In this paper, the realized niche of the Snowy Plover (Charadrius alexandrinus), a primarily resident Florida shorebird, is described as a function of the scenopoetic and bionomic variables at the nest-, landscape-, and regional-scale. We identified some possible geomorphological controls that influence nest-site selection and survival using data collected along the Florida Gulf coast. In particular, we focused on the effects of beach replenishment interventions on the Snowy Plover (SP), and on the migratory Piping Plover (PP) (Charadrius melodus) and Red Knot (RK) (Calidris canutus). Additionally, we investigated the potential differences between the SP breeding and wintering distributions using only regional-scale physiognomic variables and the recorded occurrences. To quantify the relationship between past renourishment projects and shorebird species we used a Monte Carlo procedure to sample from the posterior distribution of the binomial probabilities that a region is not a nesting or a wintering ground conditional on the occurrence of a beach replenishment intervention in the same and the previous year. The results indicate that it was 2.3, 3.1, and 0.8 times more likely that a region was not a wintering ground following a year with a renourishment intervention for the SP, PP and RK respectively. For the SP it was 2.5. times more likely that a region was not a breeding ground after a renourishment event. Through a maximum entropy principle model we observed small differences in the habitat use of the SP during the breeding and the wintering season. However, the habitats where RK was observed appeared quite different. While ecological niche models at the macro-scale are useful for determining habitat suitability ranges, the characterization of the species' local niche is fundamentally important for adopting concrete multispecies management scenarios. Maintaining and creating optimal suitable habitats for SP characterized by sparse low vegetation in the foredunes areas, and uneven/low-slope beach surfaces, is the proposed conservation scenario to convert anthropic beach restorations and SP populations into a positive feedback without impacting other threatened shorebird species.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The authors acknowledge the funding from the Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program (SERDP) for projects SI-1699 and SI-1700. The authors also gratefully acknowledge the work of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Florida Shorebird Alliance (employees, researchers, volunteers, and land owners) for collecting the SP data and making them available to the public. Chris Burney and Patricia Kelly (FWC) are acknowledged in particular. An anonymous reviewer is greatly acknowledged for his/her comments that significantly improved the manuscript. J.B. Elsner (Florida State University) is gratefully acknowledged for the insights regarding the model. Fig. S2(a) is from a field survey of R.A. Fisher, and Fig. S2(b and c) from a field survey of M. Convertino. The authors declare to have used the data only from the cited sources. The extensive assistance of the Eglin AFB personnel is particularly acknowledged. There are not conflicts of interests to declare. Permission was granted by the USACE Chief of Engineers to publish this material. The views and opinions expressed in this paper are those of the individual authors and not those of the US Army, or other sponsor organizations.
Copyright 2011 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.
- Bayesian inference
- Beach renourishment
- Habitat selection
- Multi-species analysis
- Piping Plover
- Red Knot
- Snowy Plover