Use of Artificial Eelgrass Mats by Saltmarsh-Nesting Common Terns (Sterna hirundo)

Palestis, B.G. (2009) Use of Artificial Eelgrass Mats by Saltmarsh-Nesting Common Terns (Sterna hirundo). In Vivo, 30(3), pp. 11-16.

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Terns and skimmers nesting on saltmarsh islands often suffer large nest losses due to tidal and storm flooding. Nests located near the center of an island and on wrack (mats of dead vegetation, mostly eelgrass Zostera) are less susceptible to flooding than those near the edge of an island and those on bare soil or in saltmarsh cordgrass (Spartina alterniflora). In the 1980’s Burger and Gochfeld constructed artificial eelgrass mats on saltmarsh islands in Ocean County, New Jersey. These mats were used as nesting substrate by common terns (Sterna hirundo) and black skimmers (Rynchops niger). Every year since 2002 I have transported eelgrass to one of their original sites to make artificial mats. This site, Pettit Island, typically supports between 125 and 200 pairs of common terns. There has often been very little natural wrack present on the island at the start of the breeding season, and in most years natural wrack has been most common along the edges of the island. The terns readily used the artificial mats for nesting substrate. Because I placed artificial mats in the center of the island, the terns have often avoided the large nest losses incurred by terns nesting in peripheral locations. However, during particularly severe flooding events even centrally located nests on mats are vulnerable. Construction of eelgrass mats represents an easy habitat manipulation that can improve the nesting success of marsh-nesting seabirds.

Item Type: Article
Title: Use of Artificial Eelgrass Mats by Saltmarsh-Nesting Common Terns (Sterna hirundo)
Personal Creator/Author:
Refereed: Yes
Journal or Publication Title: In Vivo
Volume: 30
Number: 3
Page Range: pp. 11-16
Date: 2009
Latitude: 39.4
Longitude: -74.11
Subjects: Biology
Item ID: 4729
Depositing User: Brian Palestis
Date Deposited: 17 Jan 2011 15:15
Last Modified: 29 Sep 2011 15:58

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