Many concepts regarding breeding ecology of waterfowl and the influences of environmental factors on annual production have changed in the past 20 years. These influences are especially pronounced in the prairie region of central North America where agriculture becomes more intensive each year. The principal task assigned to this Research Center when established in 1965 was to determine the relative impact of these influences on production and to identify those facets of breeding biology, nesting habitat requirements and other factors that may be altered to increase production on lands dedicated for this purpose. A corollary objective was to develop methods for enhancing production of waterfowl and other ground-nesting birds on private lands in agricultural areas. Some of the highlights of our findings to date, together with the results from current work of others, provide new information on waterfowl that indicates: (1) homing instincts are not as specific as indicated by earlier workers, (2) there are differences in pioneering between species, sexes and age classes, (3) strength and duration of pair bonds vary by species and age classes, (4) territorial tolerances for most species are greater than previously indicated, (5) there is differential productivity by age classes in some species, (6) there has been a gradual decline in nesting success in the prairie region the past 30 years, (7) adverse influences of intensive agriculture are increasing, (8) mammalian predation is an important factor, (9) high quality, secure nesting habitat and a complex of wetland types are the essential components of an optimum production unit, (10) the size and shape of blocks of nesting cover are important management considerations, (11) overharvest of local breeding populations is becoming a serious problem in some areas. Each of these subjects is discussed as related to research objectives and current management problems. Recommendations are presented for obtaining maximum production of waterfowl and other game birds on public and private lands in agricultural areas.
Additional publication details
New concepts regarding the production of waterfowl and other game birds in areas of diversified agriculture