Experimental evidence for density-dependent survival in mallard Anas platyrhynchos ducklings

Gunnar Gunnarson, Johan Elmberg, Kjell Sjöberg, Hannu Pöysä, Petri Nummi

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    43 Citations (Scopus)


    It is unresolved to what extent waterfowl populations are regulated by density-dependent processes. By doing a 2-year crossover perturbation experiment on ten oligotrophic boreal lakes we addressed the hypothesis that breeding output is density dependent. Wing-clipped mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) hens were introduced with their own brood and then monitored for 24 days. Predicted responses were that per capita duckling and hen survival would be lower in high-density than in low-density treatments. Survival was evaluated by model fitting in program MARK. Density, year, and lake were used as main effects, while day after introduction, a weather harshness index, and presence of hens were covariates. Daily survival in ducklings was lower in the high-density treatment, but this effect was year dependent. The highest-ranking model for duckling survival also included a positive effect of duckling age and presence of hens, and a negative effect of harsh weather. Density did not affect female survival although there was a prominent year effect. The highest-ranking model for female survival also included negative effects of day after introduction and harsh weather. This is the first study to report density-dependent survival in experimentally introduced ducklings in a natural setting. Implications for population dynamics and management of harvested populations are far-reaching if such regulation occurs in some years, but not in others.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)203-213
    Number of pages10
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2006

    Swedish Standard Keywords

    • Biological Sciences (106)


    • Dabbling ducks
    • Duckling
    • Model
    • Population regulation
    • Waterfowl


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