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Spatial distribution and habitat selection of Barrow’s and Common goldeneyes wintering in the St. Lawrence marine system

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Abstract:

Our study addresses winter spatial distribution of Barrow’s Goldeneyes (Bucephala islandica (Gmelin, 1789)) and Common Goldeneyes (Bucephala clangula (L., 1758)) at the scale of the St. Lawrence marine system (estuary and northwestern gulf), eastern Canada. Our objectives were (i) to identify and compare the physical factors that control their distributions, (ii) to quantify the level of sympatry between the two species, and (iii) to compare their distribution patterns. We analyzed large-scale synoptic views of winter distribution of both goldeneye species obtained through helicopter-borne surveys. Habitat description was obtained through spatial analyses and remote sensing. Both species showed strong preference for the tidal zone and river mouths. A multiscale analysis showed a decreasing level of sympatry as spatial resolution was refined. The distribution of the Barrow’s Goldeneye was more clustered compared with that of the Common Goldeneye, and Barrow’s Goldeneye was repeatedly observed in the same few areas. A use-availability analysis identified the northern coast of the St. Lawrence estuary as the main wintering ground for Barrow’s Goldeneye in eastern North America.

Notre étude traite de la répartition spatiale des garrots d’Islande (Bucephala islandica (Gmelin, 1789)) et des garrots à œil d’or (Bucephala clangula (L., 1758)) à l’échelle du système marin du Saint-Laurent (estuaire et golfe), est du Canada. Nos objectifs étaient : (i) d’identifier et de comparer les facteurs abiotiques qui expliquent leurs répartitions, (ii) de quantifier leur niveau de sympatrie et (iii) de comparer les patrons de répartition des deux espèces. Nous avons analysé des portraits instantanés de leur répartition hivernale à grande échelle obtenus à l’aide d’inventaires héliportés. La description de l’habitat a été effectuée à l’aide d’analyses spatiales et par télédétection. Les deux espèces ont démontré une forte préférence envers l’étage intertidal. Une analyse multi-échelle a démontré que le niveau de sympatrie décroissait à mesure que la résolution spatiale était raffinée. La répartition du garrot d’Islande était plus contagieuse que celle du garrot à œil d’or et l’espèce était toujours observée dans les mêmes secteurs restreints. Une analyse comparant la répartition observée du garrot d’Islande à une répartition aléatoire a permis d’identifier la rive nord de l’estuaire maritime du Saint-Laurent comme le cœur de son aire d’hivernage dans l’est de l’Amérique du Nord.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 2010

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  • Published since 1929, this monthly journal reports on primary research contributed by respected international scientists in the broad field of zoology, including behaviour, biochemistry and physiology, developmental biology, ecology, genetics, morphology and ultrastructure, parasitology and pathology, and systematics and evolution. It also invites experts to submit review articles on topics of current interest.
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