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Bird Structure and Function

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Horseshoe Crabs and Red Knots
Teacher Contributed

Horseshoe Crabs and Red Knots

Horseshoe Crabs (Limulus polyphemus) At Slaughter Bay

Topic

Red Knot Seasonal Migration

Student Exploration

Do You Know Where A Peep Can Find A Meal?

Spawning Horseshoe Crabs

Red Knots: Calidris canutus

Red Knots Foraging On Horseshoe Crab Eggs

One of the most impressive migrations on the planet is carried out by little birds called red knots (Calidris canutus). How does a little bird make it so far? Well, it helps if you know all the finest dining establishments...like Slaughter Bay!

Of course, things can become crazy at Slaughter Bay, especially when the scientists show up with their cannon!

Recent work by scientists has supported how important horseshoe crab eggs are to red knots, but they also found out some unexpected relationships about how the red knots fare when they leave Slaughter Bay. You can find out more here http://www.usgs.gov/newsroom/article.asp?ID=2843#.UIINdFR-Q3g

Extension Investigation

If you need help scratching a mental itch, use the resources below:

  1. How far do red knots migrate every year?
  2. What are believed to be the two main causes of horseshoe crab population declines? Explain your answer fully.
  3. How do the horseshoe crabs affect the annual survivorship of the red knots? Explain your answer fully.
  4. Why do horseshoe crabs coordinated their egg laying with the tides?
  5. What is the significance of it taking 28 days for a horseshoe crab egg to hatch? How could this have been selected for in the species?
  6. What effects may climate change have on red knots and horseshoe crabs? Think of both positive and negative effects as you consider your answer.

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