Master of Science (MS)


Forestry, Wildlife, and Fisheries

Document Type



I examined the accuracy of using data collected by temperature sensing dummy eggs (hollow and switch) to determine female nest attendance in waterfowl. I monitored 3 northern pintails (Anas acuta) and 6 mallards (A. platyrhynchos) using closed circuit video recording. Differences in the time spent on the nest for an 8-hour recording period between dummy eggs and camera were similar between type (hollow and switch eggs, P = 0.93), species (P = 0.07), and date (P = 0.42). My results show that temperature data from hollow and switch eggs are an effective and accurate method to monitor female nest attendance for prairie-nesting waterfowl. I investigated the effects of nest site cover and nest site temperatures on the patterns of female nest attendance in pintails and mallards. I monitored nest attendance of 82 pintails (1094 days) and 94 mallards (761 days) in North Dakota in 2000-2001 using temperature sensing dummy eggs in nest bowls. Time spent on the nest per day (constancy) was lower for pintails (81.6 ± 0.31%) than mallards (83.2 ± 0.46%; P = 0.03), and pintails took more recesses per day (2.64 ± 1.07) than mallards (1.77 ± 1.07, P < 0.001). For early nesting pintails and mallards, constancy decreased with increasing nest site cover (lateral concealment) and increased slightly for late nesting females (P < 0.01). However, experimentally adding or removing nest site cover at mallard nests did not affect constancy (P = 0.13). For both species, females spent more time on the nest late in incubation when it rained than when it did not rain (P = 0.02). Pintails spread their incubation recesses more evenly over the daylight period than mallards, which concentrated their recesses in the evening (P < 0.001). Maintaining a higher constancy resulted in a shorter incubation period for pintails (P < 0.01) but not for mallards (P = 0.59). My results suggest that other factors such as body size and condition, or trade-offs between female condition and the risk of predation may influence female nest attendance in pintails and mallards to a greater extent than nest site cover.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Frank C. Rohwer