Changes in cropping methods, climate decoy pintail ducks into an ecological trap


After a severe drought gripped the Prairie Pothole Region of the U.S. and Canada in the 1980s, populations of almost all dabbling duck species that breed there have recovered but northern pintails.

A new study by a team of researchers suggests they have been caught in an ecological trap.
With increasing cropland cover in the region, pintails have been selecting for cropland over scarce alternative nesting habitat, probably because it is similar to the native mixed-grass prairie they evolved to nest in.
That behavior results in fewer pintails the following year due to nest failures from predation and agricultural practices.

An inflexible breeding behavior may result in greater vulnerability to unpredictable weather events and changes in climactic conditions.

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