Date of Award
Master of Science in Fisheries and Wildlife Science
College of Natural & Health Sciences
Dr. Thomas Nupp
Second Committee Member
Dr. Chris Kellner
Third Committee Member
Dr. Jorista Garrie
Dean of Graduate College
Dr. Jeff Robertson
The colonial ground nesting interior Least Tern (Sternula antillarum athalassos,) is an example of a species that requires frequent monitoring in order to estimate population size and determine long-term trends. Modifications in nesting habitat such as flooding, predation, and disturbances to colonies severely reduce reproductive success each year. I continued long-term monitoring efforts by identifying colonies and recording breeding activity along the Arkansas River. To improve the way that we understand factors that contribute to survival rates of nests and chicks, I examined survival at several colonies during the 2017 breeding season. Then to improve current monitoring techniques I tested the ability of time-lapse cameras to document instances of flooding, predation, and disturbances to nesting colonies. I successfully identified colonies that were successful or failed during the 2017 breeding season along with information about disturbances. I found that average survival of nests at 33% [0.15 SE] was poor and average survival of chicks at 56% [0.14 SE] was fair. I found that time-lapse cameras significantly improved our ability to document events at nesting locations. Most notably I was able to detect flooding, quantify avian predators within the colony, and accurately gauge levels of human disturbances to breeding birds from camera footage. Based on my findings, I would recommend focusing on improving nest success and continuing to use camera methods to document events at colonies.
Nefas, Stephanie M., "Examination of Photographic Evidence of Disturbance on Interior Least Tern Breeding Behavior and Reproductive Success" (2018). Theses and Dissertations from 2018. 7.