Testing the efficacy of a boundary fence at an important tropical seabird breeding colony and key tourist destination

Devney, Carol A., and Congdon, Bradley C. (2009) Testing the efficacy of a boundary fence at an important tropical seabird breeding colony and key tourist destination. Wildlife Research, 36 (4). pp. 353-360.

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Abstract

Tourists have the potential to detrimentally impact breeding seabirds, particularly at popular destinations such as on the Great Barrier Reef. Michaelmas Cay is a significant seabird rookery and prime tourist destination on the reef. In 1990, Queensland Parks & Wildlife Service erected a fence to separate tourists from fragile nesting habitat. We used two independent assessments during different breeding seasons to determine the potential impacts of tourism on two pelagic seabird species breeding on the cay. In the first quasi-experiment, egg losses by sooty terns (Sterna fuscata) and common noddies (Anous stolidus) were monitored at four distances (3, 6, 18 and 36 m) from a tourist enclosure. Our second quasiexperiment involved monitoring adult provisioning rates, chick growth and chick survival of sooty terns at two locations, one adjacent to the tourist fence and one 50maway. At plots 3–6mfrom the fence, we observed higher among-week variation in egg loss but no differences in total egg loss as compared with the more distant plots. The only difference observed between plots during our second quasi-experiment was that nest predation was higher at the tourist fence plot. Our research suggests that as long as the effects observed do not influence post-fledging survival or gull predation does not impact under different conditions, current management protocols are appropriately facilitating shared usage between wildlife and the tourism industry at Michaelmas Cay.

Item ID: 5505
Item Type: Article (Refereed Research - C1)
Keywords: tropical biology, sooty terns, common noddies, crested terns, seabirds, Great Barrier Reef, tourism impacts, nest predation
ISSN: 1035-3712
Date Deposited: 07 Dec 2009 04:28
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0603 Evolutionary Biology > 060307 Host-Parasite Interactions @ 50%
06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060201 Behavioural Ecology @ 50%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management > 960507 Ecosystem Assessment and Management of Marine Environments @ 100%
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