Volume 51, No. 1

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Increasing use of artificial nest chambers by seasonally segregated populations of Band-rumped Storm Petrels Hydrobates castro at St Helena, South Atlantic Ocean


1School of Biosciences, Sir Martin Evans Building, Cardiff University, Cardiff, Wales, United Kingdom, CF10 3AX *(
2Environmental Management Division, Environmental and Natural Resources Directorate, St. Helena Government, St. Helena Island, South Atlantic Ocean, STHL 1ZZ
3School of Dentistry, College of Biomedical & Life Sciences, Cardiff University, Heath Park, Academic Avenue, Cardiff, Wales, United Kingdom, CF14 4XY
4Royal Society for the Protection of Birds Centre for Conservation Science, Cambridge, United Kingdom
5NatureSpace Partnership, 22 St. Peter's Street, Stamford, Lincolnshire, United Kingdom, PE9 2PF


BEARD, A., THOMAS, R.J., CLINGHAM, E., HENRY, L., MEDEIROS, R., OPPEL, S., SMALL, A. & HAILER, F. 2023. Increasing use of artificial nest chambers by seasonally segregated populations of Band-rumped Storm Petrels Hydrobates castro at St Helena, South Atlantic Ocean. Marine Ornithology 51: 85 - 96

Received 04 July 2022, accepted 22 December 2022

Date Published: 2023/04/15
Date Online: 2023/04/10
Key words: Band-rumped Storm Petrel, artificial nest chambers, occupancy, productivity, fidelity, St Helena, seabirds


Artificial nest chambers have become a common management tool for monitoring nocturnal burrow-nesting seabirds, although their utility varies among species and locations. The widespread Band-rumped Storm Petrel Hydrobates castro species complex potentially harbours a cryptic species endemic to the South Atlantic. Here we evaluate the installation of artificial nest chambers as a tool for long-term conservation and monitoring of this species, which breeds in two distinct seasons on St Helena. Based on six years of observational data, we analysed factors affecting occupancy, mate and chamber fidelity, and reproductive success to optimise nest chamber installation and to enhance future management. Occupancy rates were high, increasing from 5% after the first season following installation to 85% after five years. Occupancy was positively associated with i) the number of seasons since chamber installation, ii) whether the chamber was occupied in the previous season, and iii) whether the chamber was occupied in the same season in the previous year. Occupancy also varied with chamber location and lid construction material: chambers with wooden lids had 7% lower occupancy and 18% lower breeding success than chambers with other lid types. Lid replacement also negatively affected occupancy. Chamber monitoring revealed that individuals exhibited 93% mate fidelity and 86% chamber fidelity with little effect of previous breeding outcome. From 312 monitored nests, hatching success was 15% higher during the hot season, while fledging success was 28% higher during the cool season, leading to only 3.2% difference in overall productivity between seasons. Fledging success of each seasonal population varied by year. Chick mortality was considerably higher during the hot season (41% compared to 13% during the cool season), possibly reflecting different responses to temperature regime. We conclude that installation of artificial nest chambers represents an effective monitoring tool, and recommendations for the design and management of chambers are discussed.


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