American Black Duck Bioenergetics Model: A Synthesis of Research and Results

John Coluccy, Paul M. Castelli, Patrick K. Devers, Heath M. Hagy, Gregory J. Soulliere, Christopher K. Williams

Research output: Contribution to conferenceOtherpeer-review


Bioenergetic models are increasingly used by bird conservation Joint Ventures to estimate habitat requirements for non-breeding waterfowl. Models translating population objectives to habitat objectives require four basic data inputs: 1) daily bird energy requirements (DER) and 2) time-specific population objectives (e.g., duck use days) are needed to calculate energy demand, while 3) amounts of various habitats available and the 4) energetic value of forage accessible within those habitats are used to calculate energy supply. The difference between energy supply and energy demand can then be used to direct conservation planning and implementation, answering key questions of “what, where, and how much” habitat is needed to achieve a target carrying capacity. Information for conducting bioenergetics modeling for American black ducks was largely lacking. In response, the Black Duck and Atlantic Coast Joint Ventures in partnership with Ducks Unlimited, academic institutions, state and federal agencies, and others initiated a suite of studies to fill information gaps and facilitate more effective conservation planning for American black ducks across their winter range. Beginning in 2004, several replicated field studies commenced on primary black duck wintering areas in multiple states and one province (NY, NJ, CT, VA, TN and NS) to evaluate food resource availability, habitat use and behavior, and food habits. A follow up captive-bird study was undertaken in 2009 to evaluate the true metabolizable energy and nutritional value of black duck foods. During this time frame, research was also initiated to estimate DER based on black duck behavior across the 24-hour time period. This effort lead to the most recently initiated study to evaluate activity multipliers (e.g., relative time spent swimming, preening, etc.) to resting metabolic rate to refine estimates of DER. The culmination of these works will be a decision support tool to help guide habitat conservation for black ducks across their non-breeding range. We summarize methods and results from these studies and discuss implications for ongoing black duck conservation planning.
Original languageEnglish (US)
StatePublished - 2016


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