Graduation Date

Spring 2020

Document Type



Master of Science degree with a major in Natural Resources, option Wildlife

Committee Chair Name

Dr. Mark Colwell

Committee Chair Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Second Committee Member Name

Dr. Tim Bean

Second Committee Member Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Third Committee Member Name

Dr. Luke Eberhart-Phillips

Third Committee Member Affiliation

Community Member or Outside Professional

Subject Categories

Wildlife Management


Understanding the social and physical factors that influence the temporal and spatial distribution of a species is imperative for successful management. The Western Snowy Plover (Charadrius nivosus nivosus) selects for wide-open stretches of beach; yet within large expanses of ideal habitat, plover populations tend to be aggregated. Recent evidence suggests plovers may prioritize social information over ideal physical factors alone when selecting breeding locations. I analyzed data collected on an individually marked population of Snowy Plovers in Humboldt County, California from 2001 to 2018 to evaluate the influence of physical (beach width) and social (presence of conspecifics) landscape factors on the population’s breeding distribution. Using an information-theoretic framework, I conducted incidence function models and model selection analyses to examine how physical and social factors influenced inexperienced breeder occupancy of approximately 100 km of plover habitat. Beach width influenced where plovers bred, however, inexperienced plovers were more likely to colonize sites occupied by experienced conspecifics. Reproductive success had minimal influence on settlement of inexperienced breeders the following season. This information suggests the species’ successful recovery requires an added emphasis on social information for future habitat restoration efforts.

Citation Style

Journal of Wildlife Management


Thesis/Project Location