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Shorebird Conservation

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

Wilson’s Phalaropes (Phalaropus tricolor) large flock swimming/foraging near the shoreline 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. We seek to collect data necessary for prioritization of phalarope conservation actions.


  • Creation of an ongoing international working group on phalarope research and conservation, including fostering connections among parties vital to phalarope conservation from both North and South America
  • Drafting of a working document identifying top priorities, funding opportunities, and partnerships for international conservation of phalaropes (to be shared with all interested parties)
  • Planning for implementation of Mono Lake phalarope censuses, including agreement on standardization of census
  • Planning for a tracking study, in which we would attach “nanotags” to phalaropes, and install Motus detection towers at Mono Lake and at least one site in South America, to study turnover rates and cross-hemisphere movements of phalaropes
  • Coordination with South American partners on tagging studies to link North and South American habitat and coordinate new South American census work
  • Creation of a framework and strategy for continuing annual Mono Lake surveys and tracking for 5 years
  • Coordination of simultaneous censuses at migratory staging sites across western North America

2019 Update

International Working Group: During June 2019, we will be convening 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


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.