Wetland conservation efforts require knowledge of space use by a diversity of waterbirds. However, determining space use of animals requires intensive monitoring of individual organisms. Often, activity patterns during much of the annual cycle are neglected in analyses of home range and habitat use. From 1995-97, we monitored space use in a population of individually marked killdeer (Charadrius vociferus) that breed, and reside for a number of additional months each year, in the western Great Basin. We used linear distance measures and home range-area estimates, derived by fixed-kernel methods, to examine patterns of space use of adults prior to, during, and following nesting. Overall, killdeer used a local area of approximately 6 ha. Birds remained closer to nests while tending eggs than either before or after nesting, although extensive movements away from the nest were observed during all time periods. Females tended to move farther from nests than did males. Birds nesting farther from water bodies were generally observed at greater distances from nests than those nesting closer to shorelines during all time periods. Twenty-seven percent of individuals were observed greater than 1 km from nest locations, particularly during postnesting periods. During nesting periods, males were less likely to be observed at longer distances from nests than were females. There were no differences in home range size based upon sex, time period, or distance from water. We suggest that home range size may not always accurately measure differences in space use and that multiple measures, including distance from nests, should be considered. Understanding the sedentary nature of killdeer during much of the annual cycle and their intense use of local areas is important for making management decisions. Coupled with data on other shorebird species, this information also has broader implications for management of wetland systems by indicating large scale spatial and habitat requirements and the connectivity of geographically distinct habitat patches.
Additional publication details
Space use of killdeer at a Great Basin breeding area