Importance of demographics and vital rates to cavity-nesting waterfowl in the lower Saint John River of New Brunswick, Canada

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University of New Brunswick


To assist management of cavity-nesting waterfowl in the lower Saint John River, New Brunswick, Canada area, I used historical nest box data, the Motus Wildlife tracking system, and band recovery data to create a population model using a population viability analysis (PVA). I discovered that reproduction (i.e., number of eggs hatched) was positively density-dependent for common goldeneye (Bucephala clangula), although no density-dependent effects were detected for wood ducks (Aix sponsa) or hooded mergansers (Lophodytes cucullatus). Survival estimates revealed that juvenile female wood duck survival was lower than that of any other age or sex class and appears to have decreased since the 1960’s. Finally, the PVA I created revealed similar results to a less-detailed previous model, although percent of females breeding for wood ducks appears to be more important than previously thought. Management should focus on improving hatching success and age 0-1 survival through the proper provisioning of nest boxes and habitat enhancements.