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Potential Habitat for Beach-Nesting Birds in New Jersey

Habitat for beach-nesting bird species such as piping plover, black skimmer, least tern, and American oystercatcher, is shrinking in New Jersey due to a number of threats, including coastal development, human disturbance, and non-native predators. To help municipalities and other beach landowners set aside important habitat for a set of priority species, scientists used distribution models for piping plover to identify areas that have the highest probability of nesting occurrence in the state.

Go to the Product(s)

The following products all live in the Protection of Critical Beach-Nesting Bird Habitats gallery on Data Basin:
  • Final reportIdentification of Potential Beach Nesting Bird Habitat to be Set Aside in Municipal Beach Management Plans
  • Journal article: Selecting umbrella species for conservation: A test of habitat models and niche overlap for beach-nesting birds
  • Datasets: Species distribution models for American oystercatcher, piping plover, least tern, and black skimmer on New Jersey's Atlantic coastline

Technical description

This document delineates the spatial extent of potential beach-nesting bird habitat in the State of New Jersey, extending from Gateway National Recreation Area – Sandy Hook Unit south to Cape May. The information provided here was extracted from a statistically robust piping plover distribution model generated from a long-term dataset of nest locations and publicly available landscape-level spatial data from a variety of sources. The goal of this document is to assist the USFWS and New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection – Endangered and Nongame Species Program (ENSP) in working with municipalities and other beach landowners in the state to set aside portions of beach that have the highest probability of nesting occurrence by beachnesting birds of conservation concern and to manage those areas to promote successful reproduction. Adding new habitat zones for these species releases competition for breeding sites within designated natural areas and provides dispersal areas for juvenile birds (Cairns 1982, Cohen et al. 2009). They also provide in-season refuge sites when primary nesting areas are inundated with storm tides, and they reduce the dependency on any single site for New Jersey’s yearly reproductive output.

Project Contact(s):

, Rutgers University

LCC Staff Contact(s):

, Science Coordinator

Potential Habitat for Beach-Nesting Birds in New Jersey
Resource Type: Birds
Conservation Targets: Coastal and Marine
Conservation Framework: Biological Planning
Threats/Stressors: Climate Change, Sea-level rise and storm impacts
Conservation Action: Habitat and natural process restoration