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Shawn M. May

Document Type

Thesis - University Access Only

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Wildlife and Fisheries Science

First Advisor

Kenneth F. Higgins


The effects of local- and landscape-level characteristics on nongarne wetland bird occurrence and density and waterfowl pair and brood density and rates of productivity (broods/ 1 00 pairs) were evaluated in 1 999 and 2000 in western South Dakota. Nongame wetland bird use for the 1 0 most common breeding species was assessed on 196 stock ponds located within 98 10mi2 cells using fixed radius circular plots. Waterfowl use and productivity were assessed in 105 stock ponds located in fragmented and unfragmented landscapes in 52 10mi2 cells in 2000 using a standard protocol for surveying waterfowl. Seasonal and temporary wetlands were more abundant in fragmented landscapes. Wetlands in fragmented landscapes had more emergent vegetation, vegetation types, and trees due to less trampling and grazing pressure by livestock. Fragmented landscapes also had less steeply rolling terrain, providing for gradually sloping shores where emergent vegetation could become established. Overall, 52 nongarne bird species were detected of which 26 occurred on 5 or more of the 1 96 stock ponds. Six nongame wetland obligates were found in higher densities in fragmented landscape and only the Wilson s phalarope was found in higher densities in unfragmented landscapes. Wetland basin area was relatively unimportant as an indicator of nongame wetland bird occurrence. Eleven species of waterfowl occurred on semipermanent class stock ponds the most common being mallard, blue-winged teal, and gadwall. Overall productivity was 50 broods/ 1 00 pairs for both landscapes with data combined for mallards, blue-winged teal and gadwalls. Waterfowl productivity was higher in fragmented landscapes (58 broods/100 pairs) than in unfragmented landscapes (40 broods/1 00 pairs). Waterfowl pairs per hectare of water for the 3 most common breeding species were significantly higher on small stock ponds (I ha or smaller) than on medium (1.0 to 2.0 ha) (P = 0.001) or large (P = 0.00 I) stock ponds. Waterfowl broods per hectare for the 3 most common breeding species did not significantly (P = 0.510 and 0.103) differ by wetland area. Restoring and preserving large tracts of grasslands should be an important conservation goal to maintain the high level of nongarne wetland bird diversity and waterfowl productivity in western South Dakota. Constructing new stock ponds in unfragmented landscapes is a sound management strategy for marsh birds. If the amount of tilled cropland continues to increase in fragmented landscapes. it is hypothesized that eventually this portion of western South Dakota will become similar to the prairie pothole region, and, as such, waterfowl productivity will decrease considerably.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Water birds -- Habitat -- South Dakota
Bird populations -- South Dakota
Farm ponds -- South Dakota
Fragmented landscapes -- South Dakota


Includes bibliographical references (page 58-66)



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University


Copyright © 2001 Shawn M. May. All rights reserved.