Natural Resources, School of


Date of this Version



Jorgensen, J.G. & M.B. Brown. 2016. Impact perceptions and acceptance capacity toward Piping Plovers Charadrius melodus among visitors on a public beach in Nebraska, USA. Wader Study 123(1): 59–68.


On an increasingly crowded planet, shorebirds and humans are frequently found sharing the same ecosystems. This development requires that the managers of these human-wildlife ecosystems address human dimensions challenges in addition to those associated with species biology. To better understand such challenges, we evaluated impact perceptions and overall acceptance capacity in visitors on public beaches of Lake McConaughy, Nebraska, USA towards a federally- protected shorebird, the Piping Plover Charadrius melodus. Overall acceptance capacity for these birds was relatively high and perceptions of inconvenience caused by the presence of the birds were low. However, acceptance capacity and impact perceptions varied depending on whether the visitor supported, was neutral or opposed protecting Piping Plovers. Awareness of the presence of Piping Plovers was the most important variable associated with negative attitudes towards the birds; the more aware visitors were of the birds, the more negative were their attitudes. The specific type of recreational activity a visitor was engaged in was not associated with their impact perceptions or acceptance capacity. Our study serves as an important baseline which can be used to determine whether awareness, impact perceptions, and acceptance capacity at this site change as recreational use, efforts to protect the species, and educational and management practices evolve.