Volume 45, No. 2

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Foraging behaviour of the Lesser Noddy Anous tenuirostris melanops from the eastern Indian Ocean: insights from micro-geologging


1Halfmoon Biosciences, 45 Heather Road, Ocean Beach, WA 6333, Australia (
2Spatial Awareness, PO Box 690, Denmark, WA 6333, Australia


SURMAN, C.A., NICHOLSON, L.W. & AYLING, S. 2017. Foraging behaviour of the Lesser Noddy Anous tenuirostris melanops from the eastern Indian Ocean: insights from micro-geologging. Marine Ornithology 45: 123 - 128

Received 14 January 2017, accepted 11 March 2017

Date Published: 2017/10/15
Date Online: 2017/06/13
Key words: geologging, GPS, Houtman Abrolhos, Lesser Noddy, tropical seabird, Indian Ocean


We present the first tracking data of the foraging behaviour of a small tern, the 100 g Lesser Noddy Anous tenuirostris from the eastern Indian Ocean. Using small geologging devices (hereafter GPS), the 17 individuals tracked foraged 4.8–112 km from Pelsaert Island, Houtman Abrolhos, Western Australia. All tracking devices were recovered, and all the tracked individuals continued to breed normally. The mean trip distance was 79.5 km (standard error [SE] 9.8 km), with a mean trip length of 5 h 39 min (SE 39 min), at a mean travel speed of 12.6 km/h (SE 0.6 km/h). In the summer, breeding Lesser Noddies foraged diurnally from 04h00 to 20h40, returning to their colony at night. Individuals tracked in November spent significantly more time foraging and commuted further afield than those tracked in December. Lesser Noddies foraged in the west-southwest sector from the main colonies on Pelsaert Island. The Lesser Noddy at Pelsaert Island is the lightest seabird (104 g) tracked to date using GPS devices. Monitoring of noddies before and after tracking, in conjunction with rapid device attachment, deployment and recovery, indicated that these lightweight GPSs provided a successful tracking device for small seabirds.


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