, Volume 23, Issue 1, pp 140–148 | Cite as

Differences in distribution of modified basins and ducks relative to roadside transects

  • Jane E. Austin
  • Glenn R. Guntenspergen
  • H. Thomas Sklebar
  • T. K. Buhl


Wetland basins in the Prairie Pothole Region of the U.S. are commonly modified by excavation (e.g., roadside ditches, stock dugouts), partial drainage (ditching), and diking. Differences in the distribution of modified wetlands may affect the predictive accuracy of waterfowl survey data if such wetlands are not distributed randomly in the landscape and if waterfowl are not distributed equally among them. We used data collected on thirty-eight 40-km2 plots in North Dakota to examine the distribution of modified basins relative to roadside transects and their use by five species of dabbling ducks in 1995. The 800-m-wide transects were subdivided into an inner 400-m transect, centered on the road, and the remaining outer transect area. We compared the distribution of modified and natural wetland basins among three sample areas: 1) the inner 400-m-wide roadside transect area, 2) the outer transect area, and 3) the remaining area within the 40-km2 plot that was outside of the transects (outer plot). Duck use was compared between the two transect areas. The plots contained 20,582 basins, of which 88.5% were unmodified, 7.5% were excavated, 3.7% were partially drained, and 0.2% were diked. Nearly all excavated temporary (89%) and seasonal (90%) basins occurred in the inner transect area, reflecting the high proportion of basins that would be defined as roadside ditches. Excavated semipermanent basins were more evenly distributed among the outer plot and two transect widths; these basins often were dugouts but also included roadside ditches. Partially drained and diked basins also were fairly evenly distributed among the three sample areas. Semipermanent basins had greater use by mallards (Anas platyrhynchos) and northern pintails (A. acuta) when they were partially drained than when they were excavated or unmodified; pintails also had greater use of partially drained seasonal basins. Use of wetland basins by gadwall (A. strepera), blue-winged teal (A. discors), and northern shovelers (A. clypeata) did not differ among water regimes or modification. We found no evidence to indicate that duck numbers determined from standard 400-m-wide roadside transects were biased relative to the larger landscape. However, pond counts derived from such transects were biased. Correlations of duck numbers to pond counts that exclude ditches or temporary basins would poorly reflect the response of ducks to available water.

Key Words

Anas acuta Anas clypeata Anas discors Anas platyrhynchos Anas strepera blue-winged teal gadwall mallard modified wetlands North Dakota northern shoveler pintail Prairie Pothole region survey methodology 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Literature Cited

  1. Austin, J. E., H. T. Sklebar, G. R. Guntenspergen, and T. K. Buhl. 2000. Effects of roadside transect width on waterfowl and wetland estimates. Wetlands 20:660–670.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Austin, J. E., G. R. Guntenspergen, H. T. Sklebar, and T. K. Buhl. 2001. Duck populations as indicators of landscape condition in the Prairie Pothole Region. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment 69:29–47.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Austin, J. E. and M. R. Miller. 1995. Northern pintail (Anas acuta). In A. Poole and F. Gill (eds.), The Birds of North America, No. 163. The Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia, PA, USA, and The American Ornithologists’ Union, Washington, DC, USA.Google Scholar
  4. Cowardin, L. M., V. M. Carter, F. C. Golet, and E. T. LaRoe. 1979. Classification of wetlands and deepwater habitats of the United States. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Biological Services Program, Washington, DC, USA. FWS/OBS-79/31.Google Scholar
  5. Cowardin, L. W., D. S. Gilmer, and L. M. Mechlin. 1981. Characteristics of central North Dakota wetlands determined from sample aerial photographs and ground study. Wildlife Society Bulletin 9: 280–288.Google Scholar
  6. Cowardin, L. M., D. H. Johnson, A. M. Frank, and A. T. Klett. 1983. Simulating results of management actions on mallard production. Transactions of the North American Wildlife and Natural Resource Conference 48:257–272.Google Scholar
  7. Cowardin, L. M., D. H. Johnson, T. L. Shaffer, and D. W. Sparling. 1988. Applications of a simulation model to decisions in mallard management. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Technical Report 17.Google Scholar
  8. Cowardin, L. M., T. L. Shaffer, and P., M. Arnold. 1995. Evaluations of duck habitat and estimation of duck population sizes with a remote-sensing-based system. National Biological Service, Biological Science Report 2.Google Scholar
  9. Dahl, T. E. 2000. Status and trends of wetlands in the conterminous United States 1986 to 2000. U.S. Department of Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service, Washington, DC, USA.Google Scholar
  10. Dzubin, A. 1969. Assessing breeding populations of ducks by ground counts. Saskatoon Wetlands Seminar. Canadian Wildlife Report Series 6:178–230.Google Scholar
  11. Euliss, N. H., Jr., D. A. Wrubleski, and D. M. Mushet. 1999. Wetlands of the prairie pothole region: invertebrate species composition, ecology, and management. p. 471–514. In D. P. Batzer, R. B. Rader, and S. A. Wissinger (eds.) Invertebrates in Freshwater Wetlands of North America: Ecology and Management. John Wiley and Sons, New York, NY, USA.Google Scholar
  12. Johnson, R. R. and K. F. Higgins. 1997. Wetland Resources of Eastern South Dakota. South Dakota State University, Brookings, SD, USA.Google Scholar
  13. Johnson, R. R. and K. F. Higgins. 1998. Bias in quadrat-derived estimates of number of prairie wetlands. Wetlands 18:329–334.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Kantrud, H. A., G. L. Krapu, and G. L. Swanson. 1989. Prairie basin wetlands of the Dakotas: a community profile. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Biological Report 85(7.28).Google Scholar
  15. Krapu, G. L. 1974. Feeding ecology of pintail hens during reproduction. Auk 91:278–290.Google Scholar
  16. Littell, R. C., G. A. Milliken, W. W. Stroup, and R. W. Wolfinger. 1996. SAS system for mixed models. SAS Institute, Inc., Cary, NC, USA.Google Scholar
  17. Lokemoen, J. T. 1973. Waterfowl production on stock-watering ponds in the northern plains. Journal of Range Management 26: 179–184.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Rumble, M. A. and L. D. Flake. 1983. Management considerations to enhance use of stock ponds by waterfowl broods. Journal of Range Management 36:691–694.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. SAS Institute, Inc. 1997. SAS user’s guide, version 6, 5th edition. SAS Institute, Inc., Cary, NC, USA.Google Scholar
  20. Serie, J. R. and L. M. Cowardin. 1990. Use of social indices to predict reproductive success in canvasbacks. Journal of Wildlife Management 54:66–72.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Shaw, S. P. and C. G. Fredine. 1956. Wetlands of the United States. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Circular 39.Google Scholar
  22. Stewart, R. E. and H. A. Kantrud. 1971. Classification of natural ponds and lakes in the glaciated prairie region. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Resource Publication 92.Google Scholar
  23. Stewart, R. E. and H. A. Kantrud. 1973. Ecological distribution of breeding waterfowl populations in North Dakota. Journal of Wildlife Management 37:39–50.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Svingen, D. and S. H. Anderson. 1998. Waterfowl management on grass-sage stock ponds. Wetlands 18:84–89.Google Scholar
  25. Swanson, G. A., M. I. Meyer, and V. A. Adomaitis. 1985. Foods consumed by breeding mallards on wetlands in south-central North Dakota. Journal of Wildlife Management 49:197–203.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Canadian Wildlife Service. 1987. Standard operating procedures for aerial waterfowl breeding ground population and habitat surveys in North America. Office of Migratory Bird Management, Laurel, MD, USA.Google Scholar
  27. van der Valk, A. G. and C. B. Davis. 1978. The role of seed banks in the vegetation dynamics of prairie glacial marshes. Ecology 59: 322–335.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Zimmer, K. D., M. A. Hanson, and M. G. Butler. 2000. Factors influencing invertebrate communities in prairie wetlands: a multivariate approach. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 57:76–85.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Society of Wetland Scientists 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jane E. Austin
    • 2
  • Glenn R. Guntenspergen
    • 1
  • H. Thomas Sklebar
    • 2
  • T. K. Buhl
    • 2
  1. 1.U.S. Geological Survey Patuxent Wildlife Research CenterUniversity of Minnesota Natural Resources InstituteDuluthUSA
  2. 2.U.S. Geological SurveyNorthern Prairie Wildlife Research CenterJamestownUSA

Personalised recommendations