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We studied the interannual movements of 361 individually color-banded adult Snowy Plovers (Charadrius alexandrinus nivosus) at Great Salt Lake, Utah from 1990 to 1993. In northern Utah, Snowy Plovers nested in a dynamic environment; suitable breeding habitat declined by 50% at two study areas in four years. Male Snowy Plovers were more site faithful than females; 40% of males exhibited fidelity compared with 26% of females (P < 0.01). However, as the amount of available suitable nesting habitat declined, male site fidelity diminished, whereas female fidelity remained relatively constant. We found strong evidence that female site fidelity was affected by nesting success in the previous year. Females that nested unsuccessfully were less likely than successful females to exhibit site fidelity the following year; males did not exhibit this nest-success bias. In addition, unsuccessful females breeding at sites with high densities of nests tended to disperse the following year, whereas male site fidelity did not appear to be affected by either a study site's overall nesting success the previous year or a study site's nest density the previous year. Female avoidance of areas with high densities of nests may be an antipredator strategy. Snowy Plovers in northern Utah have biparental incubation duties, but only males care for broods. Familiarity with brood-rearing areas was one plausible explanation for male-biased fidelity. However, we could not eliminate an alternative hypothesis that both focal study sites represented scarce breeding areas due to the presence of freshwater, and male Snowy Plovers preferred to use the same areas rather than disperse. We propose that more landscape-level studies are needed to address questions concerning local and regional movement patterns.

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