Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department / School

Wildlife and Fisheries Science

First Advisor

Paul A. Vohs, Jr.


Non-game birds on South Dakota wetlands were surveyed on 476 quarter sections representing the major portion of South Dakota excluding the Missouri River and its impoundments and the Black Hills. Two surveys were conducted, one in May and a second in June, in both 1975 and 1976. The distribution of 13 non-game species was analyzed by physiographic strata and wetland classification: red-winged blackbird {Agelaius phoeniceus), yellow-headed blackbird (Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus), Wilson's phalarope (Steganopus tricolor), black tern (Chlidonias niger), lesser yellowlegs (Totanus flavipes), sora {Porzana carolina), marbled godwit (Limosa fedoa), willet (Catoptrophorus semipalmatus), American avocet (Recurvirostra americana}, American bittern {Botaurus lentiginosus), great blue heron (Ardea herodias), black-crowned night heron (Nycticorax nycticorax) and green heron (Butorides virescens). Glacial pond types received the most use by non-game birds. Red-winged blackbird, yellow-headed blackbird, American bittern and sora had highest frequencies of occurrence on semi-permanent ponds. Lesser yellowlegs, marbled godwit, willet, green heron, and black tern occurred frequently on permanent ponds or lakes; Wilson's phalarope on seasonal ponds; American avocet on ephemeral ponds; and great blue heron and black-crowned night heron on permanent streams. A greater variety and abundance of birds generally occurred in the 4 physiographic strata east of the Missouri River. All 13 species occurred in the James River Lowland, and 5 species occurred most frequently in this region: great blue heron, black-crowned night heron, green heron, sora and American avocet. The willet, marbled godwit and Wilson's phalarope occurred most frequently in the Missouri Coteau; red-winged blackbird and lesser yellowlegs in the Southern Plateau Region; black tern and yellow-headed blackbird in the Minnesota River-Red River Lowland and American bittern in the Prairie Coteau. Multivariate analysis indicated surface water area as the single most common variable explaining the utilization of wetlands by non-game birds. Multiple regression analysis of territorial male red-winged and yellow-headed blackbirds on semi-permanent ponds explained 47 and 57 percent of the variation respectively. Results of discriminant analysis of the presence and absence of the other target species generally explained less than 10 percent of the variation. The best discriminant results were with the American bittern where approximately 13 percent of the variation was explained.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Wetland ecology -- South Dakota
Birds -- South Dakota
Birds -- Ecology -- South Dakota


Includes bibliographical references (pages 50-54)



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University


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