The southern portion of New Zealand's South Island is a productive area for mallards (Anas platyrhynchos) despite a notable lack of permanent or semi-permanent wetlands. Most broods are reared in pastures that may or may not be flooded with ephemeral water. In recent years, there has been an increased conversion from continuous to sporadic grazing that has resulted in a functional change in the emergent and upland vegetation available for broods. In 2014, we investigated mallard duckling survival on different pastures relative to a suite of characteristics pertaining to the adult female, clutch, brood, weather, and habitat. We monitored 438 ducklings from 50 radio-marked females to 30 days post-hatch. Duckling survival was unaffected by pasture type but increased with duckling age, the presence of ephemeral water, and with greater distance from the nearest anthropogenic structure. Survival was lower for broods of second year (SY) females than for broods of after-second year (ASY) females, in areas with more dense cover, and when ducklings moved, on average, greater daily distances. Cumulative 30-day duckling survival ranged from 0.11 for ducklings of SY females without ephemeral water present to 0.46 for ducklings of ASY females with ephemeral water present. Therefore, increasing available seasonal water sources may increase duckling survival. Further, narrow, linear patches of dense cover present in our study could support a greater abundance of predators or increase their foraging efficiency. As such, managers could consider increasing patch sizes of dense cover to reduce predator efficiency, and employing predator removal in these areas to improve duckling survival.
Additional publication details
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Title||Duckling survival of mallards in Southland, New Zealand|
|Series title||Journal of Wildlife Management|
|Contributing office(s)||Alaska Science Center Biology WTEB|