Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Differential effects of coyotes and red foxes on duck nest success

January 1, 1995

Low recruitment rates prevail among ducks in the Prairie Pothole Region of North America, primarily because of high nest depredation rates. The red fox (Vulpes vulpes) is a major predator of duck eggs, but fox abundance is depressed by coyotes (Canis latrans). We tested the hypothesis that nest success of upland-nesting ducks is higher in areas with coyotes than in areas with red foxes. We conducted the study during 1990-92 in uplands of 36 areas managed for nesting ducks in North Dakota and South Dakota. Overall nest success averaged 32% (95% CI = 25-40) on 17 study areas where coyotes were the principal canid and 17% (CI = 11-25) on 13 study areas where red foxes were the principal canid (P = 0.01). Both canids were common on 6 other areas, where nest success averaged 25% (CI = 13-47). Habitat composition, predator communities with the exception of canids, and species composition of duck nests in coyote and red fox areas were similar overall. Upon examining only nests with greater than or equal to 6 eggs on the last visit prior to hatch or depredation, we determined nests with evidence characteristic of fox predation accounted for 4% of depredated nests in coyote areas and 27% in fox areas (P = 0.001). An expanding coyote population is contributing to higher overall nest success. Management of coyotes may be an effective method for increasing duck nest success.

Publication Year 1995
Title Differential effects of coyotes and red foxes on duck nest success
DOI 10.2307/3809108
Authors Marsha A. Sovada, A. Sargeant, J.W. Grier
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Journal of Wildlife Management
Index ID 70170236
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center