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Animal Biodiversity and Conservation. Volume 27.1 (2004) Pages: 531-540

Dispersal and survival rates of adult and juvenile Red-tailed tropicbirds (Phaethon rubricauda) exposed to potential contaminants

Shreiber, E. A., Doherty, P. F., Schenk, G. A.

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Abstract

Annual survival and dispersal rates of adult and juvenile red-tailed tropicbirds were examined in connection with exposure to heavy metals. From 1990-2000 the incineration of a U.S. stockpile of chemical weapons stored at Johnston Atoll exposed nesting tropicbirds to increased levels of human disturbance, smoke stack emissions and potential leaks. Using a multi-state mark-recapture modeling approach, birds nesting in this site (downwind of the plant) were compared to those nesting in a reference site (upwind of the plant) with less human disturbance, no exposure to smoke stack emissions or other potential incineration emissions. We did not find any difference in survival of adults or juveniles when comparing the two sites. Adult breeding dispersal rates did not differ between the sites but we did find differences in the age-specific natal dispersal rates. Birds fledged from downwind areas were less likely to return to their natal area to nest and more likely to immigrate to the upwind area than vice-versa. This asymmetry in emigration rates is believed to be due to differing vegetation densities and has implications for vegetation management in relation to tropicbird nest success and population size.

Keywords

Phaethon rubricauda, JACADS, Johnston Atoll, Age-specific breeding and dispersal, Survival, Chemical munitions

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Shreiber, E. A., Doherty, P. F., Schenk, G. A., 2004. Dispersal and survival rates of adult and juvenile Red-tailed tropicbirds (Phaethon rubricauda) exposed to potential contaminants. Animal Biodiversity and Conservation, 27: 531-540

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