Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
The positive relation between WETSEAS and mallard brood survival underscores the need to conserve seasonal wetlands, or where drained, restore seasonally flooded water regimes as a major component of wetland complexes managed for dabbling duck production. Higher survival of early hatched broods suggests management efforts be directed toward improving success of early nests where feasible. Managers may achieve higher nest success by maintaining a high proportion of landscape in perennial cover (Greenwood et al. 1995) through permanent grassland easements, CRP, and other methods. Where adequate perennial cover cannot be maintained, managers may improve nest success by reducing predator numbers (Duebbert and Kantrud 1974), using artificial nesting structures (Doty 1979), or constructing fences (Cowardin et al. 1998) or nesting islands (Giroux 1981) to exclude predators from nesting areas. Management actions that have short-term effects on nesting cover (e.g., spring burning, summer haying) and nest success (e.g., predator removal, maintenance of exclosures) impact recruitment on an absolute basis much more in years when seasonal ponds are plentiful and brood survival is high. We therefore recommend that managers attempt to schedule activities with potentially deleterious, short-term effects on nesting success, such as burning and haying, until after nesting is completed in years when a high proportion of seasonal wetlands contain water.