The Foraging Ecology, Habitat Use, and Population Dynamics of the Laysan teal (Anas laysanensis)
Reynolds, Michelle H.
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The Laysan teal, an endangered species, is restricted to a single population on Laysan Island, a remote atoll of the Hawaiian archipelago. Little is known of the Laysan teal's ecology, therefore, I examined food habits, habitat use, and population dynamics. These aspects of its ecology are fundamental to the species management and conservation. I described diel and nocturnal habitat use, home range, and foraging with radio telemetry in 1998-2000. Most individuals showed strong site fidelity during the tracking period, but habitat selection varied between individuals. Mean home range size was 9.78 ha (SE 2.6) using the fixed kernel estimator (95% kernel; 15 birds with >25 locations). Foraging was strongly influenced by time of day: birds spent only 4% of their time foraging in the day, but spent 45% of their time foraging at night. Time activity budgets from the island's four habitat zones indicated that the coastal zone was rarely used for foraging. The birds foraged 42% of the time they spent in the terrestrial zone at night, but foraged only 4-6% of the time they spent there during other times. Fecal analysis and behavioral observations revealed that the Laysan teal is not a 100% macro-insectivore as previously reported, but consumed seeds, succulent leaves, and algae, in addition to adult diptera, diptera larvae and pupae, ants, seeds, lepidoptera, coleoptera, and Artemia. I concluded that this species exhibits high plasiticity in foraging behavior. Laysan teal appear to opportunistically select abundant, high energy prey for the breeding season, due to constrained resources on Laysan Island. I also studied the parameters influencing the Laysan teal's population dynamics. Adult survival is high, but duckling survival on Laysan is low, and is a primary demographic parameter limiting population growth. Estimates indicate the population density was high (between 546-827) from 1991 until August 1993, prior to a population crash that occurred between September and December 1993. The most current population estimate (Sept-Nov 2001) is 444 (SE 181) adults. Additional populations (translocation), along with control of non-native mammalian predators, are needed to reduce extinction risks to the Laysan teal.
- Doctoral Dissertations