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Sternula nereis

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA CHORDATA AVES CHARADRIIFORMES LARIDAE

Scientific Name: Sternula nereis
Species Authority: Gould, 1843
Common Name(s):
English Fairy Tern
Synonym(s):
Sterna nereis (Gould, 1843)
Sternula nereis subspecies nereis Christidis and Boles (2008)
Taxonomic Notes: Sternula nereis (del Hoyo and Collar 2014) was previously placed in the genus Sterna.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Vulnerable C1 ver 3.1
Year Published: 2012
Date Assessed: 2012-05-01
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Butchart, S. & Symes, A.
Contributor(s): Baker, P., Barré, N., Burbidge, A.H., Burbidge, A., Christidis, L., Ford, H., Garnett, S., Herman, K., Holmes, D., Lacey, G., Menkhorst, P., Paton, D. & Saunders, D.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Anderson, O., Butchart, S., Calvert, R., Ekstrom, J., Garnett, S., Harding, M., Mahood, S. & McClellan, R.
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.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Sternula 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).

Countries:
Native:
Australia; New Caledonia; New Zealand
Vagrant:
Fiji
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

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

Habitat and Ecology [top]

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

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): 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).

Conservation Actions [top]

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.


Citation: BirdLife International 2012. Sternula nereis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 31 July 2014.
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