Comparative reproductive parameters of sympatric Lesser Scaup (Aythya affinis) and Ring-necked Duck (Aythya collaris) in parkland Manitoba
Keywords:Lesser Scaup, Ring-necked Duck, productivity, hatching dates, brood size, duckling survival, Manitoba.
Waterfowl managers are concerned that Lesser Scaup (Aythya affinis) breeding populations remain below conservation goals. Contrasting population growth trajectories for sympatric, phylogenetically similar Lesser Scaup and Ring-necked Duck (Aythya collaris) at Erickson, Manitoba, Canada, prompted investigations that might help explain these trends and provide insight for population management of both species. We collected data (2008–2018) on productivity (broods/pair), water levels, hatching dates, age class-specific brood sizes, duckling daily survival rate, and brood female response to disturbance and compared results between species over time. Ring-necked Duck productivity was greater (0.42 versus 0.28, P < 0.01), hatching dates were earlier (19 July versus 27 July, P < 0.001), and females attempted to hide their broods more often than did Lesser Scaup (16% versus 3%, P < 0.001), but Ring-necked Duck age class-specific brood sizes were smaller than for Lesser Scaup (Ia broods: 6.1 versus 6.8, P = 0.02; IIa broods: 5.6 versus 6.2, P = 0.02). Duckling daily survival rates were similar. Productivity of both species was positively related to annual change in pond water level and both demonstrated similar rates of response to change. There was no support for an association between productivity and one- or two-year lagged pond water levels. Consistent with previous findings, our results suggest that greater Ring-necked Duck productivity is a likely proximate cause for the differing population growth trajectories between the species. We suggest that better Ring-necked Duck nest placement may be a contributing factor to the greater nest success observed.
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