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.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
S.A. Boyle F.B. Samson (1985) ArticleTitleEffects of nonconsumptive recreation on wildlife: a review Wildlife Soc. Bull. 13 110–116
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
S. Brown C. Hickey B.E. Harrington (2000b) The U.S. Shorebird Conservation Plan, Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences MA Manomet
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
J. Burger (Eds) (1984) Abiotic Factors Affecting Migrant Shorebirds Plenum Press New York 1–73
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
J. Burger (1989) ArticleTitleLeast tern populations in coastal New Jersey: monitoring and management of a regionally-endangered species J. Coastal Res. 5 801–811
J. Burger (1991) ArticleTitleForaging behavior and the effect of human disturbance on the Piping Plover Charadrius melodus J. Coastal Res. 7 39–51
J. Burger (1993) ArticleTitleShorebird squeeze Nat. Hist. 102 8–14
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
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
J. Burger (1998) ArticleTitleEffects of motorboats and personal watercraft on flight behavior over a colony of common terns Condor 100 528–534
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
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.
Donefer C. 2003. Plover nesting areas compete with beachgoers. Land Lett. 10(11/20).
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
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
G.W. Gabrielsen E.N. Smith (1995) Physiological responses of wildlife to disturbance Island Press Washington, DC 95–107
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
E.M. Hoopes (1993) Relationships between human recreation and piping plover foraging ecology and chick survival University of Massachusetts Amherst, Massachusetts 106
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
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
M.L. Klein (1993) ArticleTitleWaterbird behavioral responses to human disturbance Wildlife Soc. Bull. 21 31–39
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
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
K.D. Lafferty (2001b) ArticleTitleDisturbance to wintering western snowy plovers Biol. Conserv. 101 315–325 Occurrence Handle10.1016/S0006-3207(01)00075-1
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
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
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
G.W. Page L.E. Stenzel (1981) ArticleTitleThe breeding status of the snowy plover Charadrius alexandrinus in California, USA Western Birds 12 1–40
J.M. Peek (1986) A Review of Wildlife Management Prentice-Hall NJ 486
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
A.N. Powell (2001) ArticleTitleHabitat characteristics and nest success of snowy plovers associated with California Least Tern colonies Condor 103 785–792
A.N. Powell (2002) ArticleTitleStatus of breeding and wintering Snowy Plovers in San Diego County, California1994–1999 J. Field Ornithol. 73 156–165
G.M. Puttick (1979) ArticleTitleForaging behaviour and activity budgets of Curlew Sandpipers Ardea 67 111–122
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
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
U.S. and Fish Wildlife Service 2001. Western Snowy Plover (Charadrius alexandrinus nivosus) Pacific Coast Population Draft Recovery Plan, Portland Oregon. xix + 630 pp.
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
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
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