Parental attendance and brood success in American Oystercatchers in South Carolina

National Fish and Wildlife Foundation; South Carolina Department of Natural Resources; Department of Forestry of Natural Resources at Clemson University; USGS South Carolina Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit; Clemson University; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; U.S. Geological Survey
By: , and 



Research on breeding American Oystercatchers has focused on identifying factors that affect reproductive success but little attention has been paid to parent behavior during chick-rearing. Parental attendance of American Oystercatchers was measured in Bulls Bay and along the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway (Waterway) within the Cape Romain Region, South Carolina, USA, during 2006. Parental attendance rates averaged 90.9% in Bulls Bay and 81.4% along the Waterway. Daily survival of chicks was higher in Bulls Bay (0.989 ± 0.007) compared to the Waterway (0.966 ± 0.012). The extent of shellfish reefs (i.e. foraging areas) adjacent to nest sites was greater in Bulls Bay (5,633 ± 658 m2) compared to the Waterway (3,273 ± 850 m2). Mean parental attendance in Bulls Bay was higher for successful broods (90.5%) compared to failed broods (79.8%). In contrast, mean parental attendance along the Waterway was higher for failed broods (93.4%) compared to successful broods (67.5%). Less extensive shellfish reefs adjacent to nest sites along the Waterway appeared to require parents to depart more frequently to forage and the resultant reduction in attendance may have negatively affected chick survival. Bulls Bay may provide higher quality nesting habitat compared to the Waterway with respect to proximity to food resources and parental attendance. Management and conservation efforts for American Oystercatchers should consider the relationship between foraging and nesting habitat and variability in behavioral attributes, such as parental attendance, in relationship to environmental conditions which ultimately affect reproductive success.

Study Area

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Parental attendance and brood success in American Oystercatchers in South Carolina
Series title Waterbirds
DOI 10.1675/063.033.0410
Volume 33
Issue 4
Year Published 2010
Language English
Publisher The Waterbird Society
Contributing office(s) Coop Res Unit Atlanta
Description 7 p.
First page 511
Last page 517
Country United States
State South Carolina
Other Geospatial Bulls Bay, Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
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