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Document Type

Thesis - University Access Only

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Wildlife and Fisheries Science

First Advisor

Lester D. Flake


Wastewater ponds at the Idaho National Engineering Laboratory are used by various species of wildlife. The extent to which most species are exposed to contaminants is unknown, as well as the benefits provided by this water source in the desert. Information is needed on general use of wastewater ponds by wildlife, and data on characteristics of wastewater ponds which may be encouraging or discouraging use of wastewater ponds by wildlife. Pond nutrients and selected heavy metals were sampled in July 1991. Most ponds did not contain amounts greater than EPA standards. Nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorous) were high in sewage ponds, which resulted in higher numbers of invertebrates than in industrial waste ponds. Small mammals were live trapped at 6 ponds in July 1991. Common deer mice and Ord's kangaroo rats were the most common species captured. Captures seemed more closely related to microhabitat around the trap than distance of the trap from the pond. From August 1989 through July 1991, 8 sanitary waste ponds, 4 industrial waste ponds, 1 radioactive waste pond, and 2 mixed waste ponds were surveyed monthly to determine use levels by birds and intermediate to large mammals. From March through October, 5 diurnal and 3 nocturnal counts were conducted on each pond monthly. From November through February, 3 diurnal and 1 or 2 nocturnal counts were conducted monthly on each pond. seasonal use data are presented for all common species. The most common species using wastewater ponds were mallard, gadwall, green-winged teal, wigeon, northern shoveler, ruddy duck, redhead, American coot, killdeer, spotted sandpiper, Wilson's phalarope, mourning dove, common nighthawk, horned lark, bank swallow, barn swallow, European starling, yellow-headed blackbird, Brewer's blackbird, and brown-headed cowbird. Most of the common species nested at or near the ponds. Species richness was greatest in May and September. Waterfowl had highest use in April, May, August, and September. Shorebirds were most common in May and July. The greatest number of passerine observations was in May and August. swallow and nighthawk observations were greatest in May and June. Raptors were seen most commonly August through October. Grouse and doves were observed most frequently in July and August. Common species were tested by month for differences found associated with use, but was neither exclusively positive nor negative was percent bare shoreline. Thus, ponds which are large, nutrient-rich, heavily vegetated, and have a low shoreline slope are predicted to have higher wildlife use than ponds which are small, nutrient-poor, and have bare, steep shorelines. Sanitary waste ponds, or other ponds which pose negligible health risks to wildlife could be maintained in the former state and toxic ponds in the latter. This information can be used to help reduce wildlife exposure to, and transport of, contaminants.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Sewage lagoons--Idaho
Wildlife conservation--Idaho
Habitat (Ecology)--Idaho


Includes bibliographical references (pages 212-233)



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University


Copyright © 2003 Karen L. Cieminski. All rights reserved.