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Early growth of Roseate Tern (Sterna dougallii) chicks is a strong predictor of chick survival and hence of productivity. We developed discriminant functions to predict chick survival from body-masses measured during the first 3 days of life. Productivity is estimated by assuming that almost all A-chicks (first-hatched in each brood) survive to fledging, and using the discriminant functions to predict survival of B-chicks (second-hatched in each brood). A relation between survival rates and classification rates is derived, allowing discriminant function results to be used in predicting survival rates. In the absence of predation, the resulting estimates of chick survival and productivity are almost as good as those obtained by more intensive methods, but require much less effort and much less disturbance. This approach might be useful for other seabird species in which chick survival is determined primarily by parental performance.
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Predicting chick survival and productivity of Roseate Terns from data on early growth