Title page for ETD etd-12052009-020325
|Type of Document
||Elias-Gerken, Susan P.
||Piping plover habitat suitability on central Long Island, New York barrier islands
||Master of Science
||Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences
|Fraser, James D.
|Buckley, P. A.
|Kirkpatrick, Roy L.
|Stauffer, Dean F.
|Date of Defense
The breeding ecology of Piping Plovers (Charadrius me/odus) was examined on the
central barrier islands of Long Island, N.Y. during the 1992 and 1993 breeding
seasons. The estimated breeding populations were 79 pairs in 1992 and 82 pairs in
1993. Productivity was 1.08 chicks fledged per pair. The popu lation appeared stable,
but below carrying capacity. Predation was the leading cause of nest loss (300/0), and
crows (Corvus brachyrhynchos and/or C. ossifragus) accou nted for 71% of nests lost
to predation. Probability of survival was greater for nests with predator exclosures
than for nests without (64% vs. 20%). Evidence supported the hypothesis that
ephemeral pools were of greater quality for brood-rearing than other ocean beach
habitats (intertidal zone, intertidal zone wrack, berm, berm wrack, and open
vegetation). Broods with access to ephemeral pools spent more time in them, and
when in them had greater foraging rates and were exposed to greater arthropod
abundances than in other ocean beach habitats. In 1992 (though not 1993), survival
was greater for broods with access to ephemeral pools than for those without. On
beaches without ephemeral pools and bay habitats, intertidal zone wrack and open
vegetation were important brood foraging habitats. A non-nesting beach in 1992 was
breached in winter 1993; a recurved sandspit and mudflats formed on the bay side
west of the new inlet. Five pairs nested near the mudflats. Brood-rearing quality of bay mudflats appeared greater than that of ocean intertidalal zone wrack (and other
ocean beach habitats) based on colonization by adults and on use by broods, but
similar to ocean intertidal zone wrack based on foraging rates, arthropod abundance,
and survival. Pedestrian disturbance probably contributed to low brood survival in 2
locations, and off-road vehicles killed 2 chicks. Effects of predation on brood survival
could not be quantified and may have confounded effects of foraging habitat quality
and disturbance. A logistic regression model for Jones Beach indicated that the
probability of plover nesting diminished with increasing pedestrian disturbance. A
model of Fire Island and Westhampton Beach indicated that the probability of plover
nesting increased with increasing open vegetation width. Beaches with suitable
brood-rearing habitat (the storm-maintained habitats of open vegetation, ephemeral
pools, breaches, and overwash fans) were scarce on Fire Island National Seashore.
Frequency of overwashes and breaches on Fire Island has decreased since 1939,
apparently due to anthropogenic barrier island stabilization.
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