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Wetland Symposium

Valuation, Inventory, and Biological Assessment of Prairie Wetlands: 15 Years of Research at South Dakota State University


South Dakota Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, South Dakota State University, Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences Department, P.O. Box 2206, Brookings, SD 57007

South Dakota State University (SDSU) is located on the Prairie Coteau physiographic region in the southern end of the glaciated Prairie Pothole Region. Faculty and staff of the Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences Department and the South Dakota Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit at SDSU have been involved in wetlands-related studies for over 15 years. Since 1950, staff and graduate students have produced over 250 theses, about 400 publications, of which about 65% are wildlife- and 35% are fisheries-related, and hundreds of other completion reports, seminars, presentations, news articles, and tours or out-reach programs on wetland topics in the northern Great Plains.

In the past 15 years, wetland studies and programs have been focused on wetlands mapping and inventory, ecology, functions, valuation, restoration, endangered species, management, waterfowl, fisheries, and education and extension. Wetlands studied have ranged from temporarily-flooded palustrine wetlands (Class II) in agricultural lands to large reservoir impoundments, and from small intermittent prairie streams to the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers.

Current research includes studies of fish, invertebrate, and waterfowl interactions; waterfowl habitat evaluation, nesting, and brood survival; pesticide effects on ducklings, hydrophytes, aquatic invertebrates, and minnows; management needs for piping plover (Charadrius melodus), least terns (Sterna antillarum), great blue herons (Ardea herodias), ospreys (Pandion haliaetus), bald eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus), pallid sturgeon (Scaphirhynchus albus), sickle fin chubs (Macrhybopsis meeki); fisheries in prairies streams, prairie potholes, large rivers, and reservoirs; biotic diversity assessment on state and federal fee title production areas; wetland mapping, inventory, and digitization; assessment of citizen attitudes toward wetlands; and valuation of recreation and harvestable crops of plants and animals in various kinds of wetlands.

South Dakota will be the first (or second behind Minnesota) state/province in the Prairie Pothole Region with a complete inventory and a digitized computer data base of its wetlands. Future research at SDSU will provide additional data on abiotic and biotic components of wetlands that will be integrated with wetland basin data, in a geographical information system. These products should enhance future decision-making by administrators, researchers, and managers on wetland-related projects in the northern Great Plains.

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