Toolkit to address Human Disturbance on Shorebirds in Latin America

Dogs, beach users, vehicles, and plastic waste are among the types of disturbance that threaten shorebirds throughout their life cycle. To face these threats, measures such as raising-awareness workshops, coastal stewardship and monitoring, and signage, among others, are being implemented in Latin America.

We developed a set of tools designed to address human disturbance on shorebirds and their habitats to promote the recovery of shorebird populations that are declining in the Americas. This toolkit compiles a variety of on-going conservation projects occurring in Latin America, using diverse methodologies that encompass human dimensions. Throughout this process, we consult both indirect sources such as bibliographic databases and direct sources including surveys and questionnaires.

As a result, we gathered information from 28 projects who have developed actions to mitigate these threats in 11 countries across the Americans featuring efforts from Latin America (see interactive map). We identified some of the standout mitigation measures, such as raising-awareness workshops, coastal stewardship programs and monitoring actions targeting both shorebirds and disturbance agents.

Additionally, we documented six success case studies, five in shorebird important sites in Mexico, Canada, Ecuador, and Chile, and one at the level of the Pacific and Atlantic Flyways. This documentation covers the entire implementation process, from threat identification to the results obtained, including challenges, key aspects, lessons learned, and indicators used to measure action effectiveness.

Furthermore, we achieved an annotated bibliography for 31 scientific research papers, academic theses, and reports; a tool that synthesizes the main context of each document findings and includes management recommendations from the authors.

Finally, we identified 20 resources such as databases, infographics, best practice manuals, ordinances, management plans, field protocols, and workshops developed, applied, and validated by different groups across the continent. This set of tools contributes to the international efforts of the Pacific Shorebird Conservation Initiative and the Migratory Shorebird Project to advance conservation actions and impact mitigation on shorebirds. These efforts were lead by the Calidris Association (Colombia), the Center for Scientific Research and Higher Education of Ensenada-CICESE (Mexico), the National Audubon Society, and Point Blue Conservation Science (United States), and involved the participation of 26 research and conservation groups distributed across the Americans including NGOs, government institutions, universities, and community groups.

During migration and the non-breeding season, shorebirds congregate in key sites in Latin America, becoming especially vulnerable to human disturbances that degrade and limit the access of shorebirds to available habitats, displacing them and reducing their energy capacity. For this reason, this toolkit is key to highlight Latin America's efforts to research and mitigate a threat that has not only been identified as a significant factor in decline of shorebird populations, but is also estimated to increase over time.

We thank all the individuals who contributed their experience, lessons learned, publications, photographs, and information to make this toolkit a reality, and hope it will be shared and consulted throughout the Americas.

This document and the research were financially supported by USFWS/USAID (F22AP01976-00 and F22AP01938), the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, and Environment and Climate Change Canada (Contract No: 3000746534), as well as programmatic support from the United States’ Forest Service’s International Programs.

Find the toolkit at:
Pacific Shorebird Conservation Initiative
Migratory Shorebird Project

For more information:

Olivia Saiz: Research Biologist Asociación Calidris:

Diana Eusse: Migratory Shorebird Project South America Asociación Calidris

Abril Heredia: Research Biologist Terra Peninsular

River Gates: Pacific Shorebird Conservation Initiative Coordinador
National Audubon Society

Eduardo Palacios: Senior Research Biologist
Centro de Investigación Científica y de Educación Superior de Ensenada

Matthew Reiter: Migratory Shorebird Project Steering Committee Coordinator
Point Blue Conservation Science