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Gue C.T.,University of North Dakota | Walker J.A.,Great Plains Regional Office | Mehl K.R.,University of North Dakota | Mehl K.R.,U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service | And 8 more authors.
Journal of Wildlife Management | Year: 2013

The wetlands and grasslands of the Prairie Pothole Region (PPR) make it the most productive breeding habitat for North American ducks. The growth rate of mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) populations is sensitive to changes in survival of adult females during the breeding season. Much of the PPR is suitable for large-scale wind-energy development and collisions of breeding females with wind turbines may be a novel source of mortality in this area. We assessed the effects of wind energy on breeding female mallard and blue-winged teal (A. discors) survival by monitoring 77 radio-marked mallards and 88 blue-winged teal during the 2009 and 2010 breeding seasons at the Tatanka Wind Farm (TWF) near Kulm, North Dakota. During the same period, we monitored 70 female mallards and 75 blue-winged teal at an adjacent reference site without wind turbines (REF). We used an information-theoretic approach to investigate relationships between female survival and site (TWF vs. REF), year (2009 vs. 2010), and date. Collision mortalities were rare. Only 1 radio-marked female mallard and no blue-winged teal collided with wind turbines. Most mortalities were caused by predators (78.3%; 36/46), irrespective of species and site. For mallards, the best-approximating model indicated that breeding season survival was 1) lowest when a high proportion of radio-marked females were incubating, and 2) dependent on year and site such that expected survival (Ŝ) in 2009 was higher at TWF (Ŝ = 0.90, 85% CI = 0.79-0.98) than at REF (Ŝ = 0.83, 85% CI = 0.68-0.95), but expected survival in 2010 was lower at TWF (Ŝ = 0.62, 85% CI = 0.46-0.79) than at REF (Ŝ = 0.84, 85% CI = 0.72-0.94). For blue-winged teal, the constant model was the best-approximating model and indicated that expected female survival was 0.75 (85% CI = 0.69-0.82). The most competitive model for blue-winged teal that included the effect of wind turbines indicated that expected survival at TWF (Ŝ = 0.71, 85% CI = 0.62-0.79) was lower than survival at REF (Ŝ = 0.81, 85% CI = 0.73-0.89). The limited number of collisions observed for female mallards and blue-winged teal nesting at TWF suggests that wind turbines had no direct effect on female survival. Thus, conservation strategies that include protection of wetland and grassland habitat in wind-developed landscapes will most likely not cause a direct reduction in survival of breeding females due to collisions with wind turbines. © 2013 The Wildlife Society. Copyright © The Wildlife Society, 2013.

Coluccy J.M.,Ducks Unlimited Inc. | Castelli M.V.,117 North Cologne Avenue | Castelli M.V.,Lafayette College | Castelli P.M.,Nacote Creek Research Station | And 4 more authors.
Journal of Wildlife Management | Year: 2015

Understanding the true metabolizable energy (TME) of foods is critical to estimating the energetic carrying capacity of landscapes for migrating and wintering waterfowl. We estimated gross energy, nutrient composition, and TMEN (TME corrected for zero nitrogen balance) for 7 foods that are commonly found in the diet of American black duck (Anas rubripes) and other waterfowl wintering along the Atlantic Coast. TMEN values (x-±SE) were 3.66±0.12kcal/g for mummichog (Fundulus heteroclitus), 2.02±0.12kcal/g for grass shrimp (Palaemonetes intermedius, P. pugio, and P. vulgaris), 1.57±0.11kcal/g for fiddler crabs (Uca minax, U. pugilator, and U. pugnax), 1.42±0.13kcal/g for sea lettuce (Ulva lactuca), 1.39±0.12kcal/g for saltmarsh cordgrass seeds (Spartina alterniflora), 1.10±0.14kcal/g for widgeon grass vegetation (Ruppia maritima), and 0.77±0.16kcal/g for saltmarsh snails (Melampus bidentatus). TMEN estimated for foods in this study will assist conservation planners in carrying out bioenergetics modeling along the Atlantic Coast. © 2014 The Wildlife Society.

Loesch C.R.,U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service | Walker J.A.,Great Plains Regional Office | Reynolds R.E.,U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service | Gleason J.S.,U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service | And 4 more authors.
Journal of Wildlife Management | Year: 2013

Industrial wind energy production is a relatively new phenomenon in the Prairie Pothole Region and given the predicted future development, it has the potential to affect large land areas. The effects of wind energy development on breeding duck pair use of wetlands in proximity to wind turbines were unknown. During springs 2008-2010, we conducted surveys of breeding duck pairs for 5 species of dabbling ducks in 2 wind energy production sites (wind) and 2 paired reference sites (reference) without wind energy development located in the Missouri Coteau of North Dakota and South Dakota, USA. We conducted 10,338 wetland visits and observed 15,760 breeding duck pairs. Estimated densities of duck pairs on wetlands in wind sites were lower for 26 of 30 site, species, and year combinations and of these 16 had 95% credible intervals that did not overlap zero and resulted in a 4-56% reduction in breeding pairs. The negative median displacement observed in this study (21%) may influence the prioritization of grassland and wetland resources for conservation when existing decision support tools based on breeding-pair density are used. However, for the 2 wind study sites, priority was not reduced. We were unable to directly assess the potential for cumulative impacts and recommend long-term, large-scale waterfowl studies to reduce the uncertainty related to effects of broad-scale wind energy development on both abundance and demographic rates of breeding duck populations. In addition, continued dialogue between waterfowl conservation groups and wind energy developers is necessary to develop conservation strategies to mitigate potential negative effects of wind energy development on duck populations. Published 2012. This article is a U.S. Government work and is in the public domain in the USA. © Published 2012. This article is a U.S. Government work and is in the public domain in the USA.

Niemuth N.D.,U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service | Walker J.A.,Ducks Unlimited Inc. | Gleason J.S.,U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service | Loesch C.R.,U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service | And 4 more authors.
Waterbirds | Year: 2013

The millions of wetlands that define the Prairie Pothole Region (PPR) harbor large proportions of continental populations of several species of North American waterfowl, waterbirds, and shorebirds. The PPR also has some of the highest wind energy potential in the United States. Thousands of wind turbines are being erected in the PPR to produce electricity and have the potential to affect migratory bird populations through collisions, displacement, barriers to movement, habitat fragmentation, and habitat loss. We assessed occurrence of waterbirds and shorebirds from 2008 through 2010 on wetlands in two wind energy development sites, defined as wetlands within 805 m of a wind turbine, and two reference sites in the PPR of North and South Dakota. We conducted 10,321 wetland visits on 3,542 individual wetland basins and related bird occurrence to wetland characteristics, upland characteristics, survey type (roadside vs. off-road), seasonal timing of sampling, year of sampling, and site type (wind energy development vs. reference). Models characterizing occurrence of Willet (Catoptrophorus semipalmatus), Marbled Godwit (Limosa fedoa), Wilson's Phalarope (Phalaropus tricolor) and Black Tern (Chlidonias niger) indicated that occurrence varied with wetland characteristics and among sites and years, was not substantially reduced on either wind energy site, but was slightly and consistently lower on one of the wind energy sites for the three shorebird species. Our results suggest that wetlands have conservation value for these species when wind turbines are present, but additional sampling across time and space will be necessary to understand the effects of wind turbines on shorebird and waterbird presence, density, survival, and reproductive success.

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