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.

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 August 2, 2014 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 August 2, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Pyrenees Orphan Bear Cub Gets Brand New Home

Pyrenees Orphan Bear Cub Gets Brand New Home

AFP (Aug. 1, 2014) The discovery of a bear cub in the Pyrenees mountains made headlines in April 2014. Despire several attempts to find the animal's mother, the cub remained alone. Now, the Pyrenees Conservation Foundation has constructed an enclosure. Duration: 00:31 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Rare Whale Fossil Pulled from Calif. Backyard

Rare Whale Fossil Pulled from Calif. Backyard

AP (Aug. 1, 2014) A rare whale fossil has been pulled from a Southern California backyard. The 16- to 17-million-year-old baleen whale fossil is one of about 20 baleen whale fossils known to exist. (Aug. 1) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Greenpeace Ship Arctic Sunrise Free to Leave Russia

Greenpeace Ship Arctic Sunrise Free to Leave Russia

AFP (Aug. 1, 2014) Greenpeace's ship Arctic Sunrise, held in custody by the Russian authorities since September last year, has departed the Russian city of Murmansk en route for its home port of Amsterdam. Duration: 01:04 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Visitors Feel Part of the Pack at Wolf Preserve

Visitors Feel Part of the Pack at Wolf Preserve

AP (July 31, 2014) Seacrest Wolf Preserve on the northern Florida panhandle allows more than 10,000 visitors each year to get up close and personal with Arctic and British Columbian Wolves. (July 31) Video provided by AP
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:
from the past week

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