Within-season divorce in Common Terns Sterna hirundo in a year of heavy predation


Divorce between seasons is a common phenomenon in seabirds, whereas within-season mate change is rarely observed. We report four cases of within-season mate change in renesting Common Terns Sterna hirundo during a year of heavy predation by a Long-eared Owl Asio otus, when we found more deserted clutches, lower hatching success as well as more disappeared chicks compared to other years. Within-season nest-site fidelity also decreased under predation pressure.

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The long-term study of Common Terns at the Banter See is supported by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (BE916/8). We thank many helpers in the field, especially Alexander Braasch for providing his nocturnal observations of the owl, and Jan-Dieter Ludwigs, Ian Nisbet and Emmanuelle Cam for helpful comments on the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Sonja C. Ludwig.

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Communicated by T. Friedl.

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Ludwig, S.C., Becker, P.H. Within-season divorce in Common Terns Sterna hirundo in a year of heavy predation. J Ornithol 149, 655–658 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10336-008-0313-y

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  • Within-season
  • Renesting
  • Divorce
  • Mate change
  • Predation