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Keywords:

  • Anas platyrhynchos;
  • broods;
  • duckling survival;
  • habitat management;
  • habitat use;
  • landscape composition;
  • mallard;
  • Prairie Pothole Region;
  • wetland

Abstract

Despite recent work, uncertainty remains concerning how abiotic and biotic factors affect duckling survival. Additionally, upland habitat characteristics may affect duckling survival rates but this potential relationship has largely been ignored. We evaluated several unresolved hypotheses about causes of mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) duckling survival variation, with an emphasis on assessing effects of managed and remnant natural upland habitats. During 1993–2000, 617 radio-marked females provided information about brood habitat use and duckling survival on 27 sites in prairie Canada. We contrasted a priori and exploratory models that incorporated effects of upland, wetland, weather, female, and brood-related variables on duckling survival rates. Survival was highest for ducklings when a greater proportion of their surrounding landscape (i.e., within a 500-m radius buffer around the brood) was comprised of wetlands characterized by a central expanse of open water and a peripheral ring of flooded emergent vegetation. Cold and wet weather in the first week of life resulted in lower duckling survival. In a post hoc analysis, duckling survival (of older ducklings) was negatively related to increasing proportions of managed hayland. © 2011 The Wildlife Society.