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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Seasonal Flooding by Water Control/water Retention Devices: Waterfowl Useage of Agriculatural and Managed Areas in the Mississippi Delta

Authors
item Maul, Jonathan - UNIVERSITY OF MISSISSIPPI
item Cooper, Charles
item Meador, J - U. S. CORPS OF ENGINEERS

Submitted to: Management of Landscapes Disturbed by Channel Incision Stabilization Rehabi
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: January 5, 1997
Publication Date: N/A

Interpretive Summary: The lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley is a primary wintering area for waterfowl of the Mississippi flyway. In these 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 floodplain consisted mainly of seasonally flooded bottom land hardwood forests mingled with streams and oxbow lakes. Today, the landscape in Mississippi consists primarily of agricultural lands with diminished and scattered forested wetlands. Wildlife refuges, providing moist soil impoundments, are also interspersed between vast areas of cropland. While agriculture is the business of the Delta, more habitat is needed for wintering waterfowl. This study documented some scale water retention/water control devices (slotted riser pipes). This information is needed to help plan the best use of the erosion/flood control devices so that migrating waterfowl can use them to full advantage. 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: This study focused on waterfowl usage of moist-soil impoundments and agricultural fields which are seasonally flooded by field-scale water retention/grade control devices. Two research questions were proposed: 1) What are the behavioral activity budgets of four species of waterfowl wintering in the Mississippi Delta, and 2) What effect does habitat have on behavioral activity budgets of these species with focus on habitats created by use of field-scale water retention structures. The response variable measured to answer both questions was a suite of behaviors. Collection of waterfowl behavior data in different habitats was used to indicate how habitats were being utilized. The importance of this study becomes apparent when considering our ability to manipulate hydrologic events to create wetland habitat. The study identifies the behavioral suite associated with ducks in two habitat types: agricultural fields and impounded wetlands. Results include several within species behavioral differences between habitat types. In addition, inferences on the role of flooded agricultural habitats and the ecology of non-breeding waterfowl are discussed.

Last Modified: 4/19/2014
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