Ph.D. student Maureen Durkin's work using tiny radiotransmitters to identify sources of Snowy Plover chick mortality in the Florida Panhandle received mention in the recent "Gulf Issue" of Audubon Florida's quarterly magazine. The radiotelemetry is part of a larger project, in collaboration with partners at the Gulf Islands National Seashore and Audubon Florida to understand the impact of roadways on Snowy Plovers and other wildlife at the park. _
Graduate student Maureen Durkin's project evaluating the impacts of road mortality to the Snowy Plover population and other wildlife at Gulf Islands National Seashore, FL was featured in a piece urging local beachgoers to be mindful of nesting birds this holiday weekend. Audubon Florida and the National Park Service also highlighted the importance of respecting wildlife by following speed limits in the park, staying away from posted nested areas, and keeping pets off the beach. Maureen is conducting her dissertation research at Gulf Islands, where mortality of shorebirds and other wildlife on park roads is an ongoing issue of concern. Ultimately, this research aims to quantify road mortality and identify contributing factors to provide information that may aid the National Park Service in balancing management of shorebird populations and recreational use. Check it out here.
Lab members attend Atlantic Coast Piping Plover workshop, win GOLD medal at 1st annual Piping Plover Olympics
Dr. Cohen and grad students Michelle Stantial, Alison Kocek, Maureen Durkin, and Melissa Althouse attended the 2014 Atlantic Coast Piping Plover and Least Tern Workshop at National Conservation Training Center in Shepherdstown, WV this month. Dr. Cohen helped present the results of a structured decision making workshop for Piping Plover nest exclosures that he and Alison participated in this past December. Michelle presented initial results and conclusions from her study on Piping Plover flight behavior on the Atlantic Coast. Her work aims to identify whether proposed wind turbines placed within Piping Plover breeding areas will impact the birds during flight. As wind energy gains popularity, this issue is relevant for site managers across the breeding range, and her presentation was met with much interest. Maureen presented a poster on plover and tern road mortality in Florida.
The whole lab group competed against eight other teams of piping plover scientists and managers in the 1st annual Piping Plover Olympics, which included trivia, a relay, logic puzzle, and band resighting events. After a tough competition, clinched by Dr. Cohen's rousing dramatic reenactment of a broken wing display, the ESF team took home the gold medal (shell).
Dr. Cohen has received funding from National Fish and Wildlife Foundation's Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund to continue studying wildlife road mortality at Gulf Islands National Seashore, FL. The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) received 2.5 billion dollars as the result of a plea agreement resolving the criminal case against BP for the 2010 Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. This fund will be directed towards projects that will benefit the Gulf Coast's natural resources over the next five years. SUNY ESF collaborated with Audubon Florida to submit a proposal for the first round of funding in November 2013, which was successful. Preliminary results from a summer 2013 pilot study funded by the National Park Service found road mortality of shorebirds and seabirds at Gulf Islands National Seashore is likely higher than previously counts indicated, and that beach mice and reptiles are also affected. This study will also build on prior work on this site and continue to investigate snowy plover survival and reproductive success. This will allow for determination of the impact road mortality may have on snowy plovers at the population level.
Current lab member Maureen Durkin, who has spent the past 2.5 years working on her M.S. on human disturbance to snowy plovers at several sites in Florida, including Gulf Islands, will take on this project for her Ph.D. Maureen carried out the field work for the pilot study last year, and is excited to continue working with our partners at the National Park Service, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Florida Parks Service, and Audubon Florida. This year's field work will begin in early April and continue through August.
Michelle Stantial received an award for her oral presentation, "Flight behaviors of Piping Plovers Charadrius melodus: implications for risk of collision with turbines and other human structures" at the 37th Annual Meeting of the Waterbird Society in Wilhelmshaven, Germany. Maureen Durkin received honorable mention for presenting, "Waterbird road mortality at Gulf Islands National Seashore, Florida."