Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Tracking Eastern Willets

The willet is a migratory shorebird that breeds in salt marshes of the eastern United States but its migratory destination and habitat use in winter is not well understood. BRI researchers are tracking these birds via geolocators to gain critical knowledge that will help inform land management and conservation decisions.

 Shorebirds face numerous conservation challenges, including loss of shoreline and wetland habitat, increasing pollution and predation, and climate change. The exact causes for the declines observed in shorebird populations are largely unknown and may be the result of many factors. Determining which factors are currently limiting shorebird populations, and which factors may play a role in the future, is crucial for shorebird conservation.

As part of a broader effort by the Smithsonian Institute to understand Willet movement, BRI began a collaboration with  the New Jersey Nature Conservancy and the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center. Understanding the annual cycle of this species (i.e., migration routes, and the locations of stopover sites and breeding/wintering grounds) provides insight into potential stressors for Willets, which are vulnerable long distance migrants. BRI biologists are also testing Eastern Willets for mercury contamination, a potential stressor read more>>>

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