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Shorebird Conservation

Connecting countries and ecosystems: Phalarope research investigates local and global threats

Wilson’s Phalaropes (Phalaropus tricolor) at Mono Lake California, Marie Read

The program’s mission is to understand the global population status and threats to Wilson’s and Red-necked Phalaropes. Our program is focused at Mono Lake, Califonia, a saline lake critical to phalaropes. We are collaborating with a broad set of partners in the Americas to collect data necessary for prioritization of phalarope conservation actions.


  • Creation of the International Phalarope Working Group on phalarope research and conservation, including fostering connections among parties vital to phalarope conservation from both North and South America. The working group has identified top priorities, funding opportunities, and partnerships for international conservation of phalaropes. Read the International Phalarope Working Group 2019 meeting report. Lee el informe en Español:  Informe reunión Phalaropus español
  • Implementation of Mono Lake phalarope censuses during 2019. Read our 2019 Mono Lake Phalarope Surveys Report
  • Preliminary plans to install Motus detection towers at Mono Lake to study turnover rates and cross-hemisphere movements of phalaropes
  • Leading 2020 shorebird surveys in the Chilean Andes as part of coordinated surveys in partnership with the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network and others

International Working Group: During June 2019, we convened a working group to propel research on Wilson’s and red-necked phalaropes. Researchers, managers, and policy-makers will be coming to Mono Lake from all across the Americas, from Canada to Argentina, to discuss how to best research and conserve these iconic species that unite us all. Thanks to the Robert and Patricia Switzer Foundation, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, Manomet and the U.S. Forest Service International Program for funding support for this meeting.

Phalarope Boat Surveys at Mono Lake:  During 2019 Oikonos, the University of Connecticut, and California State Parks are partnering to implement comprehensive boat surveys for phalaropes at Mono Lake for the first time in 30 years.

Seeking new supporters and donors for Phalarope conservation.

Partners and Funders

  • California State Parks—Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve
  • University of Connecticut
  • Mono Lake Committee
  • Los Angeles Department of Water and Power
  • Manomet
  • Robert and Patricia Switzer Foundation
  • U.S. Forest Service International Program
  • Tracy Aviary
  • And thanks to our many private donors


Ryan Carle (Oikonos) and Margaret Rubega (University of Connecticut) and have come together to convene stakeholders from the Great Basin, and across the global range of habitats supporting phalaropes, in order to generate plans and cooperation for research, sustainable monitoring, and management policy.

Wilson’s Phalarope habitat in the Andean Altiplano region of Chile

Learn More

Phalaropes weigh just 1-2 ounces and breed in northerly latitudes of North America. In the fall, Wilson’s and Red-necked phalaropes make a migratory stop at just a few hyper-saline lakes in western U.S., where they fatten up on abundant alkali flies in preparation for their non-stop migration to South America. Wilson’s phalaropes winter in hyper-saline habitats in Argentina, Bolivia, and Chile, and Red-necked phalaropes winter on the ocean off of South America. Mono Lake and Great Salt Lake, Utah, are incredibly important to the world populations of both species, serving as unique gas stations on their long trans-hemispheric migrations.

More information about Wilson’s and Red-necked Phalaropes.