Journal of Ornithology

, Volume 150, Issue 1, pp 183–193 | Cite as

Variation in home-range size and movements of wintering dabbling ducks

  • Pierre LegagneuxEmail author
  • Christine Blaize
  • Franck Latraube
  • Jérôme Gautier
  • Vincent Bretagnolle
Original Article


Despite a long historical record of radio-tracking analyses, basic home-range information is still lacking for most common waterfowl species, especially during the winter. We investigated how dabbling duck home ranges and daily foraging movements are influenced by extrinsic (site, temperature, date) and intrinsic factors (species, sex, age). We radio-tagged and monitored 125 individuals of three duck species (mallard Anas platyrhynchos, Eurasian teal A. crecca crecca and northern pintail A. acuta) in three French wetlands over four winters. Home-range sizes for a given species varied greatly among our study sites. Moreover, species differed according to home-range structure and distance traveled to reach their foraging grounds (teal had a more patchy home range and traveled farther distances than mallards). Foraging distances increased with temperature and time (over the winter season), but this effect differed among species, suggesting that they behave differently in response to food depletion and/or cold weather. The commuting behavior (i.e., the decision to leave the roost at night for foraging) differed among species and season. Teals were more risk-prone because they were more likely to leave the roost at night. In our study, ducks foraged at distances of 1–2 km from roosts, whereas distances of 2–48 km have been recorded in North America. We suggest that food supply, hunting pressure or population density may account for these inter-continental differences.


Anatidae Dabbling ducks Nearest-neighbor cluster analysis Radio-tracking Space use 



We sincerely thank all those who contributed to this study in the field: O. Riquet, A. Mélot, E. Grossin, F. Grandemonge and the pilots from the Aéroclub de Deauville and the Aéroclub du Poitou (especially B. Van-Hecke). We are grateful to the staff of the three nature reserves (Chérine, Marais de Moëze-Oléron (LPO), Estuaire de la Seine) and especially J. Trotignon, T. Williams, P. Delaporte, F. Corre, J. Gonin, P. Provost and C. Aulert for their continuous support. The Fédération Départementale des Chasseurs de l’Indre (C.-H. DePonchalon, F. Bourguemestre and E. Goyon) provided us with the opportunity to work on their managed site. This study received financial support from WWF France, the Région Centre, the CNRS and the Office National de la Chasse et de la Faune Sauvage (ONCFS). P. Legagneux received a grant from the University Louis Pasteur of Strasbourg, France. The manuscript benefited greatly from the critical comments of M. Guillemain, T. Cook, D. Pinaud and R.G. Clark. T. Williams and R.G. Clark revised the English. We certify that observations on live individuals were carried out in compliance with European legal requirements (European Convention ETS no. 123) and national permission (LEP 905).


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Copyright information

© Dt. Ornithologen-Gesellschaft e.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Pierre Legagneux
    • 1
    Email author
  • Christine Blaize
    • 1
  • Franck Latraube
    • 1
  • Jérôme Gautier
    • 2
  • Vincent Bretagnolle
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre d’etudes biologiques de ChizéVilliers en BoisFrance
  2. 2.Réserve Naturelle des marais de Moëze-OléronSaint FroultFrance

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