Publication Date

Fall 2015

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Environmental Studies


Lynne Trulio


Endangered Species, Microhabitat Characteristics, Salt Ponds, San Francisco Bay, Shorebirds, Snowy Plovers

Subject Areas

Conservation biology; Ecology; Environmental science


Within the San Francisco Bay Area, Western Snowy Plovers (Alexandrinus

nivosus nivosus) nest and winter in former salt ponds. They face a number of threats

including human-altered habitats and high levels of predation by mesopredators and

raptors. The South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project (the Project) is a large wetland

restoration project that will change and potentially eliminate snowy plover habitat in the

region. As the Project returns salt ponds to tidal wetland, there will be less of the dry,

flat, and sparsely vegetated habitat that plovers need for breeding and wintering habitat.

A greater understanding of the specific microhabitat requirements for high quality plover

foraging sites is needed. In particular, it is important for managers to understand what

constitutes high quality wintering habitat for snowy plover numbers. This study assessed the characteristics at sites where snowy plovers winter in former salt ponds, especially habitat traits related to promoting plover foraging. Analysis of plover foraging habitat showed that plovers were associated with increasing plant height, water cover, and distance from perches and levees. This information is designed to inform restoration and management decisions in efforts to meet snowy plover recovery goals in the South San Francisco Bay.