New research conducted by Deakin University and Birdlife Australia has found that endangered Hooded Plovers select breeding locations based on food availability.
The research compared 56 different beach sites in Victoria and collected more than 7,500 invertebrates to determine the potential food source available at each location.
Deakin University Honours student Anna Cuttriss worked with Birdlife Australia examine known breeding sites and sites where Hooded Plover’s had not been recorded.
Birdlife Australia’s Coast and Marine Program Manager Grainne Maguire, who co-supervised the research, said the findings were significant.
“This information will assist in the identification of potential breeding sites and help us to better understand how many Hooded Plovers should ideally exist in Victoria.
“An abundance of food was found in the vicinity of known breeding sites and these sites were largely dominated by amphipods (such as sand hoppers) whereas non-inhabited sites hosted more beetles,”
The quantity of Hooded Plover food available on beaches across Victoria varies immensely, highlighting the importance of the current known breeding sites which are limited in number.
Deakin University Senior Lecturer in Wildlife and Conservation Biology Mike Weston said Hooded Plover’s have limited breeding capacity and need help to survive.
“This research has provided insight to how much habitat is actually suitable for Hooded Plovers and the types of food sources they look for when breeding.
“There are so many people in the community engaged in the conservation effort and this research is another piece of the jigsaw,” he said.
Great Ocean Road Coat Committee (GORCC) Conservation Supervisor Georgie Beale worked tirelessly with volunteers last breeding season to protect three breeding sites on GORCC managed land.
It was estimated that the Friends of the Hooded Plover Surf Coast volunteers have donated over 1,800 hours of their time working to protect chicks.
“As a community we need to work together to conserve these known breeding sites and give the Hooded Plovers the best chance of survival.
“The research confirms that these local breeding sites are vital for the ‘Hoodies’,” Ms Beale said.
The full research paper will be published in CSIRO Marine and Freshwater Research Journal later this year.
Hooded Plovers are listed as vulnerable under the Environment Protection Biodiversity and Conservation Act 1999 and have one of the lowest survival rates of any species in the world.
More information on Hooded Plovers is available at our Save the Hoodie website.
Are you interested in helping our wonderful volunteers protect our precious hoodies? Click here for more information about volunteering in the Surf Coast.