Duck nesting and production were studied during 1969-74 on a 51-ha field of undisturbed grass-legume cover and a surrounding 8.13-km2 area in north-central South Dakota. The principal mammalian predators of ducks were reduced within a 259-km2 zone from May 1969 through August 1971. Dabbling duck nest densities, hatching success, and breeding populations attained high levels. Seven duck species produced 1,062 nests on the 51-ha field during 6 years, 864 (81%) hatched, 146 (14%) were destroyed, and 52 (5%) had other fates. During 1970-72, when predator reduction was most effective, the hatching success for 756 nests was 94%. The number of mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) nests increased from 37 (0.7/ha) in 1969 to 181 (3.5/ha) in 1972. Mallard pairs increased from 2.8/km2 to 16.8/km2 on the 8.13-km2 area during the same period. A minimum of 7,250 ducklings hatched on the 51-ha field during the 6 years, including 2,342 ducklings in 1972. Exceptionally high duck nesting densities and hatching rates occurred when predators were controlled.
Additional publication details
High duck nesting success in a predator-reduced environment