Nest predators commonly limit productivity of Least Tern (Sterna antillarum) breeding colonies in both natural and artificial habitats. In 2003 and 2004 we used remote still cameras aimed at model nests and remote video cameras aimed at occupied Least Tern nests to identify predators of Least Terns breeding at Gibson Lake, an artificial breeding area in southwestern Indiana, USA. At the primary breeding site, a narrow gravel dike that bisects Gibson Lake (center dike), Ring-billed Gulls (Larus delawarensis) were responsible for 100% and 75% of known predation events on model nests in 2003 and 2004, respectively. Throughout the 2004 breeding season, the proportion of model nests disturbed by Ring-billed Gulls on the center dike was strongly correlated with their numbers roosting on the center dike. We recorded predation by Ring-billed Gulls on six Least Tern chicks and two eggs in 2004 with remote video cameras. Our evaluation of the predator community at Gibson Lake strongly implicated Ring-billed Gulls as a major source of mortality for breeding Least Terns.
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Vol. 28 • No. 4