Seabirds' Nesting Performance
in the Grenadines
Wayne Smart*, Natalia CollierƗ
, and Virginie Rolland*,
Environmental Protection in the Caribbean; *Department of Biological Sciences, Arkansas State University.
Caribbean seabird populations have shown decreasing trends, particularly in the Southern Grenadines which harbours several regional and globally important bird
. Previous studies have identified factors associated with declining trends including habitat loss/destruction, substantial human disturbance, and introduction of
exotic predators (particularly rats). Further threats encountered in foraging habitat (marine environment) are risks of bycatch, contamination, and inadequate
productivity of the marine environment possibly caused by climate change 2,3
Throughout the Grenadines, locals use space that is shared with nesting seabirds. Already, people are noticing a decline in population size, and nesting activity
throughout the islands. Fishermen periodically make camps in these areas, which can be a significant factor of poaching. Preliminary surveys in the Southern
Grenadines suggest disturbance of seabird colonies by hunters, though protected under the ‘Birds and Other Wildlife Act’.
Six islands (Grenadines) were visited in the Caribbean Sea
within the tri-island maritime territory of Grenada [12.0500°
N, 61.7500°W]. These islands were accessed using fishing
boats first to assess breeding colony location, nesting state
and initial number of nesting pairs, and subsequently for
were used to detect rodents including (1) visual search for evidence of possible predator
presence using rodent scat, and tracks; (2) chew blocks, (3) tracking tunnels, (4) baited camera traps,
and (5) interviews with locals that frequently visit the islands.
Figure 5 Baited indicators used during 2015 nesting season. Left: corrugated plastic, and Right: chew block
1.Collier, N. 2014. Invasive Predator Surveys of Important Bird Areas and Protected Areas in the Grenadines. Environmental Protection in the Caribbean report No. 48. Unpublished report.
2.Haynes, A.M. 1987. Human Exploitation of Seabirds in Jamaica. Biological Conservation 41: 99-124.
3.Lowrie, K., D. Lowrie, N. Collier. 2012. Seabird Atlas of the Lesser Antilles. Charleston, SC: Create space/ Environmental Protection in the Caribbean.
4.Smart, W. 2014. Grenadines Seabird Project: Nesting Productivity Report. Environmental Protection in the Caribbean report No. 49. Unpublished report.
Birds, both incubating and
roosting individuals, were
counted using binoculars and
spotting scopes. In case birds
cannot be easily detected,
flush counts, and remote
counts were used.
Nests found will be marked
using tying wire and flagging
tape. The fate of previously
marked eggs and chicks will
be assessed on subsequent
Figure 3. Brown Booby chick
Figure 4. Surveyors performing
regular counts from neighboring
(1) Nesting productivity of seven seabird species.
(2) Presence of rats in the seabird breeding territories.
Future Study & Perspectives
An on-going second field season will provide additional data on seabird nesting activities to estimate
nest survival and perform comparisons among species and islands.
Interviews of locals who use the islands for harvest or other recreational activities are currently being
conducted. These interviews will help clarify the extent of human disturbance–related nesting failure.
If substantial, interviews will further help understand economic and cultural importance of such
activities so that a community– based conservation plan can be proposed.
We will also compare past to present colony locations in terms of vegetation.
Poster Presented at the 20th International Meeting of BirdsCaribbean, New Kingston, Jamaica, 25 July—29 July 2015
Gratitude is extended to those who worked along with this project, both past and present. Special thanks is
given to interns Matthew Basil (2014), and Ramon Williams (2015) for their assistance during this study.
Figure 1: Sites for Seabird’s
Nesting Performance surveys
Figure 2. Scene taken from Les
Six species were recorded
nesting. 47 nests were observed
with an over all success of 31%
More nest data are required to
discuss the status of birds in the
No invasive predators were
detected at the bait stations,
however, locals reported their
Table 1. Seabird Nesting productivity in 2014 (15 May—26 July) at four
Les Tantes "east"
Bridled Tern 5 0 0 0%
Brown Noddy 4 0 0 0%
1 1 1 100%
Red-Footed Booby 3 1 0 0%
Les Tantes "north"
Bridled Tern 7 2 0 0%
Brown Noddy 3 0 0 0%
Brown Booby 3 2 2 67%
Brown Noddy 1 0 0 0%
Laughing Gull 4 0 2 50%
Bridled Tern 2 0 0 0%
Brown Booby 1 0 0 0%
Brown Noddy 3 1 0 0%
Laughing Gull 15 12 11 73%
Total 52 19 16 31%