Our objective was to synthesize individual components of reproductive ecology into a single estimate of productivity and to assess the relative effects of survival and productivity on population dynamics. We used information on nesting ecology, renesting potential, and duckling survival of northern pintails (Anas acuta) collected on the Yukon-Kuskokvim Delta (Y-K Delta), Alaska, 1991-95, to model the number of ducklings produced under a range of nest success and duckling survival probabilities. Using average values of 25% nest success, 11% duckling survival, and 56% renesting probability from our study population, we calculated that all young in our population were produced by 13% of the breeding females, and that early-nesting females produced more young than later-nesting females. Further, we calculated, on average, that each female produced only 0.16 young females/nesting season. We combined these results with estimates of first-year and adult survival to examine the growth rate (??) of the population and the relative contributions of these demographic parameters to that growth rate. Contrary to aerial survey data, the population projection model suggests our study population is declining rapidly (?? = 0.6969). The relative effects on population growth rate were 0.1175 for reproductive success, 0.1175 for first-year survival, and 0.8825 for adult survival. Adult survival had the greatest influence on ?? for our population, and this conclusion was robust over a range of survival and productivity estimates. Given published estimates of annual survival for adult females (61%), our model suggested nest success and duckling survival need to increase to approximately 40% to achieve population stability. We discuss reasons for the apparent discrepancy in population trends between our model and aerial surveys in terms of bias in productivity and survival estimates.
Additional publication details
A model of northern pintail productivity and population growth rate