Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Hurricane Sandy may be a blessing for tiny piping plover

Date:
January 28, 2014
Source:
Virginia Tech (Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University)
Summary:
The piping plover, a threatened shorebird, is expected to capitalize on new habitat created by Hurricane Sandy on hard-hit Long Island, N.Y. The storm created wider sandy beaches, the plover's preferred habitat.

Few can forget the destruction left behind by Hurricane Sandy, which pummeled the shorelines of the Eastern United States. For the tiny piping plover, however, the storm may have been a blessing in disguise.

Related Articles


The threatened shorebird, which migrates in spring to nest on sandy beaches along the Atlantic coast, is expected to capitalize on new habitat created by the storm on hard-hit Long Island, N.Y.

"Hurricane Sandy pushed sand over the vegetation of the barrier islands, leaving behind wider sandy beaches, which is the plover's preferred habitat," said Jim Fraser, a professor of wildlife conservation in the College of Natural Resources and Environment at Virginia Tech, who has studied piping plovers and other shorebirds for almost three decades.

The bird was federally listed as threatened and endangered in 1986.

Hurricane Sandy in 2012 created three inlets on Long Island's south shore, two of which the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers quickly filled. Fraser says he hopes the third inlet, in a designated wilderness area of Fire Island National Seashore, will remain open, as it is New York's only natural inlet.

Long since the storm has passed, the inlet continues to shape the barrier islands, further improving plover habitat. The birds like to feed on insects and invertebrates that reside in intertidal flats -- shallow, watery areas on the bay side of barrier islands.

Leaving the inlet open would not only be good for the piping plover, it would also be a smart move for taxpayers, according to Fraser. "Post-storm public works projects are incredibly expensive. Ultimately, the taxpayer ends up footing the bill."

On precarious barrier islands, houses and other buildings are vulnerable to destruction. The sands shift constantly under normal conditions; superstorms like Sandy rearrange them dramatically.

"We live too close to the sea," Fraser continued. "The human, structural, and environmental costs are very high, and they are increasing with each storm as coastal development shows no signs of abating."

While storm damage affects humans negatively, it can have the opposite effect on wildlife. "Storm-created habitat is good for piping plovers and other birds," explained Fraser. Other positive environment impacts have also been observed. "Local people say the fishing is better, clams are growing faster, and the water is cleaner."

Fraser's work studying piping plovers in other environments, including a 12-year observation in nearby West Hampton Dunes, N.Y., confirms that plover populations increase when new habitat is created on barrier islands after massive storms.

He expects to see plover populations on Long Island surge when the birds return this spring. His ongoing research is monitoring the outcome.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Virginia Tech (Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Virginia Tech (Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University). "Hurricane Sandy may be a blessing for tiny piping plover." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 January 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140128103121.htm>.
Virginia Tech (Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University). (2014, January 28). Hurricane Sandy may be a blessing for tiny piping plover. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 21, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140128103121.htm
Virginia Tech (Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University). "Hurricane Sandy may be a blessing for tiny piping plover." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140128103121.htm (accessed April 21, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Earth & Climate News

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Going Ape: Sierra Leone Chimpanzees Hail Ebola Retreat

Going Ape: Sierra Leone Chimpanzees Hail Ebola Retreat

AFP (Apr. 21, 2015) As money runs out at Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary in Sierra Leone, around 85 chimps are facing homelessness. The centre closed when the Ebola epidemic was ravaging the country but now that closure is beginning to look permanent. Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Wild Weather Lashes Sydney Region

Wild Weather Lashes Sydney Region

AFP (Apr. 21, 2015) Sydney and surrounding areas are lashed by wild weather with trees felled, power cuts hitting thousands of homes and sand drifts sweeping inland off the iconic Bondi beach. Duration: 00:50 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Deepwater And Dolphins: The Oil Spill's Impact 5 Years On

Deepwater And Dolphins: The Oil Spill's Impact 5 Years On

Newsy (Apr. 20, 2015) Five years on, the possible environmental impact of the Deepwater Horizon spill includes a sustained die-off of bottlenose dolphins, among others. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Pee-Power Toilet to Light Up Disaster Zones

Pee-Power Toilet to Light Up Disaster Zones

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Apr. 20, 2015) Students and staff are being asked to use a prototype urinal to &apos;donate&apos; urine to fuel microbial fuel cell (MFC) stacks that generate electricity to power lighting. The developers hope the pee-power technology will light toilet cubicles in refugee camps, where women are often at risk of assault in poorly lit sanitation areas. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins