Alaska Science Center

Pacific Golden-Plover, Pluvialis fulva

High-Priority Species List

This high priority species could potentially carry Asian H5N1 to Alaska via three different routes: 1) birds that spend the nonbreeding season in east central Asia - some in Asian H5N1 "hotspots"-migrate through Alaska in spring en route to Siberian breeding areas, 2) birds that nest (or hatch) in Siberia migrate directly to coastal stopover sites in Alaska in fall (adults and juveniles arrive in two different pulses), and 3) Alaska-breeding birds return to Alaska in spring after co-mingling on nonbreeding areas with other fulva that have frequented Asian H5N1 "hotspots."
Pacific Golden-Plovers breed in tundra habitats from north central Siberia to western Alaska (Johnson and Connors 1996). The global population is estimated to be 170,000-220,000 birds (Wetlands International 2002). Two of three main breeding populations have links to North America. One population (ca. 100,000 birds) nests in Siberia and spends the nonbreeding season in East and Southeast Asia (The Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia), Australia, and Oceania (Bamford et al. 2006, Wetlands International 2002). During both north and south migrations, an unknown portion of this population passes through Alaska. Another population (ca. 16,000 birds) breeds in Alaska and spends the nonbreeding season in Oceania (Johnson and Connors 1996), particularly in Hawaii (Johnson et al. 2004), where it associates (forages and flocks) with fulva that have recently arrived from Asian H5N1 "hotspots." Whether these Alaska breeders can be infected with Asian H5N1 by association with infected birds is unknown.
No. of samples: 200 adults, 200 juveniles. In Alaska, Pacific Golden-Plovers breed in low densities and rarely form large flocks at any time of year, thus most samples will be collected from pairs on breeding territories or from individual migrants and small flocks at stopover sites. In Hawaii, nonbreeding Pacific Golden-Plovers defend traditional foraging territories providing repeated opportunities to capture 10s of birds. Birds in Hawaii (nonbreeding residents and pre-migrants) also concentrate at nighttime roosts and could potentially be captured there.
Sampling locations: Primary locations will be on the Seward Peninsula (Shishmaref Inlet, and interior locations along the road system), and Oahu, Hawaii. Secondary locations will be along the coast in Bristol Bay (Nushagak Bay, Kvichak Bay, and Egegik Bay) and other islands and other seasons in the Hawaiian Archipelago.
Sampling timeframe: Spring migration (April) at Hawaii. Breeding (May-June) at Seward Peninsula. Post-breeding (late July-late August) at Shishmaref Inlet and coastal sites in Bristol Bay. Nonbreeding (November-December) at sites throughout Hawaii.
Sampling demographics: Adult and juveniles, both sexes.
Methods of capture: Birds will be live captured, swabbed, and released. In Alaska, birds will be captured either with bow traps on nests or mist nets and noose mats set at roosting and foraging sites. In Hawaii, birds will be captured with mist nets on foraging territories or by using spot-lights (to dazzle them) and mist nets at roost sites. Since it will likely be difficult to capture 100s of Pacific Golden-Plovers in Alaska, it will be necessary to collect fecal samples opportunistically from individuals at all sites in all seasons.
Other targeted species: Other priority species available for capture during fall at Pacific Golden-Plover sampling sites include: juvenile Sharp-tailed Sandpipers, adult and juvenile Dunlin (Calidris alpina articola), juvenile Long-billed Dowitchers, and adult and juvenile Bar-tailed Godwits. Pacific Golden-Plovers breed sympatrically with Bar-tailed Godwits on the Seward Peninsula and central YKD, however, both species occur in low densities at these sites and few samples are likely to be obtained during breeding. Ruddy Turnstones could be captured in Hawaii at the same sites as Pacific Golden-Plovers.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Migratory Bird Management
Contact: Richard Lanctot

Yukon Delta NWR
Contact: Brian McCaffery

Alaska Peninsula-Becharof NWR
Contact: Susan Savage

Togiak NWR
Contact: Rob MacDonald

U.S. Geological Survey
Alaska Science Center - Shorebird Project
Contact: Robert Gill
Bamford, M., D. Watkins, W. Bancroft, and G Tischler. 2006. Migratory shorebirds of the East Asian-Australasian Flyway: population estimates and important sites. Wetlands International Oceania. (In press).

Johnson, O. W., and P. G. Connors. 1996. Pacific Golden-Plover (Pluvialis fulva). In The Birds of North America, No. 202 (A. Poole and F. Gill, eds.). The Birds of North America, Inc., Philadelphia, PA.

Johnson, O. W., C. D. Adler, L. A. Ayres, M. A. Bishop, J. E. Doster, P. M. Johnson, R. J. Kienholz and S. E. Savage. 2004. Radio-tagged Pacific Golden-Plovers: Further insight concerning the Hawaii-Alaska migratory link. Wilson Bull. 116: 158-162.

Wetlands International. 2002. Waterbird population estimates-Third Edition. Wetlands International Global Series No. 12, Wageningen, The Netherlands.

Distribution map of Pacific Golden-Plover

Ranking Score: 11.5

Asian H5N1 ranking criteria for Pacific Golden-Plover, Pluvialis fulva.

Total of partial
contact with Asia1
Contact with
known "hot spot"2
Habitat used in
Pop. in Alaska4
Can samples be
Nesting occurs w. & s.w. Alaska, n. Siberia & Chukotka. Interchange known between Asia & Alaska. Alaska nesting birds disperse to Oceania, Pacific coast of N. & C. America.
Birds in Oceania likely in contact with birds from c. Asia
Nests upland tundra; migration and nonbreeding in coastal habitats
Est. 16,000
Could be difficult to obtain target number
Image of Pacific Golden-Plover, photo by O. Johnson