Reproductive success of threatened northern Lesser Black-backed Gulls (Larus fuscus fuscus) in relation to nest predation by Ravens (Corvus corax)
Keywords:gull, raven, nest predation, fledgling success, human influence
Many seabird populations suffer heavily from the destruction of nests by generalist predators. In this study, we analyzed 16 years of data (2005–2020) on the reproductive output of the northern Lesser Black-backed Gull (Larus fuscus fuscus) at Horsvær, the largest assemblage of this subspecies in Norway (up to ca. 400 pairs), in relation to the occurrence of breeding Ravens (Corvus corax). A pair of Ravens were firstly discovered at Horsvær in 2010, and between 2011 and 2016 they were observed with broods (2–5 fledglings) in most years. Between 2017 and 2020, human intervention prevented the Ravens from breeding in the colony. However, in 2020 a pair of Ravens brought their fledglings over from a neighboring island in the middle of the incubation period for the gulls. On average, the nest predation rate was 43% when Ravens had fledglings within the study area. In contrast, only 10% of nests were depredated in years when Ravens did not reproduce successfully or were absent. Moreover, only 0.07 fledglings were on average produced per nest in years when Ravens bred successfully, compared to 0.71 fledglings per nest in years with no Raven reproduction. A high level of nest predation led to a decline in the number of nesting gulls, which was not observed in a neighboring Raven-free colony. Finally, in years with high Raven predation at Horsvær, production of fledglings was still high in yet another nearby Lesser Black-backed Gull colony. The Ravens were established at Horsvær in the absence of people in the spring, and the only option to save these threatened gulls may be to prevent the Ravens from nesting successfully in or near their colonies.
- 2022-06-26 (2)
- 2022-03-04 (1)
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