Movements of Mountain Plovers within and between breeding season
The Mountain Plover breeds on Black-tailed Prairie Dog (Cynomys ludovicianus) colonies in Phillips Co., Montana. They have an unusual mating system that raises questions about sex-specific movements within and between breeding seasons as they relate to nest fate. We studied nesting ploversfrom 1995 - 2006, determined the fate of >1300 nests, and examined movements of plovers that nested in successive years. A total of 48 plovers moved within years and another 166 moved between years. Within years, mean distance moved was 5.35 km (SD = 9.86) for females and 7.08 km (SD = 12.69) for males and did not differ (t = -0.53, P = 0.60). Between years, mean distance moved was 4.54 km (SD = 8.53) for females and 2.13 km (SD = 5.05) for males and differed (t = -3.07, P < 0.01). By fate, unsuccessful nesters moved farther than successful nesters the next breeding season (t = 2.92, P < 0.01). These results provide insight into the relationship between nest fate and fidelity and relate these to gender in a species with unusual parental roles.