Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: South Carolina
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

South Carolina Project

Seabird Productivity in Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge

January 2009 - December 2010


Participating Agencies

  • Challenge Cost Share, USFWS

CRNWR is one of the most important areas for beach-nesting birds in SC. Marsh Island and White Banks support a diverse array of seabird species and are 2 of only 5 large seabird sanctuaries in the State. Additionally, CRNWR has tern and skimmer nesting on the barrier island beaches of Lighthouse Island, Cape Island and Raccoon Key. During the past 5 years, these barrier islands are often the only barrier islands in SC that support seabird nesting. In 2007, these beaches supported 56% of SC’s black skimmers. Although least terns nest on roof tops and artificial sites, 75% of the least terns that nested on beaches in SC, nested in CRNWR. Although nest counts document the importance of CRNWR for seabird nesting, observations by SCDNR and CRNWR staff in the past 3 years suggest that reproductive success on the barrier islands in CRNWR is very low. Seabirds often abandon nest sites shortly after egg laying and fledglings are not observed. The goal of this project is to monitor seabird nesting on Cape Island, Lighthouse Island and Raccoon Key to document reproductive success and help identify causes of colony abandonment and nest loss.

Research Publications Publication Date
Brooks, G.L., F.J. Sanders, P.D. Gerard, P.G.R. Jodice. 2013. Predation and flooding reduce nesting success of Least Terns at natural nest sites in South Carolina. Waterbirds 36:1-10. | Download January 2013
Brooks, G.L.*, F.J. Sanders, P.D. Gerard, and P.G.R. Jodice. Daily survival rates for nests of Black Skimmers from a core breeding area of the Southeastern USA. Wilson Journal of Ornithology 126:443-450. | Abstract | Download July 2014
Theses and Dissertations Publication Date
Brooks, G. 2011. Reproductive Success of Black Skimmers and Least Terns. MS Thesis, Clemson University. June 2011