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Movements, Home-Range Size and Habitat Selection of Mallards during Autumn Migration
Linnaeus University, Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, Department of Biology and Environmental Science.
Linnaeus University, Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, Department of Biology and Environmental Science.
Kristianstad University.
Kristianstad University.
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2014 (English)In: PLoS ONE, ISSN 1932-6203, E-ISSN 1932-6203, Vol. 9, no 6, e100764Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) is a focal species in game management, epidemiology and ornithology, but comparably little research has focused on the ecology of the migration seasons. We studied habitat use, time-budgets, home-range sizes, habitat selection, and movements based on spatial data collected with GPS devices attached to wild mallards trapped at an autumn stopover site in the Northwest European flyway. Sixteen individuals (13 males, 3 females) were followed for 15-38 days in October to December 2010. Forty-nine percent (SD = 8.4%) of the ducks' total time, and 85% of the day-time (SD = 28.3%), was spent at sheltered reefs and bays on the coast. Two ducks used ponds, rather than coast, as day-roosts instead. Mallards spent most of the night (76% of total time, SD = 15.8%) on wetlands, mainly on alvar steppe, or in various flooded areas (e.g. coastal meadows). Crop fields with maize were also selectively utilized. Movements between roosting and foraging areas mainly took place at dawn and dusk, and the home-ranges observed in our study are among the largest ever documented for mallards (mean = 6,859 ha; SD = 5,872 ha). This study provides insights into relatively unknown aspects of mallard ecology. The fact that autumn-staging migratory mallards have a well-developed diel activity pattern tightly linked to the use of specific habitats has implications for wetland management, hunting and conservation, as well as for the epidemiology of diseases shared between wildlife and domestic animals.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014. Vol. 9, no 6, e100764
National Category
Ecology
Research subject
Ecology, Zoonotic Ecology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-36835DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0100764ISI: 000338512200058Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-84903532165OAI: oai:DiVA.org:lnu-36835DiVA: diva2:745471
Available from: 2014-09-10 Created: 2014-09-10 Last updated: 2017-12-05Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Stopover Ecology of Mallards: Where, when and how to do what?
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Stopover Ecology of Mallards: Where, when and how to do what?
2016 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) is the most numerous and widespread duck in the northern hemisphere and a model species in ecology and harvest management. Migration is a crucial life stage for many birds and understanding the drivers of migration has important implications for conservation biology and assessment of animal population responses to global changes. Furthermore, mallard migration is a fundamental determinant of the epidemiology of many diseases of major relevance for both animal and human health. For example, it is the reservoir host for influenza A viruses (IAV), a widespread zoonosis causing mortality and economic damage. Improved knowledge of mallard behaviour during migration and the impacts of infection in mallards is needed to determine the role of wild birds in global IAV dynamics.

This thesis focuses on mallard stopover ecology, an explicitly important part of the annual life cycle that is not well understood. The study area was southern Öland, SE Sweden, where mallard stopover behaviour was scrutinized by a combination of telemetry and ringing data analyses. Specifically, habitat preferences, movements, and emigration decisions were studied in-depth. Potential effects of low pathogenic avian influenza (LPAIV) infection on movement parameters were also investigated. Radio-tracking revealed that stopover mallards adhered to a strict diel pattern, in which they spent the days resting along the coast, visited crop fields at dawn and dusk, and foraged on inland water bodies during the darkest night hours. Notably, the importance of residual maize, as well as small ephemeral wetlands on the unique alvar steppe habitat that predominates on Öland, was previously unknown. LPAIV infection status did not affect movement behaviour, highlighting the possible risk of spread of IAV from wild mallards to poultry along the migratory flyway. Through capture-mark-recapture modelling, it was confirmed that weather, particularly wind direction, was the most important determinant of departure from the stopover site. In contrast, the body condition of departing mallards was less crucial. Taken together, the research presented in this thesis contributes to improved knowledge about mallard stopover ecology and its role in LPAIV disease dynamics.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Växjö: Linnaeus University Press, 2016
Series
Linnaeus University Dissertations, 242/2016
Keyword
Age characters, body condition, departure decision, effects of influenza A virus, habitat selection, mallard, movement, Ottenby Bird Observatory, stopover ecology, weather, wild birds
National Category
Ecology
Research subject
Natural Science, Ecology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-49801 (URN)978-91-88357-00-7 (ISBN)
Public defence
2016-03-11, Fullriggaren, Landgången 4, Kalmar, 09:30 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2016-02-18 Created: 2016-02-16 Last updated: 2017-04-19Bibliographically approved

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