Habitat Features Associated with Barrow's Goldeneye Breeding in Eastern Canada

Robert, Michel,
Drolet, Bruno
Savard, Jean-Pierre L.
Canadian Wildlife Service, Environment Canada, Quebec
Science and Technology, Environment Canada, Quebec
Publication Date: 

We investigated environmental variables linked to presence of Barrow's Goldeneye (Bucephala islandica) pairs from the eastern North American population on 412 lakes of the Sainte-Marguerite River watershed, Québec, Canada. We analysed habitat relationships at two spatial scales (i.e., considering all lakes surveyed and high elevation lakes only) and predetermined the high elevation lakes as those including 90% of Barrow's Goldeneye occurrences. Barrow's Goldeneye were found on 59 lakes, all of which were ≥490 m elevation (maximum = 822 m) with 90% at ≥610 m. Six variables tested using multivariate logistic regressions contributed to explain the occurrence of goldeneyes. Four were significant (P < 0.10) in both the complete and the high elevation data sets: nest boxes (+) and brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) (-) occurrences, altitude (+), and the interaction between altitude and mean slope (+). The models explained only a small proportion of Barrow's Goldeneye occurrence for both data sets (R² = 0.27 and 0.23, respectively). The negative relationship between Barrow's Goldeneye and brook trout occurrences, and the positive relationship with altitude probably reflect a positive relationship between goldeneye and highly productive aquatic ecosystems. Barrow's Goldeneye from eastern North America primarily use high altitudinal, productive lakes during the breeding season, which emphasizes the importance of fishless lakes for that population at risk.

Citation Information: 
The Wilson Journal of Ornithology 120(2):320-330, 2008