Monitoring and Research

We conduct tern and plover surveys at all known nesting sites in along the lower Platte River system from late-April to early/mid-August. We conduct all monitoring and research activities in an efficient and careful manner to minimize disruption and ensure the safety of the birds and their nests.

Every year we survey all of the river and off-river nesting sites along the lower Platte River study area. We try to visit every nesting site in our study area once a week throughout the entire nesting season.

Study Area

Our broad-scale study area includes the Lower Platte River system in eastern Nebraska which includes the Loup and Elkhorn rivers. We concentrate our research efforts on nesting sites along the lower Platte River study area which includes a small number of off-river sites along the Loup River. Monitoring and research efforts on the river focus solely on the 103 river miles of the Lower Platte River.

Data Collection

Each time we visit a nest site we collect the following data:

  • Number of tern and plover adults
  • Number of tern and plover chicks
  • Number of tern and plover fledglings
  • Number of tern and plover nests
  • Nest Id number and GPS location
  • Number of eggs in each nest
  • Egg floating data (nest age)
  • Nest Fate
  • Tern and plover chick weight and age
  • Note all color banded plovers
  • Notes of any disturbance or other important information

Data Analyses

Estimates of:

  • Daily and seasonal survival of nests
  • Daily and seasonal survival of adults
  • Daily and seasonal survival of chicks
  • Annual survival rate of plover adults
  • Tern and plover chick growth curves

Evaluation of:

  • Amount and quality of nesting habitat
  • Characteristics of the substrate and amount of vegetation

Description of:

  • Adult and chick site fidelity and dispersal
  • Adult and chick migration patterns
  • Adult and chick over-wintering locations
Lower Platte River study area
Lower Platte River study area
Broad-scale study area
Broad-scale study area