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Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

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Piping Plovers and Least Terns of
the Great Plains and Nearby

A draft protocol for assessing piping plover reproductive success
on Great Plains alkali lakes

Methodology -- Section G

Monitoring frequency

Frequency of visits to monitor plover breeding success at alkali lakes is a compromise between data reliability and logistic practicality.

If too infrequent, holes in the database will preclude basic analyses, especially of nest fate, and for Mayfield estimates of egg, nest, and chick success. Weekly visits (every 5-7 d) are recommended as an absolute minimum. Two visits/wk is a better monitoring frequency, but not practical for an investigator covering dozen of widely scattered sites.

More frequent visitation is unwarranted except for special situations or study purposes, although investigators should try to visit every 1-2 days near hatching and fledging times.

Visits begin with initial censuses and searches for nests. They end when all breeding pairs at a site have either fledged young or failed in their nesting attempts and abandoned their respective territories.

A chronological record of breeding pairs (Appendix B) can be used to plan visits to widely scattered sites with greatest efficiency. Hatching and fledging dates should be projected and highlighted by site.

Again, it is vitally important to revisit and double-check territories where failure is suspected.

Previous Section -- Section F - Monitoring chick survival and fledging
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Next Section -- Section H - Database management

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