Diurnal activity and breeding ecology of the White-headed Duck at Lake Tonga, Algeria

Chettibi, F., Khelifa, R., Aberkane, M., Bouslama, Z., & Houhamdi, M. (2013). Diurnal activity budget and breeding ecology of the White-headed Duck Oxyura leucocephala at Lake Tonga (North-east Algeria)Zoology and Ecology 23 (3): 183-190.  DOI: 10.1080/21658005.2013.817516
PDF in ResearchGate.net


The White-headed Duck Oxyura leucocephala is one of the most threatened duck species in the world. In the last decade ecology, behaviour and breeding biology of this species attracted considerable scientific interest across its geographic range. In order to fill some gaps in the knowledge of North African populations, diurnal and seasonal activity budget and breeding ecology of the species were investigated at Lake Tonga (Ramsar site), El Kala, Algeria. The species is resident at this site and its numbers were the highest in January. Throughout the year, ducks spent the following proportion of time on these activities daily: 62.41% resting, 18.50% locomotion, 11.04% feeding, 5.56% preening, 0.53% flying, 0.13% agonistic behaviour and 1.83% courting. Substantial differences were noted in the activity budget between wintering and breeding seasons. Resting and locomotion constituted 89% of all the activities in the wintering season, while resting, locomotion and feeding were dominant activities in the breeding season accounting for 86%. Throughout the year, resting peaked in the afternoon, while feeding reached its maximum at noon. As to the breeding ecology, ducks started laying eggs in early May and hatching in the middle of June. The mean clutch size was 9.41 ± 5.67 eggs, ranging between 1 and 11 eggs with a super clutch of 22 eggs giving the evidence of conspecific brood parasitism. Hatching success was low (55%) because of nest desertion, egg predation and egg infertility. The clutch size and hatching were positively correlated to the nest depth, the mean of which was 7.92 ± 4.94 cm.

Nest of the White-headed Duck (Oxyura leucocephala) containing nine eggs
Nest of the White-headed Duck (Oxyura leucocephala) containing nine eggs, Lake Tonga, Algeria.

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