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Document Type

Thesis - University Access Only

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department / School

Wildlife and Fisheries Science

First Advisor

Lester D. Flake


This study was conducted during late spring and summer in 1998 and 1999 on the Samuel H. Ordway Prairie Preserve, in McPherson County, South Dakota, to investigate characteristics of glacial wetlands that influence abundance and species richness of wetland birds. Four bird surveys were conducted annually from mid-May through mid-August. Fourteen habitat variables were used to describe five wetland characteristics including wetland classification, emergent cover, submergent vegetation, shoreline, and upland vegetation. Habitat data were used as the explanatory variables in stepwise multiple regressions to investigate which wetland characteristics were associated with species richness and abundance of wetland birds. Overall, 44 species were observed during surveys, of which 28 utilized the study site as breeding habitat. The most common species were blue-winged teal (Anus discors), gadwall (A. strepera), and mallard (A. platyrhynchos). Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus) and Wilson’s phalarope (Phalaropus tricolor) were the most common breeding shorebirds. Lesser yellowlegs (Tringa flavipes) were the most commonly occurring migrant shorebird. Abundance varied between 1998 and 1999 for some species. Multiple regression models were used to explore possible reasons for that variation. Surface water area was the main variable associated with the presence of duck species. The amount of shoreline area (i.e., the area 1 m in width around the edge of the water) containing vegetation greater than 15 cm in height was negatively related to the presence of migratory shorebirds. The increased amount and height of shoreline vegetation in 1999 along with a reduction in bare mud area seemed to be related to a reduction in migratory shorebirds during the 1999 surveys. In 1998, the Virginia rail (Rallus limicola) was not detected in any surveys. Results show this may be related to the reduced height and abundance of emergent vegetation in 1998. Duckling use of escape cover following a disturbance at a wetland was investigated. Generally, blue-winged teal and gadwall broods moved to open water when disturbed and mallard broods moved into upland cover.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Water birds -- Habitat -- South Dakota -- McPherson County
Water birds -- Habitat -- Prairie Pothole Region
Wetland ecology -- South Dakota -- McPherson County
Wetland ecology -- Prairie Pothole Region


Includes bibliographical references (page 56-58)



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University


Copyright © 2003 Mary C. Miller. All rights reserved.