Evaluation of Prairie Pothole Migratory Bird Population Response to CRP

Evaluation of Prairie Pothole Migratory Bird Population Response to CRP

We are actively working with partners to update analyses on the benefits of the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) to grassland birds and ducks. In addition to providing updates to the biological benefits, we will provide Farm Services Agency with a GIS based tool to rank CRP contracts by priority areas of the PPJV.

We know from past analyses that CRP is very important to birds. Scientists have documented a 30% increase in duck production compared to the same area without the CRP cover on the landscape. Further, during the period 1992–2004, duck nest success increased in all major habitats throughout the PPR, which was likely a result of the CRP having a positive impact on the entire landscape relative to duck production. Wetlands in CRP fields attracted about 30% more breeding duck pairs than similar classed wetlands in crop fields.

Further, scientists have also evaluated the Wetland Conservation (Swampbuster) Provision of the Farm Program. They estimated, if Swampbuster was not part of the Farm Bill, a large number of small, shallow wetlands would be at risk to drainage. If this wetland loss occurred, the breeding duck population would decline in the U.S. PPR by 37%.

In earlier research, grassland birds showed similar responses to the CRP. Analyses suggest that termination of the CRP would result in population declines ranging from 2% to 52% (depending on species) of the target species in the PPR of North Dakota and South Dakota. Spatial models predicted that conversion of CRP grasslands to cropland in the PPR of the two states would result in the combined loss of >900,000 individuals of the four species per state included in that analysis.

Partners: FSA, PPJV, USFWS-HAPET, Ducks Unlimited