Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: South Carolina
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

South Carolina Project

Reproductive Ecology of Wilson's Plover

January 2012 - December 2013


Participating Agencies

  • SC DNR

Wilson’s Plover is a medium-sized plover associated strictly with coastal areas. The US Shorebird Conservation Plan list Wilson’s Plover as a “species of high concern” in their prioritization of shorebird species according to relative conservation status and risk. Wilson’s Plovers are listed as state threatened in South Carolina. SCDNR surveys from 2009 -2011 suggest approximately 300 pairs nest in SC and they are rare on beaches with development. The major threat to the species in US is destruction of breeding habitat by development of beachfront areas. On undeveloped barrier islands, human disturbance can cause nest loss and abandonment of sites. Because nests and chicks are camouflaged and cryptic, crushing by humans and vehicles on beaches can also cause lower reproductive success. Studies of feeding, activity budget, and habitat use have been conducted in Venezuela on their wintering grounds. Otherwise, little is known about most aspects of the life history of this species. Our objectives are to: (1) Determine nest success and factors affecting reproductive loss of Wilson’s Plovers at South and Sand Islands, Yawkey Wildlife Center, SC, (2) Determine nesting chronology of Wilson’s Plovers, and (3) Determine habitat used by Wilson’s Plover broods Determine brood behavior in response to presence of humans

Research Publications Publication Date
Zinsser, L., F. Sanders, and P. Jodice. Daily survival rate and habitat characteristics of nests of Wilson’s Plover. Southeastern Naturalist 16:149-156. May 2017
Theses and Dissertations Publication Date
Zinsser, E. 2014. Nest success and habitat choice of Wilson's Plover. MS Thesis Clemson University May 2014