Importance of wetlands in intensively farmed landscapes to duck production

Science Center Objects

The Prairie Pothole Region of the northern Great Plains annually hosts 50–80% of North America’s ducks during the breeding season. Accordingly, there are significant government and private funds that go to conservation for the purposes of improving duck production in the region. The Prairie Pothole Region ecosystem has a number of stressors, intensive agriculture being chief among them. The current conservation paradigm focuses on protection of habitat in less-farmed landscapes. However, restoration of habitats in intensively-farmed landscapes may prove to be an equally valuable approach because often areas that are intensively farmed have a greater baseline capacity for biological productivity. This research effort aims to evaluate tradeoffs of baseline productivity with potential negative agricultural effects on duck productivity, while exploring potential avenues to mitigate those negative effects. Ultimately, this work should help inform where conservation efforts may be most beneficial to ducks, allowing for future work to address social and economic issues associated with where and how conservation is applied to the Prairie Pothole Region landscape.