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Breeding success, mate-fidelity and nest-site fidelity in red-tailed tropicbirds (Phaethon rubricauda) on Christmas Island, Indian Ocean


Sommerfeld, J and Stokes, T and Baker, GB, Breeding success, mate-fidelity and nest-site fidelity in red-tailed tropicbirds (Phaethon rubricauda) on Christmas Island, Indian Ocean, Emu, 115, (3) pp. 214-222. ISSN 0158-4197 (2015) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2015 BirdLife Australia

DOI: doi:10.1071/MU14016


Disruption of pair-bonds and switching nest-site are associated with breeding failure in many seabirds. Both strategies can prevent repetition of poor performance with a low-quality mate or at a poor-quality nesting site. In the Red-tailed Tropicbird (Phaethon rubricauda), the relationship between mate-fidelity, nest-site fidelity and reproductive performance is poorly understood. We therefore examined this relationship in Red-tailed Tropicbirds, using data collected on Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean from 1984 to 1986, corresponding to three successive breeding seasons. Birds showed strong between-season mate-fidelity, despite previous breeding failure, and subsequent breeding success in birds faithful to their mate was significantly higher than in pairs that bred together for the first time, indicating that mate-fidelity may outweigh the costs of disruption of pair-bonds. Although switching of nest-site was more likely to occur after previous breeding failure, it did not increase subsequent breeding success, indicating that nest-site switching may not be advantageous in Red-tailed Tropicbirds on Christmas Island. Although effects of age, dispersal rates to inaccessible parts of the island and adult survival were not examined in this study, our results provide a valuable basis for the evaluation of population dynamics of Red-tailed Tropicbirds on Christmas Island.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:red-tailed tropicbird, Christmas Island, breeding success, mate fidelity, nest site fidelity
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Zoology
Research Field:Animal behaviour
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Marine systems and management
Objective Field:Marine biodiversity
UTAS Author:Baker, GB (Dr Barry Baker)
ID Code:105919
Year Published:2015
Web of Science® Times Cited:6
Deposited By:IMAS Research and Education Centre
Deposited On:2016-01-20
Last Modified:2017-10-31

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