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Evaluation of Caspian tern (Hydroprogne caspia) and snowy plover (Charadrius alexandrinus nivosus) nesting on modified islands at the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge, California—2015 Annual Report

Open-File Report 2016-1049

Prepared for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Bureau of Reclamation
By:
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DOI:10.3133/ofr20161049

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Executive Summary

In order to address the 2008/10 NOAA Fisheries Biological Opinion for operation of the Federal Columbia River Power System, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and the Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) have developed and begun implementation of Caspian tern (Hydroprogne caspia) management plans. This implementation includes relocating nesting Caspian terns out of the Columbia River estuary and the mid-Columbia River region to reduce predation on salmonids listed under the Endangered Species Act. USACE and Reclamation developed Caspian tern nesting habitat at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge (DENWR), California prior to the 2015 nesting season. Further, to reduce or eliminate potential conflicts between nesting Caspian terns and threatened western snowy plovers (Charadrius alexandrinus nivosus), nesting habitat for snowy plovers also was developed. Seven recently constructed islands within two managed ponds (Ponds A16 and SF2) of DENWR were modified to provide habitat attractive to nesting Caspian terns (5 islands), and snowy plovers (2 islands). These seven islands were a subset of 46 islands recently constructed in Ponds A16 and SF2 to provide waterbird nesting habitat as part of the South Bay Salt Pond (SBSP) Restoration Project. 

We used social attraction methods (decoys and electronic call systems) to attract Caspian terns and snowy plovers to these seven modified islands, and conducted surveys between March and September 2015 to evaluate nest numbers, nest density, and productivity. Results from the 2015 nesting season indicate that island modifications and social attraction measures were successful in establishing Caspian tern breeding colonies at Ponds A16 and SF2 of DENWR. Caspian terns nested on three of the five islands modified for Caspian terns (1 island in Pond A16 and 2 islands in Pond SF2). Caspian terns initiated at least 224 nests, fledged at least 174 chicks, and exhibited a breeding success rate of 0.78 fledged chicks/breeding pair. These results are promising considering it was the first year of the study and there was no prior history of Caspian terns nesting at Ponds A16 and SF2. In contrast, snowy plovers did not attempt to nest on any island in Ponds A16 and SF2. These results demonstrate the potential of social attraction measures to help establish tern nesting colonies in San Francisco Bay. Social attraction measures similar to those used in this study, but targeting other species such as Forster’s terns and American avocets, may help to establish waterbird breeding colonies at wetlands enhanced as part of the SBSP Restoration Project. 

Suggested Citation

Hartman, C.A., Ackerman, J.T., Herzog, M.P., Strong, C., Trachtenbarg, D., Sawyer, K.A., and Shore, C.A., 2016, Evaluation of Caspian tern (Hydroprogne caspia) and snowy plover (Charadrius alexandrinus nivosus) nesting on modified islands at the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge, California—2015 Annual Report: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2016-1049, 36 p., http//dx.doi.org/10.3133/ofr20161049.

ISSN: 2331-1258 (online)

Study Area

Table of Contents

  • Executive Summary
  • Introduction
  • Methods
  • Results and Discussion
  • Conclusions and Management Implications
  • Acknowledgments
  • References Cited

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Report
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Title:
Evaluation of Caspian tern (Hydroprogne caspia) and snowy plover (Charadrius alexandrinus nivosus) nesting on modified islands at the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge, California—2015 Annual Report
Series title:
Open-File Report
Series number:
2016-1049
DOI:
10.3133/ofr20161049
Year Published:
2016
Language:
English
Publisher:
U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location:
Reston, VA
Contributing office(s):
Western Ecological Research Center
Description:
vi, 36 p.
Country:
United States
State:
California
Other Geospatial:
Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge
Online Only (Y/N):
Y
Additional Online Files (Y/N):
N