The size and growth of seabird populations are believed to be regulated, in part, by the availability and quality of suitable breeding habitat. Global climate change is predicted to affect coastal habitats and may, therefore, have important consequences for the terrestrial breeding habitat of seabirds and hence seabird populations. The present study assessed use of breeding habitat in the four most abundant species of seabird breeding in south-eastern Australia using a generalised additive mixed-modelling approach. Habitat characteristics were measured on 13 islands in winter and summer, 2008-11. Burrows of the four species were associated with one or more habitat parameters, potentially explained by predator avoidance, physical requirements and possibly by interspecific competition. Whereas the habitat characteristics used by each species showed broad interspecific overlap, there was strong divergence, and the four species typically occupied different nesting sites within breeding areas. Information on the proportion of available habitat used and the influence of breeding habitat on reproductive success would enhance current understanding of what constitutes optimal breeding habitat as well as the role of interspecific competition in this assemblage of seabirds.
Field of Research
059999 Environmental Sciences not elsewhere classified
Socio Economic Objective
970105 Expanding Knowledge in the Environmental Sciences