One of the world’s least-known and scarcest shorebirds may be at serious risk from climate change and increased anthropogenic pressures, but a new study is shedding light on this enigmatic species.


There are estimated to be as few as 2,000 Diademed Sandpiper-Plovers in the world. The species is endemic and dependent upon high elevation Andean wetlands from southern Bolivia and Peru into central Argentina and Chile and is near-threatened as a result of small population size, suspected declines, and restricted range.


Manomet’s Shorebird Recovery Project supported a team of researchers from Chile and the U.S.  to study the ecology of Diademed Sandpiper-Plovers and implement education and outreach efforts during 2010–2012. That initial effort received a boost late last year when the Rufford Small Grants Foundation approved over $10,000 to support another season of research.


“The endemic shorebirds of South America, like the wonderful Diademed Sandpiper-Plover, are so intriguing and potentially so threatened that they deserve immediate attention,” said Charles Duncan, director of Manomet’s Shorebird Recovery Project. “Nonetheless, exactly because they don’t migrate to North America, most foundations do not include these species in their grant making.  We’re delighted that the two years of seed funding that we were able to provide not only yielded important scientific findings but also positioned the research team to compete successfully for new funding.”


So far, the project has succeeded in providing the first comprehensive descriptions of habitat use and nesting ecology, estimating demographic rates, and identifying threats in the Yeso Valley, Chile. The team includes Andrea Contreras Sepulveda and Fernando Díaz Segovia from Chile, and Jim Johnson, Bob Christensen, and Brad Andres from the Shorebird Conservation Fund. Johnson, Christensen, and Andres donated their time to the effort.


“The Diademed Sandpiper-Plover is one of the most iconic species associated with Andean wetlands, and perhaps one of the most threatened,” said team member Fernando Díaz Segovia. “Our efforts in the Yeso Valley will continue to focus on providing ecological information necessary for developing effective conservation strategies for the Diademed Sandpiper-Plover and other wetland-dependent species. We believe that our work within this relatively small but critically important valley will serve as a model and impetus for developing research and conservation efforts throughout the species range”.


To learn more about this study and find out how you can help, please e-mail Fernando Díaz Segovia at


– Dave McGlinchey