Many studies have shown that predation is a key determinant of piping plover reproductive output, and predator management often is used to improve piping plover breeding success. Research shows that one of the greatest threats to the success of nesting piping plovers is predators such as gulls, crows, and red foxes. Predator management is often used to reduce the likelihood that piping plover chicks are killed by predators and thus increase piping plover breeding success. Research conducted in 2013 and2014 within Fire Island National Seashore and Smith Point County Park showed that red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) are common in that area. Red foxes have been identified as a predator at nearby Robert Moses State Park. Despite the recognition that predator management is an important part of piping plover management along the entire U.S. coast, and that management of red foxes at these sites on Long Island may be important for piping plover populations, there still are many gaps in our knowledge of red foxes, fox responses to management, and the effects of foxes and fox management on piping plover habitat use and reproductive output in the Long Island area.
This study will help land managers in this region better understand the relationship between red foxes and piping plover breeding success. Such information is vital to the design of an effective long-term red fox management program strategy. Through a combination of GPS-collaring, camera trapping, and den site surveys, researchers will determine the abundance, habitat selection, movement ecology, reproductive success, and survival of red foxes in the context of ongoing diverse predator management activities. We will also monitor interactions between red foxes and piping plover nests and between foxes and banded plover adults and chicks, in the context of ongoing diverse predator management activities.
For more information please contact:
Dr. Sarah Karpanty
Virginia Tech, Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation
(540) 231-4586