Individual quality and recruitment in the common tern, Sternahirundo

Common Tern (Sterna hirundo) Science Article 4


We investigated the individual histories of more than 1 300 fledglings from an intensively studied colony of commonterns, Sterna hirundo. Based on six cohorts (1992-1998), which had recruited almost completely by 2002, we found that thebody mass of a fledgling was positively related to return and recruitment probability. Even in subadult stages, pre-fledgingcharacteristics affect the probability of recruitment in this medium-sized seabird. Our results tend to be consistent for bothsexes. In addition, older age at fledging reduced recruitment probability, particularly for late fledged young, reflecting indirectlyon parental quality. However, other parameters of the egg and nestling period, such as clutch size, hatching order, and numberof fledglings per brood, had no influence on recruitment of fledged young. The results suggest that body mass of young can beused as a predictor of recruitment probability and as an indicator of individual quality. These conclusions are discussed in thelight of the meager information on pre-fledging characteristics and post-fledging survival in birds.

Jan-Dieter Ludwigs, Peter H. Becker, Acta Zoologica Sinica, 52(Supplement): 96-100, 2006

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