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Colonial Birds Nesting on Man-Made and Natural Sites in the U. S. Great Lakes.

Descriptive Note:

Final rept. 1976-1977,

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Habitats and nesting populations of colonial nesting birds of the U. S. Great Lakes were determined by aerial census, ground nest observations, and vegetation analysis during 1976 and 1977. Thirteen species at 267 colonies were found during this 2-year study. An atlas of nesting sites and populations for both years of the study locates and gives the sizes of the colonies. Intensive vegetation and habitat studies were performed on 24 sites 8 natural islands and 16 dredged material locations. A greater percentage of cover by herbaceous vegetation was favored by ring-billed gulls and herring gulls, but common and Caspian terns preferred less vegetative cover. Both ciconiiform and larid colonial nesters killed or badly stressed the vegetation supporting, surrounding, andor below their nests. Soil analyses showed high levels of macronutrients in most colonies except those of Caspian and common terns. These nutrients were presumed to be toxic except to a few adapted plant species frequently found in heavily fertilized ring-billed gull colonies. New colonies frequently had retarded nesting in relation to other colonies and lessened intracolony synchrony, nest density, and nesting success, regardless of whether the site was natural or dredged material in origin. Colony size and previous experience of the breeders seemed more important than latitude in determining date of peak hatching and chronological sequence of nesting in ring-billed gulls. The water table at the site affected nesting success by changing vegetation from hydric to xeric seres.

Subject Categories:

  • Civil Engineering

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