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Confronting barriers in conservation

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Category: research Video duration: Confronting barriers in conservation
Graduate student Sharon Dorsey studies the federally endangered piping plover, which nest on barrier islands in New York. The beaches where she conducts research were once segregated. Dorsey shares her experience as a researcher and a racial minority in the field of conservation.
For my field work, we are looking at piping plovers on the beach of Fire Island, New York. I came into a project that was looking at the population dynamics and nesting ecology of this endangered shorebird. It's really important for endangered species to be monitored so that we can track their, hopefully increase, not decrease in population. We use spotting scopes to look for and detect piping plovers on their nesting site. The birds that often come to our site, have color bands on their legs because that makes them unique and distinct from any other bird in the world. So we know that this bird is alive. We know this bird has this history and nested here in the past. Nested somewhere else in the past. We also will track those nests until they hatch. And once they hatch, we find these really cute chicks. And we also will band those chicks and monitor their survival throughout the season and so we will maybe see them again next year. The thing about Fire Island that makes me a little apprehensive is that historically parts of that beach were segregated. One of the namesake of part of the beach designed the roadways to exclude public buses in an attempt to prevent Black people from coming and recreating on the beach. This was back in 1920, so almost 100 years later for me to be on the site doing not just recreating, but research is a little unnerving, but also a s