Tara L. Rodkey

Tara L. Rodkey, M.S.
Texas A&M University- Kingsville
Major Adivsor: Bart M. Ballard, Ph.D.

Buff-breasted Sandpiper Habitat Selection in the Texas Gulf Coastal Plain

Migratory shorebirds are one of the fastest declining groups of North American avifauna, suffering an estimated population decline of 40% since 1970. As an obligate grassland shorebird and long-distance migrant, the Buff-breasted Sandpiper (Calidris subruficollis) is a species of global conservation concern that uses the Texas Gulf Coastal Plain during southbound and northbound migrations.

To evaluate the stopover habitat selection of Buff-breasted Sandpipers in the region, we deployed 52 GPS tracking devices across one fall and spring migration, with 50 more planned for deployment in the spring and fall of 2022. From this location data, we will build a species distribution model using nested hierarchical resource selection analyses at two orders of selection. Additionally, we visited the transmitted GPS locations within a 5-day window to estimate vegetation height to describe habitat use by this short-grass specialist. Because measures targeted at preserving habitat for this species are expected to benefit many other grassland birds, an understanding of how they use habitat at this critical stopover site is imperative to designing effective conservation measures in the region.

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