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The influence of local- and landscape-level factors on wetland breeding birds in the Prairie Pothole Region of North and South Dakota

August 17, 2017

We examined the relationship between local- (wetland) and landscape-level factors and breeding bird abundances on 1,190 depressional wetlands in the Prairie Pothole Region of North and South Dakota during the breeding seasons in 1995–97. The surveyed wetlands were selected from five wetland classes (alkali, permanent, semipermanent, seasonal, or temporary), two wetland types (natural or restored), and two landowner groups (private or Federal). We recorded 133 species of birds in the surveyed wetlands during the 3 years. We analyzed the nine most common (or focal) species (that is, species that were present in 25 percent or more of the 1,190 wetlands): the Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus), Blue-winged Teal (Anas discors), Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos), American Coot (Fulica americana), Gadwall (Anas strepera), Common Yellowthroat (Geothlypis trichas), Yellow-headed Blackbird (Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus), Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata), and Savannah Sparrow (Passerculus sandwichensis). Our results emphasize the ecological value of all wetland classes, natural and restored wetlands, and publicly and privately owned wetlands in this region, including wetlands that are generally smaller and shallower (that is, temporary and seasonal wetlands) and thus most vulnerable to drainage. Blue-winged Teal, Northern Shoveler, Gadwall, Common Yellowthroat, and Red-winged Blackbird had higher abundances on Federal than on private wetlands. Abundances differed among wetland classes for seven of the nine focal species: Blue-winged Teal, Northern Shoveler, Mallard, American Coot, Common Yellowthroat, Yellow-headed Blackbird, Red-winged Blackbird. American Coot had higher abundances on restored wetlands than on natural wetlands overall, and Gadwall and Common Yellowthroat had higher abundances on private restored wetlands than on private natural wetlands. The Common Yellowthroat was the only species that had higher abundances on restored private wetlands than on restored Federal wetlands. After adjusting for wetland size and the date and location of the surveys, our results demonstrated that incorporating wetland- and landscape-level factors in models can improve our ability to predict abundances of wetland birds in this region. The top model for eight of the nine focal species included wetland- and landscape-level factors, whereas the best model for Blue-winged Teal included only wetland-level attributes. Although local factors (for example, percent open water or emergent vegetation) in individual wetlands are important factors for some wetland breeding birds, it is important that natural resource managers consider landscape-level factors beyond the local factors in their conservation plans for wetland birds.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2017
Title The influence of local- and landscape-level factors on wetland breeding birds in the Prairie Pothole Region of North and South Dakota
DOI 10.3133/ofr20171096
Authors Lawrence D. Igl, Jill A. Shaffer, Douglas H. Johnson, Deborah A. Buhl
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Open-File Report
Series Number 2017-1096
Index ID ofr20171096
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

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