A mark-recapture study was conducted on color-banded Roseate Terns (Sterna dougallii) breeding in southwestern Puerto Rico from 1991 to 1994. The initial estimate of apparent annual survival of adults was 62%. After accounting for the annual rates of color-band loss (11%) and permanent emigration (2-13%), the adjusted annual survival rate estimate for adults ranged from 71-80%. The estimate of pre-breeding survival from fledging to age three was 31% for a cohort of chicks banded in 1991. The adult survival estimate is low compared to other seabird species, but similar to estimates derived from Roseate Terns breeding in the western North Atlantic. Considered together, these survival estimates support the hypothesis that Roseate Terns experience high mortality during the non-breeding season, when the ranges of the North American and Caribbean populations overlap. If so, management of this species only during the breeding season may do little to aid its recovery.
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