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Lesser Scaup - A Multi-Partner Research Project

Chronology and Rates of Migratory Movements, Migration Corridors and Habitats Used, and Breeding and Wintering Area Affiliations of Female Lesser Scaup Captured during Spring Stop-over on Pool 19 of the Mississippi River – A Pilot Study

Lowell Washburn, IA DNR

The continental scaup population has declined markedly since 1978.  Annual population estimates of scaup have been below the population goal of the North American Waterfowl Management Plan since 1985 and reached an all-time low in 2006. Several major factors have been hypothesized as causing the scaup population decline including: (1) decreased quality and quantity of food resources on winter and spring migration stopover areas, (2) accumulation of contaminants, and (3) climate and habitat changes on boreal forest breeding areas, all of which may be directly or indirectly affecting female survival or recruitment. 

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Accordingly, we are conducting a pilot study with the major objective of documenting spring migration corridors and migratory flight parameters of radio-marked females, in order to estimate the proportion of time individuals of varying body mass spend on identified wetlands within the upper-Midwest and prairie Canada during spring. If after departing the upper-Midwest, females do spend large amounts of time in prairie Canada before moving on to more northerly breeding areas, then future research of forage conditions and whether or not females are able to regain body condition in prairie Canada would be needed. Given the theoretical battery life of the satellite radios, we will collect information on several secondary objectives, such as fall migration corridors and affiliations of breeding and wintering areas of females. We will use the pilot study to determine whether a larger study is feasible to rigorously answer the questions of interest, and whether additional funding for such a study can be secured. Finally, we will trap and band as many lesser scaup at Pool 19 as possible, which will allow us to randomly select females of various body mass for radio-marking, but also will provide opportunity for direct estimates of harvest rate and survival, using new band analysis techniques.

For additional information on the Lesser Scaup study, visit these links:

Bre Bergman 2007


Objectives and Study Area


Project Timeline


Literature Cited

Principal Investigator:

Alan D. Afton
Assistant Leader-Wildlife and Adjunct Professor
USGS-Louisiana Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Unit
Louisiana State University
Baton Rouge, LA 70803
Office: (225) 578-4212
Fax: (225) 578-4227
E-mail: AAfton@lsu.edu



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