, Volume 30, Issue 2, pp 321–332 | Cite as

Wetland Use and Selection by Breeding Waterbirds in the Boreal Forest of Quebec, Canada

  • Louis-Vincent LemelinEmail author
  • Marcel Darveau
  • Louis Imbeau
  • Daniel Bordage
Original Paper


Wetlands of remote forested landscapes of Quebec support numerous species of breeding waterbirds yet species-habitat associations remain poorly quantified. From 1990 to 2005, we conducted systematic helicopter surveys of breeding waterfowl and common loons (Gavia immer) across a 540,000-km2 forested region of Quebec. Data from this survey were used to investigate local habitat use and selection by waterbirds, based on a wetland classification system derived from digital forestry maps. Detailed indicated-breeding-pair (IBP) distributions were developed for broad aquatic, wetland, and shoreline habitat types. We also estimated selection ratios within groups of similar habitat types. Small (≤8 ha), connected ponds were highly used and selected by five dabbling duck species and by wood duck (Aix sponsa), Canada goose (Branta canadensis), ring-necked duck (Aythya collaris), hooded merganser (Lophodytes cucullatus), common goldeneye (Bucephala clangula), and Barrow’s goldeneye (B. islandica). Dabbling duck species, wood duck, and Canada goose made extensive use of streams (25–41% of all IBP). Community organization was mainly driven by openness of aquatic habitat and water movement, i.e., from lentic to lotic habitats. Failure to include streams in waterfowl surveys and habitat mapping could produce biased estimates of wetland habitat use and selection in the boreal forest.


Eastern Canada Habitat use Waterfowl Small wetlands Streams 



Our project was financially supported by the BDJV, the CWS, Ducks Unlimited Canada, the Fondation de l’Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue, and the Canadian Boreal Initiative. The Quebec Ministry of Natural Resources and Wildlife provided forestry maps. L. V. Lemelin received a Master’s scholarship from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada. F. Fournier (CWS), E. Reed (CWS), J. Sedinger (Univ. of Nevada), M. Drever (Univ. of British Columbia), P. Nummi (Univ. of Helsinki), B. Clark (CWS), and anonymous reviewers provided helpful comments on previous versions of this manuscript. We thank the observers and pilots who logged many survey hours in helicopters, and B. Parsons, J. Kirby, and E. Filotas for their help with copy editing.


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Copyright information

© Society of Wetland Scientists 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Louis-Vincent Lemelin
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  • Marcel Darveau
    • 2
    • 4
  • Louis Imbeau
    • 1
  • Daniel Bordage
    • 5
  1. 1.Université du Québec en Abitibi-TémiscamingueAmosCanada
  2. 2.Ducks Unlimited CanadaQuébecCanada
  3. 3.Ministère des Ressources Naturelles et de la Faune du QuébecQuébecCanada
  4. 4.Département des Sciences du Bois et de la ForêtLaval UniversityQuébecCanada
  5. 5.Environment Canada, Canadian Wildlife ServiceQuébecCanada

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