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Monica Iglecia

Summary of Disturbance Management Symposium at WHSG 2019

Below is a brief summary of the results of the Innovative Approaches to Disturbance Management symposium at the 8th Western Hemisphere Shorebird Group meeting in Panama.

For access to each presentation referenced below, click here.

During the symposium, presentations provided examples of ecological and social science strategies to reduce the negative impacts of human disturbance to shorebirds across the Americas. Kelsi Hunt of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University presented about the effects of disturbance on the distribution and behavior of shorebirds along the Atlantic Flyway of the U.S. See her presentation here to learn about the protocol they developed to measure disturbance and what they found about how different species responded to highly disturbed areas.

Ashley Dayer of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University shared how social science can be applied to change people’s behaviors to improve habitat conservation. This information can be used in community-based social marketing to change behaviors, set new norms, and guide educational messaging.

Case studies included using collaboration and open communication to manage disturbance caused by kitesurfing in Río Negro, Argentina (Patricia González’s presentation), a community based approach to protect high tide roost sites in the Bay of Fundy, Canada (Laura Bartlett’s presentation on the Space to Roost program), and efforts to protect beach nesting birds in Bahía Todos Santos, Mexico with shorebird festivals, nest exclosures, and feral dog removal (Jonathan Vargas’ presentation).

The symposium’s interactive poster exercise and group discussion revealed that sites across the Americas share many common types of disturbance challenges. The top three disturbance issues cited by symposium participants were 1. Loose dogs and cats; 2. People and human recreation; and 3. Vehicles on beaches. The top three most pressing challenges and limitations to addressing disturbance were 1. Lack of interest; 2. Lack of enforcement; and 3. Lack of budget.

The symposium ended by asking participants, “In a no limits world, what would you do to try to reduce disturbance?” The top three strategies suggested for reducing disturbance were 1. To create seasonal or permanent closures; 2. Having stewards or patrol at every site; and 3. Creative and engaging media campaigns to appeal to people who might not care about wildlife.

Miss the symposium but have more ideas for innovative ways to manage human disturbance to shorebirds? Share your ideas in this forum discussion!