Little Tern Article

To: Birding Aus <>
Subject: Little Tern Article
From: knightl <>
Date: Thu, 3 Feb 2005 20:57:52 +1000
For those of you with an interest in the species ...

Feeding ecology of little terns Sterna albifrons sinensis in
south-eastern Australia and the effects of pilchard mass mortality on

breeding success and population size
Iain R. Taylor and Emma L. Roe
Marine and Freshwater Research 55(8) 799–808 December 2004
Corresponding author. Email: 

Little terns Sterna albifrons sinensis breeding on Rigby Island,
Gippsland Lakes in south-east Australia fed their chicks entirely on
juvenile fish of the families Clupeidae, Engraulidae, Pomatomidae and

Carangidae, including pilchard Sardinops neopilchardus, southern
anchovy Engraulis australis and blue sprat Spratelloides robustus. The

entrance channel to the Lakes was an important feeding site. Numbers
feeding there increased on the flood tide and decreased on the ebb
tide. Their dive rates followed the same pattern, suggesting they
depended on shoals of juvenile fish entering the estuary during high
tide. The number feeding varied from day to day, and dive rates were
positively correlated with numbers, suggesting that the abundance of
juvenile fish entering the channel also varied from day to day. There

was no evidence that breeding success or number of breeding pairs were

adversely affected by the 1995 mass mortalities of pilchard in the
area. However, breeding success was reduced significantly in 1999 and

2000 following the 1998/1999 pilchard mortality. The 1995 mortality
affected mainly larger size classes of pilchard, whereas the 1998/1999

mortality also affected younger age classes. This difference may
explain why little terns seemed only to be adversely affected by the
second mortality event.

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