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Keywords:

  • cavity-nesting ducks;
  • hardwood forests;
  • Midwest;
  • natural cavities;
  • wetlands

Abstract

Clearing of hardwood forests was widespread in the north central region of the United States at the turn of the 20th century, but largely subsided by the 1920s. Hardwood trees in the region have since regenerated and matured into sizes capable of producing nest cavities suitable for cavity-nesting ducks. We estimated regional nest-site abundance for cavity-nesting ducks during 2008, 2018, and 2028 from cavity density and tree-abundance estimates obtained at 4 hardwood forest sites in conjunction with Forest Inventory and Analysis data and tree-growth modeling software from the United States Forest Service (Forest Vegetation Simulator). Land cover data were used to determine area of hardwood forests ≤0.5 km, 0.5–1 km, 1–1.5 km, 1.5–2 km, and >2 km from wetlands and open water available to cavity-nesting ducks. We estimated 13.2 million, 17.0 million, 19.0 million, and 20.1 million potential duck nest cavities available ≤0.5 km, ≤1 km, ≤1.5 km, and ≤2 km of water, respectively, in the region and predicted nest cavity abundance will increase 41% from 2008 to 2028. Hardwood forests in Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin currently have the highest abundances of potential nest sites, but cavity-bearing forests in Minnesota, Michigan, and Wisconsin were more commonly proximate to wetlands and open water. Because current and future estimates indicate sufficient nest sites to support growing cavity-nesting duck populations in the north central United States, we recommend regional management efforts focus on protecting, restoring, and maintaining quality wetlands in proximity to hardwood forests. © 2011 The Wildlife Society.