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P.3-11: Nest Attendance in Boreal Ducks

Presented by Ryan Johnstone - Email: ryanphjohnstone@gmail.com

Incubation plays a crucial role in embryonic development and nest and parental survival in birds. Among most waterfowl species, only females incubate eggs and therefore face a tradeoff between self-maintenance and incubation. These patterns of nest attendance can influence the fitness of hens and their offspring. Greater attentiveness results in faster development rates and healthier, more capable offspring. Given the precocial disposition of waterfowl broods, their body condition at hatch is critical for survival. Several studies have investigated incubation patterns in waterfowl, though we are missing baseline information regarding the incubation investment and behaviour of boreal nesting ducks. This is critical, as the boreal forest is an important breeding ground. Additionally, few studies have investigated the potential influence of habitat conditions on nest attendance. We monitored nest attendance in seven ground-nesting species of waterfowl across a gradient of industrial disturbance in the western boreal forest of Alberta, Canada. We hypothesized that highly disturbed nesting habitats would result in longer, more frequent, incubation breaks. Incubation behaviour was measured using small temperature probes (iButton, Maxim Integrated) inserted into the bottom of the nest bowl. We then compared patterns of incubation to surrounding levels of disturbance to quantify the correlation between habitat disturbance and incubation sessions. Our findings will provide further insight into the hypothesis that industrial development effects ducks.
Session: Poster Session 1 (Tuesday, August 27, 19:00 to 21:00)