Emu Emu Society
Journal of BirdLife Australia
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Nesting habitat of Chubut Steamer Ducks in Patagonia, Argentina

María Laura Agüero A D , J. Pablo García Borboroglu A B and Dan Esler C
+ Author Affliations
- Author Affliations

A Centro Nacional Patagónico, Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET), Boulevard Brown 2915, U9120ACF, Puerto Madryn, Chubut, Argentina.

B University of Washington, Department of Biology, Box 351800, Seattle, WA 98195-1800, USA.

C Centre for Wildlife Ecology, Simon Fraser University, 5421 Robertson Road, Delta, BC, V4K 3N2, Canada.

D Corresponding author. Email: laguero@cenpat.edu.ar

Emu 110(4) 302-306 https://doi.org/10.1071/MU09096
Submitted: 9 October 2009  Accepted: 27 March 2010   Published: 26 October 2010

Abstract

We studied nest-site selection of the flightless Chubut Steamer Duck (Tachyeres leucocephalus) along 292 km of continental coastline and 59 km of island coastline in Patagonia, Argentina, between 2004 and 2006. This area encompasses the main breeding range of the species. Almost all nests were on islands and islets, which ranged in area from 0.5 to 54.4 ha and were 0.01–5.6 km from the mainland. Nesting sites were within bays and inlets with shallow waters and protected from waves, winds and strong currents. Using logistic regression analyses in an information-theoretic framework to compare habitat characteristics between nesting sites and randomly chosen sites, we found that Chubut Steamer Duck nesting sites were strongly and positively associated with higher proportions of shrub vegetation cover. To a lesser degree, the percentage of silt–clay sediment was also positively associated with nesting sites. Nest-site selection is thought to be associated with concealment from aerial predators and protection from weather. This is the first study of breeding habitat and nest-site selection of Chubut Steamer Ducks, and will contribute to management and habitat conservation for this rare flightless duck through identification of both general and specific habitat features that should be preserved or enhanced.

Additional keywords: breeding habitat, endemic flightless marine duck, nest-site selection, Tachyeres leucocephalus.


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