Sustainable management of migratory European ducks: finding model species

13 February 2018

Holopainen, Sari; Arzel, Céline; Elmberg, Johan; Fox, Anthony; Guillemain, Matthieu; Gunnarsson, Gunnar; Nummi, Petri; Sjoberg, Kjell; Väänänen, Veli-Matti; Alhainen, Mikko; Pöysä, Hannu

Eurasian migratory duck species represent a natural resource shared between European countries. As is evident throughout human harvest history, lack of coordinated management and monitoring at appropriate levels often leads to “the tragedy of the commons”, where shared populations suffer overexploitation. Effective management can also be hampered by poor understanding of the factors that limit and regulate migratory populations throughout their flyways, and over time. Following decades of population increase, some European duck populations now show signs of levelling off or even decline, underlining the need for more active and effective management. In Europe, the existing mechanisms for delivering effective management of duck populations are limited, despite the need and enthusiasm for establishing adaptive management (AM) schemes for wildlife populations. Existing international legal agreements already oblige European countries to sustainably manage migratory waterbirds. Although the lack of coordinated demographic and hunting data remains a challenge to sustainable management planning, AM provides a robust decision-making framework even in the presence of uncertainty regarding demographic and other information. In this paper we investigate the research and monitoring needs in Europe to successfully apply AM to ducks, and search for possible model species, focusing on freshwater species (in contrast to sea duck species) in the East Atlantic flyway. Based on current knowledge, we suggest that common teal Anas crecca, Eurasian wigeon Mareca penelope and common goldeneye Bucephala clangula represent the best species for testing the application of an AM modelling approach to duck populations in Europe. Applying AM to huntable species with relatively good population data as models for broader implementation represents a cost effective way of starting to develop AM on a European flyway scale for ducks, and potentially other waterbirds in the future.

Doi
10.2981/wlb.00336