In a 5-year study of stock-watering ponds in western North Dakota, pond size was found to be the major factor influencing duck use. As pond size increased, total pair and brood use per pond increased. Pairs used ponds as small as 0.1 acre in size, but broods were seldom seen on ponds of less than 1.0 surface acre. Dam-type ponds larger than 1.0 surface acre comprised only 29% of all man-made ponds on the study area but received 65% of the pair use and 87% of the brood use. Utilization of fenced ponds by pairs and broods was not significantly different from utilization of unfenced ponds. Grazing rates of 2 to 3 acres per AUM and lower rates permitted the development of grassy shoreline cover preferred by pairs and brushy and emergent shorelines preferred by broods. Duck pairs were significantly more numerous on older ponds and ponds with grassy shorelines but less numerous on ponds that had heavy deposits of sediment or were isolated from other wetlands. Broods were significantly more numerous on ponds with brushy shorelines and emergent vegetation than on those without. Broods were less numerous on turbid and newly constructed ponds. The most suitable stock-watering units for maximum waterfowl production were dam-type ponds of 1.5 surface acres, or larger, built in gentle to rolling terrain away from major sources of siltation.
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Waterfowl production on stock-watering ponds in the northern plains