Loss of wetlands to agriculture and development negatively impacts waterfowl. Greentree reservoirs are forested tracts that are purposefully flooded to increase hunting opportunities for sportsman and to provide shelter for waterfowl such as Mallards (Anas platyrhynchos). These human-made wetlands can also make natural foods such as acorns and invertebrates available to Mallards. Food habits analysis conducted in 1959 indicated acorns composed 24% of the volume of diets of Mallards collected from a variety of habitats including agricultural fields, naturally flooded bottomland forests, and greentree reservoirs in Arkansas. However, changes that may have occurred in food use by Mallards in bottomland hardwood habitats in Arkansas since last examined are unclear. We examined foods used by Mallards in greentree reservoirs from November 1990 to February 1991 in southeastern Arkansas. Seventeen species of plants and 21 families/orders of animals occurred in the diet of Mallards. Mallards consumed 65% plant matter, primarily seeds of narrowleaf foresteria (Foresteria angustifolia), Nuttall oak (Quercus nuttallii), Pennsylvania smartweed (Polygonum pensylvanicum), and rice (Oryza sativa). Invertebrate taxa, constituting 6% or more of the sample by both volume and mass, included the orders Coleoptera, Diptera, and Isopoda. Diets of Mallards present in greentree reservoirs in our study indicate Mallards still use natural foods, though agricultural seeds were in close proximity to natural foods.
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Vol. 71 • No. 3