Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) populations in the Lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley (hereafter, LMAV) comprise the largest concentration of wintering Mallards in North America. Radiotelemetry techniques were employed to assess movements by female Mallards during winters of 2004–2005 and 2005–2006; 467 paired (diurnal and nocturnal) observations on 80 radiomarked females were attained to assess effects of date, female age, hunting regime and habitat type on distances moved and potential habitat switching. Distance moved increased with date for females diurnally located in RICE but decreased for females in FOREST. Median movement distance was 1.5 km, suggesting suitable habitats for all activities were in close proximity. Habitat switching varied among diurnal habitat types used by females. Females diurnally located in FOREST and REFOR switched habitats in ≤22% of paired observations, whereas females diurnally located in RICE switched habitats in 55% of paired observations. The decreased movement distances and less frequent habitat switching by females using forested habitats should reduce their energy expenditure and exposure to predation risk. The results document the importance of forested wetlands to Mallards wintering in the LMAV and provide support for programs that protect and restore such habitats.
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Vol. 33 • No. 3