Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual study: Control taste aversion using methiocarb-treated eggs is likely to reduce predation of roseate tern Sterna dougallii eggs by yellow-legged gulls Larus michahellis but not starlings Sturnus vulgaris, Vila Islet, Azores archipelago, Portugal

Published source details

Neves V.C., Panagiotakopoulos S. & Furness R.W. (2006) A control taste aversion experiment on predators of roseate tern (Sterna dougallii) eggs. European Journal of Wildlife Research, 52, 259-264

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Use aversive conditioning to reduce nest predation by avian predators Bird Conservation

A replicated before-and-after study on Vila Islet, Azores, Portugal, in 2003 (Neves et al. 2006), found that the number of methiocarb-treated domestic quails’ Coturnix coturnix eggs (11.25 mg methiocarb/egg) predated by yellow-legged gulls Larus michahellis from artificial tern nests in a mixed common tern Sterna hirundo and roseate tern S. dougalli colony, over six days was significantly lower than the number of untreated eggs taken in the previous three days (2.5 treated eggs predated/day vs. 10.6 untreated eggs predated/day). Once terns started laying, treated eggs were placed in 18 artificial nests at the colony and replaced if predated. No gulls were observed removing eggs over 13 days, but European starlings Sturnus vulgaris took both treated eggs and tern eggs. Predation of treated eggs declined over time, but there was no corresponding decline in predation on genuine tern eggs (days 1-6: 13% of tern eggs and 9.3% of treated eggs predated; days 7-13: methiocarb concentration increased to 22.5 mg/egg, 12.3% of tern eggs predated vs. 5.6% of treated eggs).