Evaluation of aerial transects for counting winter mallards

Journal of Wildlife Management
By: , and 



Winter waterfowl surveys rarely use sampling methods, and little is known about the precision and biases of their population estimates. Consequently, we developed aerial transect surveys (n=5) in 4 strata comprising 16 substrata in the lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley during winters 1987-88 through 1989-90 to estimate mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) population indices and determine regional patterns of habitat use. Mallard population indices ranged from 1,147,628 (SE=192,341) in December 1988 to 1,790,708 (SE=179,406) in January 1988. Coefficients of variation (CV's) for early winter surveys averaged 0.15 and those for late winter surveys averaged 0.10. During early winter, 59-69% of mallards were on wetlands with water regimes managed for waterfowl; whereas in late winter, 52-79% used wetlands with unmanaged water regimes. Late winter was wet during 1987-88 and 1988-89, and most mallards (62-68%) were on naturally flooded croplands. Use of forested wetlands (3-11%) and moist-soil habitats (3-29%) varied among surveys but was not correlated with water conditions. The number of mallards using naturally flooded croplands (e.g., >1,100,000 in Jan 1988) illustrated the extent of habitat use on private lands. We recommend transect surveys (e.g., 5-yr intervals) for evaluating responses of mallard populations to management programs and as a sampling framework for integrating regional waterfowl research and management data.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Evaluation of aerial transects for counting winter mallards
Series title Journal of Wildlife Management
Volume 56
Issue 3
Year Published 1992
Language English
Contributing office(s) Patuxent Wildlife Research Center
Description 515-525
Larger Work Type Article
Larger Work Subtype Journal Article
Larger Work Title Journal of Wildlife Management
First page 515
Last page 525