Pacific Science, Volume 64, Number 2, 2010

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    An Observation of Mating in Free-Ranging Blacktip Reef Sharks, Carcharhinus melanopterus.
    (Honolulu, University of Hawaii Press, 2010-04) McCauley, Douglas J. ; Papastamatiou, Yannis P. ; Young, Hillary S.
    We describe the mating behavior of free-ranging Blacktip Reef Sharks, Carcharhinus melanopterus, at Palmyra Atoll. This is the first primary report of mating in C. melanopterus and the first direct observation of mating for an obligate swimming shark species. Similar to that in other nonobligate swimming shark species, mating in C. melanopterus was characterized by multiple males following a single female, a male grabbing the female near the pectoral fin and positioning her head down on the bottom, and the insertion of a single clasper. Copulation lasted 68 sec, which is shorter than the durations recorded for most other shark species.
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    Characteristics of Coral Cay Soils at Coringa-Herald Coral Sea Islands, Australia.
    (Honolulu, University of Hawaii Press, 2010-04) Batianoff, George N. ; Naylor, Gillian C. ; Fensham, Rod J. ; Neldner, V. John
    Coral cay soil chemical and physical properties were described from Coringa-Herald National Nature Reserve, Australia. Soil A horizons under littoral herblands and Argusia argentea shrubs were shallow and coarse textured. Interior soil A horizons, particularly under Pisonia grandis closed forest, were deeper (1.2 m) with finer textures. Average surface soil pH values ranged from pH 8.76 at the seashores to pH 8.09 in the interior. Average surface soil organic carbon ranged from 2.4% to 4.8%; and phosphorus (Colwell-P) concentrations ranged from 467 mg/kg to 882 mg/kg within the interior areas. Chemical fertility of all A horizons increased from the seashore to the island interior. The higher fertility levels are attributed to high organic matter contributed by vegetation, combined with activities of seabirds, particularly the burrowing wedgetailed shearwater, Puffinis pacificus. Leaching of nutrients from surface soils is reflected in the rapid decline in soil fertility with depth. Deeper interior A horizons are interrupted by formation of an abrupt white C profile. It is speculated that the formation of this layer is the product of periodic ‘‘washing’’ by a seasonally high fresh/brackish water table.
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    Body Size, Growth, and Feather Mass of the Endangered Hawaiian Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus sandvicensis).
    (Honolulu, University of Hawaii Press, 2010-04) DesRochers David W. ; Silbernagle, Michael D. ; Nadig, Aaron ; Reed, J. Michael
    Body and feather mass data are important in avian studies and are required for determining things such as body condition and energetic carrying capacity. There are 12 subspecies of Common Moorhens (Gallinula chloropus), six continental and six island subspecies, of which two are endangered. Body mass data for multiple individuals are available for only three subspecies, and feather mass data have been reported for only one individual. Body mass (n ¼ 82) and feather mass (n ¼ 2) for adults and body mass for three subadult age classes (n ¼ 27) are provided for the Hawaiian subspecies of Common Moorhen (G. c. sandvicensis). Other body size measurements, including tarsus length, shield-bill length, shield width, and wing cord length also are presented. Adult Hawaiian Moorhen body mass averaged 350.7 g (G50.0 SD; range, 232–522; 95% CI, 339.8–361.6), and young birds appear to develop like young of G. c. chloropus and other Rallidae. Based on published data, G. c. sandvicensis is heavier than G. c. guami, female G. c. chloropus, and G. c. meridionalis; lighter than G. c. garmani and males of G. c. cachinnans; and similar in mass to G. c. cachinnans females, males of G. c. chloropus, and G. c. orientalis. There do not appear to be systematic differences in body mass between mainland (data for four subspecies) and island subspecies (data for three subspecies). Total mass of all feathers for two males was 16.2 and 12.1 g, which made up 3.1% and 3.8%, respectively, of their total body mass.
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    Prehistoric Birds from Rurutu, Austral Islands, East Polynesia.
    (Honolulu, University of Hawaii Press, 2010-04) Steadman, David W. ; Bollt, Robert
    We identify 70 bird bones from the Peva dune site, Rurutu, Austral Islands. These bones represent 10 species, dominated by the extant White-tailed Tropicbird, Phaethon lepturus; the nonnative chicken, Gallus gallus; and an undescribed species of extinct rail, Gallirallus sp. Two other species are extinct (the ground-doves Gallicolumba undescribed spp. 1 and 2). No species of Gallirallus or Gallicolumba has been recorded previously from the Austral Islands. All but three of the 70 bird bones are from the lowest cultural strata at Peva, which date from the thirteenth to early fifteenth century A.D. (the Archaic or Early East Polynesian cultural phase). The small set of bird bones from the Peva dune site increases the number of indigenous species of land birds known from Rurutu from three to six.
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    Breeding Avifauna of the Chesterfield Islands, Coral Sea: Current Population Sizes, Trends, and Threats.
    (Honolulu, University of Hawaii Press, 2010-04) Borsa, Philippe ; Pandolfi, Mireille ; Andrefouet, Serge ; Bretagnolle, Vincent
    This paper reports on post-1991 census data and on the breeding phenology of seabirds of the Chesterfield-Bampton and Bellona groups of coral islets in the Coral Sea. In total, 13 resident bird species were observed [Wedgetailed Shearwater (Puffinus pacificus), Masked Booby (S. dactylatra), Brown Booby (Sula leucogaster), Red-footed Booby (S. sula), Lesser Frigatebird (Fregata ariel ), Great Frigatebird (F. minor), Black Noddy (Anous minutus), Brown Noddy (A. stolidus), Crested Tern (Sterna bergii), Sooty Tern (S. fuscata), Fairy Tern (S. nereis), Black-naped Tern (S. sumatrana), and Buff-banded Rail (Gallirallus philippensis)]. Segregation for nesting habitat was similar to that previously observed on other coral-reef islets of the Coral Sea. Breeding periods were either in the winter (Masked and Red-footed Boobies, Frigatebirds, Fairy Tern) or in the summer (Wedge-tailed Shearwater, Black and Brown Noddies, Crested and Black-naped Terns) or year-round (Brown Booby). Sooty Terns bred twice a year (summer and spring), but this was not consistent across years. Estimates of breeding population sizes for the whole Chesterfield-Bampton and Bellona groups are proposed for Wedge-tailed Shearwater (90,000 to 106,000 breeding pairs), Masked Booby (280–500 pairs), Brown Booby (3,800–5,800 pairs), Redfooted Booby (7,200–7,300 pairs), Lesser Frigatebird (1,600 pairs), Great Frigatebird (350–480 pairs), Black Noddy (29,000–45,000 pairs), Brown Noddy (15,000–23,000 pairs), Crested Tern (80–100 pairs), Sooty Tern (11,000– 46,000 pairs), and Black-naped Tern (70–90 pairs). Interannual fluctuation in breeding population size was apparent in Wedge-tailed Shearwater. Over the last 30 yr, an increase in Brown Booby abundance was noted, whereas declines are suspected for the Fairy Tern and Buff-banded Rail. Among the threats to nesting seabirds are stress and other disturbances caused by human frequentation, including poaching of seabird chicks and introduced mice.