USGS - science for a changing world

Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

  Home About NPWRC Our Science Staff Employment Contacts Common Questions About the Site

Food Habits of Diving Ducks in the Great Lakes
After the Zebra Mussel Invasion

Christine M. Custer & Thomas W. Custer


Abstract: Zebra mussels (Dreissena polymorpha) invaded the Great Lakes in the mid-1980s and quickly reached high densities. The objective of this study was to determine current consumption of zebra mussels by waterfowl in the Great Lakes region. Feeding Lesser Scaups (Aythya affinis), Greater Scaups (A. marila), Canvasbacks (A. valisineria), Redheads (A. americana), Buffleheads (Bucephala albeola) and Common Goldeneyes (B. clangula) were collected in western Lake Erie and in Lake St. Clair between fall and spring, 1992-1993 to determine food habits. All 10 Redheads, 97% of Lesser Scaups, 83% of Goldeneyes, 60% of Buffleheads and 9% of Canvasbacks contained one or more zebra mussels in their upper gastrointestinal tracts. The aggregate percent of zebra mussels in the diet of Lesser Scaups was higher in Lake Erie (98.6%) than in Lake St. Clair (54.4%). Zebra mussels, (aggregate percent) dominated the diet of Common Goldeneyes (79.2%) but not in Buffleheads (23.5%), Redheads (21%) or Canvasbacks (9%). Lesser Scaups from Lake Erie fed on larger zebra mussels (Mean of X = 10.7 0.66 mm SE) than did Lesser Scaups from Lake St. Clair (Mean of X = 4.4 0.22 mm). Lesser Scaups, Buffleheads and Common Goldeneyes from Lake Erie consumed zebra mussels of similar size.
This resource is based on the following source (Northern Prairie Publication 0951):
Custer, Christine M., and Thomas W. Custer.  1996.  Food habits of diving ducks 
     in the Great Lakes after the zebra mussel invasion.  J. Field Ornithology 
     67(1):86-99.

This resource should be cited as:

Custer, Christine M., and Thomas W. Custer.  1996.  Food habits of diving ducks 
     in the Great Lakes after the zebra mussel invasion.  J. Field Ornithology 
     67(1):86-99.  Jamestown, ND: Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center 
     Online.  http://www.npwrc.usgs.gov/resource/birds/divduck/index.htm
     (Version 31JAN2002).

Table of Contents

Tables and Figures


Christine M. Custer and Thomas W. Custer, National Biological Service, Northern Prairie Science Center, P.O. Box 818, La Crosse, Wisconsin 54602 USA
Current Address: National Biological Service, Upper Mississippi Science Center, P.O. Box 818, La Crosse, Wisconsin 54602 USA
Downloading Instructions -- Instructions on downloading and extracting files from this site.
(Download) divduck.zip ( 52K) -- Food Habits of Diving Ducks in the Great Lakes After the Zebra Mussel Invasion
Installation: Extract all files and open index.htm in a web browser.

Accessibility FOIA Privacy Policies and Notices

Take Pride in America logo USA.gov logo U.S. Department of the Interior | U.S. Geological Survey
URL: http://www.npwrc.usgs.gov/resource/birds/divduck/index.htm
Page Contact Information: Webmaster
Page Last Modified: Friday, 01-Feb-2013 19:12:16 EST
Sioux Falls, SD [sdww54]