We studied nutrient reserve dynamics of female Lesser Scaup (Aythya affinis) to identify sources of intraspecific variation in strategies of nutrient acquisition for meeting the high nutritional and energetic costs of egg formation. We collected data from interior Alaska and combined these with data for Lesser Scaup from midcontinent breeding areas (Afton and Ankney 1991), allowing a rangewide analysis for the species. We found little evidence that nutrient reserve use differed between Alaskan and midcontinent Lesser Scaup, except that subarctic birds used a small amount of protein reserves when forming eggs, whereas midcontinent birds did not. Mineral reserves contributed relatively little to the clutch, but endogenous lipid accounted for approximately two-thirds of the lipid in the clutch. Levels of endogenous lipid and protein at initiation of clutch formation declined with date of initiation. Also, absolute amounts of lipid and protein reserves used declined through the season, corresponding to smaller clutch sizes. Our data are consistent with a seasonally variable threshold of lipid reserves for initiation of clutch formation and considerable reliance on lipid reserves, suggestive of lipid control of productivity via effects on clutch size and initiation dates. However, our data cannot refute the hypothesis that clutch size or initiation dates are set by other factors that in turn dictate the amount of lipid reserves that are stored and used. Despite uncertainty regarding the role of nutrient limitations on productivity, maintenance of adequate food resources on winter, migration, and breeding areas should be a management concern, given the high costs of clutch formation by Lesser Scaup, evidence of recent population declines, and potential links between nutrition and productivity.
|Title||Intraspecific variation in nutrient reserve use during clutch formation by Lesser Scaup|
|Authors||Daniel Esler, J. Barry Grand, Alan D. Afton|
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Series Title||The Condor|
|Record Source||USGS Publications Warehouse|
|USGS Organization||Alaska Science Center; Alaska Science Center Biology MFEB; Coop Res Unit Atlanta; Louisiana Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit|