The Georgia coast is key to shorebird conservation

A few months ago I attended the monthly Atlanta Aubdon Society meeting which was on the role of the Georgia coast and shorebird conservation. The talk was given by Brad Winn from Management center for conservation, Tim Keyes from the GeorgiaDepartment of Natural Resources and Abby Sterling from the University of Georgia.

Abby started the talk by giving a general overview of the habitat on the coast and the life history of shorebirds with a particular focus on Oystercatcher and Wilson’s plovers, the birds she did her doctoral studies on. The beaches on the Georgia coast are dynamic habitats as they do not have engineering typically found on beaches that hinder the natural movement of sand. These beaches are found on a chain of barrier islands that are formed from sediments that drain from the whole state. Shorebirds (at least these two species) lay their eggs in scrapes in the sand or sometimes in a horseshoe crab shells or flowers. The two species did not have an overlap of their nesting habitat which is important for conservation. The nests are typically hard to find and Abby said she had to follow the tracks of birds to find the nets. She monitored nests until they were successful or unsuccessful. This took about 28 days for Wilsons plovers. The chicks get fed by the parents. Abby would catch and band the birds and give the chicks a unique color band combination of ease of field identification.

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Wilson’s Plover

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Geology of Paraguay

Paraguay is a landlocked country in South America in which three ecoregions met; cerrado (a savannah), Atlantic forest, and chaco (a mix of the two). Areas in which ecoregions meet tend to have very high biodiversity. As an undergraduate I had plans, which sadly fell through, to travel to a research center in Paraguay. As part of the planning process, I did a lot of research on the country, including research related to the geology of the country.

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An example of the Chaco

The bedrock in Paraguay is mostly from the Quaternary age and Carboniferous age, though some may be Permian. In more northern parts of the globe, like western New York, you don’t find Quaternary age rocks because the last glaciation period stripped them away. Older rocks are found in the western part of the country. The country is very flat, particularly in the area in which the research center is located. Over about 1.5 miles I walked to class every day as an undergraduate there was a 112-foot change in elevation. Compared to a 48-foot change in elevation over the 0.8 miles it would have taken me to get to my study area.

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For reference, Paraguay is in red

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