Date of Award
Master of Science (MS)
Predation on clutches of upland nesting ducks has been implicated as a major cause of low duck production in the Prairie Pothole Region. Management techniques that reduce predation rates and are socially acceptable are of interest to wildlife managers. This thesis examines differences in nest success of upland nesting ducks in areas where supplemental food was provided (treatment areas) for striped skunks (Mephitis mephitis) compared to areas where supplemental food was not provided (control areas). Differences in nest success between areas occupied by red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) and coyotes (Canis latrans) were also examined. The study was conducted from 1993-94 on 24 study areas (Waterfowl Production Areas, North Dakota Game and Fish Wildlife Management Areas, portions of Audubon National Wildlife Refuge and a site on Falkirk Mining Company property) located in North Dakota. Overall nest success (Mayfield estimates) averaged 41% on 12 treatment areas and 29% on 12 control areas. Overall nest success averaged 57% on 6 coyote-dominated areas and 20% on 18 red fox-dominated areas.
Average proportion of depredated nests assigned to striped skunks was lower on treatment areas (11%) than on control areas (24%) . Average proportion of depredated nests assigned to red fox was higher on red fox-dominated areas (32%) than on coyote-dominated areas (6%). Average proportions of depredated nests assigned to badger (Taxidea taxus) and red fox were similar between treatment and control areas. Average proportions of depredated nests assigned to striped skunk and badger were similar between red fox-dominated areas and coyote-dominated areas.
Assessment of predator activity in the food plots suggested high use by striped skunks and Franklin's ground squirrels (1994 only) and low use by other mammalian predators. No difference was found in the density of residual vegetation between treatment and control areas. Implications of the results of this study for the management of increased duck nest success are discussed.
Pietruszewski, Donovan G., "Influence of Supplemental Food for Striped Skunks on Duck Nest Success in the Prairie Pothole Region of North Dakota" (1996). Theses and Dissertations. 2697.