The Bahamas provides a wide range of crucial coastal habitats to many declining resident and migratory birds. Among these species is one of the most threatened shorebirds in the United States and Canada, the Piping Plover (Charadrius melodus; Elliott-Smith et al., 2015). This species winters in the southern US and the Caribbean, including The Bahamas, spending most of the year on the wintering grounds. However, despite various efforts to assess the populations of the Piping Plover and other shorebirds across the Caribbean, their movements, abundance, and distribution patterns in this region remain poorly understood (Cañizares & Reed, 2020). For this reason, the National Audubon Society, Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC), and the United States Geological Survey (USGS) conducted a multi-year shorebird census in The Bahamas. Surveys initiated by ECCC were also part of a multi-year survival study.
Censuses were conducted across 16 different islands between the years 2006 and 2022. These surveys were performed with the cooperation of the Bahamas National Trust, volunteer biologists, and scientists from the United States and Canada. Observers counted Piping Plovers and, when possible, other bird species in each of the sampled locations. In total, the dataset holds 2,756 observations of 62 bird species, of which 78% belong to 24 shorebird species. Additionally, 32% of all presence records belong to the Piping Plover, while four species have only one sighting, and 29 have ten or fewer records.
It is important to emphasize that the counts reported in this dataset represent minimum estimates of local shorebird assemblages. Since abundance and distribution of birds vary with changing conditions, representative estimates are best achieved via repeated surveys that reflect a range of conditions including timing (day, year, month), weather (wind direction and speed, precipitation), tide state, etc.
The data in this occurrence resource has been published as a Darwin Core Archive (DwC-A), which is a standardized format for sharing biodiversity data as a set of one or more data tables. The core data table contains 35,627 records.
This IPT archives the data and thus serves as the data repository. The data and resource metadata are available for download in the downloads section. The versions table lists other versions of the resource that have been made publicly available and allows tracking changes made to the resource over time.
Download the latest version of this resource data as a Darwin Core Archive (DwC-A) or the resource metadata as EML or RTF:
The table below shows only published versions of the resource that are publicly accessible.
How to cite
Researchers should cite this work as follows:
National Audubon Society ., Jeffery M, Golder W, Linero D, Environment and Climate Change Canada ., Rock J, Gratto-Trevor C, Maddock S, United States Geological Survey ., Elliott-Smith E, Pover T (2023): Multi-year monitoring of shorebirds in The Bahamas. v1.8. National Audubon Society. Dataset/Occurrence. http://ipt.vertnet.org:8080/ipt/resource?r=bhs_shorebirds&v=1.8
Researchers should respect the following rights statement:
The publisher and rights holder of this work is National Audubon Society. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC-BY-NC) 4.0 License.
This resource has been registered with GBIF, and assigned the following GBIF UUID: 6ce307d0-0456-4b74-b647-db0ace930b26. National Audubon Society publishes this resource, and is itself registered in GBIF as a data publisher endorsed by VertNet.
Who created the resource:
Who can answer questions about the resource:
Who filled in the metadata:
Censuses were conducted in The Bahamas, primarily in coastal habitats such as sandbars and salt marshes. In particular, the dataset contains occurrence records across 16 different islands: Abaco Islands, Acklins Island, Andros Island, Berry Islands, Bimini Islands, Cat Island, Crooked Island, Eleuthera Island, Exuma Islands, Grand Bahama Island, Great Inagua Island, Harbour Island, Long Island, New Providence Island, San Salvadore Island, and Ragged Island.
|Bounding Coordinates||South West [20.814, -79.022], North East [26.769, -72.993]|
The dataset holds occurrence records of 62 bird species, classified in 21 families and 12 orders. The families with the highest number of recorded species were Scolopacidae (16 species), Ardeidae (10 species), and Laridae (9 species). Since most surveys focused on the Piping Plover, this species has ~32% of the total 2,756 presence records. It is followed by the Wilson's Plover (Charadrius wilsonia; 9%) and the Black-bellied Plover (Pluvialis squatarola; ~7%). Finally, four species had only one sighting, and 29 presented ten or fewer observations. The taxonomic authority used was the American Ornithological Society's Checklist of North American Birds (Chesser et al., 2020).
|Species||Actitis macularius (Spotted Sandpiper), Ardea alba (Great Egret), Ardea herodias (Great Blue Heron), Arenaria interpres (Ruddy Turnstone), Bubulcus ibis (Cattle Egret), Butorides virescens (Green Heron), Calidris alba (Sanderling), Calidris alpina (Dunlin), Calidris canutus (Red Knot), Calidris mauri (Western Sandpiper), Calidris melanotos (Pectoral Sandpiper), Calidris minutilla (Least Sandpiper), Calidris pusilla (Semipalmated Sandpiper), Cathartes aura (Turkey Vulture), Charadrius melodus (Piping Plover), Charadrius nivosus (Snowy Plover), Charadrius semipalmatus (Semipalmated Plover), Charadrius vociferus (Killdeer), Charadrius wilsonia (Wilson's Plover), Crotophaga ani (Smooth-billed Ani), Egretta caerulea (Little Blue Heron), Egretta rufescens (Reddish Egret), Egretta thula (Snowy Egret), Egretta tricolor (Tricolored Heron), Eudocimus albus (White Ibis), Falco columbarius (Merlin), Falco peregrinus (Peregrine Falcon), Fregata magnificens (Magnificent Frigatebird), Geothlypis trichas (Common Yellowthroat), Haematopus palliatus (American Oystercatcher), Himantopus mexicanus (Black-necked Stilt), Hydroprogne caspia (Caspian Tern), Larus argentatus smithsonianus (American Herring Gull ), Larus delawarensis (Ring-billed Gull), Larus fuscus (Lesser Black-backed Gull), Limnodromus griseus (Short-billed Dowitcher), Limosa fedoa (Marbled Godwit), Megaceryle alcyon (Belted Kingfisher), Mergus serrator (Red-breasted Merganser), Numenius phaeopus (Whimbrel), Nyctanassa violacea (Yellow-crowned Night-Heron), Nycticorax nycticorax (Black-crowned Night-Heron), Pandion haliaetus carolinensis (Osprey), Pandion haliaetus ridgwayi (Caribbean Osprey), Pelecanus occidentalis (Brown Pelican), Nannopterum auritum (Double-crested Cormorant), Phalaropus tricolor (Wilson's Phalarope), Phoenicopterus ruber (American Flamingo), Pluvialis squatarola (Black-bellied Plover), Rallus crepitans (Clapper Rail), Rynchops niger (Black Skimmer), Setophaga discolor (Prairie Warbler), Setophaga palmarum (Palm Warbler), Setophaga petechia (Yellow Warbler), Sterna dougallii (Roseate Tern), Sterna hirundo (Common Tern), Tachycineta cyaneoviridis (Bahama Swallow), Thalasseus maximus (Royal Tern), Thalasseus sandvicensis (Sandwich Tern), Tringa flavipes (Lesser Yellowlegs), Tringa melanoleuca (Greater Yellowlegs), Tringa semipalmata (Willet), Vireo crassirostris (Thick-billed Vireo)|
|Start Date / End Date||2006-01-09 / 2022-02-15|
This dataset is a collection of three projects. The first one, Shorebird Conservation in The Bahamas, was carried out by the National Audubon Society in partnership with the Bahamas National Trust to increase scientific knowledge of the distribution of the Piping Plover and other shorebirds in The Bahamas. The results of the surveys conducted from 2011 to 2021 helped to identify three areas of critical importance for Piping Plovers: Joulter Cays, Northern Berry Islands, and Andros Island. The second project, the Eastern Canada Piping Plover survival and movement study, was initiated by Environment and Climate Change Canada as a mark-recapture analysis to assess the survival and movement of Eastern Canada's endangered Piping Plover (melodus subspecies). A total of 651 birds (adults and chicks) were marked under this project with unique coded leg flags from 2014 to 2018. Individuals were re-sighted throughout the annual cycle (breeding, migration, and winter) from 2014 to 2022. The last project, the International Piping Plover Census, is an ongoing monitoring effort that aims to assess the population status of Piping Plovers, Wilson's Plovers, and Snowy Plovers. In The Bahamas, this census is coordinated by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the National Audubon Society (NAS), and the Bahamas National Trust (BNT). This data set includes records of the 2006, 2011, and 2016 surveys. Results of the census show that The Bahamas supports at least half the Atlantic Piping Plover population, with flocks of up to 255 birds.
|Title||Shorebird Conservation in The Bahamas | Eastern Canada Piping Plover survival and movement study | International Piping Plover Census|
|Funding||The Shorebird Conservation in The Bahamas project was sponsored by the Disney Conservation Fund and Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC). The Eastern Canada Piping Plover survival and movement study was funded by ECCC. Finally, Coordination of the International Piping Plover Census in The Bahamas has been funded by the USGS, the U.S Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), and NAS. Implementation in The Bahamas was sponsored by the USGS, USFWS, ECCC, the Bahamas National Trust, and NAS. Additionally, implementation in The Bahamas was made possible by a network of participating agencies and volunteers such as the Bahamas National Trust, Massachusetts Audubon, and the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey.|
|Study Area Description||Surveys under the Shorebird Conservation in The Bahamas project were conducted on multiple islands and island chains, focusing on coastal habitats such as sandy shorelines, sand flats, and mudflats with sparse or no vegetation. The Eastern Canada Piping Plover survival and movement study targets Piping Plover (melodus subspecies) breeding on sandy beaches in Eastern Canada (New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, Prince Edward Island, and Québec), following individually marked birds through migration and winter at coastal areas in the southeastern USA and Caribbean. The study area of the International Census is the Piping Plover breeding and non-breeding range. See Elliott-Smith et al. (2009, 2015) for the complete list of countries included in the surveys, given available local and regional assistance.|
|Design Description||The objectives of the Shorebird Conservation in The Bahamas project were to (1) Advance towards a comprehensive view of the abundance and distribution of shorebirds in The Bahamas (mainly the Piping Plover) through regular censuses. (2) Highlight the importance of coastal sites for shorebirds across the Bahamas by updating the portfolio of Key Biodiversity Areas and Important Bird & Biodiversity Areas. (3) Engage key stakeholders to elevate the importance of critical sites falling outside of existing protected areas and increase support for coastal conservation in The Bahamas. The objectives of the Eastern Canada Piping Plover survival and movement study are to better understand at what point during the annual lifecycle mortality is occurring so that conservation efforts can target specific areas for protection and to mitigate relevant threats. In 2012, an evaluation of the conservation program in Eastern Canada indicated that declines in the population were being driven primarily by factors at play outside of the breeding season. Finally, The International Piping Plover census aims to provide a comprehensive view of the abundance and distribution of Piping Plovers, Wilson’s Plovers, and Snowy Plovers. See the sampling description section for a detailed account of the sampling procedures used in the research projects.|
The personnel involved in the project:
Sampled sites were selected based on the areas where Piping Plovers have already been identified or locations with suitable habitat for this species. Some of these sites were repeatedly sampled over the years, while some others were progressively included to increase the chance of recording new plover individuals. It is important to consider that sites sampled multiple times have the same name but may have different coordinates due to variation in shorebirds' location, tide level, and habitat changes across the years. At each site, surveys were conducted on foot by skilled and experienced birdwatchers, who recorded the total number and location of adult Piping Plovers present in the area. The censuses conducted under the coordination of ECCC focused only on Piping Plovers, while some of the ones coordinated by NAS and the USGS included counts for other bird species. Surveyors covered the entire Piping Plover habitat at each site, excluding hard-to-reach areas such as very large tidal flats with no boat access, remote islands and cays, and dense mangroves. Additionally, experience on the ground refined protocols and observers were advised to conduct surveys under favorable weather conditions and at high tide levels to increase bird detectability. However, due to the remoteness of many sites, it was not possible to conduct all surveys at specific times or tide levels and, therefore, counts presented here represent minimum estimates. Finally, in addition to recording birds counts, observers also reported the date, time, location, weather, tidal stage, presence or absence of leg-bands and any combinations, and surveyor information.
|Study Extent||The surveys had the primary intention of increasing the knowledge about the abundance and distribution of the Piping Plover in The Bahamas. Therefore, surveyors conducted the sampling on Piping Plover habitats, such as beaches and sandflats with a small number of grasses and other types of vegetation. Sampled sites were located on multiple islands (see geographic coverage description) and, since they were not uniformly defined, they present a varied range of sampled shoreline distance. Surveys were conducted during the wintering period of the Piping Plover in The Bahamas, which can go from July to mid-April.|
|Quality Control||Surveys were conducted by experienced surveyors. All records were manually validated, verifying that the information reported in the dataset was consistent with the data collected in the field diaries.|
Method step description:
- For questions about the creation of the dataset please contact Daniela Linero - firstname.lastname@example.org
- Cañizares J.R, Reed J.M (2020): Identification of priority shorebird conservation areas in the Caribbean. PeerJ 8:e9831 https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.9831
- Chesser R.T, Billerman S.M, Burns K.J, Cicero C, Dunn J.L, Kratter A.W, Lovette I. J, Mason N.A, Rasmussen P.C, Remsen J.V, Stotz D.F, Winker K (2020): Check-list of North American Birds (online). American Ornithological Society. http://checklist.aou.org/taxa
- Elliott-Smith E, Haig S.M, Powers B.M (2009): Data from the 2006 International Piping Plover Census. U.S. Geological Survey Data Series 426, 332 p.
- Elliott-Smith E, Bidwell M, Holland A.E, Haig S.M (2015): Data from the 2011 International Piping Plover Census. U.S. Geological Survey Data Series 922:296.
|Purpose||This work aimed to improve the knowledge about the abundance and distribution of the Piping Plover and other shorebirds in the coastal habitats of The Bahamas. This dataset provides valuable information for recognizing the diversity of birds present in this country, monitoring changes in species abundance, and identifying key conservation sites for shorebirds.|