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Predator Exclosures Enhance Reproductive Success but Increase Adult Mortality of Piping Plovers (Charadrius melodus)

Author(s): Colleen Barber | Astrid Nowak | Kirby Tulk | Linda Thomas

Journal: Avian Conservation and Ecology
ISSN 1712-6568

Volume: 5;
Issue: 2;
Start page: 6;
Date: 2010;
Original page

Keywords: adult mortality | Charadrius melodus | endangered species | exclosure | Piping Plover | reproductive success

Piping Plovers (Charadrius melodus) are listed as endangered throughout Canada and the United States Great Lakes region. Most attempts to increase their numbers have focused on enhancing reproductive success. Using 22 years of data collected by Parks Canada in Prince Edward Island National Park of Canada, we examined whether predator exclosures installed around Piping Plover nests increased nest success and hatching and fledging success when compared to nests without exclosures. Nests with exclosures were significantly more likely to hatch at least one egg than nests without exclosures, and they hatched a significantly greater number of young. The greater reproductive success observed in exclosed nests is likely due to the increased protection from predators that the exclosures conferred; significantly fewer exclosed nests were depredated than nonexclosed nests. However, significantly more exclosed than nonexclosed nests were abandoned by adults, and they had significantly greater adult mortality. Whether benefits of increased reproductive success from exclosures outweigh costs of increased abandonment and adult mortality remains unknown, but must be considered.
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