Alberta Piping Plover Predator Exclosure and Population Monitoring Program - 2009


Amanda Rezansoff, 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 biologists in determining dispersal
patterns, adult and juvenile survival, and complements the banding program being undertaken in

We carried out population inventories on 26 water bodies in Alberta and one in Saskatchewan in
2009. In Alberta, 215 adults were located on 24 different water bodies and an additional 20 adults
were seen on adjacent lakes surveyed in Saskatchewan. In total, 121 nests were found, of which
110 had exclosures applied to them. Exclosures were 60 cm in diameter and were made of a single
length of 5 cm x 5 cm stucco wire 40 cm high. Overall, Mayfield nest success was calculated to be
68.4%, fledging success was calculated to be 40.0%, and we calculated that 1.21 chicks per pair
were fledged in 2009. We banded 19 young plovers and recorded 32 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

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