Abstract for: A systems approach to understanding Piping Plover production on off-channel sandpits along the Central Platte River

Managing and conserving species is increasingly difficult due to anthropogenic changes in land use, exploitation of natural resources, climate change, and habitat loss. Managers are often forced to make decisions with incomplete information and much uncertainty. Using a systems approach is appropriate for understanding what factors influence species success and evaluating the management actions important to achieve conservation targets while minimizing negative impacts to other parts of the system. This study models the dynamics of a Piping Plover population in the Central Platte River Valley, Nebraska and the environmental, biological, and managerial factors that influence fledging success. The objectives of this study are to 1) identify and understand the interactions and impacts of various biological factors and management actions on Piping Plover productivity using a systems thinking approach; and 2) develop a system dynamics model to evaluate Piping Plover fledging success under various management strategies.