We studied Mallards (Arias platyrhynchos) nesting in artificial nesting structures in northeastern North Dakota and compared clutch size between landscapes where proportion of cropland was either high (mean = 68.9%, cropland landscapes) or low (mean = 30.2%, grassland landscapes). Mallard clutch size was significantly related to nest initiation date and landscape composition. Mean clutch size, controlled for nest initiation date, was 1.24 ?? 0.33 SE eggs smaller on cropland landscapes than on grassland landscapes. Generality of this pattern across space, time, and type of nesting sites is unknown, as is causation. Demographic importance of variation in clutch size may be influenced by covariation with other demographic variables, such as nest success and abundance of breeding pairs, which also are negatively correlated with landscape proportion of cropland. We suggest that researchers examine relationships between clutch size and landscape composition in both structure-nesting and ground-nesting Mallards, in other geographic areas, and in other duck species.
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Does Mallard clutch size vary with landscape composition?