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Factors Associated with Duck Nest Success
in the Prairie Pothole Region of Canada

Wetlands and Weather


We estimated densities of wetland basins by class (Cowardin et al. 1988) on individual study areas and percentages that were wet in May annually, 1982-85, from unpublished data obtained during the Waterfowl Breeding Ground Survey (Off. Migr. Bird Manage., USFWS, Laurel, Md.). Because these data were for the 0.4-km-wide air-ground segments, we first converted numbers of basins by wetland class to density (basins per km²) and then extrapolated to estimate density of each class on each 1.6-km-wide study area. We determined from annual Waterfowl Breeding Ground Survey results the percentage of basins that were wet. Annual mean percentages of wet basins by class per square kilometer were weighted by number of basins by class per square kilometer to estimate the annual mean percentage of wet basins by class per area-year.

Annual precipitation and temperature statistics were obtained from recording stations nearest to our study areas (Table 5) (Atmos. Environ. Serv., Cent. Reg., Environ. Canada, Winnipeg, Manit. or Atmos. Environ. Serv., West. Reg., Environ. Canada, Edmonton, Alta., unpubl. data). Field crews reported local weather conditions on individual study areas, especially storms with potential to adversely affect nesting.

Table 5. Departure (%) from 30-year April-June average precipitation amounts (cm) at individual study areas in the Prairie Pothole Region of Canada.
Study area Reporting station 30-year average (cm) Departure (%)
1982 1983 1984 1985
Parkland
Earl Grey Strasbourga 4.7 - - - +17
Hanley Dundurna,b 4.1 +17 +7 -32 +23
Hay Lakes Camrosec 4.8 - +54 +2 -
Holden Camrosec 4.8 - +54 - -
Inchkeith Kiplinga 5.3 - - -30 -19
Leask Prince Alberta 4.4 - - +66 +36
Moore Park Brandona 5.3 - -36 +4 -
Penhold Red Deerc 5.3 - - -13 -46
Yorkton Yorktona 4.6 - - - +5
Prairie
Cartwright Pilot Mounda 6.2 - -35 - -
Ceylon Ceylona 5.6 - -27 -52 -
Craik Tugaskea 4.7 - - -28 -11
Denzil Scotta 4.1 - - +22 +8
Gayford Calgaryc 5.7 - - - -49
Goodwater Midalea 5.3 - -32 - -
Shamrock Shamrocka 4.3 +28 -51 -16 -42
Tichfield Beechya 4.0 +28 - - -
aAverage monthly amounts obtained from Atmos. Environ. Serv., East. Reg., Environ. Canada, Winnipeg, Manit.
bDundurn station closed in 1985; average and monthly amount in 1985 are for Colonsay.
cAverage and monthly amounts obtained from Atmos. Environ. Serv., West. Reg., Environ. Canada, Edmonton, Alta.

Annual Conditions

In early May 1982, an average of 45% of temporary, 71% of seasonal, and 87% of semipermanent wetlands overall were wet (Table 4). A storm during 26-29 May produced heavy snowfall on Hanley and especially on Tichfield (6.9 cm water content) study areas and 7.5 cm of rain on Shamrock Study Area; subfreezing temperatures persisted for 2-3 days afterward. Total precipitation was above average on those study areas during the 1982 nesting season (Table 5).

Wetland conditions in early May 1983 were similar to 1982. Two storms during 8-14 May produced rain and snow on Shamrock, Hanley, Goodwater, Ceylon, Moore Park, and Cartwright study areas. However, total precipitation during the nesting season was below average on 5 of those areas (Table 5). Higher than average precipitation on Hay Lakes and Holden study areas that year resulted from 20.0 cm of rain during 18-30 June; low-lying areas flooded and depth of water in many wetlands increased up to 90.0 cm on those study areas.

Drought impacted 6 of 10 areas studied in 1984. An average of 12% of temporary, 24% of seasonal, and 71% of semipermanent wetlands overall were wet in May (Table 4). Precipitation during the nesting season was 13-52% below average on areas studied that year (Table 5). Only Denzil and Leask study areas had precipitation well above average (22 and 66%).

Ample wet wetlands were available in May 1985 on Craik, Earl Grey, Hanley, Inchkeith, and Leask study areas (Table 4). Precipitation during the nesting season on the 10 areas studied in 1985 was below average on 5 and near or above average on the remaining (Table 5).


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