Mak­ing the most of duck data

Field and Game - - NEWS -

Wildlife bi­ol­o­gist As­so­ci­ate Pro­fes­sor Gra­ham Hall has rec­om­mended an ex­pan­sion of Field & Game Aus­tralia’s head and wing sam­pling project and ad­di­tional research on cap­tive ducks to mea­sure growth rates.

For nearly a decade Field & Game mem­bers have been con­tribut­ing head and wing sam­ples taken from har­vested ducks.

Gra­ham Hall’s re­port on the 2016 sea­son re­vealed the low­est sam­ple num­ber since the project be­gan in 2009 with 391 sam­ples.

How­ever, the num­ber of sam­ples, and the wide geo­graphic ori­gin of the sam­ples, gives some con­fi­dence that they still rep­re­sented the state-wide harvest.

The ma­jor­ity of the sam­ples in 2016 were from Wood ducks, which was greater than the num­ber of har­vested Grey teal for the first time.

As­soc. Prof. Hall said the lack of sam­ples from south-west Vic­to­ria from the 2014–2016 sea­sons needed to be ad­dressed to gain a com­plete pic­ture of the an­nual harvest. He also pointed to ad­di­tional research on live birds to en­hance the value of the data al­ready col­lected. “The in­ter­pre­ta­tion of any age data is dif­fi­cult given there are no known-age birds to act as ref­er­ence,” he said.

“This lim­i­ta­tion will hope­fully be ad­dressed by FGA mem­bers at­tempt­ing to raise cap­tive-bred birds to mon­i­tor plumage, growth rates and moult pat­terns of known-age birds. Al­ter­na­tively, FGA may con­sider a post-grad­u­ate stu­dent project in which cap­tive birds are grown and their mor­pho­log­i­cal mea­sure­ments recorded.”

This would al­low com­pre­hen­sive com­par­i­son with known-aged birds with the 4507 sam­ples col­lected from har­vested birds since 2009.

The sam­ples from var­i­ous sites are also avail­able to other peo­ple for DNA or ra­dio iso­tope anal­y­sis.

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