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Avifaune marine des îles Chesterfield (mer de Corail) : richesse spécifique, tailles de population, menaces et tendances sur les trois dernières décennies

Abstract : The coral islets and cays of the Coral Sea host a wealth of tropical seabirds, making these habitats essential to the conservation of these emblematic species in the tropical south-western Pacific region. The Chesterfield-Bampton and Bellona atolls in the center of the Coral Sea have been identified as an important breeding area for tropical seabirds and an area of significance for the conservation of the fairy tern Sternula nereis and the green turtle Chelonia mydas, both threatened with extinction. The objective of this paper is to update our knowledge of the seabird populations breeding in these atolls, based on observations accumulated in the last decade, on top of those already published [P. Borsa et al., Pac. Sci., 64 (2010) 297-314]. These new observations were made during six one-off ornithological expeditions to the Chesterfield-Bampton and Bellona atolls between 2010 and 2019. They were compiled to update seabird abundances on the 22 main coral islets and coral cays of this ensemble. Overall, fourteen seabird species were recorded, 12 of which breeding: black noddy Anous minutus, brown noddy A. stolidus, wedge-tailed shearwater Ardenna pacifica, lesser frigatebird Fregata ariel, great frigatebird F. minor, sooty tern Onychoprion fuscatus, roseate tern Sterna dougallii, black-naped tern S. sumatrana, fairy tern, masked booby Sula dactylatra, brown booby S. leucogaster, red-footed booby S. sula, and crested tern Thalas-seus bergii. Herald's petrel Pterodroma heraldica was recorded for the first time since its dis-covery, presumably on the Chesterfield atoll in 1858-1859 (Anchorage Islets, April 2017). The red-tailed tropicbird Phaethon rubricauda, last contacted on Long Island in July 1973 was not recorded breeding. Wedge-tailed shearwater and sooty tern populations exceeded 100 000 breeding pairs, making the Chesterfield-Bampton and Bellona atolls important conservation areas for these two species ; black and common noddy populations reached several tens of thousands of breeding pairs ; and populations of the two frigatebirds and the three boobies reached several hundred to several thousand pairs. A possible decrease in wedge-tailed shearwater abundance over the last three decades requires confirmation. The importance of the islets of the Chesterfield-Bampton and Bellona atoll for the conservation of seabirds in the tropical Western Pacific is here confirmed. Of particular importance is the southern end of the Chesterfield-Bampton ensemble (Chesterfield’s « V ») which has not yet been granted full protection. This situation should be taken into account by the authorities in charge of the conservation and management of these atolls.
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Submitted on : Sunday, December 19, 2021 - 11:07:24 PM
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Philippe Borsa. Avifaune marine des îles Chesterfield (mer de Corail) : richesse spécifique, tailles de population, menaces et tendances sur les trois dernières décennies. Bulletin de la Société zoologique de France, 2021, 146, pp.111-122. ⟨ird-03494685⟩



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