Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Wildlife and Fisheries Science

First Advisor

Kenneth F. Higgins

Second Advisor

Charles G. Scalet


Changes in the vegetative composition of most palustrine emergent semi-permanent wetlands is primarily a function of water level fluctuation. However, some wetlands do not exhibit vegetational shifts since emergent species such as Typha persist under flooded as well as drought conditions. Numerous techniques to control cattails such as burning and herbicide application have been suggested. The objective of this study was to test the use of cattle grazing as a method of controlling dense cattail stands in semi-permanent wetlands to improve breeding duck habitat. Plots (.81 ha) were established in the emergent zone in each of two wetlands (≤ 4 ha) in the vicinity of Waubay National Wildlife Refuge, Waubay, South Dakota. Ten yearling, crossbred steers were allowed to graze the plots for 28 days beginning 11 June 1984 at a rate of 3.73 ALM’s. Cattails and thallophytes were sampled during pretreatment and post treatment weeks of 1984 and 1985. Passerine birds, waterfowl, and aquatic invertebrates were sampled during the week corresponding to the vegetative sampling. The grazing treatment was sufficient to alter the biotic state of emergent march compared to the un-grazed plots. Live and dead cattail stems decreased, residual litter depth and aerial coverage decreased, water and substrate temperatures increased, aerial coverage of thallophytes increased, passerine bird numbers decreased, invertebrate abundance and biomass increased and duck pairs increased. The single grazing of 3.73 ALM’s did not, however, produce a permanent reduction of cattails. More intensive grazing within a growing season or sequential, annual grazing treatments should bring about longer lasting treatment effects. This technique will benefit landowners by providing alternate grazing sources for their cattle and will benefit waterfowl by attracting more pairs of ducks to previously underused wetland habitat, thereby potentially enhancing waterfowl production in the Prairie Pothole Region.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Wetland plants -- Control


Includes bibliographical references (pages 61-74)



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University


No Copyright - Non-Commercial Use Only