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Least Sandpiper stopover ecology in Iowa

Least Sandpiper with transmitter     Shorebird trapping

Multipurpose reservoirs can be used to manage habitat for foraging and loafing for shorebirds during migration. Rachel Vanausdall and I studied Least Sandpiper stopover ecology at Saylorville Reservoir in central Iowa from 2016-2020. We monitored 189 Least Sandpipers in fall 2016, 2017, 2019, and 2020 using radiotelemetry. Our work showed that there were negative effects of water level and body condition on residency probability. We calculated a mean daily local residency probability of 0.78 (95% CI 0.56, 1.00) and used this value to calculate a minimum stopover duration of 3.96 d (95% CI = 3.45, 4.46). Our findings indicate that the timing of water level management at Saylorville Lake can impact the residency probability of this species. Drawing down water levels just prior to fall migration and maintaining water levels at or below the conservation pool level (254.8 m) can provide habitat for this and other shorebird species.