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Use of time-activity budgets to measure early progress of a social attraction restoration project

Kappes, Peter J., McChesney, Gerard J., Parker, Michael W., Carter, Harry R., Kress, Stephen W., Golightly, Richard T.
Biological conservation 2011 v.144 no.1 pp. 620-626
Uria, breeding, courtship, social environment, water birds, California
Social attraction is a useful technique for re-establishing or relocating waterbird colonies and other species groups. However, little information exists regarding how newly attending individuals behave when the social environment is influenced predominantly by artificial stimuli. To help assess early progress of colony re-establishment, we compared time-activity budgets of common murres (Uria aalge) at a social attraction site (Devil’s Slide Rock; DSR) in central California with two nearby reference colonies during the first 3years (1996–1998) of efforts. Murres at all colonies spent over 95% of their time engaged in resting, comfort, courtship, and alert activities during the pre-breeding period and over 88% of their time in similar activities during the breeding period. Although patterns were similar overall, comparisons of pooled and year-specific time budget data revealed significant differences between all three colonies, especially during pre-breeding. Murres at DSR typically engaged in comfort behaviors less frequently and in alert and courtship behaviors more frequently than reference colonies. Differences likely were due to recent re-establishment, including lower bird densities and higher proportions of non-breeders and first-time breeders at DSR, along with other factors such as disturbance. Results indicate that newly attracted birds at DSR behaved “normally” even though the social environment was influenced predominantly by artificial stimuli. Furthermore, re-established breeding in the first year of efforts, subsequent colony growth, and high productivity reflected successful restoration efforts. Thus, time-activity budgets can provide important measures of early progress of social attraction efforts and as such can be used to inform adaptive management decisions.