2018 journal article
Response of beach-nesting American Oystercatchers to off-road vehicles: An experimental approach reveals physiological nuances and decreased nest attendance
CONDOR, 120(1), 47–62.
ABSTRACT Shorebird populations face increasing challenges as rising sea levels and growing human populations constrain their breeding habitats. On recreational beaches, the nesting season often coincides with a season of high visitor use, increasing the potential for conflict, which may negatively influence beach-nesting shorebird species. We designed a field experiment to study the responses of nesting American Oystercatchers (Haematopus palliatus) to off-road passenger vehicles (ORVs) at Cape Hatteras and Cape Lookout National Seashores in North Carolina, USA. We used continuous video and heart rate recordings to assess changes in the behavior and physiology of incubating oystercatchers. We conducted driving experiments affecting 7 nesting pairs in 2014 and 19 nesting pairs in 2015, between April and July of each year. Experimental treatments were repeated throughout the incubation period for each nest. Although responses were highly variable within and among pairs, paired randomized permutation tests i...