Black Terns Chlidonias niger and their dietary problems in Dutch wetlands

A. Beintema, T. Baarspul, J.P. Krijger, K. Van Oers, Marek Keller

Research output: Contribution to journal/periodicalArticleScientificpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Black Terns Chlidonias niger have shown a decrease of well over 90% as a breeding bird in The Netherlands during the twentieth century. Two hypotheses have been put forward for this decline: the disappearance of the floating plant Water Soldier Stratiotes aloides, which used to be the favourite nesting substrate of the terns, and a decrease of available insect food for the chicks, notably dragonflies. Both effects are attributed to eutrophication of surface waters. Reproductive bottlenecks vary greatly among areas and habitats. In river landscapes, no signs of food shortage could be found, and loss of nesting substrate has been successfully compensated for by offering artificial nest rafts. Extremely low fledging success in moors and in lowland grasslands is caused by food problems. In this case, artificial rafts are less successful. With decreased insect availability, fish and earthworms have become more important in the chicks' diet, but these are less reliable as a food source. Fledging success greatly depends on the amount of fish in the diet. Also, a minimum amount of fish is always needed to cover the calcium need of the chicks. In north-eastern Poland, there were no problems with either nesting places or food for the chicks.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)365-372
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2010


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