Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center, Route 1, Box 96C, Jamestown, ND 58401-9736
Aerial video was used for monitoring change in amount of surface water during studies of ecology and distribution of prairie ducks and for evaluating health of prairie wetland landscapes. Video data were combined with map data from the U.S. National Wetlands Inventory by means of geographic information system (GIS) techniques. We review strengths and weaknesses of video data compared with other sources of remote sensing data. Video provided estimates of within-year and among-year variation in surface water for four classes of wetland basins. We give examples of use of variation in surface water as an aid to estimating duck breeding populations and demonstrate an index to water permanence proposed for quantifying health of prairie landscapes containing wetlands.