Distribution and breeding ecology of the Ferruginous Duck Aythya nyroca in Algeria
We conducted a survey of the distribution of Ferruginous Duck Aythya nyroca across Algeria and analysed the influence of nest-site characteristics on nesting success at a Ramsar site, Lake Tonga. The species was found to occupy different wetlands (freshwater lakes, brackish marshes and salt lakes) across three major climatic belts (subhumid coastal strip, semi-arid Hauts Plateaux and arid Sahara). Mean clutch size of successful nests was 13.3 ± 6.0 eggs (N = 26) with a hatching rate of 74% for successful clutches. Nesting success was recorded for 44% of nests with clutch desertion (72.7%) accounting for the majority of failed clutches. Egg size of the study population, which breeds at the southern limit of the species’ range, was significantly smaller than that of its northerly counterparts. Clutch size was negatively related to egg size and positively associated with depth of water below the nest, suggesting that older, more experienced or high-quality birds monopolised the safest sites. Successful clutches were significantly associated with tall vegetation, suggesting that when nesting is carried out mainly on offshore floating islets, protection against aerial predators and heat stress determine nesting outcome. Conspecific brood parasitism was significantly and positively associated with deferred egg-laying and smaller egg size, suggesting an age-dependent mechanism.