Nebraska Cooperative Fish & Wildlife Research Unit


Date of this Version



The Journal of Wildlife Management 81(6):1051–1062; 2017; DOI: 10.1002/jwmg.21271


U.S. government work.


To examine how habitat use by sandpipers (Calidris spp.; Baird’s sandpipers, dunlin, least sandpipers, pectoral sandpipers, semipalmated sandpipers, stilt sandpipers, and white-rumped sandpipers) varies across a broad suite of environmental conditions, we conducted surveys at wetlands throughout the spring migratory period in 2013 and 2014 in 2 important stopover regions: the Rainwater Basin (RWB) in Nebraska, USA, and the Prairie Pothole Region (PPR) in South Dakota, USA. Because providing adequate energetic resources for migratory birds is a high priority for wetland management, we also measured invertebrate abundance at managed wetlands in the RWB to determine how food abundance influences the occupancy and abundance of sandpipers on wetlands throughout the migratory period. To quantify habitat use, we surveyed wetlands every 7–10 days in both regions and visually estimated wetland attributes. Our results indicate that invertebrate abundance predicted occupancy, but not abundance, of sandpipers at wetlands in the RWB. The wetland vegetation characteristics that predict sandpiper occupancy are similar in both regions, but wetlands in the PPR support a higher abundance of sandpipers than wetlands in the RWB. Our results suggest that sandpipers make stopover decisions that balance local and regional wetland conditions. Managers should maintain the cues (i.e., mudflat) and ecological conditions beyond invertebrate abundance that predict sandpiper habitat use to successfully provide resources for sandpipers during migratory stopover if that is a goal of wetland management.