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Field season starting next week

posted Apr 18, 2012, 2:58 AM by Clemens Kuepper   [ updated Apr 18, 2012, 3:07 AM ]
Right. Another year and we are getting ready for the work at Bahía de Ceuta again. Preparation for field work are in full flow. We are trying to get all the pieces together: new equipment and replacement parts for old equipment, flight ticket and transport to the field site, accommodation, coordinate people. Not my favourite tasks. But then I will fly over to Mexico and start the work hopefully at the end of next week. Later in the season Medardo and Alejandro will come and join me and take over. As usual the weeks before the start are quite hectic which will make the first days in the field all the more enjoyable. Medardo is right now in Sinaloa and will visit the site for a first impression. I expect breeding to start slowly now, it all depends how fast the water has retreated already.

Our plans this year are well, quite ambitious. Beside the usual tasks of trying to follow and record every breeding event, band every newly hatched chick and monitor the survival of nests and chicks, we'll have a few extra jobs and projects. From 2 May until 12 May we will hold a workshop for Mexican biologists who want to study Snowy Plovers in the field. Lydia took over most of the organization and she did a great job. We are very excited to pass on our experience and help getting more people working on this fascinating creatures. We still know very little about dynamics of Snowy Plover populations in Mexico and Ceuta is the only project where the birds have been studied intensively. This is about to change hopefully very soon. The workshop is a great opportunity to standardize protocols and methods and reinforce links between Mexican Shorebird biologists. People from Sinaloa, Nayarit, Baja California, Mexico D.F. and Sonora are interested to join us for almost two weeks and we will attempt to establish a Snowy Plover Research and Conservation project in the future.

Over the last month we had some encouraging feedback from students who want to work with us. At the moment we try to recruit a number of Mexican PhD and masters students for ecological and evolutionary projects to make better use of the huge data set that we have assembled over the years. And of course we will try to infect them with the ploverology fever. Training and research on natural populations are very important to understand the problems and needs of the animals. Only when you know what is going on you can try to improve the situation by effective conservation actions and convince people to protect habitats. This year we'll have two new field assistants who will work with us through until July and three more students who want to get a flavor of the work before they'll decide whether they will commit to the cause.

As in 2011 we will keep you updated through this website, facebook and twitter. Popular Plover watch will be revived and we hope that you will interact with us for some lively discussion.