Overview

Distribution

Range Description

Sterna nereis occurs in Australia (subspecies nereis), New Caledonia (to France) (exsul) and northern New Zealand (davisae). In Australia, subspecies nereis may number less than 5,000 mature individuals at up to 170 sites, with less than 1,600 pairs in Western Australia, a few hundred pairs in each of Tasmania and South Australia and just a few pairs in Victoria (B. Baker in litt. 2007, D. Paton in litt. 2007, A. Burbidge n litt. 2007, D. Saunders in litt. 2007). Though it may be stable in Western Australia, numbers elsewhere in Australia have declined rapidly during the last thirty years. In New Zealand, davisae plummeted to three pairs in 1983 but, due to intensive conservation efforts has increased and in 1998, totalled 25-30 birds and 8-10 pairs over three sites. In 2006 this had increased to 30-40 individuals and 10 pairs (Parrish and Honnor 1997, Taylor 2000, S. Garnett in litt. 2007). By 2011, this had increased again to 40-45 individuals and c10 pairs (P-J. Pridham in litt. 2011). In New Caledonia, exul numbers 100-200 pairs, but was formerly much more abundant (F. Hannecart per. M. Pandolfi in litt. 1999, N. Barre in litt. 2007). One small population in the Southern Lagoon of New Caledonia may be increasing (Baling et al. 2009).

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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
It breeds on sheltered mainland coastlines and close islands, usually on sandy beaches above the high tide line but below where vegetation occurs (Higgins and Davies 1996). Breeding occurs at different times at different locations, but generally occurs from mid to late October until February (Higgins and Davies 1996). Adults have been observed to conduct post-fledgling parental care in New Zealand (Preddey 2008). It feeds almost entirely on fish mainly by following shoals of feeding predatory fish, and is rarely found out of sight of land (Higgins and Davies 1996). It lays one or two eggs. The oldest recorded individuals are at least 13 (New Zealand) and 17 years (Australia). Observations over one season on New Caledonia revealed a low rate of nesting success, with only one in five nests producing a fledgling (Baling et al. 2009).


Systems
  • Terrestrial
  • Marine
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage: Sternula nereis

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 6
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
VU
Vulnerable

Red List Criteria
C1

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2012

Assessor/s
BirdLife International

Reviewer/s
Butchart, S. & Symes, A.

Contributor/s
Baker, P., Barré, N., Burbidge, A., Burbidge, A., Christidis, L., Ford, H., Garnett, S., Herman, K., Holmes, D., Lacey, G., Menkhorst, P., Paton, D. & Saunders, D.

Justification
This species is classified as Vulnerable owing to recent declines over much of its breeding range. Predation by introduced species, disturbance and inappropriate water level management are thought to have contributed most to this decline. However, data is patchy, and a clarification of trends in its strongholds may lead to its status being revised.

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Population

Population
In Australia, subspecies nereis may number fewer than 5,000 mature individuals at up to 170 sites, with less than 1,600 pairs in Western Australia, a few hundred pairs in each of Tasmania and South Australia and just a few pairs in Victoria. In New Zealand, davisae numbers 35-40 pairs. In New Caledonia, exul numbers 100-200 pairs. The total population is best placed in the band 2,500-9,999 mature individuals.

Population Trend
Decreasing
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Threats

Major Threats
Threats include habitat degradation by encroaching weeds and housing developments, predation by introduced mammals and gulls, extreme weather events (which locally at least can put an entire breeding season at risk) (Parrish and Honnor 1997), and disturbance by humans (particularly tourists in New Caledonia), dogs and vehicles, either causing the direct destruction of eggs or desertion of nests (Higgins and Davies 1996, Parrish and Honnor 1997, F. Hannecart per. M. Pandolfi in litt. 1999). In South Australia inappropriate water level management has lead to a collapse in the numbers of prey fish, and a subsequent decline in colonies (D. Paton in litt. 2007).

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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
Conservation Actions Underway
Many colonies in Australia are regularly monitored, and intensive management has led to an increase in the population on New Zealand.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Monitor all breeding colonies annually to assess trends. Control introduced mammals and other nest predators at important breeding sites. Oppose developments which would encroach on breeding colonies. Restrict access to important breeding colonies.

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Wikipedia

Fairy Tern

The name fairy tern can also refer to the white tern (Gygis alba)

The fairy tern (Sternula nereis) is a small tern which is native to the southwestern Pacific. It is listed as "Vulnerable" by the IUCN and the New Zealand subspecies is "Critically Endangered".

There are three subspecies:

Description[edit]

The fairy tern is a small tern with a white body and light bluish-grey wings. The crown and nape is black. It can be distinguished from the little tern in that a black band extends no further than the eye and not as far as the bill. In the breeding plumage both the beak and the legs are yellowish-orange. During the rest of the year the black crown is lost, being mostly replaced by white feathers, and the beak becomes black at the tip and the base. The sexes look alike and the plumage of immature birds is similar to the non-breeding plumage. The total length of the fairy tern is about 25 cm (10 in).[2]

Behaviour[edit]

The fairy tern mainly feeds on fish which it catches by hovering over the sea before plunging beak first into the water to grab its prey. It seldom goes far out to sea but is often to be seen where predatory fish are feeding on shoals of small fish. It also consumes crustaceans, molluscs and some plant material.[2]

Breeding takes place in the spring in colonies on sheltered beaches on the mainland or on offshore islands. The nest is just above high-water mark and is a scrape in the sand. One or two eggs are laid and both parents share the incubation and care of the chicks and have occasionally been seen providing post-fledging parental care.[3]

Status[edit]

Formerly classified as a Species of Least Concern by the IUCN,[3] recent research shows that its numbers have been decreasing rapidly throughout its range; the New Zealand subspecies has been on the brink of extinction for decades. The fairy tern was consequently uplisted to Vulnerable status in 2008.[3] The New Zealand fairy tern has numerous breeding areas, largely incorporating the upper-north region of the North Island. In 2011, there are only about 42 known individuals. With a breeding program in place by the New Zealand Department of Conservation, the population has gradually increased to the current number.[3]

References[edit]

  1. ^ BirdLife International (2012). "Sterna nereis". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013. 
  2. ^ a b "Fairy Tern: Sterna nereis". Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service. Retrieved 2013-12-17. 
  3. ^ a b c d "Species factsheet: Sterna nereis". BirdLife International. Retrieved 2013-12-17. 
  • Douglas Adams & Mark Carwardine, Last Chance to See (Ballantine Books, 1992, ISBN 0-345-37198-4)
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