Captive-Rearing Piping Plovers: Developing Techniques to Augment Wild Populations

photo of a piping plover chickAbstract

A. N. Powell, F. J. Cuthbert, L. C. Wemmer, Alice Doolittle, and S. Feirer. 1997. Captive-Rearing Piping Plovers: Developing Techniques to Augment Wild Populations. Zoo Biology 16(6): 461-477

Techniques for captive-rearing and releasing piping plovers (Charadrius melodus) were developed using a surrogate species, killdeer (Charadriusvociferous). We compared captive- and parent-reared killdeer, and parent-reared piping plovers and determined that growth and behavior were similar. After surrogate trials determined that captive rearing was feasible, we used the same methods to raise piping plover chicks from salvaged eggs. For captive-reared chicks of both species, survival to fledging was higher than and behaviors similar to parent-reared chicks in the wild. Rearing techniques were fine-tuned, and ten piping plover fledglings were released to the wild. Based on our results, we developed recommendations for captive-rearing of piping plovers using salvaged eggs to enhance productivity of small populations.