We estimated variation in nest survival of lesser scaup (Aythya affinis), greater scaup (A. marila), and other common duck species at Minto Flats, Alaska, USA, during 1989–1993 and 2002–2003. Daily survival probability of scaup nests, as well as nests of all other duck species, varied with year, date, and nest habitat. Daily survival probability was unrelated to nest age and distance from the nest to water. Average, year-specific nest survival of all ducks at Minto Flats was 0.11 (95% CI: 0.05 to 0.22), comparable to nest survival of ducks breeding in mid-continent regions (i.e., the prairie pothole region and the Canadian prairie-parklands). Nest survival of scaup was variable among years, ranging from 0.01 (95% CI: 0.00 to 0.06) in 1992 to 0.61 (95% CI: 0.50 to 0.74) in 1993 and was probably related to variation in predation risk and water levels. Scaup production could have been limited by low nest survival during most years of this study; nest survival exceeded 20% only in 1993 and 2002. Because of the high densities of breeding scaup and other waterfowl species at Minto Flats, we recommend management to maintain existing habitat for breeding scaup and other duck species. This management could be most effectively informed by yearly monitoring of production to more accurately understand spatial and temporal variation in recruitment and to identify potential effects of proposed oil and gas exploration on recruitment of ducks at Minto Flats.
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