTitleThe impact of human disturbance on shorebirds at a migration staging area Biol. Conserv. 60 115–126 Occurrence Handle10.1016/0006-3207(92)91162-L

    Article  Google Scholar 

  33. A.N. Powell (2001) ArticleTitleHabitat characteristics and nest success of snowy plovers associated with California Least Tern colonies Condor 103 785–792

    Google Scholar 

  34. A.N. Powell (2002) ArticleTitleStatus of breeding and wintering Snowy Plovers in San Diego County, California1994–1999 J. Field Ornithol. 73 156–165

    Google Scholar 

  35. G.M. Puttick (1979) ArticleTitleForaging behaviour and activity budgets of Curlew Sandpipers Ardea 67 111–122

    Google Scholar 

  36. T.D. Ruhlen S. Abbot L.E. Stenzel G.W. Page (2003) ArticleTitleEvidence that human disturbance reduces snowy plover chick survival J. Field Ornithol. 74 300–304

    Google Scholar 

  37. E. Strauss (1990) Reproductive success, life history patterns, and behavioral variation in a population of piping plovers subjected to human disturbance (1982–1989) Tufts University Medford, Massachusetts 143

    Google Scholar 

  38. U.S. and Fish Wildlife Service 2001. Western Snowy Plover (Charadrius alexandrinus nivosus) Pacific Coast Population Draft Recovery Plan, Portland Oregon. xix + 630 pp.

  39. S. Verhulst K. Oosterbeek B.J. Ens (2001) ArticleTitleExperimental evidence for effects of human disturbance on foraging and parental care in oystercatchers Biol. Conserv. 101 375–380 Occurrence Handle10.1016/S0006-3207(01)00084-2

    Article  Google Scholar 

  40. J.S. Warriner J.C. Warriner G.W. Page L.E. Stenzel (1986) ArticleTitleMating system and reproductive success of a small population of polygamous snowy plovers Wilson Bull. 98 15–37

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Kevin D. Lafferty.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Lafferty, K.D., Goodman, D. & Sandoval, C.P. Restoration of Breeding by Snowy Plovers Following Protection from Disturbance. Biodivers Conserv 15, 2217 (2006). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10531-004-7180-5

Download citation

Keywords

  • Beach
  • Birds
  • Disturbance
  • Dogs
  • Recreation
  • Shorebirds