The Implications of Predator Management for an Endangered Shorebird; Do Nest Exclosures Affect the Behaviour of Piping Plovers and their Predators?
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Predators are a threat to many ground-nesting shorebirds, although it remains largely unknown how they interact with passive predator management techniques such as nest exclosures. I examined the effects of nest exclosures on incubating Piping Plovers (Charadrius melodus melodus) and their predators on nesting beaches in Kouchibouguac and PEI National Parks. A combination of behavioural observations, video monitoring of nests and an artificial nest experiment was used to examine the effects of nest exclosures in this study system. The behaviour of Piping Plovers did not differ between exclosed and unexclosed nests, although different types of predators seemed to have an effect on plover nest attentiveness. Predators visited exclosed nests more often than unexclosed nests and spent more time in the vicinity of exclosed nests than unexclosed nests. Since increased adult mortality and nest abandonment have been documented at exclosed Piping Plover nests, as well as nests of other shorebirds, the results of this study provide evidence of a link between predator harassment and these negative effects.