Piping Plover Study

Piping Plover (Charadrius melodus) Surveys on the Caminada Headland Beach and Dune Restoration Project in Port Fourchon, Louisiana

In January 2014, the Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program worked in collaboration with the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority to monitor the endangered Piping Plover during construction activities associated with the Caminada Headland Beach and Dune Restoration Project (BA-45). Little is known about impacts associated with construction during and after beach and barrier island restoration projects on avian populations. This project provides a unique opportunity to determine impacts associated with the Caminada Headland Beach and Dune Restoration Project in Lafourche Parish, Louisiana on Piping Plover (Charadrius melodus) distribution and the benthic communities they utilize. The project seeks to document how operations of an active coastal restoration project influence the distribution of these birds along the beach. Numerous surveys continue to be conducted for Piping Plover and other shorebird species before, during, and after construction. These surveys continue biweekly through the migratory and wintering seasons when most of the North American population of Piping Plover is overwintering along the north gulf. Surveyors cover all available habitats from the gulf beachfront to the back bay shoreline, including mud flats. Coordinates, number of individuals, and color band combination data are collected to help assess the influence of short-term habitat changes on Piping Plover habitat utilization.

Determining short-term impacts of active barrier island restoration projects on the “threatened” Piping Plover could have consequences for future barrier island restoration as most beaches along the state are considered critical habitat for this particular species and are included in Louisiana’s Comprehensive Master Plan for a Sustainable Coast. Shoreline restoration projects have become larger, leading to increased construction duration. These increased durations mean longer possible disturbances throughout multiple nesting and wintering seasons. Results of this project will help in development of best management practices (BMP’s) available to the State for construction activities. This research will help regulators better assess actual shorebird use and possible impacts of construction activities.


2015 Western Hemisphere Shorebird Meeting poster thumbnail

2015 Poster:
2015 Western Hemisphere Shorebird Meeting Poster
2015 Western Hemisphere Shorebird Meeting poster (text)

2014 Poster:
SOC2014_Poster
Full version of SOTC 2014 poster

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