We used results from simulation models to demonstrate the benefit-cost ratios of habitat management to increase the number of mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) recruits produced. The models were applied to hypothetical 2-habitat landscapes comprised of managed and unmanaged habitat. Managed habitats were predator barrier fencing and CRP cover; unmanaged habitat was grassland. As the amount of managed cover increased, the production curve rose rapidly and leveled off. If 2 managed habitats are added to a landscape, the cover can compete for available nesting hens, thus negating the benefits of 1 of the covers. After converting benefits and costs to dollars, we determined the point at which maximum net benefit occurs. We present an equation that can be used to determine the maximum net benefit of a management treatment given the size of the breeding population and the values of costs and benefits. Our examples demonstrate that, on local areas, it is inefficient to spend money for habitat management once maximum net benefit has been attained. If desired production can not be attained efficiently on an area, the manager can invest effort on alternative areas with greater management potential. If recruitment is inadequate to maintain a stable population, managers should manage to increase recruitment before attempting to attract additional breeding pairs. If recruitment more than maintains the breeding population, managers should attempt to attract additional breeding pairs to the area.
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How much habitat management is needed to meet mallard production objectives?