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Eco ethology of the Duck mallard (Anas plathyrhynchos) wintering at the level of Garaet Hadj Tahar (Skikda, North-East Algeria).


The mallard duck (Anas platyrhynchos) makes part of the family of Anatidae. It is the biggest and the most abundant of the surface dusks in occidental palearctic. Of all of the Anatidae, it is the most ubiquitous; it is present in the set of North America, of Europe, of Asia and of North Africa [56, 57, 23, 17, 33, 49, 1, 36, 44, 15, 21, 55]. The paleontology studies on this species reveal that they are the ancestors of almost all of the varieties of the domestic ducks [22, 34].

On the scale of the mainland Europe, North America and Asia, the species is object of several researches to study its ecology, behavior, wintering, the reproduction and thus the census [14, 25, 32, 18, 58, 35, 38, 46, 12, 16].

In Algeria, this species has a phenologic status of sedentary nester species in all of the continental water plans [31]. It is noted in different eco intricate of coastal wetlands and in the country's center [27, 39, 44, 4].

At the level of ecological intricate of Guerbes Sanhadja (North East Algeria), is present in almost the totality of the wetlands. It is present in the parking Mhammed Messaoussa Chichaya and Sidi Makhlouf. A quite limited headcount, around 20 individuals were counted in these lands. The most elevated headcounts are often recorded in Garaet Hadj Tahar.

In the aim of the following is to study the ecology of these Anatidae in the ecological intricate of Guerbes Sanhadja Wetlands, an eco ethologic study of this surface duck was realized over a season of wintering. This study allows us to determine the spatial and temporal occupation chronology of the water plan, in the wintering season of the bird and also, to contribute to the knowledge of the diurnal behavior of this species. This allows us to deduce the environmental role and to understand the functioning and the importance of these international wetlands regarding this bird.


The Garaet Hadj Tahar "The Garaet Hadj Tahar (36[degrees]51'50[degrees]N 70[degrees]15'57[degrees]E) makes part of the wetlands complex of Guerbes- Sanhadja prairie which is situated in the Nord-Est of Algeria. It is a hydro- system of fresh water with an average depth varying between 0.8 and 1.20 m and which extends on acreage of 112 ha. This depth increases after the torrential rains where the plan of water constitutes a basin picking up all of the streams. Eco intricate of Guerbes Sanhadja wetlands was designated as a Ramsar site, since February 2, 2001 [7]. It is bordered in the West by coastal hills of Skikda and in the East by the coastal massif of Chetaibi. Hadj Tahar Garaet presents an oval very lengthened shape and as the crow flies it is situated at about twenty kilometers of the Mediterranean Sea (Fig. 1).

The flora of the plan of water is much diversified. We can name the beaches of Nymphaea alba, Typha angustifolia, Phragmites australis, Scirpus maritimus, Scirpus lacustrus and Iris pseudoacaurus. The plan of water is trimmed by a belt which is made mainly by Juncus acutus, Juncus maritimus, Olea europea, Asphodelus aestivus, Rubus ulmifolius as well as lawns of Grass dominated by Cynodan dactylo and Paspalum distichum. The earths surrounding the site are exclusively used by the riparian for the cultures orchardists.

Aquatic avifauna consorting this plan water is as more much diversified. It is represented essentially by the Anatidae, the Rallidae, the Podicipedidae, the Phalacrocoracidae, the Ardeidae, the Threskiornithidae, the Coconiidae, the Accipteridae, the Pandionidae, the Recurvirostridae, the Charadriidae, the Alcedinidae, the Laridae, the Sterninae and the Scolopacidae [41, 44].

The diurnal behavior of the Mallard was studied in the season of wintering from the beginning of December until the end of April (2010-2011). Three taken out per month were realized for counting these birds and studying their spatial divisions in order to determine the modalities of occupation of the water plan by these birds. The follow-up was realized using an Orthological Konus (x100) telescope and even binoculars (Breaker optical 7x50). The individual counting was realized if the headcount was low (does not exceed 200 individuals) [6, 54]. In the contrary case a visual assessment was done. The data were collected by choosing several points of observation, selected to cover the furthest surface of Garaet.

The follow-up of the rhythms of diurnal activities was established by the scan method. Was realized hourly from 08h to 16h, hanging 112 hours of follow-up [3, 5, 37, 54]. Seven activities were measured: The sleep, the feeding (by beak, head and switchover), the swimming, the agnostic upkeep of the plumage, the flight, the parade and the behavior.




Structure and Phenology:

The Duck mallard is present in the site of Garaet Hadj Tahar during all the period of wintering. The headcounts was between 100 and 145 individuals (Fig. 3). Starting from February until the end of April. We recorded a progressive diminution of the headcount in the period in this period where it deceased from 140 individuals at the beginning of February to 20 individuals at the end of April.

The headcounts recorded in the months of December, January and February mark the groupings in mass of ducks mallard during this period of wintering. This coincides with the progressive comings of the individuals of this species according to different dates. Progressive collapses are observed during the two last months of the study, thus ascertaining the preparations at the prenuptial migrations in order to meet the usual places of reproduction. However a small headcount lives at the level of Garaet of Hadj Tahar, it deals with the sedentary nester population. The similar points with other studies are summarized in the board on that (Tab.1) follows.

The mallard consorts regularly the oriental sector of the plan of water. This region is characterized by the presence of reeds (Phragmites australis) which constitute one halophyte, for the rest observed mainly during the day like sleeping or grooming. Following the human disturbance or the diurnal predators presence, the occidental sector of the plan of water is also consorted by some individuals. At the springtime, this occidental hydro- system sector is overgrown by the white water lily (Nymphaea alba), which crouches the down surface of water and of this fact, the moving of the hinder mallard ducks. It is noted that during the period of wintering, the ducks mallard cohabit with other aquatic species such as the Gadwall (Anas strepera) birds, the Eurasian Coot (Fulica atra), the Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo), the Eurasian Teal (Anas crecca), the Common Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus), the Great Crested Grebe (Podiceps cristatus) and the Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis).

The bibliographical study on the mallard stipulates that this species presents sedentary migratory populations. It is present in Garaet Hadj Tahar and in all of the oriental Numidia during all the year [8, 47, 31, 28]

In Europe and in North America, the species is very abundant in the period of wintering. It deals with 73340 individuals in Spain [35], 46100 individuals at the Camargue [21], 10000 individuals in 2006 in Hungary [35] and 898 individuals in the Berry of Saint-Brieuc [48].

A comparative Viewpoint on the number of the mallard in our country showed that the head count of the present species is low in comparison with the headcount in Europe or in North America. Knowing that in these two mainland's they exercise wild strengthening methods of mallard populations by hunting and realizing the hunted ducks and this to increase the production of the mallard populations. This practical which is very widespread and used to make to the overexploitation by the horse power or at the particularly rigorous winters [9, 10, 13, 11, 12].

Diurnal Behavior:

The analysis of the obtained results reveals that swimming is the dominant activity of the results of the rhythms of diurnal activities with a frequency of 52, 26 %. It is followed by the flying activity (25, 87 %), sleeping (13, 61 %), grooming (7, 64 %) and nutritional activity by beak (0, 44 %) and finally by the feeding by immersion of the head or by switchover of the body and parades which holds 0, 18% of the total results (Fig. 4). The nutritional activity by these three factors: By beak, by immersion of the head and by switchover of the body as well as the parade and the agonistic activities Live weakly noted activities in this time budget; they are recorded with rates varying between 0, 62 % and 1%.

Swimming is the activity which holds more than the half of the time budget. It is often recorded with the rate varying between 40 and 60 % during all the period of study (Fig. 4). With a maximum frequency during middle of January (77, 26%) and a minimum during February (39,53%).

The activity of moving by swimming increases considerably in the months of December and January and decreases in the months of February, of March and of April. This activity is often noted in presence of other Anatidae mainly the Gadwall (Anas strepera), the Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata) and the Eurasian Wigeon (Anas penelope).

The swimming rate is more important during the month of December and January coinciding with the coming in group of the first wintering. By its gregarious character, this activity is noted at small groups of 6, 10, 15 and even of 30 individuals. At diverse ducks, this activity is often associated with the nutritional activity [2, 30] Duck mallard often swim to change the rest places.

The flight, second activity, holds the quarter of the results of these activities rhythms. It displays variable rates from a period to another; the maximum peak was recorded during the second fifteen days of February with a rate of 58,66% (Fig. 5). The minimum rate was observed in the second fifteen days of January with 6,83%.

The flight is often contagious among Anatidae, once a member of the group fly, all the rest of the group will do the same thing. It permits the movement of the birds group towards the occidental plan water sector in the same spot or in case of any disturbance. this activity is such tributary to the presence of inadequate conditions like the noise, the use of tractors in the peasants, the passage of helicopters which disturbs the diurnal rest of some species in addition to the browsing of the Western Marsh Harrier (Circus aeruginosus) and of the Western Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) which disturb the solitary individuals, during their fetch of food mainly near the reeds.

The activity of rest or the diurnal sleep occupies the third row (Fig. 3). It is noted with very variable rates and the peak was signaled for the month of December with a rate of 14%. Comparing with other Anatidae, such as, the Ferruginous Duck (Aythya nyroca) the White-headed Duck (Oxyura leucocephala) this activity is observed with slightest rate [2, 30, 42], it is probably due to the disturbance that the site knows. (a) Assessment total of the rhythms of activities, (b) Evolution of the activities at the lecture of the period of wintering.


The upkeep of the plumage or the diurnal grooming is an activity displaying more or less stable rates. Two peaks are thus recorded, the first one hanging mi- January with 13,67% and the second one hanging the end of March with a value of 17,18% (Fig. 5). But in a quite enough manner the remaining of the values yoyos 5 and 10%. The activity of grooming is often observed after an aerial move flight, just after the brutal relaxing awakening in the birds near the helophyte.

The three types of feeding, by immersion of the beak, by immersion of the head and by switchover of the body hold a minimal portion in this assessment total of the rhythms of activities 0, 66% and 0, 78 % represent the most elevated recorded values. This activity is noted much more with the immersion of the beak and by switchover of the body. It is observed that this activity is mainly nocturnal at the majority of the Anatidae [50, 51, 52, 53, 24, 27, 26, 28, 29, 40].

A lot of studies in Europe or in North America concerning the strategy of feeding adopted by the ducks in the period of wintering and reproduction show that the food is mainly nocturnal. In Garaet Hadj Tahar, it seems that this strategy cannot be used by the species under study. The diet of the mallard duck is made of seeds, of corn, of rice in addition to the cited invertebrate of the country [20, 45]. According to some studies, A. platyrhynchos spends less time for food because it feeds on terrestrial corn cultures during the evening period [56].

The parade and the antagonism are observed only twice either in December for the parade or in March and April for the agonistic activity.

It is however crucial to signal that the Ducks mallard move, swim and rest in groups of couples. This behavior can be translated by the fact that the couples are already formed during the beginning of the wintering in the neighborhoods of wintering, thus explaining the weak activities rates of parades and of antagonisms.


Statistical Analysis:

The multivariate statistical analysis by the bi- air of A.F.C. (Factor analysis of the Matches) in its plan factorial 1 x 2 which holds 40, 33 % of the information (Fig. 6) demonstrate that the factor F1 (abscissas) opposes on the one hand the essential activities (the swimming, the grooming, the flying, the feeding b y head and by switchover) of the other activities the sleep parades the feeding by beak and agonistic activities. Factor F2 (ordinates) it separates on the one hand the agonistic activities and the nutritional activity by switchover of the other activities the swim, the flight, the grooming, the sleep, the feeding by beak and by head as well as the parade.

Under another angle, the graph of AFC exposes a distribution of the measured activities during the period of the study. Indeed, the diurnal sleep or the rest characterizes the rainiest months in the season of wintering. The feeding by immersion of beak is observed during the first wintry rains (Fig. 6). The flight, the swim, the upkeep of the plumage and the nutritional activity by immersion of the head are two activities associated and they are noticed. During this period, the level of water parking it is at its fill, thus facilitating the move of these Anatidae. The feeding by immersion of the head is then noted.


Between January and March, the Duck mallard feeds itself mainly by switchover of its body. This period coincides with the emergence of the micros invertebrate and of the aquatic macros invertebrate giving a better abundance of the food. The agnostic activity characterizes the months of March and April. It is recorded at the formed couple retarder at the level of this plan of water.


Garaet Hadj Tahar is a suitable medium for the wintering of numerous species of waters birds among which the Duck mallard Anas platyrhynchos. In the season of wintering 2010-2011 the headcount reached its pick in the month of December with 145 recorded individuals. Beyond the month of April we recorded the presence of a small group made of about twenty individuals headcount lives on the site, ascertaining the sedentary of this species. These birds often occupy all of the oriental sector. The limited number of this group however, may be due to the frequent disturbance in the occidental sector.

The study of the diurnal activities rhythms of this bird of water revealed that the duck mallard devotes much time to the movement by swimming estimated at 52, 26 %. The remainder rest of the time is devoted to flight where the rate decreased to (25, 87 %), to the sleep (13, 61%), to the grooming (7, 64%). The nutritional activities, the parades and the antagonistic hold a minimal portion in these results; they occupy a very low percentage which generally does not exceed the 01%.


Article history:

Received 25 April 2014

Received in revised form 20 May 2014

Accepted 25 May 2014

Available online 22 June 2014


The authors are most grateful to Mr Rouidi Mohamed Breddedine, Mr Rouidi Samir, Mr Heddam Salim, Mrs Chekroud Zohra and Mrs Amrous F. for the correctness of this manuscript.


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(1,2) Hamdi Dziri, (1,2) Sonia Rouidi, (2) Mohamed Laid Ouakid and (3) Moussa Houhamdi

(1) Department of Biology, Badji Mokhtar University, Annaba (Algeria).

(2) Department of Biology, 20 Aout 1955 University, Skikda (Algeria).

(3) Department of the Sciences of the Nature and the Life, Faculty SNV STU, May 8,1945University, Guelma (Algeria).

Corresponding Author: Hamdi Dziri, Department of Biology, 20 Aout 1955 University, Road El Hadaiek, Box 26, Skikda (Algeria).

Tel: 00213661958942 E-Mail:
Table 1: Comparison of the phonological data of the mallard
(Anas plathyrynchos).

                                                  Presence at the
Authors       Status           Headcount (max)    lecture Year

[19]          Sedentary-nest   --                 September - August
[39]          Sedentary-nest   200 individuals    September - April
[43]          Sedentary-nest   1000 individuals   September - April
[4]           Sedentary-nest   327 individuals    --
The present   Sedentary-nest   145 individuals    September - April

Authors       Site

[19]          Swamp Smir (North of Morocco)
[39]          Garaet Timerganine (East of Algeria)
[43]          Garaet Hadj Tahar (Nord-East Algeria)
[4]           Setif wetlands (East of Algeria)
The present   Garaet Hadj Tahar (Nord-East Algeria)

Fig. 3: Evolution monthly of the headcount of the mallard (Anas
plathyrhynchos) at the level of Garaet Hadj  Tahar (2010-2011).

11-Dec   145

20-Dec   120

30-Dec   110

14-Jan   125

20-Jan   120

28-Jan   100

10-Feb   140

20-Feb   80

28-Feb   105

10-Mar   70

20-Mar   60

30-Mar   55

15-Apr   20

30-Apr   20

Note: Table made from bar graph.
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Author:Dziri, Hamdi; Rouidi, Sonia; Ouakid, Mohamed Laid; Houhamdi, Moussa
Publication:Advances in Environmental Biology
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:6ALGE
Date:Jun 1, 2014
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