University of Missouri2014-08-29 6:39 PM

The role of protected area wetlands in waterfowl habitat conservation: Implications for protected area network design


The principal goal of protected area networks is biodiversity preservation, but efficacy of such networks is directly linked to animal movement within and outside area boundaries. We examined wetland selection patterns of mallards (Anas platyrhynchos) during non-breeding periods from 2010 to 2012 to evaluate the utility of protected areas to migratory waterfowl in North America. We tracked 33 adult females using global positioning system (GPS) satellite transmitters and implemented a use-availability resource selection design to examine mallard use of wetlands under varying degrees of protection. Specifically, we examined effects of proximities to National Wildlife Refuges, private land, state wildlife management areas, Wetland Reserve Program easements (WRP), and waterfowl sanctuaries on mallard wetland selection. In addition, we included landscape-level variables that measured areas of sanctuary and WRP within the surrounding landscape of each used and available wetland. We developed 8 wetland selection models according to season (autumn migration, winter, spring migration), hunting season (present, absent), and time period (diurnal, nocturnal). Model averaged parameter estimates indicated wetland selection patterns varied across seasons and time periods, but ducks consistently selected wetlands with greater areas of sanctuary and WRP in the surrounding landscape. Consequently, WRP has the potential to supplement protected area networks in the midcontinent region. Additionally, seasonal variation in wetland selection patterns indicated considering the effects of habitat management and anthropogenic disturbances on migratory waterfowl during the non-breeding period is essential in designing protected area networks.

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