Editor's choice March/April 2024

Submitted by editor on 28 February 2024. Get the paper!

The editor’s choice is the article by Highway et al. “Hunting constrains wintering mallard response to habitat and environmental conditions”.

Viewed through an ecological lens, hunters are predators. While the immediate effect of hunting mortality on population structure and dynamics has long been in the focus of wildlife research and management, only recently have researchers begun to study non-lethal repercussions of hunting. Hunting may alter the behavior and habitat preferences of individuals, as well as influence the distribution and activity patterns of entire populations.

Consequently, hunting may diminish the carrying capacity of specific areas for game species, as they tend to avoid locations with otherwise favorable habitat conditions due to the increased risk of mortality from hunting. Additionally, hunting activities may conflict with the interests of   other stakeholders, including recreationists primarily focused on wildlife observation and enjoyment. In their paper, Highway et al. present data from GPS-marked mallards wintering in Tennessee, USA, demonstrating how a hunted species needs to adapt its behavior and activity   patterns to mitigate anthropogenic mortality risks. Their findings indicate that the flight activity of mallards was directly influenced by hunting disturbances, constraining the timing and manner of their responses to environmental and habitat conditions.           

These behavioural insights regarding the impacts of hunting are valuable not only for managers of waterfowl and wetlands.

/Ilse Storch