National Park Service and North Carolina State University Present the American Oystercatcher

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Date: July 27, 2006
Contact: Outer Banks Group, (252) 473-2111

Cape Hatteras National Seashore will be hosting Dr. Ted Simons and Mr. Shiloh Schulte of North Carolina State University for a presentation on a unique-looking visitor to our shores, the American oystercatcher. This special presentation will be on August 2, 2006 from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm at the Hatteras Civic Center on Hatteras Island.

Dr. Simons is a Professor of Zoology and assistant unit leader of the Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit at North Carolina State University. Dr. Simons has focused his research on applying ecological principles to the conservation of rare, endangered, or declining species and their habitats including American oystercatchers on the Outer Banks. Shiloh Schulte, a doctoral student of Dr. Simons, is interested in avian ecology and conservation biology, which has led him to work on research projects all over North America. Schulte is currently finishing his third year of research studying the American oystercatcher population biology and ecology on the Outer Banks.

The American oystercatcher, a large, conspicuous, black and white shorebird that inhabits barrier islands and coastal marshes, is one of the many bird species present on the Seashore. There is concern over the status of this species due to low numbers, poor reproductive success, and loss of habitat. Therefore, it has been identified as a species of special concern in the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s Southeastern Shorebird Conservation Plan.

Research on the species in North Carolina has been conducted since 1997 through a cooperative partnership involving the National Park Service, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the NC Wildlife Resources Commission, the National Audubon Society, the US Geological Survey, and the NC Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit. The research focus was to understand the relationship between oystercatcher nesting success and survival and issues of management concern such as habitat alteration, introduced predators, and human disturbance. Current research is focused on evaluating the status and viability of North Carolina’s oystercatcher population.

In 2005, a radio telemetry and behavior study to track oystercatcher chicks from hatching to fledging was initiated. By attaching small radio transmitters to the chicks shortly after they are hatched, researchers are able to track and observe them throughout the nesting period. The study has continued this summer on the Cape Hatteras and Cape Lookout National Seashores. Color-banding is also being used to document survival and movement of oystercatchers so as to better understand their ecological needs and challenges. The presentation will summarize the research methods and preliminary observations of the current research project.

Last updated: April 14, 2015

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