Laysan Teal Anas laysanensis nesting phenology and site characteristics on Laysan Island

Michelle H Reynolds, Lisa H Crampton, Mark S Vekasy


Factors influencing breeding initiation of the endangered Laysan Teal Anas laysanensis were studied on Laysan Island in the Hawaiian Islands National Wildlife Refuge between 1998 and 2006. Sixty-two radio-tagged adult females were tracked for 30–180 days to locate and describe their nest sites. In addition, the Laysan Teal were surveyed daily during the breeding season, and 331 individually colour-ringed females were marked to identify new broods and timing of incubation initiation. Temperature, rainfall, and abundance of Brine Flies (Scatella sexnotata, an important prey) were measured in all years. Females nested on average 213 m (s.e. ± 37 m) from the lake basin primarily in Eragrostis variablis, a native bunch grass with > 75% cover. The first observation of nesting in marine debris by Laysan Teal was reported. The initiation of incubation, at the start of the breeding season each year, varied from December to July, and differed significantly between years. Brine Fly abundance, temperature, and rainfall also varied significantly between years. The earlier the Brine Fly abundance peaked, the longer the duration of the breeding season. The length of the breeding season, measured as the number of days between the first and last clutches, varied from 83–192 days (mean 116 ± 14 days). Annual brood production was positively correlated with spring peak abundance of Brine Flies. There was some evidence that it was negatively correlated with the number of adult females in the population. Rainfall, temperature, prey abundance, and the density of other birds on Laysan Island are likely to interact in influencing Laysan Teal’s variable nesting phenology and productivity

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