- Habitat-Based Population Model
Recent modeling efforts by Lauren Wemmer demonstrated the need for not only increased reproductive success, but also additional land protection efforts. Only model scenarios in which reproduction (>50% fledging success) and habitat availability were high and all ownership classes (public and private) were included, resulted in a model population that persisted for 100 years and was likely to reach the USFWS’s population recovery goal for Michigan of 100 breeding pairs.
- Historic Habitat and Human Dimensions
As the population increases, we predict pairs will recolonize historic nest sites not currently occupied. Many of these sites occur in areas largely protected from development, such as parks and wildlife refuges. In her PhD dissertation recent University of Minnesota graduate Elizabeth Weaver Price evaluated habitat suitability of historic piping plover nesting sites throughout the Great Lakes and the human-use issues at these locations.
- Inbreeding and Genetic Diversity
Analyses of the banding records reveal possible inbreeding in the Great Lakes population. Confirmation of inbreeding and estimates of genetic diversity within the population is a high priority in our research. This research will confirm or deny some long held assumptions about piping plover mating systems and aid in future recovery planning, particularly captive rearing as a population augmentation strategy.
- Critical Habitat
Great Lakes piping plover population Critical Habitat was proposed 30 June 2000 by USFWS. This proposal lists 189 miles/305 km of Great Lakes shoreline and 1,672 miles/2,697 km of Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico shoreline as Critical Habitat. This proposal will be finalized on 30 April 2001. Although Critical Habitat designation does not provide direct protection or funds for recovery efforts, it will help protect current and historic habitats that are essential for recovery of the population.
Cooperative Efforts and Public Education
- Created and distributed brochures describing piping plover biology and conservation (USFWS)
- Developed elementary school lesson plans for fourth grade students (USFWS and MI DNR)
- Placed 12 permanent kiosks at public beaches with information about piping plover and associated dune species (USFWS)
- Conducted education and outreach to general public and landowners (USFWS, MI DNR, US Forest Service, WPBO, TNC, and UMBS)
- Sponsored production of piping plover video for use in interpretive work (MI DNR)
- Participated in outreach events at Wildlife Refuges (WPBO)
- Worked with public and private landowners to enhance habitat protection.
- Established areas with protection for migratory and early arriving piping plovers (MI DNR, National Park Service (NPS).
- First Piping Plover Habitat Conservation Plan is under review (USFWS).
Great Lakes Protection Fund
Whitefish Point Bird Observatory (WPBO) to protect Great Lakes shoreline under private ownership for piping plovers.