Piping Plover Data-collection App Announced by U.S. Geological Survey in May 2015

On May 4, 2015, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) announced the release of iPlover, a new mobile-device application for researchers studying population of Piping Plovers, a small shorebird that winters along the southern U.S. coastlines, including in Virginia, but which has been listed as a threatened species in Virginia and other Atlantic coastal areas since the 1980s. Please see below the hyperlinked title and a short excerpt from USGS’ May 4 news release on the iPlover app.  (To access the USGS’ archive of news releases, visit http://www.usgs.gov/newsroom/default.asp#.VJBcGHuhtVk; at that site, one can search for releases from individual states and U.S. territories.)  And for a two-minute audio introduction to Piping Plovers, please see Virginia Water Radio Episode 79 (9-12-11), online at http://www.virginiawaterradio.org/2011/09/episode-79-september-12-2011-piping.html.

Shorebird Science? iPlover is the App for That, U.S. Geological Survey News Release, 5/4/15

Excerpt: “… iPlover is the first smartphone data collection application developed by the U.S. Geological Survey and will help those managing plover populations.  iPlover supports a long-established network of partners working to address ongoing impacts on plover populations, such as habitat gain or loss due to storms.  More importantly, data from the app is used to develop models that address long-term management concerns for habitat availability.  It also improves the overall quality of coastal geologic information available to effectively manage this species.

“The piping plover is a small shorebird that depends on open coastal beaches to breed and raise its young.  Listed as threatened along the Atlantic coast in 1986, the piping plover’s conservation has been mandated by the Endangered Species Act. Although Atlantic Coast piping plover numbers have more than doubled since their listing nearly 30 years ago, they are still at risk.  Recent estimates place the population at fewer than 2000 pairs, and climate change has introduced new threats to their coastal habitat.

Piping Plover USFWS

Piping Plover at Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge in Virginia. Photo courtesy of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s National Digital Library, accessed online at http://digitalmedia.fws.gov/cdm/singleitem/collection/natdiglib/id/12032/rec/9.

“Coastal beaches are dynamic systems and managing them for beach-dependent species like the piping plover requires collecting data on physical and biological characteristics that will be affected by sea level rise.  Given the extensive Atlantic breeding range of the piping plover – spanning from North Carolina to Newfoundland – biologists have a lot of ground to cover.

“The iPlover app supports the need for coordinated, synchronized data collection.  It is a powerful new tool to help scientists and coastal resource managers consistently measure and assess the birds’ response to changes to their habitat.  Rather than compiling data from multiple sources and formats, the app gives trained resource managers an easy-to-use platform where they can collect and instantly share data across a diverse community of field technicians, scientists, and managers.  iPlover improves scientists’ data gathering and analysis capabilities by simplifying and facilitating consistent data collection and management that interfaces with models of shoreline change and beach geomorphology.”

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