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WILDLIFE SPECIES:  Anas platyrhynchos


AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION : Snyder, S. A. 1993. Anas platyrhynchos. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: [].

ABBREVIATION : ANPL COMMON NAMES : mallard TAXONOMY : The scientific name for the mallard is Anas platyrhynchos Linnaeus [12,19]. The species was formerly called A. boschas [15]. The mallard hybridizes with the American black duck (Anas rubripes) and the Pacific black duck (A. superciliosa). There are two recognized subspecies of mallard: A. platyrhynchos ssp. platyrhynchos and A. platyrhynchos ssp. diazi Ridgway (Mexican duck). Anas platyrhynchos ssp. oustaleti (Mariana mallard) is thought to be extinct [12]. ORDER : Anseriformes CLASS : Bird FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS : No special status OTHER STATUS : NO-ENTRY


WILDLIFE SPECIES: Anas platyrhynchos
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION : The mallard has a circumpolar distribution.  It occurs throughout North America from northern Canada and Alaska south into Mexico and from coast to coast [12].  It is usually a year-round resident in the central United States and along the West Coast from Baja to southern Alaska. The mallard's breeding range is usually in the more northerly parts of its distribution; it winters in the southern United States and Mexico [15]. ECOSYSTEMS : FRES15 Oak-hickory FRES16 Oak-gum-cypress FRES17 Elm-ash-cottonwood FRES28 Western hardwoods FRES36 Mountain grasslands FRES37 Mountain meadows FRES38 Plains grasslands FRES39 Prairie FRES41 Wet grasslands FRES42 Annual grasslands STATES :


BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS :     1  Northern Pacific Border     2  Cascade Mountains     3  Southern Pacific Border     4  Sierra Mountains     5  Columbia Plateau     6  Upper Basin and Range     7  Lower Basin and Range     8  Northern Rocky Mountains     9  Middle Rocky Mountains    10  Wyoming Basin    11  Southern Rocky Mountains    12  Colorado Plateau    13  Rocky Mountain Piedmont    14  Great Plains    15  Black Hills Uplift    16  Upper Missouri Basin and Broken Lands KUCHLER PLANT ASSOCIATIONS :    K047  Fescue - oatgrass    K048  California steppe    K050  Fescue - wheatgrass    K051  Wheatgrass - bluegrass    K053  Grama - galleta steppe    K054  Grama - tobosa prairie    K056  Wheatgrass - needlegrass shrubsteppe    K063  Foothills prairie    K064  Grama - needlegrass - wheatgrass    K065  Grama - buffalograss    K066  Wheatgrass - needlegrass    K067  Wheatgrass - bluestem - needlegrass    K068  Wheatgrass - grama - buffalograss    K069  Bluestem - grama prairie    K070  Sandsage - bluestem prairie    K071  Shinnery    K072  Sea oats prairie    K073  Northern cordgrass prairie    K074  Bluestem prairie    K075  Nebraska Sandhills prairie    K076  Blackland prairie    K077  Bluestem - sacahuista prairie    K078  Southern cordgrass prairie    K079  Palmetto prairie    K080  Marl - everglades    K081  Oak savanna    K082  Mosaic of K074 and K100    K083  Cedar glades    K084  Cross Timbers    K085  Mesquite - buffalograss    K086  Juniper - oak savanna    K087  Mesquite - oak savanna    K088  Fayette prairie    K089  Black Belt    K090  Live oak - sea oats    K091  Cypress savanna    K092  Everglades    K094  Conifer bog    K100  Oak - hickory forest    K104  Appalachian oak forest SAF COVER TYPES :     16  Aspen     17  Pin cherry     18  Paper birch     63  Cottonwood     65  Pin oak - sweetgum     88  Willow oak - water oak - diamondleaf oak     89  Live oak     91  Swamp chestnut oak - cherrybark oak     92  Sweetgum - willow oak     93  Sugarberry - American elm - green ash     94  Sycamore - sweetgum - American elm     95  Black willow     96  Overcup oak - water hickory    101  Baldcypress    102  Baldcypress - tupelo    103  Water tupelo - swamp tupelo    104  Sweetbay - swamp tupelo - redbay    217  Aspen    235  Cottonwood - willow SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES : NO-ENTRY PLANT COMMUNITIES : Mallards mostly inhabit wetland plant communities composed of marsh species such as cattail (Typha spp.), bulrush (Scirpus spp.), smartweed (Polygonum spp.), sedge (Carex spp.), and (Phragmites spp.).  They also inhabit brome (Bromus spp.)-wheatgrass (Agropyron spp.) communities [12].  Mallards may use upland meadows for nesting; plants in these meadows may include aster (Aster spp.), sowthistle (Sonchus arvensis), and white-top grass (Scholochloa festucacea) [17]. REFERENCES : NO-ENTRY


WILDLIFE SPECIES: Anas platyrhynchos
TIMING OF MAJOR LIFE HISTORY EVENTS : Pair formation- mostly complete by autumn but can continue into winter;                 typically monogamous. Breeding/Nesting- March through June. Clutch- 5 to 14 eggs; young birds lay smaller clutches; may renest if         original clutch is destroyed. Incubation- 26 days. Fledge- 8 weeks. Maturity- 1 year. [2,12,15] PREFERRED HABITAT : Mallards prefer lowland habitat such as marshes, ponds, small lakes, sheltered coastal bays and estuaries, shallow pools, tidal flats, and protected coves [12,15].  They also graze in stubble fields and inhabit low-elevation mountain lakes and streams.  Mallards primarily nest in grasslands away from the water's edge but have been known to use old bird nests, tree cavities, rights-of-way, and meadows with woody vegetation [2]. COVER REQUIREMENTS : Mallards are very adaptable and appear to have only a few specific requirements.  They need enough dry ground away from the water's edge for nesting yet plenty of pond area for feeding [2,17].  Also, mallards need the previous year's dead vegetation for nests [15]. FOOD HABITS : Mallards eat a variety of aquatic plants and invertebrates as well as crops.  Foods include duckweeds (Lemna spp, Spirodela spp.), smartweeds (Polygonum spp.), grasses (Poaceae), sedges (Carex spp.), pondweeds (Potamogeton spp.), rice-cutgrass (Leersia oryzoides), arrowhead (Sagittaria latifolia), wild millet (Echinochloa spp.), crustaceans, worms, snails, spiders, corn, and soybeans [7,12,15].  Acorns in bottomland hardwood types are also important food [14]. PREDATORS : Predators of mallard include humans, cats, dogs, raccoon, opossum; skunks, weasels, martens; eagles, hawks; crows, ravens, magpies; and turtles, snakes, and fish [13,15]. MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Recruitment of mallards in the prairie pothole region of North America is low even during years of high rainfall and runoff.  Wetland density may be a limiting factor in nesting success, although evidence is inconclusive [16].  The creation and restoration of wetlands can increase wetland densities where low. Setting numerical goals for local populations may be futile due to regional and continental population shifts from habitat changes. Instead, measurement of recruitment parameters at the local level can be used with population models to predict population changes independent of breeding size population [2]. Mallards are susceptible to diseases in urban settings.  Food poisoning is especially common in stagnant park ponds where bacteria builds up from heat and where bread is fed to ducks by people [4]. Bottomland oak forests serve as important feeding and wintering areas for ducks.  Creating uneven-aged canopies by selection cuts and small clearcuts (0.5 ha or larger) is adequate for maintaining and regenerating oak stands [14].  Reservoirs in these areas should be flooded beginning in mid-September and continued through October. Drawdown should begin in mid-February.  Following years of good acorn production, wetland flooding should be withheld for 2 to 3 years so the understory can establish [14]. REFERENCES : NO-ENTRY


WILDLIFE SPECIES: Anas platyrhynchos
DIRECT FIRE EFFECTS ON ANIMALS : Fire can and often does destroy mallard nests.  However, some females seem devoted to hatching their clutch enough to return to nests to hatch undamaged eggs [9,11]. HABITAT RELATED FIRE EFFECTS : Burning in late May in Manitoba's pothole region showed a drastic decline in mallard nests initiated immediately following burning.  Nest initiations rose again in late June [5].  Mallards are early nesters and are adversely affected by spring burns.  Also they prefer nesting in dense cover, which is susceptible to heavy burning [5].  Fires before May 10 in Manitoba negatively affect nesting success, and fires after May 10 affect nesting success of later-nesting species [17].  Also, large scale autumn burns may remove vegetation that is important for capturing snow, which in turn recharges marshes during spring. Spring burning to remove grass cover showed a slight decrease in mallard nesting on a North Dakota wildlife refuge.  On average there were 13 percent fewer of all nesting ducks, including mallard, on plots that were mowed and burned compared to undisturbed plots [13].  Fires on another North Dakota refuge conducted over a 4-year period showed a greater number of nest successes on plots burned in August and September compared to June fires [8].  By the fourth growing season nest success was still greater on the burned plots later, although there was no significant difference between the number of nests on the plots burned in August and September, and the plots burned in June. FIRE USE : Fires can reduce predator activity through elimination of hiding cover [5].  Rotating spring fires have proved effective for enhancing waterfowl habitat in Manitoba.  To ensure the maximum area is available for nesting, burning should be done in small parcels [17]. Fire can be used to establish red goosefoot (Chenopodium rubrum), an important duck food, by reducing impenetrable reed (Phragmites spp.) thickets and breaking solid stands of meadow grass.  To avoid harmful effects on ducks burning should be done at times other than during the primary nesting season or shortly before [8].  Any burning can reduce nesting cover, however.  Autumn fires could potentially destroy rank grasses needed for cover the following nesting season, so some cover should be left at all times.  In northern prairies burning should not be conducted any more frequently than every two to three years [8]. Duebbert and others [18] recommend fire for rejuvenating prairie pothole regions of cool- and warm-season grasses.  Cool-season native grasses should be burned from late March through mid-May or mid-August through mid-September.  Warm-season native grasses should be burned between mid-May and mid-June [18]. Fire has been used to provide openings in cattail (Typha spp.) marshes for mallard foraging.  In the St Clair Wildlife Refuge, Ontario, mallards used openings that were created by winter burning followed by spring flooding.  Mallard foraging effort was positively correlated with invertebrate biomass and opening size (P<0.001).  Burning produced less cattail mortality than winter mowing followed by spring flooding [20].  The Research Project Summary of Ball's [20] study provides details. For more information on specific wetland species refer to the following in this database:  Phragmites, Carex, Spartina, Scirpus, and Eleocharis. FIRE REGIMES : Find fire regime information for the plant communities in which this species may occur by entering the species name in the FEIS home page under "Find Fire Regimes". REFERENCES : NO-ENTRY


WILDLIFE SPECIES: Anas platyrhynchos
REFERENCES :  1.  Bernard, Stephen R.; Brown, Kenneth F. 1977. Distribution of mammals,        reptiles, and amphibians by BLM physiographic regions and A.W. Kuchler's        associations for the eleven western states. Tech. Note 301. Denver, CO:        U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management. 169 p.        [434]  2.  Cowardin, Lewis M.; Gilmer, David S.; Shaiffer, Charles W. 1985. Mallard        recruitment in the agricultural environment of North Dakota. Wildlife        Monographs No. 92. Washington, DC: The Wildlife Society. 37 p.  [18150]  3.  Eyre, F. H., ed. 1980. Forest cover types of the United States and        Canada. Washington, DC: Society of American Foresters. 148 p.  [905]  4.  Figley, William K.; VanDruff, Larry W. 1982. The ecology of urban        mallards. Wildlife Monographs No. 81. Washington, DC: The Wildlife        Society. 40 p.  [2041]  5.  Fritzell, Erik K. 1975. Effects of agricultural burning on nesting        waterfowl. Canadian Field-Naturalist. 89: 21-27.  [14635]  6.  Garrison, George A.; Bjugstad, Ardell J.; Duncan, Don A.; [and others].        1977. Vegetation and environmental features of forest and range        ecosystems. Agric. Handb. 475. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of        Agriculture, Forest Service. 68 p.  [998]  7.  Gruenhagen, Ned M.; Fredrickson, Leigh H. 1990. Food use by migratory        female mallards in northwest Missouri. Journal of Wildlife Management.        54(4): 622-626.  [17427]  8.  Higgins, Kenneth F. 1986. A comparison of burn season effects on nesting        birds in North Dakota mixed-grass prairie. Prairie Naturalist. 18(4):        219-228.  [1149]  9.  Hodson, N. L. 1965. Mallard's devotion to nest in face of fire. British        Birds. 58: 97.  [16011] 10.  Kuchler, A. W. 1964. United States [Potential natural vegetation of the        conterminous United States]. Special Publication No. 36. New York:        American Geographical Society. 1:3,168,000; colored.  [3455] 11.  Leedy, Daniel L. 1950. Ducks continue to nest after brush fire at        Castalia, Ohio. Auk. 67: 234.  [14637] 12.  Madge, Steve; Burn, Hilary. 1988. Waterfowl: An indentification guide to        the ducks, geese and swans of the world. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin        Company. 298 p.  [20029] 13.  Martz, Gerald F. 1967. Effects of nesting cover removal on breeding        puddle ducks. Journal of Wildlife Management. 31(2): 236-247.  [16284] 14.  Moorhead, David J.; Hodges, John D.; Reinecke, Kenneth J. 1991.        Silvicultural options for waterfowl management in bottomland hardwood        stands and greentree reservoirs. In: Coleman, Sandra S.; Neary, Daniel        G., compilers. Proceedings, 6th biennial southern silvicultural research        conference: Volume 2; 1990 October 30 - November 1; Memphis, TN. Gen.        Tech. Rep. SE-70. Asheville, NC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest        Service, Southeastern Forest Experiment Station: 710-721.  [17507] 15.  Phillips, John C. 1986. A natural history of the ducks. Vols. 1-2. New        York: Dover Publications, Inc.  409 p.  [21634] 16.  Rotella, Jay J.; Ratti, John T. 1992. Mallard brood survival and wetland        habitat conditions in southwestern Manitoba. Journal of Wildlife        Management. 56(3): 499-507.  [19286] 17.  Ward, P. 1968. Fire in relation to waterfowl habitat of the delta        marshes. In: Proceedings, annual Tall Timbers fire ecology conference;        1968 March 14-15; Tallahassee, FL. No. 8. Tallahassee, FL: Tall Timbers        Research Station: 255-267.  [18932] 18.  Duebbert, Harold F.; Jacobson, Erling T.; Higgins, Kenneth F.; Podoll,        Erling B. 1981. Establishment of seeded grasslands for wildlife habitat        in the praire pothole region. Special Scientific Report-Wildlife No.        234. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife        Service. 21 p.  [5740] 19.  Donohoe, Robert W. 1974. American hornbeam  Carpinus caroliniana Walt.        In: Gill, John D.; Healy, William M., eds. Shrubs and vines for        northeastern wildlife. Gen. Tech. Rep. NE-9. Upper Darby, PA: U.S.        Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northeastern Forest        Experiment Station: 86-88.  [13714] 20. Ball, J. P. 1984. Habitat selection and optimal foraging by        mallards: a field experiment. Guelph, ON: University of Guelph. 44 p.        Thesis.  [18071]

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