State Wildlife Grant - T2-7-R

Project Title

Interaction of Land Use and Wet/dry Cycles on Invertebrate Populations in Prairie Wetlands: Implications for Waterbird Habitat Conservation

Target Species

Numerous wetland associated birds

Timeline

Feb. 2010 – Feb. 2013

Investigators

Mike Anteau, Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

Description

In prairie wetlands, the abundance of amphipods (scuds) are indicators of both wetland and water quality because they are sensitive to contaminants, disturbances in uplands, and invasive species. In 2004–2005 amphipod abundance was low across the upper-Midwest (including North Dakota), perhaps due to landscape modifications. However, most of the prairies in 2004 and 2005 encompassed a regime of relatively high and stable water, so amphipod numbers could have been low due to a period of little inter-annual variation. This spring (2009) wet conditions returned to prairie wetlands in North Dakota following a period of sustained moderate to severe drought in North Dakota. Amphipod abundance in the spring is an indicator for productivity the previous year because amphipods overwinter in prairie wetlands. Comparing data collected in 2010 and 2011 to that collected in 2004 and 2005 should provide, 1) an upper-bound estimate of the number of amphipods available for breeding and spring migrating waterfowl and waterbirds under more “ideal” hydrological conditions, 2) an ability to tease apart how hydrological regime and landscape modification influence amphipod abundance, and 3) an ability to examine how landscape modification influences the effect of inter-annual variation of hydrology on amphipod abundance and ultimately wetland productivity.