Term of Award

Spring 2006

Degree Name

Master of Science in Biology (M.S.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Department

Department of Biology

Committee Chair

C. Ray Chandler

Committee Member 1

Steve Vives

Committee Member 2

John Parrish

Abstract

Habitat loss has a serious impact on wildlife. However, even when humans do not destroy habitat, their activity can have negative impacts on behavior. The purpose of my study was (1) to test whether the presence of humans altered the behavior of Sanderlings (Calidris alba), (2) to quantify the impacts of staged human encounters on Sanderlings, and (3) to assess whether Sanderlings on high-disturbance beaches habituate to the presence of humans. The study was conducted on two Georgia barrier islands with varying levels of human disturbances, Tybee Island and Sapelo Island. I found that Sanderlings on a high-disturbance beach had lower foraging success than those on a low-disturbance beach. Across sites, Sanderling foraging success decreased with increasing number of people. Staged encounters on a low-disturbance beach reduced Sanderling foraging activity to that of a Sanderling on a high-disturbance beach. There was no evidence of habituation to people on high-disturbance beaches.

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