We compared diets of lesser scaup (Aythya affinis (Eyton, 1838)) in the springs of 2000 and 2001 to those reported in the 1970s and the 1980s to determine whether forage quality has declined as predicted by the spring condition hypothesis. In Minnesota, we found that the current aggregate percentage of Amphipoda (an important food item) in lesser scaup diets was 94% lower than that reported from the same locations in the 1980s. Current mean individual prey mass of Amphipoda and Bivalvia in Minnesota were 86.6% and 85.1% lower than historical levels, respectively. In Manitoba, current aggregate percentages of Trichoptera and Chaoboridae in lesser scaup diets (1% and 0%, respectively) were lower than those reported from the same location in the 1970s (14% and 2%, respectively), whereas the percentage of Chironomidae (40%) was higher than that of historical levels (19%). Current mean individual prey mass of all insects, seeds, Chironomidae, and Zygoptera in Manitoba were 63.5%, 65.4%, 44.1%, and 44.9% lower than those of historical levels, respectively. The observed dietary shift from Amphipoda to less nutritious prey in Minnesota, coupled with lower mean individual prey mass in both locations, likely constitutes lower forage quality in lesser scaup diets, which is consistent with the spring condition hypothesis. ?? 2006 NRC.
Additional publication details
Diet shifts of lesser scaup are consistent with the spring condition hypothesis