Contributions of Wetlands in U. S. Prairie Pothole Region Cropland Dominated Landscapes to Waterfowl Productivity

Contributions of Wetlands in U. S. Prairie Pothole Region Cropland Dominated Landscapes to Waterfowl Productivity

The Prairie Pothole Region (PPR) is the primary breeding landscape for waterfowl in North America. However, the PPR is one of North America’s most altered and threatened ecosystems due to the extensive loss of grasslands and wetlands primarily due to agricultural conversion. Although research shows that waterfowl pairs and broods seem to prefer wetlands surrounded by perennial cover, studies have also demonstrated that pairs and broods routinely use wetlands in cropland-dominated landscapes. These wetlands can be valuable food resources for migrating waterfowl; however, a strong mechanistic understanding of breeding duck use of wetlands in cropland-dominated landscapes does not exist.

Ducks Unlimited is leading a group of partners on a project to increase waterfowl managers’ understanding of wetlands in cropland-dominated landscapes. This pilot study will focus on landscapes in the PPR of Iowa and Minnesota. Field researchers will be studying wetlands to identify the characteristics that are driving waterfowl use of wetlands near croplands. The outcomes of this research will help guide the implementation of conservation practices across the PPR.

Partners: Ducks Unlimited, Iowa State University, USGS Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center, Prairie Pothole Joint Venture