Term of Award
Master of Science in Biology (M.S.)
Document Type and Release Option
Thesis (open access)
Copyright Statement / License for Reuse
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
Department of Biology
C. Ray Chandler
Committee Member 1
Committee Member 2
J. Checo Colon-Gaud
Predation, the major cause of nest failure in birds, is an important factor when considering management and conservation plans. The predator assemblage in an ecosystem changes each year and can cause profound differences in bird nest survival rates. Shorebirds such as Wilson’s Plovers (Charadrius wilsonia) are ideal study species because they are declining and predator control is often a recommended component of management plans. Therefore the objectives of my research were to determine the predator assemblage of the southern end of the beach on Cumberland Island National Seashore, Georgia, and to determine how three variables affected the display rate and intensity of different anti-predator behaviors of Wilson’s Plover. I quantified the predator assemblage of the beach using three methods, transect surveys, nest-site surveys, and game cameras, and compared those methods to determine the relative accuracy of each method. I also tested how the sex of the incubating adult, the age of the clutch, and the type of predator approaching the nest affected the display rate and intensity of different anti-predator responses of Wilson’s Plovers. To do this I analyzed plover behavior captured by game cameras. Through this project, I was able to determine the predator assemblage on Cumberland Island, and how the relative abundance of predators affected the survival rates of Wilson’s Plover nests. I determined Wilson’s Plovers change their anti-predator behavior based on the sex of the incubating adult and the type of predator approaching the nest. Wilson’s Plovers are declining; they rely on undeveloped beaches such as Cumberland Island as breeding sites for a sizable portion of their total population. Determining their predator assemblage provides valuable information when considering management plans for this and other species. Furthermore, understanding their anti-predator behavior shows insight as to which predators are higher risk for the adults or higher risk for the eggs.
Strickland, M. 2015. Predators and anti-predator behavior of Wilson's Plover (Charadrius Wilsonia) on Cumberland Island, Georgia. MS thesis. Georgia Southern University, Statesboro, Georgia.