We evaluated the influence of intensive agriculture on invertebrate communities of temporary wetlands as indicated by aquatic invertebrate resting eggs, shells, and cases remaining after wetlands dried. To facilitate the comparison, we sampled 19 wetlands within cropland areas and 19 wetlands within grassland areas. We found resting eggs, shells, and cases of significantly more taxa and greater numbers of cladoceran resting eggs (ephippia), planorbid and physid snail shells, and ostracod shells in wetlands within grasslands than in croplands. We also successfully incubated greater numbers of cladocerans and ostracods from soil samples collected from grassland sites. We were unable to detect differences in the viability of cladoceran ephippia between grassland and cropland wetlands, but our sample size was small due to an absence of ephippia in most cropland wetlands sampled; 74% of the cropland wetlands were devoid of cladoceran ephippia whereas ephippia were well represented in nearly all of our grassland sites. Our results corroborate findings of other investigators that prairie pothole wetlands have been negatively impacted by human activities. Our study demonstrates that aquatic invertebrates of temporary wetlands have been negatively impacted by intensive agriculture and suggests that future studies need to assess the influence of agricultural practices on wetland-dependant wildlife.
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Influence of agriculture on aquatic invertebrate communities of temporary wetlands in the Prairie Pothole Region of North Dakota, USA