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 500-800 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). By 2000, the breeding population increased to 30 nesting pairs. In 2014, the second highest number of nests (70) was recorded since the population was listed.
Although the breeding population has more than tripled in the last 30 years, most breeding sites are still within Michigan. Despite the increase, this population is still extremely vulnerable to extinction from predation, demographic and environmental stochasticity, and continued beach development.
Beginning in the early 1980’s, Francie Cuthbert, graduate students, and field assistants began to study the GLPIPL and work for its recovery. Most of this research is done in collaboration with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (East Lansing Field Office; Region III Office) and dozens of other agencies. During the breeding season, our research base is the University of Michigan Biological Station (UMBS) in Pellston, Michigan. For more info on the partner organizations, check out our Partners Page.
Learn more about the individual people that are currently working on the project and doing conservation work for the piping plovers:
Contact us: GLPIPLInfo@gmail.com