Body Condition Index of Overwintering Mallards in Arkansas
August 2019 - May 2022
- Ducks Unlimited
- Arkansas Game and Fish Commission
- Harry and Jo Leggett Fellowship
Many waterfowl species spend the winter in the southern United States before migrating north to breeding grounds in the spring. During the harsh winter, these birds must maintain or gain weight in order to successfully attain mates, migrate north, and immediately initiate reproduction. Body mass should directly be linked to food availability and environmental conditions. Working with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and Ducks Unlimited, graduate student John Veon, former unit leader David Krementz and I are using newly collected data in conjunction with historic data from the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s to examine how mallard body mass varies across time. We will then examine how fine scale environmental variables (precipitation and temperature) influence body mass. Finally, we will relate body mass of hunter collected ducks with the surrounding land management practices to examine how waterfowl management practices are effecting waterfowl body mass and health. These results should be directly applicable to the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission's management efforts to increase food availability for this economically important species.