Body-mass, survival, and pairing consequences of winter-diet restriction in wood ducks

Journal of Wildlife Management
By: , and 


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We conducted feeding experiments with captive, wild-strain wood ducks (Aix sponsa) during winters 1990-91 and 1991-92 to test effects of increasing levels of food restriction on body mass dynamics, mortality, and pair formation. Male and female wood ducks fed restricted diets (i.e., 5, 10, 15, or 20% less food [g] than consumed on the previous day by a control group fed ad libitum) weighed less (P ??? 0.037) than birds fed ad libitum; those on 15 and 20% restricted diets weighed least. Increased mortality and decreased pair formation occurred only within the 20% restricted group (P ??? 0.049). We concluded that food restriction ranging between 15 and 20% of ad libitum intake may signify a threshold above which survival and reproduction of captive wood ducks may be impaired. Because energy costs of free living are greater than in captivity, a lower threshold may exist for wild wood ducks. Research is needed to validate the threshold theory for free-ranging wood ducks and other waterfowl, and to evaluate its potential application for conservation of winter foraging habitat. Conservation of bottomland hardwood ecosystems, which provide important foraging habitat for migrating and wintering wood ducks, should be encouraged to prevent potential negative effects on wood duck life-cycle events.
Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Body-mass, survival, and pairing consequences of winter-diet restriction in wood ducks
Series title Journal of Wildlife Management
Volume 61
Issue 3
Year Published 1997
Language English
Larger Work Type Article
Larger Work Subtype Journal Article
Larger Work Title Journal of Wildlife Management
First page 822
Last page 832
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