Assessment of surface soil properties at Least Tern and Piping Plover nesting sites

The Interior Least Tern (Sternula antillarum athallassos) is a state and federal endangered species; it was first listed in 1985. The Piping Plover (Charadrius melodus) is a state and federal threatened species; it was also first listed in 1985. In Nebraska, terns and plovers nest on sparsely or non-vegetated expanses of sand in the Platte River valley and along its tributaries. These two species use similar habitats and often co-exist in the same colonies during the nesting season. The habitats include midstream river sandbars, sand and gravel mines, and lakeshore housing developments. These habitats are sufficiently different that they require different management methodologies. Nesting habitat for these birds is in a constant state of flux. The goal of this project is to assess the properties of the surface soils in close proximity to and directly below the nest. It is anticipated that the results of this project will help to provide a better understanding of why the birds select certain sites for their nests. It is also hoped that the knowledge gained from the project can be of benefit in determining how to construct nesting habitat.