Date of Award

Fall 12-1-2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Fisheries and Wildlife Science


Biological Sciences


College of Natural & Health Sciences

Committee Chair

Dr. Thomas Nupp

Second Committee Member

Dr. John Jackson

Third Committee Member

Dr. Chris Kellner

Dean of Graduate College

Dr. Mary B. Gunter


The interior least tern (Sternula antillarum athalassos) is an endangered shorebird that nests on sandbars in river systems throughout the central United States, and which has lost habitat due to damming and channelization of these rivers. My study sought to quantify the status and trends of the population nesting in the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System (MKARNS) within Arkansas, and to establish best practices for nesting habitat management. The local population of terns remained steady between 2010 and 2014, with approximately 450 adults breeding in this section of MKARNS. Regression tree analysis and principal component analysis showed that colonies on unconnected islands at wide spots in the river away from dike fields and the downstream side of dams had the highest yearly measures of productivity. I make recommendations for dredge spoil deposition in locations matching these characteristics in order for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to meet its legal requirement to manage least tern habitat within MKARNS.