New York Natural Heritage Program
Roseate Tern
Sterna dougallii Montagu, 1813

Habitat [-]
Roseate Terns nest almost exclusively on islands where predation pressure may be lower than on mainland sites. The largerst colony occupies a rocky island with smaller colonies also occuring on barrier beach islands and saltmarsh islands. Colonies are often located close to shallow-water locations for fishing (Gochfeld et al. 1998). Nest sites occur most oftern in dense grass or under boulders and occasionally in more open sites (Jones 1906, Bull 1964, Hays and Pessino 1970, Gochfeld et al. 1998). They can nest on a variety of substrates including sand, shell, rock, and vegetation.

Associated Ecological Communities [-]
  • Brackish interdunal swales
    Temporarily tidally flooded temperate marshes in interdunal swales dominated by salt-tolerant graminoids. Individual swales occur as small patches positioned between fore-, primary and secondary dunes in a maritime dunes system, typically on barrier islands.
  • High salt marsh
    A coastal marsh community that occurs in sheltered areas of the seacoast, in a zone extending from mean high tide up to the limit of spring tides. It is periodically flooded by spring tides and flood tides. High salt marshes typically consist of a mosaic of patches that are mostly dominated by a single graminoid species.
  • Low salt marsh
    A coastal marsh community that occurs in sheltered areas of the seacoast, in a zone extending from mean high tide down to mean sea level or to about 2 m (6 ft) below mean high tide. It is regularly flooded by semidiurnal tides. The mean tidal range of low salt marshes on Long Island is about 80 cm, and they often form in basins with a depth of 1.6 m or greater.
  • Maritime beach
    A community with extremely sparse vegetation that occurs on unstable sand, gravel, or cobble ocean shores above mean high tide, where the shore is modified by storm waves and wind erosion.
  • Maritime dunes
    A community dominated by grasses and low shrubs that occurs on active and stabilized dunes along the Atlantic coast. The composition and structure of the vegetation is variable depending on stability of the dunes, amounts of sand deposition and erosion, and distance from the ocean.
  • Salt panne*
    A shallow depression in a salt marsh where the marsh is poorly drained. Pannes occur in both low and high salt marshes. Pannes in low salt marshes usually lack vegetation, and the substrate is a soft, silty mud. Pannes in a high salt marsh are irregularly flooded by spring tides or flood tides, but the water does not drain into tidal creeks. After a panne has been flooded the standing water evaporates and the salinity of the soil water is raised well above the salinity of sea-water.

    * probable association but not confirmed

Associated Species [-]
  • Common Tern (Sterna hirundo)