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Landscape-level correlates of mallard duckling survival: Implications for conservation programs

Authors

  • Pauline M. Bloom,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Biology, University of Saskatchewan, 112 Science Place, Saskatoon, SK, Canada S7N 5E2
    Current affiliation:
    1. Institute for Wetland and Waterfowl Research, Ducks Unlimited Canada, Box 1160, Stonewall, MB, R0C 2Z0, Canada.
    • Department of Biology, University of Saskatchewan, 112 Science Place, Saskatoon, SK, Canada S7N 5E2.
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  • Robert G. Clark,

    1. Department of Biology, University of Saskatchewan, 112 Science Place, Saskatoon, SK, Canada S7N 5E2
    2. Environment Canada, Prairie & Northern Wildlife Research Center, 115 Perimeter Road, Saskatoon, SK, Canada S7N 0X4
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  • David W. Howerter,

    1. Institute for Wetland and Waterfowl Research, Ducks Unlimited Canada, Box 1160, Stonewall, MB, Canada R0C 2Z0
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  • Llwellyn M. Armstrong

    1. Institute for Wetland and Waterfowl Research, Ducks Unlimited Canada, Box 1160, Stonewall, MB, Canada R0C 2Z0
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  • Associate Editor: Michael Eichholz.

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.

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