text and photos by Sama Zefania

Despite the pandemic, which stopped many works at office and in field at many countries of the world, we’re still motivated to continue research wherever it is safe and possible. So I’d like to share you the below motivating paragraphs as an information:

The first containment (quarantine) at Madagascar was started on 21st March 2020, time we planned to start the fieldwork, nobody can work nor travelling for 15 days. After that, the Malagasy government opened the road for 3 days only enabling everyone to come back home because the containment will continue more 15 days again. During these 3 days of freedom, we drove 1000 km to get the field sites (called Ampasilava and Andavadoaka, figure 1), we made it and we could start the fieldwork data collecting.

Study sites

Study site was dry, that we didn’t expect, very few plover bred: some Kittlitz’s plover (Charadrius pecuarius) and White-fronted plover (Charadrius marginatus), which means no much data from breeding population will be collected.

Some rainfall was coming twice, sometimes later at different times, and that increased the number of nests found and those of populations.


Expectations and results

We expected to get data and samples from a good number of breeding pairs. Data and samples we expected to collect on the three studied shorebird species (Kittlitz’s plover = KiP, Madagascar plover = MP and White-fronted plover = WfP) included:

-Standard plovers databases on nests, broodfates, captures and resighting

-Standard behaviour observation data on courtship and parental care (nest incubating using camera and brood care)

– Samples for studying the role of preen gland including oil and swabs

-Samples for studying the diseases and parasites including blood, faeces and died bird

But as the study sites were dried, there was not enough rainfall coming at this period of raining season (January to March), thought we’ll not get enough data and samples as expected every year at the good breeding season. So to get enough data and samples, we adopted new strategy that we didn’t do before:

-We explored coastal habitat and saltmarshes habitat beside mangrove to find nests and broods

-We used mist nets to capture plovers and getting the needed samples

As results:

-We captured, ringed and got the needed samples from more 300 individuals of plovers (including the 3 species)

-We got 3 days of nest incubating behaviour data from 15 WfP nests and 1 KiP nest using Wyze Neos smart camera (one minute of record is attached)

-We got courtship data WfP couples and brood behaviour observations data from WfP families


Our team: Team includes me (Sama), 4 students (Sebastien, Tafita, Tsilavina and Eliane).

We’re safe, out of pandemic, no covid-19 at the villages around of field site. We started the fieldwork on April and planned to finish it on End of june 2020.