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Differential Effects of Coyotes and Red Foxes
on Duck Nest Success

Marsha A. Sovada1, Alan B. Sargeant2, and James W. Grier3


Abstract: Low recruitment rates prevail among ducks in the Prairie Pothole Region of North America, primarily because of high nest depredation rates. The red fox (Vulpes vulpes) is a major predator of duck eggs, but fox abundance is depressed by coyotes (Canis latrans). We tested the hypothesis that nest success of upland-nesting ducks is higher in areas with coyotes than in areas with red foxes. We conducted the study during 1990-92 in uplands of 36 areas managed for nesting ducks in North Dakota and South Dakota. Overall nest success averaged 32% (95% CI = 25-40) on 17 study areas where coyotes were the principal canid and 17% (CI = 11-25) on 13 study areas where red foxes were the principal canid (P = 0.01). Both canids were common on 6 other areas, where nest success averaged 25% (CI = 13-47). Habitat composition, predator communities with the exception of canids, and species composition of duck nests in coyote and red fox areas were similar overall. Upon examining only nests with ≥6 eggs on the last visit prior to hatch or depredation, we determined nests with evidence characteristic of fox predation accounted for 4% of depredated nests in coyote areas and 27% in fox areas (P = 0.001). An expanding coyote population is contributing to higher overall nest success. Management of coyotes may be an effective method for increasing duck nest success.

Key words: Canis latrans, coyote, nest success, North Dakota, Prairie Pothole Region, predation, red fox, South Dakota, Vulpes vulpes.


This resource is based on the following source (Northern Prairie Publication 0921):
Sovada, Marsha A., Alan B. Sargeant, and James W. Grier.  1995.  
     Differential effects of coyotes and red foxes on duck nest 
     success.  Journal of Wildlife Management 59(1):1-8.

This resource should be cited as:

Sovada, Marsha A., Alan B. Sargeant, and James W. Grier.  1995.  
     Differential effects of coyotes and red foxes on duck nest 
     success.  Journal of Wildlife Management 59(1):1-8.  Jamestown, 
     ND: Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center Online.  
     http://www.npwrc.usgs.gov/resource/mammals/difeffct/index.htm  
     (Version 31OCT2000).

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1 National Biological Survey, Northern Prairie Science Center, Jamestown, ND 58401, USA
2 National Biological Survey, Northern Prairie Science Center, Jamestown, ND 58401, USA
3 Department of Zoology, North Dakota State University, Fargo, ND 58103, USA
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