Thinking like a duck: Fall lake use and movement patterns of juvenile ring-necked ducks before migration

Charlotte L. Roy, John Fieberg, Christopher Scharenbroich, Christine M. Herwig

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The post-fledging period is one of the least studied portions of the annual cycle in waterfowl. Yet, recruitment into the breeding population requires that young birds have sufficient resources to survive this period. We used radio-telemetry and generalized estimating equations to examine support for four hypotheses regarding the drivers of landscape scale habitat use and movements made by juvenile ring-necked ducks between the pre-fledging period and departure for migration. Our response variables included the probability of movement, distances moved, and use of different lake types: brood-rearing lakes, staging lakes, and lakes with low potential for disturbance. Birds increased their use of staging areas and lakes with low potential for disturbance (i.e., without houses or boat accesses, >100 m from roads, or big lakes with areas where birds could sit undisturbed) throughout the fall, but these changes began before the start of the hunting season and their trajectory was not changed by the onset of hunting. Males and females moved similar distances and had similar probabilities of movements each week. However, females were more likely than males to use brood-rearing lakes later in the fall. Our findings suggest juvenile ring-necked ducks require different lake types throughout the fall, and managing solely for breeding habitat will be insufficient for meeting needs during the post-fledging period. Maintaining areas with low potential for disturbance and areas suitable for staging will ensure that ring-necked ducks have access to habitat throughout the fall.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere88597
JournalPloS one
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 14 2014


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