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Keywords:

  • Anas platyrhynchos;
  • brood ecology;
  • Canada;
  • mallards;
  • Prairie-Parklands;
  • radiotelemetry;
  • wetland selection

ABSTRACT  Although brood survival has a pronounced effect on population growth in mallards (Anas platyrhynchos), knowledge of brood ecology is more limited than for other vital rates. During 1993–1997 we collected wetland selection data from 210 radiomarked mallard broods on 15 study areas located throughout the Canadian Prairie-Parklands. We used information-theoretic approaches to select the best-approximating model of habitat selection in relation to wetland characteristics. Wetland permanence, cover type, width of flooded emergent vegetation, and interactions between these variables and date, moisture level, and dominant species of emergent vegetation were all important predictors of wetland selection. Mallard broods selected deeper wetlands, especially later in the brood-rearing season. Mallard broods also selected wetlands with large central expanses of open water and wide peripheral zones of flooded emergent cover. These habitat characteristics can most easily be met in landscapes that already contain an abundance and diversity of natural wetland habitats. Where such wetlands are unavailable, restoration or management of deeper wetlands may be necessary to meet the habitat requirements of mallard ducklings.