Alberta Piping Plover Predator Exclosure and Population Monitoring Program 2002


Lance Engley and Roy Schmelzeisen


The piping plover is designated as “Endangered” or “Threatened” throughout its range in North
America. Nest depredation has been identified as a significant limiting factor to piping plover
reproductive success, and results from past studies in east-central Alberta have shown that the
use of predator exclosures can significantly reduce piping plover nest depredation. In addition to
protecting nests, annual surveys are needed to gauge population numbers and movement. These
surveys also give researchers an opportunity to re-sight piping plovers banded in Alberta in
previous years, as well as those banded in other jurisdictions. The information collected from
band recoveries assists wildlife managers in determining dispersal patterns as well as adult and
juvenile survival.

The predator exclosures used during the 2002 field season were circular, 60 cm in diameter and
40 cm high. These exclosures were small, quick to apply and proved very effective in protecting
piping plover nests from potential predators. Forty-six of the 47 nests that had exclosures
applied to them hatched. Six of 11 nests that were not exclosed hatched.

Population inventories were conducted on 44 waterbodies. One hundred fifty three adult plovers
were located on 20 lakes. During these surveys, 29 band re-sightings were recorded and an
additional 99 young plovers were banded in 2002.

All activities carried out during the course of this project were done in support of the “Alberta
Piping Plover Recovery Plan 2002-2004”. In particular, these activities were conducted to
address the Productivity Enhancement and Research components of the Recovery Plan. As a
result of the success of the project in 2002, these activities will continue in the spring and
summer of 2003.

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