Date of Award

Spring 2008

Document Type

Legacy Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Coastal Marine and Wetland Studies


Coastal and Marine Systems Science


College of Science

First Advisor

Christopher E. Hill

Second Advisor

John J. Hutchens, Jr.

Third Advisor

Keith R. Walters


Nest-site selection of Wilson's Plovers in South Carolina was studied at three spatial scales; landscape, habitat, and microhabitat. At the landscape scale a statewide survey was performed to locate adult plovers and the characteristics of islands and beaches used for nesting were determined remotely using ArcGIS. At the habitat and microhabitat level, North Island (Georgetown County) and Lighthouse Island (Charleston County) were surveyed for nests. Eight habitat categories were defined on the islands and the distribution of plover nests across these habitat categories was analyzed. At the microhabitat scale ten variables were measured at the nest and were compared against the same measurements taken at random locations. In 2006-2007 twenty-six sites were surveyed throughout the state and 369 adult Wilson's plovers were counted. Twenty-two sites were used in the landscape scale analyses. Percentage of beach at sites was positively correlated with the density of Wilson's Plovers. Sites with human development had a significantly lower density of Wilson's Plovers than sites lacking human development. At the habitat scale, in 2006 Wilson's Plovers used habitats differently than would be expected based on chance at North and Lighthouse Islands. In 2007 Wilson's Plovers only overused habitats at North Island. At the microhabitat level, distance to vegetation, distance to dead vegetation, distance to shells, slope, percent vegetation cover and percent shell cover were significantly correlated with the presence of Wilson's Plover nests.