Shorebirds are declining at an alarming rate globally. The primary causes identified, and therefore focus of conservation efforts, are climate change and habitat loss. However, other anthropogenic influences are also important and need to be addressed. In doing so, cumulative impacts on shorebirds may not be eliminated but could be decreased. One of the most prevalent issues is dogs (Canis familiaris) on beaches. To date, no extensive research has been conducted on how to address this problem although many studies have focused on obtaining baseline data at specific focal beaches. Chapter 1 is a comprehensive literature review on dog impacts on shorebirds. Current science indicates that dogs on beaches are an issue for all shorebirds, at every age, at any time of year, around the world. However, the best practices for reducing the impacts or interacting with dogs and their owners were not included in the studies reviewed. Chapter 2 describes an in-person survey on beaches throughout Michigan, USA, to better understand the current knowledge and level of support for beach conservation as well as dog beaches by Michigan beach-goers. On the 30th anniversary of federal listing of the Great Lakes piping plover (Charadrius melodus) as an endangered population, the responses obtained provide important information about the current situation on these beaches. Results of the survey indicate: 1) the majority of participants are not aware of what a piping plover is (n=317, 58%), 2) participants are generally supportive of protecting beach wildlife (89% of participants responded “very important”) 3) participants are relatively supportive of restrictions on human recreation if it helps protect beach wildlife (67% of participants responded “very important”). These data will improve current outreach and educational programs as incorporating the human dimensions aspect of conservation into the project will be crucial to the long-term success of the recovery effort.
University of Minnesota M.S. thesis. December 2016. Major: Conservation Biology. Advisor: Francesca Cuthbert. 1 computer file (PDF); ix, 61 pages.
Bird Friendly Beaches: Evaluating dog and human interactions with Great Lakes piping plovers (Charadrius melodus) and other shorebirds.
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