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Florida Mottled Duck Research Project

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Background

Genetically distinct from mottled ducks found in Texas and Louisiana, the Florida Mottled Duck is a unique subspecies found only on the peninsula of Florida. The 30,000 to 40,000 birds that comprise the Florida breeding population are most commonly found on small prairie wetlands, flood plain marshes of the St. Johns and Kissimmee rivers, and coastal impoundments. Florida’s landscape within these areas has experienced drastic changes over the years with much of the dry land acreage being modified for agriculture or urban use. Mottled duck use of habitats over their annual cycle and their ability to adapt to these changes on the landscape are not well understood, making it difficult to effectively focus conservation efforts.

In response to this issue, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission is investigating the habitat use, movements, and survival of female mottled ducks. This information will aid in focusing conservation efforts where they will be most effective.

Objectives

The primary objectives of the Florida Mottled Duck study are to:

  • Quantify seasonal habitat use patterns of mottled ducks.
  • Describe/characterize, in detail, wetlands used heavily by dabbling ducks
  • Compare heavily used wetlands to random and AHRES wetlands to identify wetland characteristics that influence use by dabbling ducks.
  • Determine if surface water availability influences habitat use, movement, and survival patterns of mottled ducks.
  • Determine annual and season-specific survival rates for mottled ducks, and whether they differ by year, season and catch location (rural versus urban areas).
  • Identify causes of female mortality and determine if they differ by year, season, and catch location.
  • Determine relative importance of hunting mortality to annual survival of mottled ducks.
  • Determine home ranges of females and the influence of year, season, and catch location on movements.
  • Describe nesting and brood-rearing sites and identify characteristics that influence nest fate and female survival.
  • Determine if nest and female success differs between years and catch location.

Funding partners

Funding or logistic support for the Florida Mottled Duck Study was provided by the following:

  • Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
  • Ducks Unlimited Inc.
  • University of Florida Veterinary School
  • South Florida Water Management District
  • USDA Wildlife Services

More information on the study

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