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Posts Tagged ‘Todd Pover’

Piping Plover Population Rebounds from Historic Low in New Jersey

Thursday, November 19th, 2015
Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey releases 2015 report

by Todd Pover, Beach Nesting Bird Project Manager

Photo by Northside Jim

Photo by Northside Jim

Conserve Wildlife Foundation today released the 2015 Piping Plover Breeding Report, highlighting the number of nesting pairs, pair productivity, and coast-wide distribution for this endangered shorebird, from data collected by New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife (NJDFW) biologists, CWF biologists, and other partners.

 

“The rebound in New Jersey’s piping plover breeding population and a second consecutive year of robust chick productivity was a much needed outcome,” said Conserve Wildlife Foundation Beach Nesting Bird Project Manager Todd Pover. “We need to continue our intensive management for a number of years to sustain any recovery, but we were very pleased to have finally broken the recent cycle of low nesting success and the record low number of nesting pairs in 2014.”

 

The piping plover – a small sand-colored shorebird that nests in New Jersey as part of its Atlantic Coast range from North Carolina up to Eastern Canada – face a number of threats, including intensive human recreational activity on beaches where they nest, high density of predators, and a shortage of highly suitable habitat due to development and extreme habitat alteration.

 

Federally listed as a threatened species in 1986, piping plovers have since recovered in some areas of the breeding range. Yet piping plovers continue to struggle in New Jersey, where they are listed by the state as endangered.

 

“As a species dependent on natural beach habitat, piping plovers face a particularly daunting challenge along New Jersey’s heavily developed and dynamic coast,” said Conserve Wildlife Foundation Executive Director David Wheeler. “Our dedicated scientists, partners, and volunteers are working tirelessly to ensure piping plovers remain a beloved and healthy presence along the Jersey Shore and beyond.”

 

CWF, in close coordination with NJDFW’s Endangered and Nongame Species Program, oversees piping plover conservation throughout New Jersey. Staff and volunteers help erect fence and signage to protect nesting sites, monitor breeding pairs frequently throughout the entire nesting season from March to August, and work with public and municipalities to educate them on ways to minimize impacts. Although conservation efforts on the breeding ground remain the primary focus, in recent years, CWF has also begun to work with partners all along the flyway, in particular on the winter grounds in the Bahamas, to better protect the at-risk species during its entire life-cycle.

 

2015 Report Highlights:

 

  • The population of breeding piping plovers increased 17% to 108 pairs in 2015, as compared to 2014. Despite the increase, the population still remains below the long-term average (118 pairs) since federal listing in 1986 and well below the peak.
  • The statewide fledgling rate, which includes data collected by partners at 19 active nesting sites throughout the state, was 1.29 fledglings per pair, down slightly from 2014 (1.36 fledglings/pair), but still one of the highest statewide levels since federal listing. Furthermore, both years were above the 1.25 fledgling rate believed necessary to maintain the range-wide Atlantic Coast population of piping plovers.
  • Statewide pair-nest success, the percentage of pairs that successfully hatch at least one nest, was high at 79%, well above the average since federal listing. Although population and productivity are ultimately the most important measures of recovery success, hatch success is an important metric to demonstrate the effectiveness of on-the-ground management.
  • Northern Monmouth County, as a region, continued to account for the largest percentage of pairs in the state (55 pairs or 51%), with Gateway National Recreation Area – Sandy Hook Unit accounting for most of those pairs.
  • The region comprised of North Brigantine Natural Area and the Holgate and Little Beach Units of the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge accounted for the other significant concentration of breeding pairs in the state (43 pairs or 40% of the statewide total).
  • Holgate had the largest jump in abundance for any individual site, doubling its breeding pairs to 24 in 2015 (up from 12 in 2014). This increase was the result of highly suitable overwash habitat created at the site by Hurricane Sandy and the high breeding success that helped spur.
  • Cape May County, the southernmost region of the state, consisting of Ocean City to Cape May Point, continued its long-term downward trend, accounting for just 8 pairs in 2015, compared to 11 pairs in 2014 and 43 pairs in 2004 at its peak.

 

Learn More:

 

Todd Pover is the Beach Nesting Bird Project Manager for Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey.

 

 

Traveling the Flyway in Search of Piping Plovers

Thursday, May 7th, 2015
CWF BIOLOGIST HEADS NORTH TO CANADA ON CONSERVATION MISSION

By: Todd Pover, Beach Nesting Bird Project Manager

 

Grey Flag EP, a marked Canadian piping plover  and one of the stars of the weekend.

Grey Flag EP, a marked Canadian piping plover and one of the stars of the weekend.

 

My trip to Canada this past weekend, completed a circle of sorts for me. Over the course of my two decade career studying and protecting Atlantic Coast piping plovers, I have traveled to nearly all of the breeding states in the U.S. More recently, I have expanded my work to their wintering grounds, visiting states in the southeast U.S. and extensively in the Bahamas. But there was one big gap in my piping plover conservation work beyond New Jersey – Atlantic Canada, which, by itself represents an entire recovery unit in the federal recovery plan.

 
“So you chase plovers around the world,” someone said to me in Canada this weekend. Well, not for the sake of just seeing them in different locations. What I am “chasing” is knowledge and partners. I am seeking information about to how we can improve our breeding program in New Jersey by observing what works (and doesn’t work) in other parts of the range and developing partners to help further conservation across the range.

 
The story of how I finally ended up in Canada illustrates just how connected piping plover conservation is on an international scale. This past winter, CWF’s Stephanie Egger and I resighted a number of marked piping plovers in the Bahamas. Among those were plovers with engraved flags indicating they bred in Atlantic Canada, marked as part of a long-term research project to try to determine survival, site fidelity, and wintering distribution, among other things. One of the plovers we observed was Grey E4, seen on a small quiet beach on Spanish Wells, Eleuthera. I dutifully reported the band the same evening we observed it and in a few hours the researchers responded it was banded as a chick the previous season in Liverpool, Nova Scotia. When I returned from field work the next day, I had an inquiry about the sighting from a small newspaper back in Nova Scotia, an unusual occurrence, especially so soon after reporting the band. A nice article resulted, a little excitement was generated, and that was the end of story for us on that banded bird.

 
At least it would normally be the end of the story. Over the course of the next few days and then weeks, I noticed that White Point Beach Resort, the breeding site where “E4” originated from, was frequently posting about the Bahamas resighting and in general about their plovers. After sleeping on it awhile, I finally decided to reach out to them; my curiosity was peeked about what was driving their enthusiasm. What I found out was that they genuinely love their plovers (of course, they do), but they are also interested in marrying conservation and commerce. Instead of it being an adversarial situation as often happens, a fear that having an endangered species would limit activities on their beach, the resort viewed the plovers as “value added” – something their guests would be interested in and maybe even come to the resort to experience.

The beach at White Point Beach Resort, a piping plover breeding site in Atlantic Canada, and host of International Piping Plover Day

The beach at White Point Beach Resort, a piping plover breeding site in Atlantic Canada, and host of International Piping Plover Day.

 
And they recognized the bands as a way to tell and sell the story. I couldn’t agree more, the bands provide a means to promote piping plover conservation on a personal level through storytelling. Piping plover banding projects are never undertaken lightly; trapping and marking birds involves some risk, and the prime motive for banding always has to be in the name of research to aid management and recovery. But once the birds are marked, we have an opportunity to use them for other purposes as well.

 

Post and sign designating a piping plover breeding sites in Canada.

Post and sign designating a piping plover breeding sites in Canada.

Having instantly bonded over our shared connection to E4, one thing led to another, and we decided to try to partner…in Canada, no less. It started small, but White Point Beach Resort reached out to the local piping plover community and research network, and eventually a whole weekend of activities was planned. May 3 was declared International Piping Plover Day and billed as a day for “banding together to celebrate partnerships.” Working in coordination with Bird Studies Canada, which oversees and implements the piping conservation and research projects in this region, an informative program, including updates on the Canadian banding project and breeding success in Nova Scotia, was presented as part of the weekend.

 

My role was to tell a little more of E4’s “story” and provide a big picture perspective that included the wintering and migratory portions of the piping plover’s life-cycle. Other highlights for attendees (and me) was a chance to view White Point’s resident pair of piping plovers, including Grey EP, who had just returned to the site to nest once again this year and is the “father” of E4. We even posted and fenced the nesting area of the resort’s beach.

 

Now that I have completed my travels across the piping plover’s entire Atlantic coast range, I have a flyway scale perspective of the conservation efforts and the challenges we all share. Ironically, the wider my view has become, the more I realize that in the end it comes back to the local view. Conservation works most effectively at the local level, the “stories” connect us on the local level, and we care most passionately about our local piping plovers. Another way of saying Think Globally, Act Locally.

 

It was an honor to be part of International Piping Plover Day in Nova Scotia this past weekend. I consider it something of a piping plover “diplomatic mission.” A special thanks to Donna Hatt and Wendy Coolen of White Point Beach Resort for organizing and hosting the event and to Sue Abbott of Bird Studies Canada for her coordination, as well as everything she does for piping plover conservation in Atlantic Canada.

 

Todd Pover is the Beach Nesting Bird Project Manager with Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey.

Piping Plovers Plunge to Record Low in NJ

Wednesday, November 12th, 2014

By: Lindsay McNamara, Communications Coordinator

Photo Credit: Asbury Park Press/Nancy A. Smith

Photo Credit: Asbury Park Press/Nancy A. Smith

Pairs of piping plovers — small, critically endangered shorebirds that dart along the sand in search for food — dropped to a record low in New Jersey this year. Just 92 pairs nested in the Garden State, down from 108 last year, BUT the beach-nesting birds spawned a high number of fledged chicks — 1.36 per pair, the third-highest figure since 1986 and above what’s needed to grow and maintain their population in the long-run.

Last week, Asbury Park Press Reporter Todd B. Bates discussed the issue with Conserve Wildlife Foundation’s Beach Nesting Bird Project Manager Todd Pover.

Lindsay McNamara is the Communications Coordinator for Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey.