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Projects


 

The New York plover project always has been focused on habitat as a factor influencing the distribution and abundance of breeding plovers. New York is the state with the second highest number of breeding plovers (after Massachusetts).  The beach is intensively used for recreation and many parts of the shoreline have residential or summer homes or beach clubs.
Susan Elias started the program in 1992.  Her work highlighted the importance of island overwashes ephemeral pools, first noted by Mike Patterson and reemphasized by John Loegering on Assateague Island, on plover distribution and productivity. In the in winter between Susan’s two years of fieldwork, storms breached Westhampton Island, depositing intertidal sandflats.
In 2013, we began monitoring the piping plovers on Fire Island and the west end of Westhampton Island to understand the population response to new habitat created by Hurricane Sandy. In October 2012, Hurricane Sandy breached Fire Island in three places, two breeches were subsequently filled by the US Army Corps of Engineers, and one remains open. We are comparing plover demography, food availability, and habitat quality at natural beaches and overwashes, and filled breaches with engineered dunes or berms.