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B.3-3: Northern Pintail Duckling Survival in Agricultural Landscapes and Benefits of Fall-Seeded Cereals

Presented by David Johns - Email: david.johns@usask.ca

Northern pintail populations continue to remain below management objectives despite favorable habitat conditions in the Prairie Pothole Region; a result of low reproductive success due to agricultural intensification and higher nest predation in modified upland habitats. Fall-seeded cereal crops such as winter wheat are promoted to increase nest success in cropland-dominated landscapes; however, the benefits of higher nesting success in fall-seeded crops may be lost if duckling survival in cropland-dominated landscapes is reduced. We compared pintail duckling survival rates across 12 study sites within southern Saskatchewan across a landscape gradient and examined the influences of perennial cover and winter wheat on duckling survival rates in agricultural landscapes. A total of 87 broods provided survival estimates over two years. Cumulative duckling survival rates in grassland-dominated landscapes were almost twice that of agricultural areas, where survival rates were similar between fall-seeded cropland and perennial cover and double the estimates of spring-seeded uplands. At local scales, the abundance and configuration of wetlands and amount of perennial cover had positive effects on duckling survival. Results from this study highlight the gains in pintail productivity that may result from enhanced deployment of fall-seeded crops into areas with suitable brood-rearing habitats.
Session: Threat Mitigation (Tuesday, August 27, 13:20 to 15:00)