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Condition indices are commonly used in an attempt to link body condition of birds to ecological variables of interest, including demographic attributes such as survival and reproduction. Most indices are based on body mass adjusted for structural body size, calculated as simple ratios or residuals from regressions. However, condition indices are often applied without confirming their predictive value (i.e., without being validated against measured values of fat and protein), which we term ‘unverified’ use. We evaluated the ability of a number of unverified indices frequently found in the literature to predict absolute and proportional levels of fat and protein across five species of waterfowl. Among indices we considered,...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: Journal of Avian Biology
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Movement ecology and demographic parameters for the Common Merganser (Mergus merganser americanus) in North America are poorly known. We used band-recovery data from five locations across North America spanning the years 1938-1998 to examine migratory patterns and estimate survival rates. We examined competing time-invariant, age-graduated models with program MARK to study sources of variation in survival and reporting probability. We considered age, sex, geographic location, and the use of nasal saddles on hatching year birds at one location as possible sources of variation. Year-of-banding was included as a covariate in a post-hoc analysis. We found that migratory tendency, defined as the average distance between...
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We seeded experimental plots with number 4 lead pellets and sampled these plots for 10 years to assess the settlement rate of pellets in tundra wetland types commonly used by foraging waterfowl. After 10 years, about 10% of pellets remained within 6 cm of the surface, but >50% remained within 10 cm. We predict that spent lead pellets will eventually become unavailable to waterfowl; however, it will likely require >25 years for all pellets to exceed depths at which waterfowl species may forage.
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Populations of Steller's eiders (Polysticta stelleri) molting and wintering along the Alaska Peninsula have declined since the 1960's. We captured and marked a large sample of Steller's eiders molting in 2 lagoons along the Alaska Peninsula between 1975-97. We used mark-recapture analysis techniques to estimate annual survival and movement probabilities within and among lagoons for male and female eiders. Estimates of annual survival (±SE) were 0.899 ± 0.032 for females and 0.765 ± 0.044 for males. Both sexes showed high rates of fidelity to specific molting locations (>95%) within lagoons; yet we found no evidence that annual probability of survival differed among groups molting in different locations either within...
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We coupled intensive population monitoring with collection of blood samples from 383 nesting Pacific common eiders (Somateria mollisima v-nigrum) at two locations in Alaska (USA) from 2002 to 2004. We investigated annual, geographic, and within-season variation in blood concentrations of lead and selenium; compared exposure patterns with sympatrically nesting spectacled eiders (Somateria fischeri); and examined relationships with clutch size, egg viability, probability of hatching, and apparent survival of adult females. Lead concentrations were elevated in 3.6% of females, and all individuals exhibited elevated selenium, most (81%) at concentrations associated with death in captive waterfowl. Blood lead and selenium...
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Spectacled eider (Somateria fischeri) populations on the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta (Y-K Delta), Alaska, declined rapidly through the 1980s, and low adult female survival was suggested as the likely cause of the decline. We used mark-resighting techniques to study annual survival rates of adult female spectacled eiders at 2 sites on the Y-K Delta during 1993-96. Our data suggest survival rates may differ among sites. However, a model fit to a subset of data on females for which we knew lead levels in blood suggests lead exposure influences survival. Adult females exposed to lead prior to hatching their eggs survived at a much lower rate (0.44 ?? 0.10) each year than females not exposed to lead before hatch (0.78 ?? 0.05)....
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From 2006 to 2009, we marked 198 Northern Pintails (Anas acuta) with satellite transmitters on their wintering areas in Japan to study their migration routes and habitat use in spring staging areas. We hypothesized that the distribution of pintails during spring staging was influenced by patterns of land use and expected that the most frequently used areas would have more agricultural habitat than lesser-used areas. We obtained 3031 daily locations from 163 migrant pintails marked with satellite transmitters and identified 524 stopover sites. Based on a fixed kernel home range analysis of stopover utilization distribution (UD), core staging areas (areas within the 50% UD) were identified in northern Honshu and western...
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Recent declines in black brant (Branta bernicla nigricans) are likely the result of low recruitment. In geese, recruitment is strongly affected by habitat conditions experienced by broods because gosling growth rates are indicative of forage conditions during brood rearing and strongly influence future survival and productivity. In 2006–2008, we studied gosling growth at 3 of the 4 major colonies on the Yukon‐Kuskokwim Delta, Alaska. Estimates of age‐adjusted gosling mass at the 2 southern colonies (approx. 30% of the world population of breeding black brant) was low (gosling mass at 30.5 days ranged 346.7 ± 42.5 g to 627.1 ± 15.9 g) in comparison to a third colony (gosling mass at 30.5 days ranged 640.0 ± 8.3 g...
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Studies of female waterfowl nutrient reserve use during egg production require a precise understanding of ovarian follicle dynamics to correctly interpret breeding status, and, therefore, derive proper inference. Concerns over numerical declines of North American scaup have increased the need to better understand the role of female condition in reproductive performance. We quantified ovarian follicle dynamics of female Greater Scaup (Aythya marila) breeding on the Yukon–Kuskokwim Delta, Alaska, using a method that accounts for within day variation in follicle size. We considered several models for describing changes in follicle growth with the best supported model estimating the duration of rapid follicle growth...
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Populations of Pacific common eiders (Somateria mollissima v-nigrum) breeding in Alaska, USA, have declined markedly over the past 40 years. We studied survival of adult female Pacific common eiders using capture—recapture of nesting hens at 3 sites on the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta (YKD), Alaska from 1994 to 2004. We used data consisting of 268 recapture events from 361 uniquely marked individuals to investigate temporal, geographic, and environmental variation in adult female survival. Our results suggest apparent annual survival of adult eiders from the YKD was high (0.892, SE = 0.022) and spatially and temporally invariant (σ2 = 0.005), a pattern consistent with other long-lived marine birds. Moreover, our results...
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Survival of young is an important and poorly understood component of waterfowl productivity. We estimated survival of black brant (Branta bernicla nigricans) goslings during summers 1987-89 on the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, Alaska, to determine timing and magnitude of gosling mortality and to compare methods of estimating gosling survival. Eighty-two percent of radio-tagged adult females (n = 61) fledged ≥1 gosling (brood success). We estimated survival of goslings within broods by 3 methods: (1) changes in mean brood size through time, (2) observation of goslings associated with marked adults, and (3) age ratios of brant captured in banding drives. Estimates of gosling survival within successful broods averaged 81%...
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We studied relationships between body size of female Black Brant goslings (Branta bernicla nigricans) late in their growth period and first year survival, eventual adult body size, breeding propensity, and size and volume of clutches they eventually produced to examine the relationship between growth and fitness in this population. We indexed body size by calculating PC1 scores based on either culmen and tarsus, or culmen, tarsus, and mass. Gosling (PC scores based on culmen and tarsus) size was positively correlated with resighting rate (P = 0.005), indicating that larger goslings survived at a higher rate than did smaller goslings. Gosling size was correlated with adult size of the same individuals (P = 0.0004)....
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: Ecology
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Previous studies of waterfowl have measured nest attendance and nest temperature separately using a variety of methods. A device was developed that monitors nest attendance and temperature simultaneously. The device consists of an artificial egg with a microswitch that records nest attendance and a thermistor probe that records temperature. Data are stored in a single-channel data logger. The device described measures the length of incubation breaks, and nest cooling and warming rates.
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Populations of greater scaup (Aythya marila) remained relatively stable during a period when populations of lesser scaup (A. affinis) have declined from historic levels. To assist in describing these differences in population trends, from 1991 through 2000, we studied the survival, nesting ecology, and productivity of greater scaup on the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta (Y-K Delta), Alaska, to develop a model of population dynamics. We located nests, radio-marked females for renesting studies, estimated duckling survival, and leg-banded females to examine nest site fidelity and annual survival. Greater scaup initiated egg laying later than other species, and most clutches (>80%) were initiated over 20 days each year. We located...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: Wildlife Monographs
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Arctic geese nest in a highly seasonal environment in which ungrazed plants reach peak nitrogen concentrations when goslings hatch (Sedinger and Raveling 1986). Grazing by geese prolongs peak nutrient concentrations but reduces food availability. This should cause nutrient availability to decline seasonally. Here, we test the hypothesis that late-hatching goslings of Black Brant (Branta bernicla nigricans) grow more slowly than those hatching early. We substracted the sizes of wild goslings from those of captive-reared goslings of the same age and regressed the differences against hatch date. Differences between wild- and captive-reared goslings for body mass, tarsus length, and culmen length were significantly...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: Ecology
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In Alaska, sea ducks winter in coastal habitats at remote, non-industrialized areas, as well as in proximity to human communities and industrial activity. We evaluated prevalence and characteristics of Escherichia coli strains in faecal samples of Steller's eiders (Polysticta stelleri; n = 122) and harlequin ducks (Histrionicus histrionicus; n = 21) at an industrialized site and Steller's eiders (n = 48) at a reference site, and compared these strains with those isolated from water samples from near-shore habitats of ducks. The overall prevalence of E. coli was 16% and 67% in Steller's eiders and harlequin ducks, respectively, at the industrialized study site, and 2% in Steller's eiders at the reference site. Based...
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Although continental populations of avian influenza viruses are genetically distinct, transcontinental reassortment in low pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI) viruses has been detected in migratory birds. Thus, genomic analyses of LPAI viruses could serve as an approach to prioritize species and regions targeted by North American surveillance activities for foreign origin highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI). To assess the applicability of this approach, we conducted a phylogenetic and population genetic analysis of 68 viral genomes isolated from the northern pintail (Anas acuta) at opposite ends of the Pacific migratory flyway in North America. We found limited evidence for Asian LPAI lineages on wintering areas...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: Evolutionary Applications
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We fitted Northern Pintail Anas acuta in Japan with satellite transmitters and monitored their spring migration movements relative to locations where the highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza virus was detected in Whooper Swans Cygnus cygnus in 2008. Pintails were assumed not to be infected with the H5N1 virus at the time they were marked because capture occurred between 2 and 5 months before reported outbreaks of the virus in Japan. We assessed spatial and temporal overlap between marked birds and occurrence of the virus and tracked Pintails after they departed outbreak locations. Eight of 66 (12.1%) Northern Pintails marked with satellite transmitters used wetlands in Japan where the H5N1 virus was detected in...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: Ibis
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Radio transmitters are an important tool in waterfowl ecology studies, but little is known about their effects on free-ranging geese. We attached transmitters to female brant (Branta bernicla nigricans) to investigate migration schedules at a fall staging area, return rates to nesting grounds, and nesting rates of returning females in subsequent breeding seasons. Radio-tagged females (n = 62) carried either 35-g back-mounted transmitters attached with ribbon harnesses, or 26- or 32-g back-mounted transmitters affixed with plastic-coated wire harnesses (Dwyer 1972). Arrival and departure schedules at Izembek Lagoon, Alaska, did not differ (P > 0.05) between radio-tagged females and the entire population in 1987-89....
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In environments where habitat quality varies, the mechanism by which individuals assess and select habitats has significant consequences on their spatial distribution and ability to respond to environmental change. Each year, thousands of Black Brent Geese Branta bernicla nigricans migrate to the Teshekpuk Lake Special Area (TLSA), Alaska, to undergo a flightless wing‐moult. Over the last three decades, moulting Brent Geese have changed their distribution within the TLSA, redistributing from inland, freshwater wetlands towards coastal, brackish wetlands. To understand better the mechanism by which Brent Geese select a moult site, as well as reasons behind the long‐term shift of moulting distributions, we examined...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: Ibis


map background search result map search result map Molecular typing of Escherichia coli strains associated with threatened sea ducks and near-shore marine habitats of south-west Alaska Habitat use and movement patterns of Northern Pintails during spring in northern Japan: the importance of agricultural lands Molecular typing of Escherichia coli strains associated with threatened sea ducks and near-shore marine habitats of south-west Alaska Habitat use and movement patterns of Northern Pintails during spring in northern Japan: the importance of agricultural lands