Occupancy Patterns of Breeding American Black Ducks

Journal of Wildlife Management
By: , and 



Occupancy patterns can assist with the determination of habitat limitation during breeding or wintering periods and can help guide population and habitat management efforts. American black ducks (Anas rubripes; black ducks) are thought to be limited by habitat and food availability during the winter, but breeding sites may also limit the size or growth potential of the population. The Canadian Wildlife Service conducts an annual breeding waterfowl survey that we used to explore the hypothesis that black duck carrying capacity is limited by wetlands available for breeding in Québec, Canada. We applied single‐visit, multi‐species occupancy models to the 1990–2015 population survey data to determine if there was evidence the black duck population was limited by breeding habitat. Using a dynamic (multi‐season) occupancy modeling approach, we estimated latent occupancy (occupancy accounting for imperfect detection) of black ducks and then used latent occupancy estimates to derive occupancy, colonization, and extirpation rates. We jointly modeled the occupancy dynamics of black ducks and other duck species in wetlands where both species were present. Throughout the duration of the survey, 44% of wetlands were never observed to be occupied by black ducks. Occupancy models showed wetland size was positively associated with occupancy at the first time step (initial occupancy) and colonization. All 2‐species models indicated initial black duck occupancy, persistence (continued occupancy), and colonization were positively associated with the presence of a second species. Colonization rate over the 26‐year period ranged from 7% to 27% across all models. Extirpation rates were similar and were constant through time within each model. Low occupancy rates, combined with approximately equal colonization and extirpation rates, suggest there are available wetlands for breeding black ducks in their core breeding area. If breeding habitats are not saturated, this suggests migration or wintering areas may be more limiting to black duck population abundance. 

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Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Occupancy Patterns of Breeding American Black Ducks
Series title Journal of Wildlife Management
DOI 10.1002/jwmg.21775
Volume 84
Issue 1
Year Published 2020
Language English
Publisher Wildlife Society
Contributing office(s) Patuxent Wildlife Research Center
Description 11 p.
First page 150
Last page 160
Country Canada
State Ontario, Quebec
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