Effect of brood size and hatching sequence on prefledging mortality of Sandwich terns: why lay two eggs?

Eric Stienen, A Brenninkmeijer

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    The mortality of Sandwich tern Sterna sandvicensis chicks held in enclosures was studied in colonies on Griend, in the Dutch Wadden Sea, from 1992 to 1999, and on Hirsholm, in the Danish Kattegat, in 1997. Survival of chicks until fledging was 73% for chicks hatching from first-laid eggs or single-egg clutches and 59–64% for partially hatched two-egg clutches, whereas 6% of second hatchlings survived until fledging. Less than 2% of all two-chick broods actually fledged two chicks. Because 18% of the two-egg clutches only hatched one egg, 7% of fledglings of two-egg clutches originated from a second-laid egg. In nests where both eggs hatched, the number of chicks was usually reduced soon after hatching. Within five days of hatching more than 50% of the second hatchlings died of starvation or were preyed upon. It seems that overproduction commonly occurs in Sandwich terns and that investment in a surplus egg mainly serves as an insurance mechanism. On Griend and Hirsholm, chick productivity of two-egg clutches was somewhat higher than for one-egg clutches. Undernourishment was an important cause of death, either directly by starvation or by selective predation of chicks in poor condition. This, in combination with earlier, studies suggests that Sandwich tern parents on Griend are exposed to severe food stress.
    TaalEngels
    TijdschriftJournal of Ornithology
    Volume147
    Exemplaarnummer4
    Pagina's (van-tot)520-530
    Aantal pagina's11
    DOI's
    StatusGepubliceerd - 2006

    Thematische lijst

    • Kust en Estuaria
    • Zee- en kustvogels

    EWI Biomedische wetenschappen

    • B280-dierenecologie

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