Winter Distribution of Dabbling Ducks

Factors influencing autumn-winter distribution of dabbling ducks in the Atlantic, Mississippi, and Central Flyways of North America

Primary Investigator:
Lena Vanden Elsen, M.Sc. Candidate

Supervisors:
Dr. Scott Petrie, Long Point Waterfowl Executive Director
Dr. Michael Schummer, Long Point Waterfowl Scientist
Dr. Chris Guglielmo, Western University

Changes in climate can influence availability of habitat resources necessary to sustain wildlife populations and cause shifts in ranges as animals attempt to match resource needs with availability. In migratory birds evidence suggests northward latitudinal shifts in distribution during winter for a variety of species in North America.

Lena’s project will involve using methodology behind the Weather Severity Index (WSI) developed for Mallards and created by Long Point Waterfowl scientist Dr. Michael Schummer to investigate species-specific WSIs for additional dabbling ducks.

Lena began her M.Sc. in May 2012 and her research will determine which species autumn-winter migrations are determined by factors such as: photoperiod or weather (e.g., temperature, snow cover, or a combination of these factors). Species-specific WSIs will then be modeled with climate change scenarios such as those in development for Mallards (Fig. 1) to predict future distributions of various dabbling duck species.

Being able to determine current and future distributions of dabbling duck species will be beneficial for ecologists and wildlife managers in identifying which dabbling duck species will be susceptible to seasonal mismatch and which species will remain spatially linked to resources.

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