Alberta Piping Plover Predator Exclosure and Population Monitoring Program 2007


Stefanie van Huystee, Roy Schmelzeisen, Lance Engley and Dave Prescott


Nest predation continues to be a significant limiting factor for the Great Plains piping
plover population. Previous studies conducted in east-central Alberta and in the
United States have shown that the use of predator exclosures can significantly reduce
piping plover nest predation. Since 2002, predator exclosures have been applied to as
many nests as possible in Alberta with the goal of increasing nest success and
ultimately enhancing fledging success.

As a part of this program, annual surveys are conducted on core breeding lakes to
better gauge population numbers and movement. These surveys complement the
international census conducted every five years across North America and are designed
to monitor changes in populations and distribution. Surveys also provide researchers
with 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, adult and
juvenile survival, and complements the banding program being undertaken in

Predator exclosures used during the 2007 field season followed the same specifications
as the Type I exclosure model from 2006 with the 5 cm x 5 cm stucco wire cover.

We carried out population inventories on 28 water bodies in 2007. In Alberta, 273
adults were located on 21 different water bodies and an additional 35 adults were seen
on adjacent lakes surveyed in Saskatchewan. In total, 109 nests were found, of which
104 had exclosures applied to them. Overall, Mayfield nest success was calculated to be
88.0%, fledging success was calculated to be 52.8%, and we calculated that 2.02 chicks
per pair were fledged in 2007. We banded 38 young plovers and spotted 58 piping
plovers banded in previous years.

All activities carried out during the course of this project were done in support of the
Alberta Piping Plover Recovery Plan, 2005-2010 (Alberta Piping Plover Recovery Team
2006). In particular, these activities were conducted to address Section 8.2 Productivity
Enhancement, Section 8.3 Information and Outreach and Section 8.4 Population
Monitoring and Research of the Recovery Plan.

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