Relationships between Black-legged Kittiwake nest-site characteristics and susceptibility to predation by large Gulls

M. Massaro, J. W. Chardine, I. L. Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

We quantified the relationship between Black-legged Kittiwake (Rissa tridactyla) nest-site characteristics and risk of predation by Great Black-backed (Larus marinus) and Herring (L. argentatus) Gulls at Gull Island, Newfoundland, Canada, during 1998 and 1999. We monitored kittiwake nesting cliffs to identify nest sites attacked by large gulls and compared characteristics of attacked and successful nests among four study plots. We also examined which nest sites were attacked by Herring or Great Black-backed Gulls during calm (≤10 km hr-1) or windy conditions (>10 km hr-1). We found that kittiwake nests on plots with fewer nests were more likely to be attacked by gulls and less likely to fledge young. Nest density and nest location relative to the cliffs' upper edges significantly affected the risk of gull predation. Breeding success was correlated with nest density and ledge width and differed significantly among plots. Regardless of wind conditions both gull species were more likely to attack nests located on upper sections of cliffs than nests on lower sections. However, during calm conditions, nest sites located on narrow ledges were less likely to be attacked by Great Black-backed Gulls. Our results demonstrate that for kittiwake colonies where predation is an important source of breeding failure, the size of subcolonies and nest density affect the survival of kittiwake offspring.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)793-801
Number of pages9
JournalCondor
Volume103
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2001

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