The Southern Oscillation and variations in waterfowl abundance in southeastern Australia


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Mean sizes of duck hunters’ bags on the opening days of annual waterfowl seasons at selected wetlands in southeastern Australia, between 1972 and 1990, are correlated with an index of the Southern Oscillation (SOI). Simple correlations exist between bag sizes at the various sites, and the mean bag size in Victoria shows a positive relationship with that obtained at Barrenbox Swamp, New South Wales. Bag sizes are most significantly correlated with monthly SOI some 25–28 months before the eventual start of an open season. Interannual variations in rainfall in eastern Australia are generated by the El Niño–Southern Oscillation, which is monitored by the SOI, and the waterfowl populations respond to changing water and wetland availability. Accepting that annual bag sizes represent an index of waterfowl abundance, the regional population size may be related to climatic events associated with changes in SOI values. Further consideration of the SOI and indices of waterfowl abundance may allow variations in legislative or management options well in advance of individual open seasons.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)485-490
Number of pages6
JournalAustralian Journal of Ecology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1991
Externally publishedYes

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