Habitat fragmentation from intensified farming has concentrated nesting waterfowl and their predators in the remaining, relatively small untitled habitats of the prairie pothole region in the United States. The areas of land that have been enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) in this area could help disperse these concentrations and reduce losses to predators. The presence of CRP land may influence decisions about intensive management of public lands devoted to waterfowl production. During 1989-1991, waterfowl nest success on CRP fields in areas of high wetland density in the prairie pothole region was 23.1 percent compared to 8.2 percent on similar covers on federal waterfowl production areas. CRP fields thus provided more secure nesting cover for upland-nesting ducks than waterfowl production areas. However, nest success and use of the fields by ducks varied greatly. CRP fields are abundant and of a wide variety of age classes and sizes. These characteristics make CRP fields well suited as study sites for determining the effects of cover area, distance to water, and cover age on nest success of ducks.
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Duck nest success on Conservation Reserve Program land in the prairie pothole region