The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) manages wetlands and grasslands for wildlife habitat throughout the central North American Prairie Pothole Region (PPR). PPR wetlands, or potholes, are widely recognized as critical habitats for North American migratory waterfowl, waterbirds, and other wildlife. Potholes also provide other ecosystem services such as carbon sequestration, flood mitigation, filtration of pollutants, groundwater recharge, nutrient retention, and recreational opportunities. Wetland condition assessments have been completed nationally at coarse scales, but focused, regionwide assessments of the biological condition of potholes managed by the FWS are lacking. Therefore, FWS personnel require information pertaining to the biological condition and status of wetlands on FWS fee-title lands in the PPR to support management, restoration, and acquisition efforts. The biological condition of wetlands typically is reflected by their plant communities, and these communities correspond to past and current management and anthropogenic disturbances; thus, plant communities are a suitable surrogate of wetland condition.
This report describes the study design, selection of sample sites, and field survey methods for a wetland condition assessment for FWS fee-title lands in the PPR of North Dakota, South Dakota, and Montana. Various spatial databases were gathered (for example, National Wetlands Inventory) to identify and assess potholes on FWS fee-title lands and to facilitate the selection of study sites. A spatially balanced, site-selection process resulted in the inclusion of 125 temporarily and 125 seasonally ponded potholes distributed across the area of interest; the first 100 for each classification were considered the primary study sites, whereas the remaining 25 were considered an oversample to replace those deemed not appropriate for sampling by field crews. Study sites were within native prairie and reseeded grasslands on FWS National Wildlife Refuges and Waterfowl Production Areas and are distributed among the primary physiographic subregions of the PPR: the Glaciated Plains, Missouri Coteau, and Prairie Coteau; a small number of sites also are within the Lake Agassiz Plain and Turtle Mountains. Site assessment protocols, vegetation survey methods, data analyses, and condition categories (for example, poor, good, very good) for the wetland assessment are based on the North Dakota Rapid Assessment Method and an Index of Plant Community Integrity developed for potholes. Results of the wetland condition assessment will aid FWS staff in assessing past and current management and help to identify priority areas for future management and acquisition.
|Title||Study design and methods for a wetland condition assessment on U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service fee-title lands in the Prairie Pothole Region of North Dakota, South Dakota, and Montana, USA|
|Authors||Brian Tangen, Sheel Bansal, Rachel R. Fern, Edward S. DeKeyser, Christina L. M. Hargiss, David M. Mushet, Cami S. Dixon|
|Publication Subtype||USGS Numbered Series|
|Series Title||Open-File Report|
|Record Source||USGS Publications Warehouse|
|USGS Organization||Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center|