Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Parameters influencing selection of nest boxes by little penguins (Eudyptula minor)

TitleParameters influencing selection of nest boxes by little penguins (Eudyptula minor)
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2019
AuthorsRatz, H
Type of ArticleFull article
Keywordsaccessibility, breeding success, habitat, moult, New Zealand

Little penguins (Eudyptula minor) readily breed and moult in nest boxes. The selective placement of nest boxes can enhance their use, improve breeding success and increase recruitment. I examined nest parameters for 171 nest boxes at Pilots Beach, southern New Zealand, in relation to their use for breeding and for moulting in the 2016 breeding season. Linear models to assess the relative importance of nest box parameters produced definitive results where a higher likelihood of use was interpreted to indicate a preference. The only preference for breeding or moulting was for shaded boxes that were free of vegetation at ground level. These trends were supported by comparisons of proportions of boxes used for breeding and moulting that indicated shaded boxes surrounded by bare ground were preferred to unshaded boxes surrounded by introduced grasses. Proportions also indicated that boxes on flat ground with a flat entrance were preferred to boxes on sloped ground or a sloped entrance for breeding and moulting. About half of the boxes between 61 and 90 m distance to the landing were used for breeding and moulting. Females nesting in shaded boxes had a higher breeding success than those in unshaded boxes but their chick masses were similar. To optimise nest box use by little penguins and encourage recruitment, nest boxes ideally should be placed under bushes or artificial structures on open ground up to 90 m from the landing.

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