Alberta Piping Plover Predator Exclosure and Population Monitoring Program 2006


Amanda Rezansoff, 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. This year marked the fourth international census. 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 as well as adult and juvenile survival and complements the banding program being undertaken in Saskatchewan.

Population inventories were carried out on 74 water bodies. In Alberta, 274 adults were located on 25 different water bodies and an additional 28 adults were seen on adjacent lakes surveyed in Saskatchewan. In total, 127 nests were found in 2006. Of the 107 exclosed nests with known fate, apparent nest success was 86.9% (93/107). Overall, Mayfield nest success was calculated to be 80.8%, fledging success was calculated to be 32.2%, and we calculated that 1.10 chicks per pair were fledged in 2006. In total, 31 young plovers were banded and there were 81 re-sightings of piping plovers banded in previous years.

Activities carried out for this project were done in support of the Alberta Piping Plover Recovery Plan, 2005-2010.

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