First published: 29 March 2021
“Increasing concerns exist about possible decreased wintering duck abundance and hunting opportunities in the southern regions of the Atlantic and Mississippi flyways of North America. Researchers suggest these decreased abundances of ducks may be related to winter warming and related climatic phenomena.
“Accordingly, we tested predictions that duck abundance was increasing more at northern than southern latitudes, and that trends were related to average winter temperatures (Dec–Jan). We tested predictions using National Audubon Society Christmas Bird Count (CBC) data collected during December 1969 through January 2019 from 31 states in the United States and 6 Canadian provinces that comprise the Atlantic and Mississippi flyways for 16 species of dabbling and diving ducks (Anatinae). We found support for the prediction that CBC trends in duck abundance vary with latitude, and mean winter temperature explained nearly half the variation in CBC trends for 12 of 16 species.
“For some species, trends were negative in warmer regions and positive in colder regions. For others, trends were stable or slightly positive in warmer regions but more positive in colder regions. These results provide empirical evidence supporting climate‐influenced winter range changes by important game duck species and suggest challenges and opportunities for waterfowl population, habitat, and hunting management in North America and the northern hemisphere. © 2021 The Wildlife Society.”