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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2000

Individual foraging behaviour indicates resource limitation: an experiment with mallard ducklings

Nummi P, Sjoberg K, Poysa H, Elmberg J


The linkage between individual behaviour and population processes has recently been emphasized. Within this framework we studied the effect of resource limitation on the behaviour of mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) ducklings in boreal lakes. One group of 12 human-imprinted ducklings (4-16 days old) were taken to 11 "rich" lakes, i.e., with a relatively high concentration of total phosphorus in the water, and the other group of 12 ducklings to 11 "poor" lakes to forage for a period of 6 h. During this, a time budget study lasting 5 min was done of each of the 12 ducklings. In the rich lakes, ducklings fed significantly more and moved less than in the poor ones. This difference was particularly striking in above-surface feeding. Variation in foraging performance was associated with change in body mass of the ducklings: the less distance the ducklings moved and the more they fed above water, the more they gained mass. Earlier results had suggested that at least some of the boreal wetlands that lack duck broods year after year (70% of the total in one study) do so because they do not harbour enough food. Hence, it is possible that mallard populations are resource-limited at the brood stage during the breeding season

Published in

Canadian Journal of Zoology
2000, volume: 78, number: 11, pages: 1891-1895

Authors' information

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Animal Ecology
Elmberg, Johan
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Animal Ecology
Pöysä, Hannu

UKÄ Subject classification

Environmental Sciences related to Agriculture and Land-use

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