Ecology of breeding blue-winged teal (Anas discors) was studied on the Waubay Study Area in Day County, South Dakota, in 1965 and 1966. Breeding pair use of the wetland habitat and importance of Type 1 ponds in the wetland complex were evaluated. Changes in breeding pair densities and wetland habitat conditions on the study area were compared for the 16-year period, 1950-66.Blue-winged teal pair densities of 30.7 and 33.0 per square mile in 1965 and 1966, respectively, were above the 16-year average from 1950 to 1966 and near the maximum for this period. Blue-winged teal comprised 46.7 per cent of the waterfowl breeding population in 1965 and 51.7 per cent in 1966. Number of water areas per square mile through mid-spring 1965 was comparable to the average for the 16-year period, whereas during late spring 1965 and throughout the 1966 spring breeding seasons the number of water areas increased to near optimum conditions.Annual breeding-pair densities from 1950 to 1966 appeared to be largely influenced by water conditions, and pair-density fluctuations resulted from changes in number of wet ponds from late April through mid-May. Variations in water conditions after this period did not appear to have as great an effect on numbers of breeding teal.Use of wetland habitat by pairs changed throughout the spring breeding seasons. During the post-arrival period, teal congregated on larger wetlands. With onset of egg-laying, pairs dispersed into ponds throughout the wetland complex to establish breeding home ranges. Other factors that influenced changes in habitat use included: 1) pond type and size, 2) breeding cycle phenology, 3) availability of wet ponds, and 4) land use. Number of blue-winged teal pairs per unit area of water was highest in 1965 and 1966 on Type 1B ponds, followed in decreasing order by Types 3, 1A, and 4 and 5. Greater use of Type 1B ponds was probably related to larger ratio of edge or shore line to unit area of water. Interspersion of many small wetlands throughout the breeding habitat provided for maximum pair dispersal during egg-laying and early incubation stages of the reproductive cycle.
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Ecological relationships of breeding blue-winged teal to prairie potholes