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Winter weather and waterfowl surveys in north-western Ontario, Canada

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Abstract Aim

An analysis is presented to examine whether variation in breeding waterfowl estimates can be explained by weather patterns prior to annual surveys. Location

The location of the study is north-western Ontario, Canada. Methods

Annual, systematic survey data for breeding waterfowl are available from the 1950s to the present for north-western Ontario. Regional monthly climate data for this area were compiled using weather data derived from interpolated annual climate surfaces. These data were analysed using stepwise multiple linear regression for each species and for waterfowl functional groups to assess whether monthly climate data accounted for some of the variation in waterfowl numbers. Results

For all dabbling ducks pooled, 12% of the variation in annual abundance was explained by April temperatures, with more dabbling ducks observed in years when April was relatively cool. For diving ducks, 23% of the variation in pooled abundance was explained by April temperatures and February precipitation, where more diving ducks were observed in years when February had relatively less precipitation and April was cool. Patterns for individual species varied. Main conclusions

Mean monthly weather data for months prior to surveys explained some of the variation in numbers of waterfowl observed in annual surveys. This suggests that future incorporation of weather data into waterfowl population models may help refine population estimates.

Keywords: Ontario; population survey; waterfowl; weather

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Canadian Forest Service, Sault Ste. Marie, ON, Canada

Publication date: March 1, 2003


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