Date of Award
Master of Science
Natural Resource Ecology and Management
Stephen J. Dinsmore
The Long-billed Curlew (Numenius americanus) is an imperiled shorebird of western North America. Populations have declined dramatically in the last 150 years from the conversion of prairie to agriculture and the curlew is now listed as a "Tier I at-risk" species in Nebraska. I undertook a 3-year study (2008-2010) to a) estimate the density and statewide abundance of Long-billed Curlews in Nebraska, b) study the nest survival of Long-billed Curlews in Nebraska, and c) to measure daily movements and survival of Long-billed Curlew chicks in Nebraska. I used Program Distance to model detection probability and I estimated there were were 23,909 (SE = 1,685; 95% CL: 20,810-27,471) Long-billed Curlews in Nebraska. I used Program MARK to model nest and chick survival as a function of multiple covariates and found nest survival to be between 29-33% and chick survival to be between 0-4%. Bare ground had a positive effect on nest survival and plant litter had a positive effect on chick survival. Using radio-telemetry, I found that chicks were mobile soon after hatching; two different broods moved >2.6 km in 24 h and on one occasion a 2-day-old chick moved >2 km in 24 h. These findings confirm that Nebraska holds a sizeable portion of the continental Long-billed Curlew population, that bare ground has a positive effect on nest survival, and that plant litter has a positive effect on chick survival. This unique population of curlews should continue to be monitored to ensure that this imperiled grassland species remains in Nebraska.
Cory John Gregory
Gregory, Cory John, "Reproductive ecology of the Long-billed Curlew (Numenius americanus) in Western Nebraska" (2011). Graduate Theses and Dissertations. 11952.