Least Tern Populations in Coastal New Jersey: Monitoring and Management of a Regionally-Endangered Species
Keywords:Coastal, Atlantic birds, Sterna
Least tern Sterna antillarum is endangered in New Jersey and New York and is being considered for the U. S. Federal List as threatened along the Atlantic Coast. Like many coastal, ground-nearing species, it has suffered habitat losses, increased predation, and increased human disturbance with increased human population. This paper presents an overview of ten years of monitoring and managing of least terns in New Jersey under the auspices of the Endangered and Non-Game Species Program of New Jersey. The program involves monitoring population levels and reproductive success, protecting colonies from people and predators, manipulating vegetation and habitat, and actively attracting least terns with decoys. In successive years a trend has indicated increased population levels, and reproductive success, and decreased and then increased number of colonies. During this time, monitoring and managing efforts have increased, suggesting that they are effective in very slowly restoring population levels.