Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Michigan
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Veon, J.T., D.G. Krementz, L.W. Naylor, B.A. DeGregorio. 2023. Effects of landscape composition on winter mallard (Anas platyrhnchos) body condition in Eastern Arkansas. Journal of Wildlife Management


Overwintering waterfowl with a higher body condition index are thought to be more likely to survive the winter and have increased productivity during the following breeding season. Body condition index in waterfowl should reflect the resources available to them locally. Here, we analyze the relationship of landscape composition on mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) body condition using a mass by wing length index (BCI) within the Lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley of Arkansas. We measured hunter-harvested mallards during the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 duck hunting seasons. We found that mallards collected from areas with high proportions of water cover, woody wetlands, and open water within a 30-km radius had higher BCI. Conversely, we found that mallards collected from areas with higher proportions of herbaceous wetlands or human disturbance had lower BCI. Management actions focused on maintaining water levels for waterfowl to access food resources, while providing ample habitat that allows for resting, loafing, and other life cycle events free of human disturbance, will most likely increase BCI in mallards wintering in the Lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley.