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Is colony attendance by shearwaters influenced by bright moonlight or inclement weather?


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Powell, C, Bradley, S and Wooler, R (2008) Is colony attendance by shearwaters influenced by bright moonlight or inclement weather? Papers and Proceedings of the Royal Society of Tasmania, 142 (1). pp. 35-43. ISSN 0080-4703

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If nocturnal colony attendance is associated with avoidance of predators, fewer nests would be visited by parent shearwaters on moonlit
nights, or nests would be visited later, than on dark nights. Additionally, if shearwaters foraged at night on certain prey species, feeds delivered
to nestlings would be larger on dark nights. We found that feed size and the probability of a nest visit were both greater on moonlit nights,
while food delivery after midnight was not. A minimal risk of predation concurs with the disregard for moonlight shown by Flesh-footed
Shearwaters, Puffinus carneipes, but does not explain their apparent preference for it. While nocturnal foraging is unlikely, it is not clear
why feeds were significantly larger on moonlit nights, or why colony attendance by this species is strictly nocturnal. Weather may impact
the ability of seabirds to forage at sea, although this is difficult to confirm. It was likely that nest attendance by parent shearwaters would
be lower if certain variables negatively influenced foraging, but such influences may not manifest themselves immediately. Nest visits were
examined in relation to local weather conditions at time-lag intervals of up to seven days. While no significant cross correlations were
determined between burrow entry and two wind-velocity variables, a significant positive correlation was determined when the study site
experienced pronounced unseasonal rainfall events.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Powell, C and Bradley, S and Wooler, R
Keywords: Royal Society of Tasmania, RST, Van Diemens Land, natural history, science, ecology, taxonomy, botany, zoology, geology, geography, papers & proceedings, Australia, UTAS Library
Journal or Publication Title: Papers and Proceedings of the Royal Society of Tasmania
Page Range: pp. 35-43
ISSN: 0080-4703
Collections: Royal Society Collection > Papers & Proceedings of the Royal Society of Tasmania
Additional Information:

Copyright Royal Society of Tasmania

Date Deposited: 16 May 2012 04:28
Last Modified: 15 Sep 2017 01:06
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