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The Status of Tern Populations in Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada

Stephen W. Kress, Evelyn H. Weinstein, Ian C. T. Nisbet, Gary W. Shugart, William C. Scharf, Hans Blokpoel, Gerald A. Smith, Kenneth Karwowski, George R. Maxwell, II, Gilles Chapdelaine, William A. Montevecchi, Anthony R. Lock, Carol F. Smith, Eileen Miller, Jeffrey A. Spendelow, Michael Gochfeld, Joanna Burger and R. Michael Erwin
Colonial Waterbirds
Vol. 6 (1983), pp. 84-106
Published by: Waterbird Society
DOI: 10.2307/1520976
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1520976
Page Count: 23
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The Status of Tern Populations in Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada
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Abstract

This is a report of a workshop on tern populations in northeastern North America. Eighteen regional reports summarize data on numbers, trends, and productivity of 10 species of terns in the Great Lakes, the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and the Atlantic coast from Newfoundland south to Virginia. Although census techniques have varied in accuracy and comprehensiveness, the data permit the following estimates of tern populations in this area: Gull-billed Tern (Sterna nilotica), less than 1000 pairs; Caspian Tern (S. caspia), 4250 pairs; Royal Tern (S. maxima), 3000-4000 pairs; Sandwich Tern (S. sandvicensis), less than 20 pairs; Roseate Tern (S. dougallii), 3100 pairs; Common Tern (S. hirundo), 70-75,000 pairs; Arctic Tern (S. paradisaea), 5-6000 pairs (excluding Newfoundland); Forster's Tern (S. forsteri), 3100 pairs; Least Tern (S. antillarum), 7000-7500 pairs; Black Tern (Chlidonias niger), no estimate possible. Recently, Arctic and Gull-billed Terns have decreased, whereas Caspian, Forster's, Roseate, and (at least locally) Common, and Least Terns have increased. Data on breeding success are available for six species. Adverse factors include occupation of nesting habitat by gulls, human disturbance and development, predation, and flooding. Loss of nesting habitat due to these factors has left sub-optimal or man-made habitat such as salt marshes, dredged spoil islands, structures, and roofs of buildings. For several species, a large fraction of the population now nests on sites that are publicly owned, managed, or protected. Despite some recent population increases, most species still remain far below numbers of 40 years ago. Continued management and protection will be necessary to maintain suitable sites for current populations.

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