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Ecology of post-breeding mallards in North and South Dakota


January 2018 - December 2020


Mallards (Anas platyrhynchos) are one of the most heavily-studied waterfowl species, yet sparse research investigated their ecology during the post-fledging period, prior to fall migration. The behavior and physiology of young mallards during this time may be unique as they learn to fly and navigate, exploit new forage and wetland types, develop settling and social cues, molt, avoid predators, changes social status and bonds, and anticipate migration. Indeed, these life-history events differ considerably from those of adult mallards, suggesting there may be important differences in movement patterns and habitat requirements between adults and juveniles. Past waterfowl studies of movement ecology faced technical limitations due to transmitter size, strength and range of tracking equipment, and cost. However, the advent of new satellite technology, reduced transmitter size and cost, and increased battery life now allows investigation of avian movements over larger spatial and temporal extents. Survival of juvenile mallards during the autumn is also an integral component of recruitment to the breeding population, and the ability to these new technologies, specific to hatch year mallards during this sensitive time,, will provide critical information to inform management decisions in North and South Dakota.

Research Products and Activities


  • Anchor, C.E., M.L. Szymanski, R.J. Murano, A.T. Pearse, and J.D. Stafford. Evaluating Post-fledging Movements of Hatch Year Mallards in the Dakotas. Poster. North American Duck Symposium 8, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, 27 August 2019.

Current Staff

Federal Staff: 3

Masters Students: 7

Phd Students: 1

Post Docs: 0

University Staff: 1

5 Year Summary

Students graduated: 18

Scientific Publications: 55

Presentations: 119



  • Joshua StaffordPrincipal Investigator
  • Aaron T PearseCo-Principal Investigator
  • Michael SzymanskiCo-Principal Investigator
  • Rocco MuranoCo-Principal Investigator
  • Cynthia AnchorStudent

Funding Agencies

  • North Dakota Game & Fish Department via Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration
  • South Dakota Department of Game, Fish & Parks via Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration


South Dakota Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit Cooperators

  1. South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks
  2. South Dakota State University
  3. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  4. U.S. Geological Survey
  5. Wildlife Management Institute