Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department / School

Wildlife and Fisheries Science

First Advisor

Charles G. Scalet


Modification of wetlands has been a frequently employed management technique to enhance habitat for waterfowl and other wetland wildlife. One type of excavation in wetland basins is the dug brood complex; an interconnected system of pond units, channels, and islands, primarily created to provide waterfowl brood rearing habitat during drought. In 1981-82, a study was conducted to evaluate waterfowl pair and brood use of 8 pairs of Class IV wetlands in east-central South Dakota. Each pair consisted of a wetland with a dug brood complex (modified) and an unmodified basin of comparable basin size. Under drought conditions in 1981, both modified and unmodified wetlands were dry by the broods-rearing season, and therefore, produced few or no ducks. With improved water conditions in 1982, there were both greater brood densities and brood species diversities on wetlands with excavated ponds than on unmodified wetlands. This may be attributed to more open water, deeper water in excavated ponds and channels, and a greater edge effect in modified wetlands than in control wetlands. Pair and brood use of modified wetlands was found to increase as surface water area, open water area, and water depth increased. Pheasants (Phasianus colchicus), mallards (Anas platyrhynchos), and gadwalls (A. strepera) most frequently used dug brood complex islands for nesting. In the event of additional dug brood pond construction, consideration should be given to creating small, rectangular islands spaced as far from one another and the basin edge as possible. Wetlands with dug brood complexes provided habitat for swimming, resting, feeding, and comfort activities by ducks. Open water areas were attractive to dabbling ducks and some diving ducks, and may serve as waiting sites for paired males. Edge area were important feeding areas for ducklings. Future evaluations of modified wetlands should include pre-modification and post-modification studies to better evaluate changes in waterfowl density, diversity and production.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Waterfowl -- Habitat
Habitat selection
Waterfowl -- Habitat -- South Dakota
Wetlands -- South Dakota


Includes bibliographical references (pages 60-66)



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University


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