Why conduct research on nesting success?
Nesting Success Research
To successfully manage duck populations, there are three key components that need to be considered. Those include 1) where the ducks are distributed or their density, 2) how well the ducks survive and reproduce or their demography, and 3) how habitat/landscapes influence the first two components. Fortunately, we have a wealth of information with respect to these three characteristics.
We know a great deal about how breeding ducks are distributed across breeding areas based on long-term surveys that have determined relationships between wetlands and breeding duck pairs. With this information, powerful spatial models have been constructed to identify the specific locations where the highest breeding duck densities exist across breeding areas.
However, understanding how habitat/landscape characteristics influence duck demographics has proved more challenging. Recent analysis of all aspects of ducks' life cycle, such as nesting rate, clutch size, nesting success, re-nesting rate, brood survival and female survival has identified nesting success as the most important factor influencing populations growth. Thus, understanding how nesting success is influenced by habitat and landscape factors is of critical importance for achieving success with conservation programs.
As a result, beginning in 2000 Ducks Unlimited designed research to identify key habitat/landscape factors that influence nesting success rates. Previous work had suggested that the amount of grassland was important so we designed our work to examine nesting success across a gradient of both amount of grassland and wetland densities. With this information, DU will be able to develop spatial models of nesting success which can be combined with the existing spatial models of duck breeding pair densities to target on the ground conservation programs where they can achieve the greatest benefits for the ducks.