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Declining Scaup Populations:
Issues, Hypotheses, and Research Needs


We have identified numerous factors that may be contributing to the scaup population decline, but research and analyses are needed to determine what factors are contributing to the decline. Presently, we believe that contaminants, lower female survival, and reduced recruitment due to changes in food resources or breeding-ground habitats are primary factors contributing to the decline. These factors are not mutually exclusive but likely interact across seasons. The range of issues and the species' broad distribution make addressing these questions complex.

Effective conservation of North American waterfowl populations requires cooperation and communication among agencies and organizations in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. The Scaup Workshop was the first step in focusing research directions and stimulating communication and partnerships among diverse groups concerned with scaup conservation and management. Our recommendations will require funding, commitments of personnel time and other resources, and establishment of partnerships for cooperative studies. We encourage all involved with scaup to keep others informed of their work and activities and to seek opportunities for collaboration and interactions. We challenge the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, United States Geological Survey, Canadian Wildlife Service, Flyway Councils, and private conservation organizations to identify personnel and commit funding necessary to begin addressing research and information needs. These steps should begin immediately to address possible causes of scaup population declines. With the scaup population declining at an estimated 150,000 birds annually, the need for action is clear.

Participants of Scaup Workshop
Participants of the Scaup Workshop, held 9-10 September 1999, in Jamestown, North Dakota.

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