Longevity and migration distance differ between wild and hand-reared mallards Anas platyrhynchos in Northern Europe

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The mallard Anas platyrhynchos is the world’s most widespread and numerous dabbling duck. It is also farmed and released to the wild by the millions each year, but the effects of this on wild populations remain little studied. By using historical national ringing–recovery data from Sweden and Finland, we here address three predictions based on previous studies: (1) longevity is higher in wild than in hand-reared mallards, (2) wild mallards migrate longer than hand-reared, and (3) migration distance in wild ducks surviving long enough to start fall migration has decreased over the last 50 years. Indeed, wild mallards lived longer than hand-reared (19 versus 9 months in Swedish birds and 13 versus 4 months in Finnish birds). Compared to wild mallards, a smaller proportion of hand-reared birds survived long enough to have the chance to enter the wild breeding population; less than 25 % of the Swedish birds and less than 10 % of the Finnish birds lived a year or longer. Wild birds migrated farther than hand-reared (mean distance in Swedish birds, 676 versus 523 km; in Finnish birds, 1,213 versus 157 km), a pattern caused by both shorter life span and lower migration speed in hand-reared birds. Mean migration distance in wild Swedish mallards was 787 km in 1947–1972 but 591 km in 1977–1993. This difference was not statistically significant, though, possibly due to the limited sample size and lack of data from the last two decades. In general, our study provides a conservative test of the predictions addressed, calling for more research about the consequences of restocking duck populations.

Sidor (från-till)150-166
Antal sidor16
TidskriftEuropean Journal of Wildlife Research
StatusPublicerad - 2013

Nationell ämneskategori

  • Zoologi (10608)


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