Habitat loss due to human development is a threat to colonial waterbird species, which require nesting habitat in proximity to productive aquatic foraging areas to ensure reproductive success. When development of habitat occurs, waterbirds must either tolerate the changes or relocate nesting colonies to habitat elsewhere. Land cover and nesting colony data were used to study the implications of development for the Pacific Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias fannini). Colonies were closer to major foraging areas than expected by chance, but were not farther from human development than expected by chance, suggesting that Pacific Great Blue Herons will tolerate some development to remain close to major foraging areas. There was no relationship between distance to human development and colony productivity; however, distance to major foraging area was a significant predictor of productivity, which suggests Pacific Great Blue Herons may prioritize proximity to foraging areas because it is critical for reproductive success. Given their demonstrated preference for proximity to foraging areas, and high levels of development near these areas, relocation away from human development may not be an option for nesting Pacific Great Blue Herons in south coastal British Columbia, Canada, because potential nesting habitat availability was most restricted within 5 km of major foraging areas. Future management strategies for this species, and colonial waterbirds in general, should prioritize conservation of nesting habitat near major foraging areas to maximize future reproductive success.
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Vol. 39 • No. 2