Great Plains Natural Science Society
Comparison of Piping Plover Foraging Habitat on Artificial and Natural Sandbars on the Missouri River
Date of this Version
The Prairie Naturalist 44(1):3–9; 2012
The presence of food close to nesting habitat is essential for piping plover (Charadrius melodus) reproductive output. Since 2004, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been engineering artificial nesting and brood-rearing habitat for piping plovers on the Missouri River. We compared arthropod abundance indices from artificial and natural sandbars as part of an evaluation of foraging habitat. The artificial sandbars had fewer and different arthropods than natural sandbars. The arthropod indices, however, need to be considered in light of total area of foraging habitat. Although there were fewer arthropods on artificial sandbars, the abundance of foraging habitat and relatively low plover densities after construction may have alleviated pressures associated with a more limited food supply. The amount of foraging habitat on artificial sandbars decreased with time while the number of arthropods remained stable, suggesting that food could become an issue on older artificial sandbars, particularly with higher nesting densities. Our results suggest that if artificial sandbars are used, care should be taken to ensure that ample foraging habitat is created.
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