Discipline: Ecology Environmental and Earth Sciences
Cynthia Coria - California State University, Long Beach
Co-Author(s): Christine R. Whitcraft, California State University, Long Beach, CA
The California Least Tern (Sternula antillarum browni) is a federally endangered bird due to habitat loss and predation. Food availability, often reduced as habitats are lost or degraded, impacts nesting success and fledgling survival. Our study focused on the Huntington State Beach tern preserve and how food availability affects the diet of California Least Terns. The Huntington State Beach tern preserve has access to both the Pacific Ocean (marine habitat) and the Santa Ana River (tidal riverine habitat). Seines were conducted at both habitats during the mating, chick, and fledgling stages of the California Least Tern mating season. We determined that fish abundance, species richness, and community composition did not differ between habitats but topsmelt was the most abundant food source in both locations. Additionally, we found that topsmelt were significantly smaller during the chick and fledgling stages than during the mating stage. Further, using behavioral observations, we determined that more foraging was completed in the marine habitat rather than the tidal riverine habitat. This study shed light on food availability in differing habitats and locational foraging preference as it relates to the overall health and survival of the endangered California Least Tern at this colony.
Funder Acknowledgement(s): This study was supported by funding from a Summer Student Research Assitantship provided by the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs, California State University, Long Beach, Long Beach, CA.
Faculty Advisor: Christine R. Whitcraft, email@example.com
Role: Seining and behavioral observations were conducted by myself along with volunteers. Nest searches and subsequent weekly nest monitoring was also conducted under supervision of the Santa Ana Watershed. I also took part in the collection of dropped fish and guano samples from within the California Least Tern colony. However, guano samples will be analyzed in January 2017 as I will be receiving training from Point Blue Conservation Science for this technique. Further, data analysis was conducted by my faculty advisor, Christine R. Whitcraft, and I.