Piping plovers, new research


This video from the USA says about itself:

27 September 2011

Piping Plovers at Plymouth Beach, Plymouth, Massachusetts

From the Journal Star in the USA:

Color banding shows movement of piping plovers

January 25, 2015 9:15 am • By LAUREN R. DINAN / Nebraska Game and Parks Commission

It’s always around this time of year that I really start to miss summer. I miss those warm days, long walks, family picnics and looking for piping plovers. That might not be on everyone’s list of favorite summer activities, but it is the highlight of my summer.

Piping plovers (Charadrius melodus) are small, stocky, sand-colored shorebirds that spend the summer nesting here in Nebraska and the winter on beaches along the Gulf of Mexico, southern Atlantic Coast and Caribbean. They nest on sandbars, reservoir shorelines and sandpit lakes along the Platte, Loup, Elkhorn, Niobrara and Missouri rivers in Nebraska.

The Nongame Bird Program at the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission and the Tern and Plover Conservation Partnership at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln have been color banding adult piping plovers and their chicks along the lower Platte River system in eastern Nebraska since 2008. So far, 431 plovers have been banded, 114 adults and 317 chicks, which is quite a few for a threatened species.

Color banding allows us to identify individual birds so we can better understand how the species is doing: are numbers up or down, are they successfully reproducing, and are they surviving the winter? All important issues for a species currently listed as threatened on the state and federal endangered species list.

Adult and chick survival varies from year to year and depends on a number of factors: weather conditions, the amount of available food and so on. Each summer, we construct individual encounter histories for all of the observed color-banded plovers, which allows us to estimate adult and chick survival.

Color banding also shows us how piping plovers move across the landscape. Plovers banded along the lower Platte system have been observed along the Missouri, Niobrara and the central Platte rivers. Plovers originally banded in these areas have also been found nesting along the lower Platte system. Adult plovers nesting along the lower Platte most often return to there the following year, but chicks hatched there are likely to nest elsewhere.

In 2014, three plovers originally banded along the lower Platte as adults and nine banded as chicks nested along the Missouri River in northeast Nebraska. Two plovers originally banded along the central Platte and nine originally banded along the Missouri nested along the lower Platte River system in 2014. The little guys do get around.

Color banding helps us understand where our plovers spend the winter. Our plovers spread out across their winter range from the southern tip of Texas to the Florida Keys and all the way up the Atlantic Coast to South Carolina. So far this fall and winter we have received reports of 23 lower Platte plovers along the Gulf Coast and two along the Atlantic Coast.

The plover pictured here, with its light blue flag and green-over-red, red-over-green bands, has been a fun bird to follow. This plover was color-banded as an adult in June 2014 at a sand and gravel mine in Saunders County. It hatched and raised four chicks and was last seen in Nebraska in late June. The next time the plover was seen, it was about 1,000 miles away enjoying the sun, sand and surf at Padre Island, Texas, in October 2014.

Which of our plovers will return to Nebraska to nest in the summer of 2015? We’ll find out soon, but gosh it’s hard to wait.

Many beached sea turtles saved in the USA


This video from the USA says about itself:

1 July 2014

A sea turtle rescue center in North Carolina cares for and rehabilitates injured sea turtles, and returns them to the ocean amid cheering crowds. Sea turtles are resilient, but they are slow to recover. So the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center spends a lot of time and effort to help save loggerhead and other Atlantic Ocean turtles.

From Wildlife Extra:

More than 1,200 sea turtles washed up in New England

Over the past month a record number of sea turtles, most of which have been critically endangered Kemp’s Ridley Turtles, have been rescued from stranding on the beaches of Cape Cod in New England, reports the Massachusett Audobon Society.

Normally, around 90 sea turtles strand on the Cape on their migration from the beaches of Mexico to Cape Cod Bay.

Sea turtles spend the warmer months in Cape Cod waters, then swim south to Mexico for the winter each autumn beginning in November. But some turtles get “caught” by the hook of Cape Cod.

Sea turtles that take their body temperature from the environment around them and when the water temperature of the Bay gets down to 50 degrees F they become cold-stunned.

Their circulation and other bodily functions slow down, they become unable to swim and so are at the mercy of the wind and currents.

When the wind blows from the north or northwest they get washed ashore along Cape Cod Bay and if they are not found, they die from exposure.

Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary runs the largest annual cold-stunned sea turtle rescue programme. Since the sea turtle stranding season began in early November, Wellfleet Bay has rescued or recovered more than one thousand turtles.

This already exceeds the number processed in each of the last 15 years and no one really knows why.

On November 21 the Wellfleet sanctuary set a new record of 157 endangered sea turtles rescued in one day. This is the largest number that Wellfleet Bay has processed in a single day in its more than 30 years of rescuing sea turtles.

Connie Merigo leads a team at the New England Aquarium Hospital that has treated 700 turtles in around a month and a half. She said that almost all the turtles are malnourished and suffering from hypothermia.

However, officials have said that despite the trauma of rescuing the turtles, the number of strandings could be said to signal good news because it shows that conservation efforts are working.

“Two years ago, in 2012, this year class of turtles left the beach, and there was 600,000. That was the most baby Ridleys ever leaving the beach in Mexico,” Mass Audobon Sanctuary Director Bob Prescott says.

“The number of turtles we are seeing may well mean that conservation is working, and that there are more turtles in the Bay.

“Decades ago, sea turtles nearly went extinct. Protection of their nesting sites and species conservation appear to be paying off.

“It is also a sign of climate change. Water temperature in the northwest Atlantic Ocean is warmer. More sea turtles are coming further north.”

Hundreds of thousands of amphibians helped to cross


This video from Massachusetts in the USA says about itself:

Berkshire Amphibian Migration — via Berkshire Oudoors

14 March 2012

Video copyright: Berkshire Outdoors.

Join Rene Wendell, resident naturalist at The Trustees of ReservationsBartholomew’s Cobble in Sheffield, MA, as he takes a group of volunteers into a misty March (2011) night to help migrating amphibians cross a busy road. We encounter: spotted salamanders, spring peepers, wood frogs, four toe salamanders, red backed salamanders, and an American toad.

Translated from the Dutch RAVON herpetologists:

The Netherlands helps over sixteen kilometers of amphibians to cross roads

Post published by RAVON Foundation on Wednesday, November 26th, 2014

A traffic jam from Almere to Amsterdam; so long would the procession of toads, frogs and salamanders be, if all animals helped by volunteers to cross roads in the spring of 2014 would be put behind one another. The toad working groups during the months of March and April are estimated to have helped a total of more than 230,000 amphibians across the roads. These are about 50,000 more than last year but still not as many as in the boom years 2008, 2010 and 2011, when more than 300,000 amphibians were transferred.

The complete spring 2014 report is here.

Piping plover conservation in Massachusetts, USA


This video from the USA says about itself:

15 August 2014

The threatened piping plover has been the focus of intensive conservation in Massachusetts. Thanks to continuing efforts by the many partners of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and MassWildlife, the plover population here has come a long way since the shorebird was protected under the Endangered Species Act, from around 140 pairs when it was listed in 1986 to more than 650 pairs in 2013. Here are four examples of communities that are making a difference.

Plovers along the Atlantic Coast return to the Northeast in spring to breed and raise their young over the summer. If you’re visiting one of the region’s great beaches, look out for signage about this rare species. You can help us protect their nests and chicks:

-Respect all areas fenced or posted for protection of wildlife.
-Do not approach or linger near piping plovers or their nests.
-Please leave pets at home or on leash. Plovers perceive dogs as predators.
-Don’t leave or bury trash or food scraps on beaches. Garbage attracts predators that may prey upon piping plover eggs or chicks.
-Volunteer!

United States trees leafing out sooner than in Thoreau’s time


This video from the USA is called Henry David Thoreau‘s Walden: A Tribute.

From Boston University in the USA today:

Walden trees leafing out far earlier than in Thoreau’s time

9 minutes ago by Richard Primack

Climate-change studies by Boston University biologists show leaf-out times of trees and shrubs at Walden Pond are an average of 18 days earlier than when Henry David Thoreau made his observations there in the 1850s. However, not all plants respond in the same way, the result of which is that native species eventually may be threatened and lose competitive advantage to more resilient invasive shrubs such as Japanese barberry, according to a study published in the new edition of New Phytologist.

Walden trees

“By comparing historical observations with current experiments, we see that climate change is creating a whole new risk for the native plants in Concord,” said BU Prof. Richard Primack. “Weather in New England is unpredictable, and if plants leaf out early in warm years, they risk having their leaves damaged by a surprise frost. But if plants wait to leaf out until after all chance of frost is lost, they may lose their competitive advantage.”

The study began when Caroline Polgar, a graduate student with Primack, examined Thoreau’s unpublished observations of leaf-out times for common trees and shrubs in Concord in the 1850s, then repeated his observations over the past five springs.

“We started to wonder if all trees and shrubs in Concord are equally responsive to warming temperatures in the spring,” Polgar said. What she found was surprising. “All species—no exceptions—are leafing out earlier now than they did in Thoreau’s time,” she said. “On average, woody plants in Concord leaf out 18 days earlier now.”

In New England, plants have to be cautious about leafing out in the early spring. If they leaf out too early, their young leaves could suffer from subsequent late frost. Since leafing-out requirements are thought to be species-specific, the group designed a lab experiment to test the responsiveness of 50 tree and shrub species in Concord to warming temperatures in the late winter and early spring.

For the past two winters, the researchers traveled to Concord and collected leafless dormant twigs from each species, and placed them in cups of water in their lab. Over the following weeks, they observed how quickly each species was be able produce their leaves in these unseasonably warm lab conditions.

“We found compelling evidence that invasive shrubs, such as Japanese barberry, are ready to leaf out quickly once they are exposed to warm temperatures in the lab even in the middle of winter, whereas native shrubs, like highbush bluberry, and native trees, like red maple, need to go through a longer winter chilling period before they can leaf out—and even then their response is slow,” says Amanda Gallinat, a second-year graduate student and third author of the paper.

The strength of this study, Gallinat said, is the pairing of observations and experiments.

“Our current observations show that plants in Concord today are leafing out earlier than in Thoreau’s time in response to warm temperatures,” she said. “However, the experiments show that as spring weather continues to warm, it will be the invasive shrubs that will be best able to take advantage of the changing conditions.”

The spring growing season is of increasing interest to biologists studying the effects of a warming climate, and in coming decades non-native invasive shrubs are positioned to win the gamble on warming temperature, Primack said. The BU group is adding these findings to a growing list of advancing spring phenomena in Concord and elsewhere in Massachusetts, including flowering dates, butterfly flight times, and migratory bird arrivals.

Explore further: Warm winters let trees sleep longer.

More information: docs.google.com/file/d/0B05KETqlwfNmdnRhTHF3QTNzYkU/edit?pli=1

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