Notes on the breeding status of Least Tern (<em>Sternula antillarum</em>) on St. Kitts, West Indies

Main Article Content

Raphaela Stimmelmayr
Ruth Smith-Varner
Maureen Sullivan

Abstract: The breeding population of the Least Tern (Sternula antillarum) in the Caribbean is small and requires monitoring due to anthropogenic disturbances of fragile marine and terrestrial ecosystems. In 2006 and 2007, surveys were conducted of all historical colony sites on the South East Peninsula salt pond system and along beaches during the breeding season (May–July). Three small nesting colonies of 2–32 adults were observed at three Atlantic beach sites (one historical, two new); however, none were observed at historical colony sites associated with a salt pond on the South East Peninsula. The current nesting sites are all located on or near the beach, indicating a shift in the type of habitat chosen for nesting, possibly due to disturbance by humans, livestock, or predators. Only one hatchling was recorded. Further studies are needed to identify and assess environmental, human, and predator related causes of reproductive failure.


Keywords: colony shift, human disturbance, Least Tern, predators, St. Kitts, Sternula antillarum, wetlands


Resumen: Notas sobre el estado reproductivo de Sternula antillarum en St. Kitts, caribe insular- La población reproductiva de Sternula antillarum en el Caribe es pequeña y requiere de un seguimiento debido a los disturbios antropogénicos en los frágiles ecosistemas marinos y terrestres. En 2006 y 2007, durante la temporada de cría (mayo–julio), se muestrearon todos los sitios históricos del sistema de lagunas salobres y playas de la península sudeste donde se habían reportado colonias. Se registraron tres colonias reproductivas pequeñas de 2-32 adultos en tres sitios de playa del Atlántico (uno histórico, dos nuevos); sin embargo, no se observó ninguna colonia en los sitios históricos asociados con lagunas salobres en esta península. Todos los sitios de cría actuales están localizados en playas o cerca de estas, lo que indica un cambio en el tipo de hábitat seleccionado para la reproducción; posiblemente debido al disturbio provocado por humanos, ganado o depredadores. Durante los muestreos sólo se observó un pichón. Son necesarios estudios más profundos para identificar y evaluar las causas ambientales, humanas y los depredadores relacionados con el fracaso reproductivo. Palabras clave: cambio de colonias, disturbio humano, depredadores, St. Kitts, Sternula antillarum, humedales.


Résumé: Notes sur le statut de reproduction de la petite sterne (Sternula antillarum) à Saint-Kitts, antilles- La population nicheuse de Petite sterne (Sternula antillarum) dans la Caraïbe est réduite et nécessite un suivi en raison des perturbations anthropiques des fragiles écosystèmes marins et terrestres. En 2006 et 2007, des enquêtes ont été menées pendant la saison de reproduction (mai à juillet) sur tous les sites de colonies historiques du système des étangs salés de la péninsule du sud-est ainsi que le long des plages. Trois petites colonies de reproduction de 2 à 32 adultes ont été observées sur trois sites des plages de l’Atlantique (un site historique et deux nouveaux sites), mais aucune n’a été observée sur les sites connus associés aux étangs salés de la péninsule du sud-est. Les sites de nidification actuels sont tous situés sur une plage ou à proximité d’une plage, ce qui indique un changement du type d’habitat choisi pour la nidification, probablement en raison de perturbations causées par l’homme, le bétail ou les prédateurs. Un seul poussin a été observé. D’autres études sont nécessaires pour identifier et évaluer les causes de l’échec de la reproduction liées à l’environnement, aux prédateurs et à l’homme.

Abstract 536 | PDF Downloads 489

References

ARENDT, W. J. 1985. Wildlife assessment of the south-eastern peninsula, St. Kitts, West Indies. Caribbean Environmental Action Plan (USAID). United State Forest Service Report, Institute of Tropical Forestry, Río Piedras, Puerto Rico.

ATWOOD, J. L., AND B. W. MASSEY. 1988. Site fidelity of Least Terns in California. Condor 90: 389–394.

BECK, R. A., J. W. AKERS, J. W. VIA, AND B. WILLIAMS, B. 1990. Status and distribution of the Least Tern in Virginia 1975 to 1988. Virginia Journal of Science 41:404–418.

BIRDLIFE INTERNATIONAL 2013. Least Tern Sterna antillarum. www.birdlife.org/datazone/species-factsheet.php?id=3278.

BOND, J. 1929. Birds of St. Kitts and Nevis. St. Christopher & Nevis Official Gazette 26:25–27.

BURGER, J. 1984. Colony stability in Least Terns. Condor 86:61–67.

CARNEY, K. M., AND W. J. SYDEMAN. 1999. A review of human disturbance effects on nesting colonial waterbirds. Waterbirds 22:68–79.

COLLIER, N., AND A. BROWN. 2006. Final report waterbirds in St. Kitts and Nevis. Birdlife International, unpublished report.

COLLIER, N., AND A. BROWN. 2009. St Kitts and Nevis. Pp. 329–332 in Important bird areas Americas—priority sites for biodiversity conservation (C. Devenish, D. F. Díaz Fernández, R. P. Clay, I. Davidson, and I. Yépez Zabala, eds.). BirdLife International (BirdLife Conservation Series No. 16), Quito, Ecuador.

DANFORTH, S. T. 1936. The birds of St. Kitts and Nevis. Tropical Agriculture 13:213–217.

ECKERT, K. L., AND T. D. HONEBRINK. 1992. WIDECAST sea turtle recovery action plan for St. Kitts and Nevis (Karen L. Eckert, ed.). Caribbean Environment Program Technical Report no. 17. United Nations Environment Programme Caribbean Environment Programme, Kingston, Jamaica.

GARNER, J. A., S. A. GARNER, AND W. COLES. 2005. Tagging and nesting research on Leatherback Sea Turtles (Dermochelys coriacea) on Sandy Point, St. Croix, US Virgin Islands. Unpublished report, Department of Fish and Wildlife, St. Croix.

JACKSON, J. A. 2000. Distribution, population changes and threats to Least Terns in the Caribbean and adjacent waters of the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico. Pp. 109–117 in Status and conservation of West Indian seabirds (E. A. Schreiber and D. S. Lee, eds.). Society of Caribbean Ornithology Special Publication no. 1, Ruston, LA.

KROGH, M. G., AND S. H. SCHWEITZER. 1999. Least Terns nesting on natural and artificial habitats in Georgia, USA. Waterbirds 22:290–296.

LOMBARD, C. D., J. A. COLLAZO, AND D. B. MCNAIR. 2010. Nest and chick survival and colony site dynamics of Least Tern on the US Virgin Islands. Condor 112:56–64.

LOWRIE, K., D. LOWRIE, AND N. COLLIER. 2012. Seabird breeding atlas of the Lesser Antilles. Environmental Protection in the Caribbean, Riviera Beach, FL.

MARCUS, J. F., J. J. DINAN, R. J. JOHNSON, E. E. BLANKESHIP, AND J. L. LACKEY. 2007. Directing nest site selection of Least Terns and Piping Plovers. Waterbirds 30:251–258.

NISBET, I. C. T. 1975. Selective effects of predation in a tern colony. Condor 71:221–226.

RAFFAELE, H., J. WILEY, O. GARRIDO, A. KEITH, AND J. RAFFAELE. 1998. Birds of the West Indies. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ.

SCHREIBER, E. A., AND D. S. LEE. 2000. Status and conservation of West Indian seabirds. Society of Caribbean Ornithology Special Publication no. 1., Ruston, LA.

SCHULENBERG, J. H., AND M. B. PTACEK. 1984. Status of the Interior Least Tern in Kansas. American Birds 38:975–981.

STEADMAN, D. W., R. L. NORTON, M. R. BROWNING, AND W. J. ARENDT. 1997. The birds of St. Kitts, Lesser Antilles. Journal of Caribbean Science 33:1–20.

STIMMELMAYR, R., V. LATCHMAN, AND M. SULLIVAN. 2010. In-water observation of immature Hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricats) and Green Turtles (Chelonia mydas) in the marine environment of St. Kitts, Lesser Antilles. Marine Turtle Newsletter 127:17–19.

THOMPSON, B. C., J. A. JACKSON, J. BURGER, L. A. HILL, E. M. KIRSCH, AND J. L. ATWOOD. 1997. Least Tern (Sterna antillarum). In The birds of North America (A. Poole and F. Gill, eds.), no. 290. Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia.

UDVARDY, M. D. F., C. S. BEAUSSET, AND M. RUBY. 1973. New tern records from Caribbean Honduras. Auk 90:440–442.

WHITTIER, J. B., D. M. LESLIE, AND R.A. VAN DEN BUSSCHE. 2006. Genetic variation among subspecies of Least Tern (Sterna antillarum): implications for conservation. Waterbirds 29:176–184.

WILSON, J. 1999. The seabirds of St. Kitts and Nevis, West Indies. Unpublished report submitted to St. Christopher Heritage Society.