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Wetlands in the Playa Lakes Region of Texas are important habitats for North American wintering waterfowl and migrant shorebirds. However, shorebird breeding biology has been overlooked in characterizing the region’s ecological importance. In 1998 and 1999, American Avocet (Recurvirostra americana), Black-necked Stilt ( Himantopus mexicanus ), Killdeer (Charadrius vociferous), and Snowy Plover (C. alexandrinus) breeding ecology were studied in playas, saline lakes, and riparian wetlands in the Playa Lakes Region of Texas. Chronology of nest initiation, clutch sizes, and hatching success for 298 Snowy Plover, 111 American Avocet, 43 Killdeer, and 26 Blacknecked Stilt clutches were measured. All four species nested in saline lakes, American Avocet and Killdeer also nested in playas, and Snowy Plover nested on riparian wetlands. American Avocet had higher hatching success in 1999 (52%) than 1998 (8%), because of more suitable hydrological conditions and lower predation. Hatching success was higher in 1998 than 1999 for Killdeer (1998, 63%; 1999, 21%) and Snowy Plover (1998, 47%; 1999, 33%) due to failures caused by flooding and hail in 1999. In other regions, clutch predation limits shorebird productivity, but hatching success in the Playa Lakes Region appears to be limited by unpredictable precipitation patterns and wetland hydroperiod. As such, breeding shorebird conservation and management should focus upon maintaining wetland hydrological integrity.


Posted with Permission from Waterbirds: Journal of the Waterbird Society (appeared in Vol. 28, no2, 2005, pgs 129-260

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