Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Wildlife and Fisheries Science


An investigation of duck production on six Waterfowl Production Areas (WPA’s) in northeastern North Dakota was conducted during 1970-73. This investigation was conducted in conjunction with habitat-manipulation study by the Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center that entailed prescribed burning of three WPA’s. Wetland habitat conditions, breeding populations and nesting were evaluated all four years. Brood observations were made during the last three years and nesting cover was evaluated during the last two years of investigation. Wetland habitat conditions were generally favorable during the first three years of investigation but in 1973 wetland conditions were extremely poor due to low precipitation amounts. Wetland drainage was a prominent factor on two of the study units. Breeding populations did not fluctuate greatly on the WPA’s during the investigation. The highest number of breeding pairs observed was 291 in 1972 and the lowest number was 172 in 1970. Breeding pairs observed on the entire study area was highest in 1972 and lowest in 1973 with 1517 pairs and 5786 pairs, respectively. Water in wetlands declined by 64 percent from 1972 to 1973. Nesting habitat was generally poor during the investigation. Native grass species were dominant on the WPA’s and exhibited varied response to burning. Land use of the surrounding private land was largely cropland used to grow small grains. Much of the cropland was maintained in a fallow condition during the nesting season. Agricultural operations probably exhibited an adverse effect on early-nesting species using private land as nest sites. Nest densities on the WPA’s were generally low ranging from one nest per 4.8 acres in 1971 to one nest per 17.8 acres in 1973. A Cropland Adjustment Program (CAP) tract on the Sahl study unit had higher nest densities than did the Sahl WPA due to a difference in cover types. Nest success for the study was 32 percent. The highest nest success was observed in 1971 at 35 percent and the lowest in 1973 at 25 percent. The CAP tract had a nest success rate of 40 percent in 1972-72. Nest failure was due mainly to mammalian predation. Brood observations made during the last three years of investigation yielded a total of 387 broods. The Becker and Erickson study units had the fewest broods observed. Hatching curves constructed for 1972 and 1973 brood data exhibited hatching peaks after mid-July and in 1972 a smaller peak occurred in early July. ON the WPA’s, breeding population were higher and more stable than on private lands. The potential for duck production on the WPA’s in the study area was high but actual production was far below potential. Native grasses in a degenerate condition appeared to be inadequate in providing nest security necessary to attract nesting hens and to yield high nest success rates.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Waterfowl Management


Includes bibliographical references (pages 43-44)



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University


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