Wintering Waterfowl Use of Delta National Forest, Mississippi
Peterson, Thomas Gilbert
AdvisorDavis, J. Brian
CommitteeMartin, James A.
Kaminski, Richard M.
Bottomland hardwood forests provide forage and other important resources for wintering and breeding waterfowl in the Southeastern United States. My objective was to conduct an initial investigation of possible influences of habitat features, flood events, and human disturbance on relative abundances of wintering ducks in Delta National Forest (DNF), Mississippi. I surveyed 65 wetlands in DNF 17 times from November 2012 to March 2013 and analyzed abundance data from wood ducks (Aix sponsa), mallards (Anas platyrhynchos), gadwalls (Anas strepera), and hooded mergansers (Lophodytes cucullatus). Waterfowl abundance varied by species but generally increased during major flood events and on wetlands having an approximately equal interspersion of scrub-shrub and open water consistent with the “hemi-marsh” concept. I recommend partial removal of scrub-shrub from selected wetlands to promote emergent plant communities and increased duck use and experimental evaluation of waterfowl responses to management of wetlands and human activities during winter in DNF.