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Rhode Island National Wildlife Refuge Complex supports piping plover Nanotag Project
Northeast Region, September 23, 2016
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A recently captured male piping plover, named “K82” after its flag code.  The short wire seen hanging past the primaries is the receiving antenna for a nanotag placed on the upper back and covered by feathers.
A recently captured male piping plover, named “K82” after its flag code. The short wire seen hanging past the primaries is the receiving antenna for a nanotag placed on the upper back and covered by feathers. - Photo Credit: Peter Paton/URI
At Ninigret Conservation Area, a team of biological technicians and interns watch and wait for a piping plover to return to its nest after a nest trap has been set.
At Ninigret Conservation Area, a team of biological technicians and interns watch and wait for a piping plover to return to its nest after a nest trap has been set. - Photo Credit: Peter Paton/URI
A piping plover watches warily from outside its nest that has been set with a trap.
A piping plover watches warily from outside its nest that has been set with a trap. - Photo Credit: Ryan Kleinert/USFWS

With the final days of summer coming to a close, Rhode Island National Wildlife Refuge Complex is excited to share some preliminary findings from an ongoing project involving the federally threatened piping plover.

 

This collaborative project between U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Bureau of Ocean and Energy Management, and University of Massachusetts uses nanotags to track the behavior and movement of piping plover during the breeding, staging and migratory portion of their life cycle. The use of nanotags helps wildlife biologists better understand piping plover breeding and post-breeding behavior by identify staging areas , migratory pathways, important stopover sites, and the duration spent at stopover sites to rest and refuel before moving on to wintering grounds

In addition, plovers are also banded with uniquely identifiable markers that provide wildlife biologists with valuable life history data that occurs beyond the lifespan of a nanotag, including survivorship, number of breeding attempts per season, nesting site fidelity and mate selection.

During the 2016 breeding season, refuge and project staff, including Ryan Kleinert, Pam Loring, and Peter Paton of the University of Rhode Island, collaborated to trap 25 piping plover. Between mid-May and early June, a total of 14 male and 11 female piping plover were trapped across 4 Refuge managed beaches. Plovers were affixed with a uniquely coded green leg flag, a blue color band, and a nanotag. Individuals were tracked using a combination of hand tracking and a network of automated receiver towers stationed along the Atlantic coast in conjunction with the Motus Wildlife Tracking System

Preliminary data for plovers that retained nanotags on the journey south showed that several individuals made stops along Cape Hatteras National Seashore, NC, Cape Lookout National Seashore, NC and Cumberland Island National Seashore, GA. One individual, a female tagged “6NA”, was observed with 2 chicks at Trustom Pond NWR on June 20, and was detected a week later, on June 26, by a tower on Cedar Island, NC. Preliminary data suggests that the Outer Banks are a priority stopover site for plovers well into the late summer months.

This project is funded by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), and is in collaboration with the USFWS, URI, and UMass Amherst.


Contact Info: Ryan Kleinert, 401-215-4409, ryan_kleinert@fws.gov
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