Title

The Mountain Plover: The Impending Challenges of Climate Change to Population Viability

Presentation Type

Presentation

Abstract

As climate continues to change it is imperative that we understand what effects increased temperatures will have on biotic organisms. Mountain plovers provide an excellent case study to begin this process. In the summer of 2012 I studied the nesting habits of Mountain Plovers in Karval, Colorado. Mountain plovers are a species of concern under the Endangered Species Act as their populations have continually declined in the last 50 years. The birds nest on the open plains, subjecting themselves and their eggs to high heat stress.

My research focused on how ambient temperatures affect plover nesting behavior. Many nests fail each year; in part because the eggs overheat when the adult is not shading the nest. Climate change will impose increased temperature pressures, forcing the adults to adapt their behavior to cope or their nests will perish entirely.

I used game cameras to monitor the nest attendance habits of mountain plovers. Off bout duration (the amount of time spent off of the nest at a time) and frequency were analyzed to provide insight into how mountain plover nesting behaviors change relative to ambient temperatures. In addition, I analyzed 50 years of climate data in order to determine how temperatures have changed in plover habitat, and what temperature patterns are likely to occur in the future. My research approach integrates behavioral and climate data in order to provide a predictive framework for future plover nesting success.

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The Mountain Plover: The Impending Challenges of Climate Change to Population Viability

UC 331

As climate continues to change it is imperative that we understand what effects increased temperatures will have on biotic organisms. Mountain plovers provide an excellent case study to begin this process. In the summer of 2012 I studied the nesting habits of Mountain Plovers in Karval, Colorado. Mountain plovers are a species of concern under the Endangered Species Act as their populations have continually declined in the last 50 years. The birds nest on the open plains, subjecting themselves and their eggs to high heat stress.

My research focused on how ambient temperatures affect plover nesting behavior. Many nests fail each year; in part because the eggs overheat when the adult is not shading the nest. Climate change will impose increased temperature pressures, forcing the adults to adapt their behavior to cope or their nests will perish entirely.

I used game cameras to monitor the nest attendance habits of mountain plovers. Off bout duration (the amount of time spent off of the nest at a time) and frequency were analyzed to provide insight into how mountain plover nesting behaviors change relative to ambient temperatures. In addition, I analyzed 50 years of climate data in order to determine how temperatures have changed in plover habitat, and what temperature patterns are likely to occur in the future. My research approach integrates behavioral and climate data in order to provide a predictive framework for future plover nesting success.