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Endangered Species Research

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ESR 44:339-350 (2021)  -  DOI:

Spatial ecology of endangered roseate terns and foraging habitat suitability around a colony in the western North Atlantic

Isabeau Pratte1,*, Robert A. Ronconi1, Shawn R. Craik2, Julie McKnight1

1Canadian Wildlife Service, 45 Alderney Drive, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia B2Y 2N6, Canada
2Université Sainte-Anne, Département des sciences, 1695 route 1, Pointe-de-l’Église, Nova Scotia B0W 1M0, Canada
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Predicting habitat suitability and understanding habitat utilization are important to inform and orient conservation and management decisions for the recovery of endangered species. In North America, the roseate tern Sterna dougallii is listed as endangered in both the northeastern USA and Canada, where little is known about the foraging spatial ecology of the species. We equipped breeding roseate terns with miniature GPS tracking devices during incubation at North Brother Island, the main Canadian colony. Our aim was to characterize the spatial foraging ecology of the species, identify marine zones of importance, and develop a habitat suitability model around the colony. Our results provide novel, high resolution information on individual foraging trips, notably showing that individuals restricted their range around the colony (15.4 km) while performing multiple foraging trips: up to 11 daytime trips and a maximum total of 152.9 km travelled per day. Roseate terns concentrated their foraging effort around the colony and further south along the coast to the Cockerwit Passage. Using distance from colony, sea surface temperature, distance from land, bathymetry, and subtidal substrate type as covariates in a habitat suitability model, a high proportion of the deviance was explained (72.4%); the model also predicted high occurrence of foraging near the colony, in Cockerwit Passage, and at additional sites to which the birds were not tracked. Along with the description of important marine areas for roseate terns nesting on North Brother Island, this habitat suitability model provides a relevant and essential context for understanding roseate tern habitat use in a broad sense, but with a focus on habitat requirements during incubation.

KEY WORDS: Sterna dougallii · Individual movement · Habitat use · Incubation · North Brother Island · Nova Scotia

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Cite this article as: Pratte I, Ronconi RA, Craik SR, McKnight J (2021) Spatial ecology of endangered roseate terns and foraging habitat suitability around a colony in the western North Atlantic. Endang Species Res 44:339-350.

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