An important topic of waterfowl ecology concerns the relationship between the physiological condition of ducks during the nonbreeding season and fitness, i.e., survival and future reproductive success. We investigated this subject using direct band recovery records of mallards (Anas platyrhynchos) banded in autumn (1 Oct-15 Dec) 1981-83 in the Mississippi Alluvial Valley (MAV) [USA]. A condition index, weight (g)/wing length (mm), was calculated for each duck, and we tested whether condition of mallards at time of banding was related to their probability of recovery during the hunting season. In 3 years, 5,610 mallards were banded and there were 234 direct recoveries. Three binary regression model was used to test the relationship between recovery probability and condition. Likelihood-ratio tests were conducted to determine the most suitable model. For mallards banded in autumn there was a negative relationship between physical condition and the probability of recovery. Mallards in poor condition at the time of banding had a greater probability of being recovered during the hunting season. In general, this was true for all ages and sex classes; however, the strongest relationship occurred for adult males.
Additional publication details
Physiological condition of autumn-banded mallards and its relationship to hunting vulnerability