Lab members participate in structured decision making workshop for Piping Plover management
In December, Dr. Cohen and grad student Alison Kocek participated in a structured decision making workshop at the National Conservation Training Center in Shepherdstown, West Virginia focused on the use of nest exclosures for management of the federally-threatened Atlantic Coast piping plover. Exclosures are a common management technique for preventing predation of eggs, but some predators may use them to trap and kill nesting adults, or may harass adults leading to abandonment of the nest. The workshop was attended by three ecological modelers from the U.S. Geological Survey and several biologists and wildlife managers from Maine to Maryland. The participants built a population model for the piping plover, to serve as a basis for understanding the tradeoff in population growth rate between reduced egg predation and increased abandonment and adult mortality due to exclosures. The workshop team completed a prototype model, identified optimal decisions for exclosure use under different values for the model parameters, and set forth a plan for addressing uncertainties in the model that included presentation of the prototype to a wider audience for review and feedback.