Submitted to: Laboratory Publication
Publication Type: Other
Publication Acceptance Date: December 19, 1997
Publication Date: N/A
Interpretive Summary: Waterfowl life cycles are inseparable from agriculture in North America. In major waterfowl pathways, agriculture plays a key role in feeding and habitat considerations. Farmers benefit as conservationists, reapers of waterfowl harvest, and by receipt of hunting fees for use of their land. Overwintering habitat is crucial for waterfowl. In wintering areas there are several types of habitats available for waterfowl. Some of these include: forested wetlands, moist-soil impoundments, large bodies of water (ponds and reservoirs) and flooded agricultural fields. At one time, the Mississippi River floodplain consisted mainly of seasonally flooded bottomlands hardwood forests mingled with streams and oxbow lakes. Today, the landscape consists primarily of agricultural lands with diminished and scattered-forested wetlands. This study documented waterfowl use of agricultural fields which were flooded seasonally flooded by field scale water retention/water control devices (slotted riser pipes), specifically that agricultural fields can provide excellent habitat and management for multiple waterfowl which does not conflict with agricultural needs. This information is needed to help plan a multi-species waterfowl approach for the best use of the erosion/flood control devices. Landowners, Federal and state water resource managers, U.S. Fish and Wildlife personnel and private waterfowl organizations like Ducks Unlimited can use these study results.
Technical Abstract: Winter flooding of agricultural fields provides habitat for non-breeding waterfowl and benefits to landowners. We investigated the influence of two habitats, flooded agriculture and moist-soil wetlands, and season on time-activity budgets of non-breeding green-winged teal (Anas crecca), northern shoveler (Anas clypeata), mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) and gadwall (Anas strepera) in Mississippi. Gadwall and mallards spent less time (P<0.05) feeding and more time resting in flooded rice than moist-soil ands and Green-winged teal courted more frequently (P<0.05) in flooded rice than moist-soil wetlands. Several habitat by season interaction effects were detected suggesting that habitats were not only used differently, but that their role did not remain constant throughout the non-breeding period. Moreover, patterns of the interactions suggest species specific responses. Several environmental and social factors experienced by ducks in flooded rice also influenced activity budgets. Our results show that both of these habitats were used differently within species and between season, and management effort allocated to one habitat should not detract from the other. In addition, a multi-specie roach should be taken when managing flooded agriculture for waterfowl by providing both spatial and temporal variability.