Studies of female waterfowl nutrient reserve use during egg production require a precise understanding of ovarian follicle dynamics to correctly interpret breeding status, and, therefore, derive proper inference. Concerns over numerical declines of North American scaup have increased the need to better understand the role of female condition in reproductive performance. We quantified ovarian follicle dynamics of female Greater Scaup (Aythya marila) breeding on the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, Alaska, using a method that accounts for within day variation in follicle size. We considered several models for describing changes in follicle growth with the best supported model estimating the duration of rapid follicle growth (RFG) to be 5.20 ?? 0.52 days (??95% confidence intervals) for each developing follicle. Average diameter and dry mass of preovulatory follicles were estimated to be 9.36 mm and 0.26 g, respectively, at the onset of RFG, and these follicle characteristics were 41.47 mm and 15.57 g, respectively, at ovulation. The average diameter of postovulatory follicles immediately following ovulation was estimated to be 17.35 mm, regressing quickly over several days. In addition, we derived predictive equations using diameter and dry mass to estimate the number of days before, and after, ovulation for pre- and postovulatory follicles, as well as an equation to estimate dry mass of damaged follicles. Our results allow precise definition of RFG and nest initiation dates, clutch size, and the daily energetic and nutritional demands of egg production at the individual level. This study provides the necessary foundation for additional work on Greater Scaup reproductive energetics and physiology, and offers an approach for quantifying ovarian follicle dynamics in other species. ?? 2007 The Author(s). Journal compilation ??2007 Association of Field Ornithologists.
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Ovarian follicle dynamics of female Greater Scaup during egg production