Radiotransmitters attached externally to breeding waterfowl can have a variety of negative effects. Implanted transmitters can reduce potential deleterious effects; abdominal implants are used most commonly in waterfowl. Methods also have been developed to implant transmitters subcutaneously, but effects of subcutaneous implants on adult ducks have not been evaluated. In this study, we subcutaneously implanted radiotransmitters in pre-laying female wood ducks (Aix sponsa, n = 62) and compared nest initiation date, incubation behavior, body mass, and annual return rates of radiomarked females to a group of females that were not radiomarked. Ninety-six percent (50 of 52) of radiomarked females that were monitored for the entire breeding season initiated nests. Nesting date of radiomarked adult females did not differ from that of adult females without radios, but radiomarked yearling females nested earlier than yearlings not receiving transmitters. We found no differences in early- and late-incubation body mass, incubation constancy, recess frequency, and incubation period between radiomarked females and those without radios. Annual return rates of females that initiated nests did not differ between radiomarked females and those not receiving radios. Data suggest that implanting radiotransmitters subcutaneously in pre-laying female wood ducks did not negatively impact subsequent reproduction, incubation behavior, and survival.
Additional publication details
Effects of subcutaneous transmitters on reproduction, incubation behavior, and annual return rates of female wood ducks