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Addressing Threats to Species at Risk Along PEI's Coastline

Successful Applicant:

Island Nature Trust



Project Title:

Addressing Threats to Species at Risk Along PEI's Coastline

Project Summary:

The melodus subspecies of the endangered Piping Plover is recognized as a management-dependent species. In recent years there have been fewer than 60 Piping Plover nesting on PEI. With numbers so low, each individual bird, and each nest is critical to the population.

Island Nature Trust Species-at-Risk staff conducted 326 beach surveys on close to 60 beaches during the 2020 Piping Plover (PIPL) breeding season. Staff surveyed all known potential PIPL habitat in early June as part of the annual Index Count, and then continued to monitor potential breeding beaches throughout the season. Sixteen breeding pairs of PIPL were monitored for breeding success. Volunteers contributed over 671 hours toward the conservation of Piping Plover on PEI in 2020, and this project would not be possible without them.

Island Nature Trust staff and volunteer Beach Guardians worked to address threats to several species at risk along PEI's coastlines by:

  • Installing symbolic fencing around piping plover nesting areas

  • Speaking with beach users about how they can minimize disturbance to coastal species at risk

  • Working with partners to survey PEI's coastline for presence of bank swallow (BANS) colonies

  • Engaging with fisherman/women to raise awareness of BANs and barn swallows (BARS) use of small craft harbours

  • Removing 1,373+ lbs of garbage from PEI shorelines, and

  • Assisting with enforcement of dog leashing and vehicle laws on beaches

This project also delivered a conservation message to grade 7 students across PEI that stressed the value of beach-dune ecosystems to wildlife and people in PEI. The grade 7 science curriculum contains modules about interactions within Ecosystems and Earth's Crust (particularly erosion and weathering processes), and therefore lends itself to interactive education on beaches and dunes. In October, 217 grade seven/eight/nine students from nine registered classes across PEI participated in phase one of this program, the field trip for a hands-on, immersive experience. Students were then led through four modules that correspond to the main elements of beach-dune ecology. This was covered in the second phase consisting of two in-class presentations over the winter.

The four modules were:

  1. Discovering Beach and Dune Vegetation

  2. Discovering Life in the Wrack-line

  3. Discovering Life in the Intertidal Zone

  4. Impacts of Weathering and Erosion

We hope that these hands-on experiences supplemented with engaging classroom presentations that are age-targeted and locally relevant, will continue to produce a more informed generation that is connected to, understands, and protects these fragile places.

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