WATERFOWL BEHAVIOR IN RESPONSE TO VARYING LEVELS OF BALD EAGLE PREDATION PRESSURE IN THE SACRAMENTO VALLEY OF CALIFORNIA
|Kevin W. Dodd; CSU Chico; firstname.lastname@example.org; Laura Cockrell, Amanda Banet, Kathy Gray, Raymond J. Bogiatto, Don Miller|
This project concerns the predator-prey relationship between bald eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) and waterfowl (Family Anatidae) during the fall-winter season in the Sacramento Valley of California. Predators can affect prey habitat use and behavior without direct interaction through the non-consumptive effects of predation. It is well documented that bald eagles feed on waterfowl. What is not known is how significantly bald eagles indirectly affect waterfowl behavior, which can have a negative fitness impact. This is especially important to understand as our Pacific Flyway waterfowl are threatened by habitat loss and climate change. I hypothesize that waterfowl behavior is a function of perceived predation risk and a consequence of the number of bald eagles present in the environment. As such, I predict that as bald eagle numbers increase, waterfowl will spend more time being vigilant, and less time on other behaviors. To test my hypothesis, time budgets of waterfowl at the Llano Seco Wildlife Area in the Sacramento Valley will be compared under different levels of bald eagle presence. This project is part of a master’s thesis program at CSU Chico. It is currently in progress, with one field season completed and a second currently taking place.