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Chronology and Rates of Migratory Movements, Migration Corridors and Habitats Used, and Breeding and Wintering Area Affiliations of Female Lesser Scaup Stopping-over on Pool 19 of the Mississippi River in Spring Some Preliminary Results from a Pilot Study. A Multi-Partner Research Project.

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a multi partner research project

Chronology and Rates of Migratory Movements, Migration Corridors and Habitats Used, and Breeding and Wintering Area Affiliations of Female Lesser Scaup Stopping-over on Pool 19 of the Mississippi River in SpringSome Preliminary Resultsfrom a Pilot Study

A Multi-Partner Research Project

Photo by Fred Greenslade

study partners
  • Upper Mississippi River and Great Lakes Joint Venture
  • Prairie Pothole Joint Venture
  • U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Region 3
  • Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
  • USGS-Louisiana Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit
  • Louisiana State University
  • Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries
  • University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine
  • USGS-Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
  • Iowa Department of Natural Resources
  • Illinois Department of Natural Resources
  • Ducks Unlimited Inc.
  • North Dakota Game and Fish Department
  • Long Point Waterfowl and Wetlands Research Fund
  • Kibbe Research Station of Western Illinois University
  • Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources
  • Missouri Department of Conservation
  • Des Moines County Conservation Board
  • Louisa County Conservation Board
  • Tri Oak Foods
  • Mississippi Valley Calling Association
major hypotheses for scaup population decline
Major Hypotheses for Scaup Population Decline:
  • Decreased quality and quantity of food resources on winter and spring migration areas (H1)
  • Accumulation of contaminants (H2)
  • Climate and habitat changes on boreal forest breeding areas (H3)
hypotheses for scaup population decline
Hypotheses for Scaup Population Decline:
  • All 3 major hypotheses may be directly or indirectly affecting female survival or recruitment
  • Hunting probably has not been a factor in the population decline, given low harvest rates and a recent band analysis that found no relationship between harvest rates and annual survival probabilities since the 1950s (Nicolai et al. 2006)
  • H1 has been formalized as the Spring Condition Hypothesis and is a focus of this Pilot Study
this pilot study
This Pilot Study:
  • Is a follow up to previous research of scaup on Pool 19 (by Mike Anteau and Al Afton at LSU).
  • They previously color-marked scaup on Pool 19 in 2004 (spray paint) and 2005 (nasal saddles), but obtained too few re-sightings of marked birds to answer research questions of interest
  • Thus, satellite radios were tested in a sample of females in spring 2007
objective 1

Objective 1:

Document migration corridors and affiliations to breeding and wintering areas of females stopping-over on Pool 19 during spring

- To help identify and prioritize regions and areas for habitat conservation and management

- To provide new information concerning the links and importance of Pool 19 to females utilizing various breeding and wintering areas in North America

objective 2

Objective 2:

Document migration chronology and estimate rate of movement (km/day) and flight distances (km) from Pool 19 to individual breeding sites

- Further test the Spring Condition Hypothesis as a potential cause of the scaup population decline

- Determine relative importance of stopover areas in the Upper-Midwest for accumulation of nutrient reserves used for breeding

objective 3

Objective 3:

Identify specific lakes and large wetlands used by migrating females after departure from Pool 19

To allow subsequent quantitative analyses of habitat use across a large landscape

- To provide guidance to managers for acquisition, protection, and management of important migration habitats in the Upper-Midwest

objective 4

Objective 4:

Band a large sample (>2000) of lesser scaup

To support and encourage subsequent annual operational bandings on Pool 19

- To provide opportunity for direct estimates of harvest rate and survival using new band analysis techniques (Nicolai et al. 2006)

capture methods


Funnel opening below water level

Capture Methods:
  • We used dive-in traps developed by IL DNR personnel
capture methods11
Capture Methods:
  • Traps were checked/emptied 2 to 3 times a day
    • Mid morning
    • Afternoon
    • Just before dark
bird handling
Bird Handling:
  • Scaup were placed in holding pens
bird handling13
Bird Handling:
  • Leg Banded
bird handling14
Bird Handling:
  • Body mass was recorded
implantation of ptts
Implantation of PTTs
  • Surgeries by Dr. Mark Mitchell, U of IL
  • We banded, weighed, and released 2482 Lesser Scaup in March 2007
  • 309 females and 2173 males
  • We recaptured and released 6 male lesser scaup that were banded and nasal-saddled on Pool 19 in March 2005
  • We recaptured and released 196 lesser scaup that had been banded during this pilot study
  • No foreign recaptures
17 females implanted with ptts
17 Females Implanted with PTTs
  • 14 females subsequently migrated from Pool 19
  • 2 females died on Pool 19 (3 and 27 days after release)
  • 1 female’s PTT failed on Pool 19
14 females migrated from pool 19
14 Females Migrated from Pool 19
  • 12 (86%) took a northwesterly overland tract
  • 2 (14%) took a northerly tract
  • 11 females arrived on breeding sites
  • 3 females died in migration (40, 45 and 52 days after release)
  • 3 females died after arrival on breeding sites (78, 82 and 163 days after release)
  • 2 females’ PTTs failed after arrival on breeding sites
  • 6 females remain alive for monitoring during fall migration
bluebill tracker on du website

Bluebill Tracker on DU Website: