A bioenergetic approach has been adopted as a planning tool to set habitat management objectives by several United States Fish and Wildlife Service North American Waterfowl Management Plan Joint Ventures. A bioenergetics model can be simplified into 2 major components, energetic demand and energetic supply. Our goal was to estimate habitat-specific food availability, information necessary for estimating energy supply for black ducks (Anas rubripes) wintering on Long Island, New York, USA. We collected both nektonic and benthic samples from 85 wetland sites dispersed among 5 habitat types (salt marsh, mud flat, submersed aquatic vegetation, brackish bay, and freshwater) commonly used by black ducks in proportion to expected use. Biomass varied among habitats (F4,5 > 7.46, P < 0.03) in 2004–2005, but there was only marginal variation in 2005–2006 (F3,4 = 5.75, P = 0.06). Mud flats had the greatest biomass (1,204 kg/ha, SE = 532), followed by submersed aquatic vegetation (61 kg/ha, SE = 18), and salt marsh (34 kg/ha, SE = 6). In the second year of the study, freshwater had the greatest biomass (306 kg/ha, SE = 286), followed by mud flats (85 kg/ha, SE = 63), and salt marsh (35 kg/ha, SE = 4). Our results suggest food density on wintering grounds of black ducks on coastal Long Island is considerably lower than for dabbling ducks using inland freshwater habitats, indicating black duck populations are more likely than other species of dabbling ducks to be limited by winter habitat. We recommend targeting preservation, restoration, and enhancement efforts on salt marsh habitat.
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