Alicia Protus

Date of Award

Summer 8-2016

Document Type



Environmental and Forest Biology

Thesis Advisor

Jonathan B. Cohen


Piping plover, predation, Charadrius melodus


Significant resources have been spent attempting to manage predators of the threatened piping plover (Charadrius melodus). Various nest predator species are active throughout the day and night while monitoring staff that might deter predators are usually present only during select hours of the day. Monitoring efforts are also uniform throughout the nesting season, while predator activity may not be. The purpose of this study was to identify potential critical periods throughout the 24-hr cycle and the breeding season of the piping plover to allow for more targeted allocation of resources for monitoring nest predators. Camera traps were installed near exclosed piping plover nests (N= 16) at Jones Beach State Park, New York during egg incubation. Potential nest predators were identified from camera observations, and visit frequencies were summarized by time and seasonal period. Red fox (n=12) were most prevalent from 03:00-06:00, while raccoon (n=8) visited primarily between 00:00-03:00. Avian predators (n= 39) including gulls, crows, and American oystercatcher visited nests mainly from 06:00-18:00. Visit frequency of mammals and oystercatcher did not vary seasonally, however, crows (n=13) only visited between 14 June and 5 July. Visitation amongst the different predator species had limited temporal overlap, with peak visitation times coinciding only for diurnal species. The mid-evening hours (21:00-23:59) had the lowest number of recorded predator visits. Major predator species often vary between sites, nonetheless, management activities during the breeding season may be optimized by incorporating the activity windows of their respective predator suite in their piping plover monitoring schedules.

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Ornithology Commons