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Foraging Ecology and Health Assessment of American Oystercatchers throughout the Annual Cycle

Oystercatcher foraging on oyster reef, Cape Romain NWR, SC

Duration

March 2006 - December 2008

Narrative

The U.S. Shorebird Conservation Plan identified the eastern race of the American Oystercatcher as a species of extremely high priority. The subspecies breeding population is < 3,000 and declining. South Carolina supports ca. 400 breeding pairs (ca. 60% nest in the Cape Romain Region; CRR) and ca. 35% of the wintering oystercatchers along the east coast (ca. 50% of these birds are in the CRR). Many of the oystercatchers that breed in the CRR also winter there (i.e., are residents), although nonresidents from breeding sites as distant as New England also winter there. Preliminary data also suggest that reproductive success ranges widely among habitat types within the CRR. Chronic failure occurs along the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway (AICW) while success is variable on estuarine islands. The former habitat type may act as an ecological trap, while the latter may be a source. This study will identify foraging areas of breeding oystercatchers and of wintering adults throughout the CRR, measure use of shellfish beds, link foraging ecology with reproductive success, and define diet of breeding adults and wintering adults via behavioral observations.

Research Products and Activities

Peer Reviewed Publications

  • Thibault, J.*, F. Sanders, P.G.R. Jodice. 2010. Parental attendance and brood success in American Oystercatchers. Waterbirds 33:511-517.
  • Hand, C.*, F. Sanders, P.G.R. Jodice. 2010. Foraging proficiency during the nonbreeding season in a specialized forager: Are juvenile American Oystercatchers (Haematopus palliatus) 'bumble-beaks'* compared to adults? Condor 112:670-675.

Thesis

  • Christy Hand, Dept. Forestry and Natural Resources, M.S. student, August 2006 – August 2008: Wintering Ecology of American Oystercatchers Website  | 
  • Janet Thibault, Dept. Forestry and Natural Resources, M.S. student, August 2005 – August 2008: Nesting and Foraging Ecology of American Oystercatchers in the Cape Romain Region, South Carolina Website  | 

Presentations

  • Hand, C., P.G.R. Jodice, F.J. Sanders. 2006. Foraging ecology of American Oystercatchers during the nonbreeding season in the Cape Romain Region. American Oystercathcer Working Group, Cedar Key, FL.
 

Current Staff

Federal Staff: 2

Masters Students: 5

Phd Students: 2

Post Docs: 1

University Staff: 2

5 Year Summary

Students graduated: 11

Scientific Publications: 37

Presentations: 141

 

Personnel

  • Patrick JodicePrincipal Investigator
  • Janet ThibaultStudent
  • Christy HandStudent

Funding Agencies

  • National Fish and Wildlife Foundation

Links

South Carolina Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit Cooperators

  1. Clemson University
  2. South Carolina Department of Natural Resources
  3. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  4. U.S. Geological Survey
  5. Wildlife Management Institute