Abundance and Habitat Selection of Breeding Scoters (Melanitta spp.) in Ontario’s Hudson Bay Lowlands
Keywords:Black Scoter, Melanitta americana, Surf Scoter, Melanitta perspicillata, White-winged Scoter, Melanitta fusca, density estimate, habitat selection, resource selection function, Hudson Bay Lowland, Hudson Bay Lowlands, Ontario
AbstractConcern about declining populations of sea ducks counted on the wintering grounds prompted a survey of sea ducks on the breeding grounds in the Hudson Bay Lowlands of Ontario in spring 2009. We estimated densities of breeding scoters (Surf Scoter, Melanitta perspicillata, White-winged Scoter, M. fusca, and Black Scoter, M. americana) and found the average estimates of Surf Scoters (average = 0.11 indicated pairs/km2) and Black Scoters (average = 0.16 indicated pairs/km2) to be as high as some of the highest reported for North America. We also conducted a habitat association analysis using resource selection functions (RSF) for indicated pairs of all scoter species combined at a scale of 250 m. Breeding pairs of scoters in the Hudson Bay Lowlands appear to have an affinity for smaller wetlands (≤100 ha) disproportionate to what is available, also avoiding lakes (i.e., wetlands >100 ha). Pairs were also found in areas with less forest cover and fen area than was available. An estimate of the area under the curve of the receiver operating characteristic suggests that these habitat association models have some utility. Once tested and validated with surveys beyond the current study area, these models can be refined and used to predict habitat use by breeding pairs of scoters in the Hudson Bay Lowlands; this information will be particularly useful for population estimation and land use planning.
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