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Conservation: Aquarium Research

The Great Lakes Piping Plover Recovery Effort

Wet piping plover Gloved hand holding piping plover Piping plover chick Piping plover chick next to a broken egg shell Netted structure in front of a lake Incubator room for piping plover chicks Piping plover chick

The Great Lakes Piping Plover (GLPIPL) population was listed as federally endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act in 1986.

Historically, piping plovers nested throughout the Great Lakes (estimated population 500 to 800 pairs) but declined to about a dozen pairs, all within the state of Michigan, by the mid-1980s. This decline is largely attributed to habitat destruction due to heavy post-World War II beach development (recreational, residential, and commercial).

Research, banding, nest monitoring, and incubation are all parts of the effort to increase the number of breeding pairs of Piping Plovers. In addition habitat restoration and protection are key elements. Aquarium personnel typically staff the incubator room and care for eggs or abandoned chicks at Association of Zoos and Aquariums member institutions in the region until they can be released.