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Burrow densities and nest site preferences of petrels (Procellariidae) at the Prince Edwards Islands

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Summary

The nest-site preferences of six burrowing petrel species, Salvin's prion Pachyptila vittata salvini, blue petrel Halobaena caerulea, great-winged petrel Pterodroma macroptera, Kerguelen petrel Pterodroma brevirostris, soft-plumaged petrel Pterodroma mollis and white-chinned petrel Procellaria aequinoctialis, in the northeastern part of Marion Island (Prince Edward Island group, southern Indian Ocean) were analyzed by step-wise multiple regression. The nest-site characteristics measured were slope angle, soil depth and moisture content, percentage cover by stones or boulders and percentage cover by each of seven major plant species. The major nest-site preferences were: exposed areas with shallow soil (Salvin's prion); steep coastal slopes (blue petrel); sheltered well-drained slopes with deep soil (great-winged petrels); wet areas along drainage lines (Kerguelen petrel); steep slopes (soft-plumaged petrel); and areas with deep soil (white-chinned petrel). Similar species showed no significant avoidance of nest sites where there were burrows of potential competitors but did tend to nest spread out over different habitats. Burrow densities were determined in six habitat and seven vegetation types. Salvin's prion was the most abundant species (81% of burrows, with a maximum density of 279 burrows ha-1) and used both burrows and natural cavities for nesting. For all species combined, burrow densities at Marion Island were lower than in comparable habitats and vegetation types at neighbouring Prince Edward Island. Depredation by feral house cats Felis catus, absent from Prince Edward Island, is assumed to be largely responsible for this difference.

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References

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Schramm, M. Burrow densities and nest site preferences of petrels (Procellariidae) at the Prince Edwards Islands. Polar Biol 6, 63–70 (1986). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00258254

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Keywords

  • Nest Site
  • Percentage Cover
  • Felis
  • Southern Indian Ocean
  • Prince Edwards Island