Date of Award

Winter 12-7-2020

Semester of Degree


Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

M.S. in Environmental and Forest Biology


Environmental and Forest Biology

Major Professor

Michael Schummer


Jonathan Cohen

Steering Committee Member

John O'Connor

Steering Committee Member

Josh Stiller


The American black duck is a large–bodied native dabbling duck in the northeast United States and Canada which has declined > 50% to ~ 500,000 breeding pairs since the 1950s. Concurrently mallards have replaced black ducks in Atlantic flyway breeding habitats. I used Bayesian statistical modeling to test for differences in mallard and black duck occupancy and productivity between and within beaver–modified wetlands and lakes in the Adirondack Park of New York. Mallard occupancy was ≥ 6.7% greater than black duck in all habitats surveyed. I further propose that mallards may outproduce black ducks in years where wetlands experience negative environmental effects such as drought or absence of beaver. I also compared the utility of drones to ground observers to survey black ducks, and discovered drones detect black ducks and other secretive waterfowl more reliably. However, when considering all ducks present, overall detection probability was similar between methods.