Timing and location of reproduction in African waterfowl: an overview of >100 years of nest records

Cumming, Graeme S., Harebottle, Douglas M., Mundava, Josphine, Otieno, Nickson, and Tyler, Stephanie J. (2016) Timing and location of reproduction in African waterfowl: an overview of >100 years of nest records. Ecology and Evolution, 6 (3). pp. 631-646.

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The timing and location of reproduction are fundamental elements of reproductive success for all organisms. Understanding why animals choose to reproduce at particular times and in particular places is also important for our understanding of other aspects of organismal ecology, such as their habitat requirements, movement strategies, and biogeography. Although breeding patterns in waterfowl are relatively well documented, most studies are from northern temperate regions and the influences of location and time of year on breeding in Afrotropical ducks (Anatidae) are poorly understood. We outline six alternative (but not mutually exclusive) hypotheses that might explain where and when Afrotropical ducks choose to breed. To explore these hypotheses, we assembled and analyzed a new database of c.22,000 breeding records for 16 Afrotropical ducks and one introduced Palearctic species (the Mallard Anas platyrhynchos). The full database is available on line as an appendix to this article. We identified five distinct breeding strategies as well as two outliers. Peak breeding for 9 of 16 indigenous duck species occurs during the dry season. We found no evidence for spatial synchrony or spatial autocorrelation in breeding, suggesting a high level of flexibility in waterfowl responses to prevailing conditions in any given year. More intensive analyses of alternative hypotheses are needed, but our initial analysis suggests that the timing of breeding for the majority of Afrotropical ducks is driven by a combination of resource availability and predation risk.

Item ID: 43332
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 2045-7758
Keywords: Anatidae, Botswana, breeding, Kenya, mortality, nesting, predation, reproduction, South Africa, waterfowl, Zimbabwe
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© 2016 The Authors. Ecology and Evolution published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Funders: National Research Foundation (NRF), South Africa, Percy FitzPatrick Institute, University of Cape Town
Date Deposited: 09 Mar 2016 07:47
FoR Codes: 31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3104 Evolutionary biology > 310402 Biogeography and phylogeography @ 100%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences @ 50%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960805 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity at Regional or Larger Scales @ 50%
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