Disturbance ecology of piping plovers along the Atlantic Coast


Sara Zeigler and Ben Gutierrez

I am broadly interested in the interface between landscape ecology and population biology  - how do landcover change, natural and human-caused disturbances, and habitat availability and connectivity affect a species’ population dynamics and extinction risk?  In my current work, I – a landscape ecologist – work closely with oceanographers and geologists to better understand how disturbances and changes to that disturbance regime affect early successional shorebirds like the piping plover (Charadrius melodus). Specifically, our interdisciplinary team uses Bayesian networks and geographical information systems (GIS) to investigate how storms and sea-level rise will impact piping plover habitat in the future. A Summer Student Fellow (SSF) will work within this team to better understand spatial patterns and frequencies of storm strikes (and changes in those patterns) along the piping plover’s Atlantic breeding range. As interest and time allow, the SSF may also investigate how changes in storm patterns may impact population dynamics (e.g., regional population abundance, reproductive output, nesting locations). Desired skills for the SSF include some background in GIS.

Sara Zeigler profile

Beach-dependent Shorebirds research group