Home » Conservation of Piping Plovers at Napatree Point: A Case Study in Collaboration, Science, and Education
The barrier beach dune system is excellent breeding habitat for plovers in the Napatree Point Conservation Area. Their nests consist of shallow depressions (scrapes) in sandy/pebbly areas on the beaches above the high tide line. The exposed nature of piping plover nests make them very vulnerable to predation by birds and mammals, disturbance by pets, especially unleashed dogs, and inundation during exceptionally high tides and storm surge.
One of the first activities initiated by the Watch Hill Conservancy (WHC) when it was established was to create a partnership with the US Fish and Wildlife Service to collaboratively work to protect the piping plovers on Napatree. Plovers are the emblematic logo of the WHC. WHC personnel assist FWS scientists in a number of ways: they help erect fencing to keep the public away from plover nesting and feeding sites, observe plovers for nest building behavior, monitor nests, and remove fencing at the end of the season.
The collaborative work to conserve piping plovers also includes other activities and partners. The WHC education team teaches children about plover ecology and conservation in their Napatree Investigators youth education program. Scientists from the University of Rhode Island have begun monitoring the diversity and abundance of mammalian predators of piping plovers in the NPCA. WHC staff naturalists have developed interpretative signage on the beach to educate the public of plover ecology and the need to conserve this migratory species.
The piping plover conservation program at Napatree highlights a number of important features of how the WHC works.