Date of Award

Spring 4-21-2020

Semester of Degree

May

Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

M.S. in Environmental and Forest Biology

Department

Environmental and Forest Biology

Major Professor

Michael Schummer

Steering Committee Member

Jonathan Cohen

Steering Committee Member

Shannon Farrell

Abstract

Winter habitat and forage for American black ducks (Anas rubripes) can be limiting. Urbanization, sea level rise, and other stressors often make restoration of coastal wetlands infeasible or logistically difficult. Agriculture fields may need to increasingly serve as winter foraging sites for black ducks. I compared diets, body condition, and stress indices of black ducks and mallards (A. platyrhynchos) on Long Island, New York. Isotopic diet signatures differed by species and habitats. Body condition and stress indices differed between habitats. I also determined initial corn yield, depletion rates, waterfowl use days, and waterfowl energy needs on corn sites. My results do not suggest substantial benefits of corn to black ducks because they exploit and benefit from waste corn resources less than mallards. Continuing protection and restoration of coastal wetlands along the Atlantic coast is important with the aim of increasing black duck carrying capacity.

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