The Mississippi Alluvial Valley (MAV) is the principal wintering area for mallards (Anas platyrhynchos ) in the Mississippi Flyway. Here the authors consider it a distinct habitat, i.e., fitness is relatively homogeneous among ducks within the MAV but different from that of ducks in other such habitats. They analyzed recovery distributions of mallards banded preseason (July-September 1950-1980) to test hypotheses concerning the effects of winter temperatures, precipitation, and population levels on mallard winter distribution. When two groups of years that comprised extremes of warm and cold winter weather were compared, recovery distributions of all four age and sex classes (adult males and females, young males and females) differed significantly; recoveries were located farther south in cold years. The authors concluded that temperature, water conditions, and population size affect the habitat suitability of mallard wintering areas and that mallards exhibit considerable flexibility in winter distribution associated with these factors.
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Factors affecting the distribution of mallards wintering in the Mississippi alluvial valley