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A survey of fairy tern (Sterna nereis) breeding colonies in the southern lagoon, New Caledonia

Baling M., Jeffries D., Barré N., Brunton D.H.. 2009. Emu, 109 : p. 57-61.

DOI: 10.1071/MU08047

The breeding success of Fairy Terns in New Caledonia is poorly known despite the species being considered nationally endangered. Between June and October 2004, we surveyed 22 islets and coral banks in the Southern Lagoon of New Caledonia at least once for the presence of breeding Fairy Terns (Sterna nereis). We present the first reports of the breeding success of Fairy Terns in the Southern Lagoon, and compare it with populations in Australia and New Zealand.We observed a protracted nesting period (3 months) and a low overall rate of nesting success (probability of a nest producing at least onefledging,P = 0.19) for colonies on Îlot Kae and Îlot Atire, with a higherfledging rate (P = 0.57) than hatching success (P = 0.34). In addition, no fledglings were produced from late nests. These levels of breeding success were similar to those found for the endangered subspecies of Fairy Tern inNewZealand. The population of Fairy Terns in the Lagoon appears to be increasing after an earlier disappearance of the population from the area. We recommend more regular surveys on the New Caledonian subspecies of Fairy Tern. (Résumé d'auteur)

Mots-clés : oiseau; nouvelle-calédonie; sterna nereis

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