Radio telemetry and diurnal time activity budgets were used to show that wintering Lesser Scaup (Aythya affinis) used different habitats for comfort and feeding activities at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge (Merritt Island), Florida and adjacent estuarine areas. Management should take this spatial consideration into account. The same data were used to determine if habitat use differed between sexes. Data on movements and home range were used to evaluate habitat quality and potential effects of human disturbance. Scaup foraged more in impounded wetlands and rested more in open estuarine regions. Mean distance between diurnal and nocturnal sites was 2.7 km (SE ?? 0.3), and was similar between sexes and from mid to late winter. Male and female fixed kernel home ranges and core use areas did not differ. Mean fixed kernel 95% home range and 50% core use areas were 15.1 km2 (SE ?? 2.0) and 2.7 km2 (SE ?? 0.5) respectively, representing 3% and 0.5% of surveyed habitats. Males and females used habitats similarly and short distances traveled between diurnal and nocturnal sites suggested that habitat conditions were similar across the impounded wetlands and shallow portions of both the Indian River and Banana River. Sedentary or short movements suggested that disturbance was probably negligible at the principal areas used by Lesser Scaup. Habitat management strategies for scaup should not be restricted to Merritt Island. Adjustments should be made to take into account that maintenance activities occur in adjacent estuarine areas as well.
Additional publication details
Habitat use, movements and home range of wintering Lesser Scaup in Florida