Habitat and Ecology
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Chlidonias albostriatus
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 2
Species With Barcodes: 1
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
Several studies have been completed covering aspects of the species's biology and ecology. Habitat restoration and fauna monitoring is carried out by Project River Recovery in a number of major riverbed habitats in the McKenzie basin, covering part of the range (A. Grant in litt 1999, Taylor 2000). Some populations have received predator control measures with limited improvements to breeding success (M. Bell in litt. 2012).Conservation Actions Proposed
Census and map all breeding colonies, and census winter flocks. Monitor accessible colonies annually. Examine all proposals for the development of hydroelectric dams or irrigation projects to identify impacts on the species. Establish nest protection if predation is identified as significantly affecting breeding success. Spray weeds on rivers if required (Taylor 2000), and commence a trial of establishing islands/rafts in lagoons and tarns (B. D. Bell verbally 1999).
The black-fronted tern (Chlidonias albostriatus) also known as sea martin, ploughboy, inland tern, riverbed tern or tarapiroe, is a small tern generally found in or near bodies of fresh water in New Zealand and forages for freshwater fish, arthropods and worms. It has a predominantly grey plumage. Restricted to breeding in the eastern regions of South Island, it is declining and threatened by introduced mammals and birds.
The black-fronted tern was first described by George Robert Gray in 1845. Its specific name is derived from the Latin albus "white", and striatus "striped". It is one of four species of marsh tern in the genus Chlidonias, which often live on or near bodies of water inland rather than coastal or at sea. The genus is sometimes sunk into the larger tern genus Sterna, so Sterna albostriata is an alternate scientific name.
The species has several vernacular names; it is called ploughboy or ploughman's friend for its habit of foraging for earthworms and grubs in newly ploughed soil.
Measuring 29 cm (12 in) in length, the adult tern has predominantly grey plumage with a black cap typical of many terns. The underparts and rump are white, and there is a thin white streak running along the cheeks underneath the cap. The bill is red and legs orange. The black cap recedes from the bill in non-breeding plumage and becomes flecked with white.
Distribution and habitat
Within New Zealand, the black-fronted tern is found from the southern tip of the North Island, and along much of the eastern South Island from Marlborough to Southland, and to Stewart Island. There is an outlying population along the Buller and upper Motueka Rivers in southern Nelson. The breeding range is restricted to South Island only. It lives along riverbanks and can forage out to 10 km (6 mi) at sea in the nonbreeding season.
Numbers of black-fronted terns are decreasing across its range, and the species is classified as endangered. Threats include several species introduced to New Zealand - stoats (Mustela spp.), feral cats, the brown rat (Rattus norvegicus), hedgehog, dog, and from Australia, the common brushtail possum (Trichosurus vulpecula), and Australian magpie (Cracticus tibicen).
- BirdLife International (2012). "Sterna albostriata". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
- Rod Morris and Alison Ballance, "Rare Wildlife of New Zealand", Random House, 2008
- Simpson DP (1979). Cassell's Latin Dictionary (5 ed.). London: Cassell Ltd. ISBN 0-304-52257-0.
- "Species factsheet: Sterna albostriata". BirdLife International. 2009. Retrieved 31 December 2009.
- "Black-fronted terns". What's the Story? Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Ministry for Culture and Heritage / Te Manatū Taonga. 2009. Retrieved 31 December 2009.
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