Wildlife values of North American ricelands

By: , and 
Edited by: Scott W. Manley


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Ricelands have become an indispensable component of waterbird habitat and a leading example of integrating agricultural and natural resource management in the Mississippi Alluvial Valley, Gulf Coast, and Central California. Residual rice, weed seeds, and invertebrates provide food for many avian species during fall and winter. In North America, considerable information exists on the use of ricefields by wintering waterbirds, the value of ricelands as breeding habitat for birds, and the effects of organic chemicals on birds that- feed in ricefields. Recent research has also examined the influence of field management practices, such as winter flooding and post-harvest straw manipulation, on the suitability of ricefields for wildlife. Whereas early studies focused on detrimental effects of wildlife on rice production (e.g., crop depredation), it has become apparent that waterbirds may benefit producers by enhancing straw decomposition, reducing weed and pest pressure, and providing additional income through hunting and wildlife viewing opportunities. A comprehensive evaluation of agronomic and environmental issues is needed to meet the challenges of producing food and sustaining wildlife in twenty-first-century rice lands. Changes in agricultural markets, pressures of increased urban development, conflicting needs for limited resources such as water, endangered species constraints, and concerns over water quality must be addressed in developing a sustainable, mutually beneficial partnership among the rice industry, wildlife, and environmental interests. Research is also needed to evaluate potential reductions in the wildlife carrying capacity of ricelands resulting from new harvest and field management techniques, crop conversion, or loss of rice acreage. Key uncertainties include: (1) changes in waste grain abundance and availability due to various harvest and post-harvest management practices; (2) evaluating food depletion by birds feeding in rice6elds and derermining threshold food levels required to maintain bird use; (3) quantifying use of ricefields by nonwaterfowl species throughout the year; and (4) determining the amount and distribution of rice habitat needed to meet objectives of the North American Waterfowl Management Plan and the United States Shorebird Conservation Plan.
Publication type Book chapter
Publication Subtype Book Chapter
Title Wildlife values of North American ricelands
Year Published 2008
Language English
Publisher The Rice Foundation
Publisher location Stuttgart, Arkansas
Contributing office(s) Patuxent Wildlife Research Center
Description 180
Larger Work Type Book
Larger Work Subtype Other Government Series
Larger Work Title Conservation in ricelands of North America
First page 7
Last page 90
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