Survival and Recovery Rates of Mottled Ducks Banded in Texas and Louisiana

The Western Gulf Coast population of the mottled duck (Anas fulvigula) is dependent on the Gulf coastal marsh to complete its entire life cycle. Band recovery data can be used to monitor mottled duck populations by estimating annual survival, indexing harvest rate, and assessing movements. Band returns from hunting seasons 1997 - 2013 were used to evaluate factors influencing annual survival, recovery rates, and movements of mottled ducks in Texas and Louisiana. For banding years of 1997 - 2013, 58,349 normal, wild mottled ducks were banded and released in Texas and Louisiana. Since 2002, 86% of mottled duck bandings have occurred on the Chenier Plain of Texas and Louisiana. Hunters shot, recovered, and reported 7,061 birds with bands during this period. Direct recovery rates were greater for juveniles than adults but changed little since the 1970s. Estimates of annual survival did not differ between Texas and Louisiana, but did among years and between sex and age classes. Adult male and juvenile female mottled ducks had the greatest and lowest annual survival rates, respectively. Recovery of birds banded on the Chenier Plain was four times greater for birds banded in Texas and harvested in Louisiana than banded in Louisiana and harvested in Texas. Much of the current inference of results from banding mottled ducks is limited to the Chenier Plain. To monitor the entire Western Gulf Coast population of mottled ducks, managers can consider expanding operational banding operations with annual quotas, which would improve survival and recovery estimates and allow for inference beyond the Chenier Plain region.

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