Variable Water Levels and Wood Duck Recruitment in Kentucky

Recruitment in prairie duck populations is correlated with annual wetland conditions, but a similar relationship has not been demonstrated for wood ducks (Aix sponsa). Therefore, we studied the influence of variable water levels on wood duck recruitment at Sloughs Wildlife Management Area in western Kentucky during 1988 and 1989. In 1989, when water levels were higher (P < 0.0001), nest initiation was earlier, the nesting season lasted approximately 3 weeks longer, and mean brood sizes were greater (P < 0.05). Results suggest high water levels should be maintained during years of drought.

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