Loss of breeding habitat and nest predation have contributed to the decline of many shorebird species. The United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) initiated a piping plover (Charadrius melodus) habitat creation and augmentation program on the Missouri River in the summer of 2004. The USACE increased unvegetated sandbar habitat by depositing dredged material (engineered sandbars) and by clearing vegetation from existing sandbars (managed sandbars). We evaluated the effects of this increase in nesting and foraging habitat on habitat selection and nest daily survival rate (DSR) of piping plovers on Lewis and Clark Lake and the Gavins Point Reach of the Missouri River from 2005 to 2007 (n = 623 nests). Piping plovers selected engineered sandbars more often than expected based on area and selected natural and managed habitats less than expected based on area. Daily survival rate on engineered sandbars was significantly higher than on natural or managed sandbars (log odds: 2.50, 95% CI: 1.05–5.94). Thus, plovers' habitat selection may have increased their nesting success. Our results suggest that habitat augmentation may stave off declines in piping plover populations limited by insufficient habitat and low nesting success.
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Vol. 75 • No. 2