Date of Award

1-1-2009

Degree Name

Master of Science

Department

Zoology

First Advisor

Eichholz, Michael

Abstract

I evaluated diet and food selection of 5 species of spring-migrating female waterfowl including 3 dabbling ducks (Blue-winged teal, Anas discors, Mallard, Anas platyrhynchos, Gadwall, Anas strepera) and 2 diving ducks (Lesser Scaup, Aythya affinis, and Ring-necked duck, Aythya collaris). Diet was evaluated with regards to the proportion of invertebrates and seeds consumed, and compared to forage availability data collected in habitats available to them at 6 study locations throughout the Upper Mississippi River and Great Lakes Region. I found latitude (i.e., stage of migration), longitude, food availability, and date all influenced the diet of spring migrating waterfowl, with some factors having a stronger influence than others. I observed differing diet trends with regard to foraging guild (e.g., dabbling and diving ducks), as each foraging guild was represented by 1 species that was heavily dependant on invertebrates (dabbling duck - Blue-winged teal; diving duck - Lesser scaup) and 1 species that was heavily dependant on seeds (dabbling duck - Mallard; diving duck - Ring-necked duck). The proportion of invertebrate foods in the diet increased throughout spring for all species of waterfowl, suggesting the importance of invertebrate food sources during spring staging. Data from this study provides valuable information to habitat managers and conservationists wishing to improve spring habitat conditions for migrating waterfowl, which likely influences waterfowl productivity.

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