The role of nutrient reserves for clutch formation by Northern Pintails in Alaska

The Condor
By:  and 



We analyzed carcass composition of female Northern Pintails (Anas acuta) in Alaska to assess the importance of nutrient reserves for formation of first clutches (n = 85) and renests (n = 39). Habitat (tundra vs. boreal forest), hen age (yearling vs. adult), and year (1990 vs. 1991) did not affect nutrient reserve use. During formation of first clutches, Northern Pintail hens relied on lipid reserves more than any other duck species that has been studied. For much of the nesting season, lipid reserves were used to meet costs beyond those incurred by clutch formation. Date of initiation of rapid follicle growth was related to lipid reserve dynamics; lipid reserves at initiation and the rate of lipid use both declined through the season. Protein reserves declined slightly with commitment of protein to the clutch and with date of initiation of rapid follicle growth. Use of mineral reserves for first nests was negligible. Renesting females did not use nutrient reserves. Lipid reserve levels were positively related to the amount of lipid reserves needed to complete the clutch and clutch sizes predicted from a lipid dynamics model were consistent with known clutch sizes. Similar relationships did not exist for protein. We suggest that lipid reserve levels affect timing of nesting and proximately limit clutch size of Northern Pintails.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title The role of nutrient reserves for clutch formation by Northern Pintails in Alaska
Series title The Condor
DOI 10.2307/1369325
Volume 96
Issue 2
Year Published 1994
Language English
Publisher Cooper Ornithological Society
Contributing office(s) Alaska Science Center, Alaska Science Center Biology MFEB, Coop Res Unit Atlanta
Description 11 p.
First page 422
Last page 432
Country United States
State Alaska
Other Geospatial Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge, Yukon Flats National Wildlife Refuge