Four-Square-Mile Breeding Waterfowl Survey
Originally designed and implemented by scientists at Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center in 1987, the Four-Square-Mile Survey (FSMS) is recognized by the PPJV as the primary method to monitor the abundance, distribution, and productivity of breeding waterfowl in the JV. Within the U.S. PPR USFWS staff and collaborators visit 704 survey plots twice annually in May and early June to collect field data. Pair survey data are integrated with annual remote sensing of wetland condition to produce estimates of breeding pair abundance of 13 duck species and production estimates for the five most common duck species (mallard, northern pintail, blue-winged teal, gadwall, and northern shoveler). This sample-based protocol was originally designed to understand the contributions of each of three ownership strata (Private, USFWS Wetland Easements, and USFWS Fee Title) to the overall population. Data collected from these surveys have now become a primary data source for a variety of spatial modeling products that guide easement acquisition and restoration, evaluate and inform conservation programs, and describe wetland dynamics in the prairie potholes, as well as informing models for non-game birds. The Four-Square-Mile Survey and its products were models for the concept of Strategic Habitat Conservation, which was recently adopted by the US Fish and Wildlife Service.
Partners: USFWS Wildlife Management Districts and Refuges, Region 6 HAPET, Region 3 HAPET, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center