Information on demographic parameters needed to inform conservation strategies for American Oystercatchers (Haematopus palliatus) is lacking. The population dynamics of American Oystercatchers in Virginia, USA, were examined using a multi-state analysis framework that modeled movement of American Oystercatchers into and out of the State. Change in breeding status, age-specific survival rates, and age at first breeding were investigated for three geographically distinct study sites. Non-breeding American Oystercatchers originating from Virginia readily moved in and out of the State among years. The immigration rate for birds breeding on barrier islands was 6% Emigration rates were 6% for the barrier island breeding population and 17% for the seaside lagoon population. Stage-specific annual survival rates were 0.66, 0.95 and 0.91 for juvenile, sub-adult and adult stages, respectively. Age at first breeding peaked in the fourth year for both the barrier island and seaside lagoon breeding populations. Movement and recruitment rates suggested that the barrier islands may provide the highest quality breeding habitat among the three study sites. This study showed that Virginia's American Oystercatcher population is linked with other Atlantic Coast populations, and these links should be considered when evaluating local population trends and management targets.
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Vol. 40 • No. sp1