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Colored plastic and metal leg bands do not affect survival of Piping Plover chicks

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Leg bands are commonly used to mark shorebird chicks as young as 1-d old, but little is known about the possible impacts of bands on survival of prefledging shorebirds. We used a mark-recapture framework to assess the impact of bands and banding-related disturbance on prefledging survival in a federally endangered population of Piping Plovers (Charadrius melodus) breeding in the Great Lakes region from 2000 to 2008. We banded approximately 96% of all surviving chicks hatched prior to fledging, typically between 5 and 15 d of age. We used a multistate approach in program MARK whereby individuals contributed data as unbanded chicks before capture (N= 1073) and as banded chicks afterward (N= 780). The cumulative probability of surviving through 24 d of age was 0.63 and did not differ between banded and unbanded chicks. In addition, we found a positive effect of banding-related disturbance on survival up to 3 d following banding (= 0.60 CI: 0.17–1.02), possibly due to increased postbanding vigilance on the part of chicks and adults. Our results indicate that banding has no detrimental effect on survival of Piping Plover chicks prior to fledging and that current capture and banding methods are appropriate for this endangered species.

Keywords: Charadrius melodus; Piping Plover; banding; capture effect; endangered species; mark-recapture; marking effect; multistate; shorebird

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Fisheries, Wildlife and Conservation Biology, University of Minnesota, 200 Hodson Hall, 1980 Folwell Avenue, Saint Paul, Minnesota 55108, USA 2: Conservation Biology Program, University of Minnesota, 200 Hodson Hall, 1980 Folwell Avenue, Saint Paul, Minnesota 55108, USA

Publication date: September 1, 2010

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