Understanding consequences of management strategies for farmed wetlands to ecosystem services in the Prairie Pothole Region

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NPWRC is leading a partnership with North Dakota State University to examine ecological, social, and financial considerations of farming practices within temporarily-ponded wetlands. There has been a long history of cropping prairie pothole wetlands which are embedded within farm fields. Often wet conditions during spring or summer prevent farmers from getting a harvestable yield from these areas. However, disturbance of these wetlands may be beneficial because wetlands choked with cattail provide little benefit for wildlife. This study incorporates precision agriculture data (provided by cooperating farmers), field surveys of bird use and wetland characteristics, and opinion surveys of farmers. Our findings will give insights about ecological implications of wetland disturbance to migrating birds, profitability of farming wetlands, and farmer motivations in making land-use decisions about wetlands. We anticipate that this work will inform future experimental conservation practices whereby farmers may become more profitable and provide management actions to wetlands that benefit wildlife, particularly migratory waterbirds.