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Tuesday, February 7 • 10:40am - 11:00am
Symposia Session - S5: Playa Wetland Ecology. Anatid Forage Preferences, Habitat Use and Distribution Patterns During Spring Migration in the Rainwater Basin, Nebraska

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AUTHORS: Jeff Drahota, Dustin Casady, Mery Casady - U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

ABSTRACT: We evaluated ingested items of ducks feeding in Rainwater Basin wetlands for 6 different duck species (n=471) that are locally abundant during spring migration.  Ingested items were identified to genus and weighed. The most frequently consumed items were wetland-derived seeds (73.7 ± 1.8% aggregate mass).  Invertebrates consumed infrequently with only 1.4% aggregate mass consumed by all ducks. PRE seed mass available for all wetlands sampled was 635.6 ± 58.8 kg/ha.  Removed seed mass (POST migration) correlated to the amount of mass available (r2 = 0.605, P = 0.0001) prior to spring migration. Mean seed abundance across wetlands sampled was 3.14 ± 0.39 seeds/cm2. The most abundant seeds found were annual smartweeds (23.8%) and sedges (21.1%). The numbers of seeds removed was also correlated to the number of seeds available (r2 = 0.320, P = 0.0007) and the mean number of seeds removed from all wetlands available (ponding depth >0.5 - 2. Significantly more seeds were removed (Z = -4.33, P = 0.0001) from annual stands (  = 3.83 ± 0.54 seeds/cm2) than from perennial stands (  = 0.69 ± 0.48 seeds/cm2). Duck body condition did not influence dietary preference for any species or either sex (n=220 hens and 251 males) within species. Ducks appear to focus on the most efficient foraging habitats (many seeds available) during spring stopover. Wetland management is used to increase wetland-derived energy available for waterfowl creating efficient foraging patches yet many wetlands never pond water during spring migration.  We recommend future conservation delivery programs focus on implementing wetland restoration practices that increase ponding frequency during spring migration so that more energy is available to waterfowl that will provide more opportunities to forage efficiently, and therefore support population objectives identified in the North American Waterfowl Management Plan.

Tuesday February 7, 2017 10:40am - 11:00am
Yankee Hill I/II

Attendees (2)