Over the last 20 years scaup numbers have declined, and these declines have been greatest in the northern boreal forests of Canada and Alaska where most lesser scaup (Aythya affinis) nest. We studied nest success and duckling survival of lesser scaup over 3 field seasons, 2001–2003, on the Yukon Flats National Wildlife Refuge in northeastern Alaska, USA. Daily survival rate (DSR) of nests on our study area across all 3 years was 0.943 (n = 177 nests, 95% CI: 0.930–0.954), corresponding to a nest success of only 12.3%, considerably lower than published estimates of an average nest success as high as 57% for lesser scaup in the northern boreal forest. With Mayfield logistic regression, we investigated effects on nest survival of year, clutch initiation date, and nesting habitat type (large wetlands >10 ha, small wetlands <10 ha, and wooded creeks). Neither year nor clutch initiation date influenced nest survival; however, the odds of nest success on large wetlands was 49% lower than on wooded creeks (odds ratio = 0.512, 95% CI = 0.286, 0.918). Based on the model that used only habitat type for estimation, DSR on large wetlands was 0.931 (corresponding nest success = 7.6%), DSR on small wetlands was 0.941 (nest success = 11.1%), and DSR on wooded creeks was 0.963 (nest success = 26.2%). To estimate duckling survival, we monitored 10 broods (n = 75 ducklings) over 3 field seasons by radiotagging hens at nest hatch. Most duckling mortality (94%) occurred in the first 10 days after hatch. Average duckling survival during 1–10 days was 0.321 (95% CI: 0.122–0.772), during 11–20 days was 0.996 (95% CI: 0.891–1.040), and during 21–30 days was 0.923 (95% CI: 0.769–1.041). Three of 10 hens moved all or part of their broods overland between nesting and brood-rearing wetlands for distances of 0.3–1.6 km. Our estimates of lesser scaup nest success and duckling survival on the Yukon Flats were among the lowest ever reported for ducks nesting at northern latitudes, even though the study site was in pristine boreal forest. Estimating and comparing scaup demographic rates from different geographic areas can contribute to improved conservation. Given the scarcity of information on scaup nesting in the boreal forest, basic nesting parameters are important to those trying to model scaup population dynamics.
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Vol. 71 • No. 1