Breeding season spatial requirements of Great Lakes Piping Plovers (Charadrius melodus) in northern lower Michigan

TitleBreeding season spatial requirements of Great Lakes Piping Plovers (Charadrius melodus) in northern lower Michigan
Publication TypeThesis
Year of Publication2005
AuthorsHaffner CDiane
DegreeMaster of Science
Number of Pages40 pp.
UniversityUniversity of Minnesota
CityMinneapolis, MN

The population of Piping Plovers (Charadrius melodus) in the Great Lakes region is endangered at state and federal levels. To adequately protect nesting habitat it is important to understand spatial and temporal movements of breeding individuals. Because endangered status of the population precluded use of radio-telemetry for this study, geographic coordinates of indivdual plovers were calculated using coordinate geometry. I determined home range sizes, maximum linear shoreline traversed and length of shoreline traversed 95% of the time for 35 individually color-banded breeders from May to August 2003 and 2004. I examined relationships betweeen spatial movement and nest stage (incubation v. chick rearing), sex, minimum age, public beach use, and nearest neighbor distance. Mean home range size was 0.35 km2, mean maximum linear distance traversed was 0.64 km, and mean linear distance for 95% of locations was 0.48 km. Individual home range sizes and linear distance traveled varied among individuals, sites, and years. No significant relationships were found between nest stage or minimum age and home range size or linear distances. Males used more area and took longer excursions from the nest than females during the chick rearing period in 2003 (p<0.05). Home range size for plovers nesting on high public use beaches was greater than those nesting on medium or low public use beaches in 2003 (p<0.05). Maximum linear distance traveled increased as proximity to other plover nests increased (p<0.05) in 2004. This study found that human beach use and proximity to other nesting plovers were the most important factors influencing plover movement and home range size. Additionally, results indicate that small parcels of suitable habitat have high conservation value for Great Lakes Piping Plovers. Protection of large blocks of continuous shoreline habitat, however, is recommended for long term persistence of this population.