Aims: The nest-site selection and breeding biology of Kentish Plover Charadrius alexandrinus were studied on sandy beaches of the Portuguese West coast.
Methods: Nest-site characteristics were compared with those of random points and between successful and unsuccessful nests. Breeding parameters (timing of laying, nesting success and egg size) were examined on sandy beaches and these data combined with a literature review to provide a comparison of Kentish Plovers’ breeding parameters between natural (sandy beaches, saline lakes) and man-made coastal habitats (salinas and fish-farms).
Results and Conclusions: Three temporal peaks of breeding activity were distinguished: end of April, mid May and end of June. Most nests were located less than 100 meters from the nearest active nest. The dimensions (breadth and volume) of the eggs from late clutches were significantly smaller than those from eggs of early and intermediate clutches. Nesting success was 32% (12.3% using the Mayfield method). There were significant differences in nesting success between the four studied beaches (56% of all clutches produced chicks in Gala while only 18% of all clutches produced chicks in Costinha). Despite the lower success of intermediate clutches no significant difference in nesting success was found between early, intermediate and late clutches. There was a higher probability of finding nest-sites near objects and in areas with a higher cover of sparse vegetation and objects than were random points. Successful nests were placed farther from the nearest mammal footprint, were closer to the nearest vehicle sandmark and had a lower cover of shells and pebbles than did unsuccessful nests. Nesting success was highly variable for both natural and man-made coastal habitats and affected mainly by predation and flooding. In terms of conservation it seems important to maintain habitat diversity for Kentish Plovers.
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