The Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) generates substantial benefits to continental duck populations by providing grassland nesting habitat in rested cropland. Seeding mixes of CRP grasslands vary among numerous conservation practices, but one contrast of interest in the Prairie Pothole Region is the use of introduced, or “tame” versus native grass. Although the benefits of CRP to duck populations are well‐known, relative values of these planting practices to nesting ducks have received little attention. Understanding differences in benefits to ducks due to planting practices would aid in prioritizing and selecting management practices for CRP and other restoration activities. We evaluated nest survival and density of ducks nesting in tame‐ and native‐seeded CRP fields in 36 study areas in the Prairie Pothole Region of North Dakota and South Dakota, USA, during 2002–2003. We searched for duck nests in 209 fields totaling 5,386 ha and found 2,941 nests. We found no support for differences in nest survival for any upland‐nesting duck species between fields seeded to tame versus native grass based on a design and analyses that accounted for spatial and temporal variation. Additionally, nest densities, adjusted for nest survival rates, of all duck species were similar between tame‐seeded and native‐seeded fields. We conclude that benefits to nesting ducks from native‐grass seeding practices of CRP were similar to those of tame‐grass seeding practices. Although there may be other reasons to plant native seed mixes when establishing CRP tracts (e.g., native pollinators or insects, other wildlife species, etc.), our study suggests that duck nesting density and nest survival are not among those reasons.
Additional publication details
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Title||Density and success of upland duck nests in native‐ and tame‐seeded conservation fields|
|Series title||Wildlife Society Bulletin|
|Contributing office(s)||Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center|
|State||North Dakota, South Dakota|
|County||Brown County, Day County, Marshall County, McPherson County, Ramsey County, Stutsman County|