An inventory of Sooty Terns (Sterna fuscata) in the western Indian Oceanwith special reference to threats and trends

Sooty Tern (Sterna fuscata) Science Article 4


The western Indian Ocean supports over 6 200 000 pairs of Sooty Terns, some in very large colonies. During the past twocenturies colonies have exhibited increase, stability, decline and extinction. The main drivers of these trends have beenhabitat change and unregulated human exploitation, especially of adults; introduced predators appear to have little effect atthe population level but may have prevented re-colonisation following habitat restoration. Regulated harvesting of eggs,based on increasing knowledge of Sooty Tern demography, appears to be sustainable. Some colonies now receive protectionbut it will be logistically difficult to extend this to all colonies. The main future threats are likely to be climate change andover-exploitation of tuna, on which Sooty Terns depend to feed. Sooty Terns should be monitored to provide insights intothese and other perturbations of the marine ecosystem.

Chris J Feare, Sebastien Jaquemet and Matthieu Le Corre, Ostrich 2007, 78(2): 423-434

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