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Snowy plover nest site selection, spatial patterning, and temperatures in the Southern High Plains of Texas

Authors

  • Sarah T. Saalfeld,

    Corresponding author
    1. Arthur Temple College of Forestry and Agriculture, Stephen F. Austin State University, P.O. Box 6109 SFA Station, Nacogdoches, TX 75962-6109, USA
    Current affiliation:
    1. Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 1011 East Tudor Road, MS 201, Anchorage, AK 99503, USA.
    • Arthur Temple College of Forestry and Agriculture, Stephen F. Austin State University, P.O. Box 6109 SFA Station, Nacogdoches, TX 75962-6109, USA
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  • Warren C. Conway,

    1. Arthur Temple College of Forestry and Agriculture, Stephen F. Austin State University, P.O. Box 6109 SFA Station, Nacogdoches, TX 75962-6109, USA
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  • David A. Haukos,

    1. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Department of Natural Resources Management, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX 79409-2125, USA
    Current affiliation:
    1. U.S. Geological Survey, Kansas Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Kansas State University, 205 Leasure Hall, Manhattan, KS 66506, USA.
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  • William P. Johnson

    1. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, P.O. Box 659, Canyon, TX 79015, USA
    Current affiliation:
    1. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Wildlife Refuge System, Division of Biological Sciences, P.O. Box 60906, West Texas A&M University, Canyon, TX 79016, USA.
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  • Associate Editor: Wayne Thogmartin

Abstract

Snowy plover (Charadrius nivosus) populations have declined throughout their range, in part because of habitat degradation and poor nest success, making information regarding regionally specific nest site selection and spatial patterns important when considering habitat conservation and management guidelines. We determined nest site selection characteristics (n = 180) and examined spatial patterns (n = 215) of snowy plover nests in saline lakes in the Southern High Plains (SHP) of Texas. At 104 nests, we examined the influence of substrate type on nest temperatures and heat mitigation. Snowy plover nests were more likely to be found near an object, on pebble substrate, and with fewer plants than random sites. High use areas were generally located in areas with pebble substrate and on human-made or natural islands, berms, and peninsulas. Overall, nests placed on pebble substrate had lower temperatures during the day than nests placed on sand substrates. Nest placement on pebble substrate may be valuable to nesting snowy plovers, providing thermal advantages to incubating adults and depressing potentially high nest predation rates. Management guidelines for this region should emphasize the importance of addressing key elements of snowy plover nesting habitat including the presence of pebble substrate and reducing vegetation encroachment. © 2012 The Wildlife Society.

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