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Ben Rashford

The Prairie Pothole Region spans parts of North and South Dakota, Minnesota, Montana, Iowa and south-central Canada and contains millions of wetlands that provide habitat for breeding and migrating birds. Because it is the continent’s most important breeding area for waterfowl, conservation and management largely focuses on protecting habitat for nesting ducks. However, other wetland-dependent birds also rely on this region, and it is important to understand the degree to which habitat conserved for ducks provides habitat for other species, and how the quality of this habitat will be affected by climate change. Project researchers tested whether waterfowl are effective representatives, or surrogates, for other wetland-dependent...
The conversion of grassland to cropland in the Dakotas could imperil wildlife such as nesting waterfowl and contribute to the degradation of water quality in the Mississippi River watershed. However, high crop prices in recent years have contributed to a high rate of grassland to cropland conversion on private lands. In addition to these economic factors, changes in climate could exacerbate the challenge of protecting grasslands, as conditions may become more amenable to row crop production. The goal of this project was to work with grassland conservation managers to better target the use of funds allocated toward incentivizing grassland preservation in the Dakotas. Researchers identified the vulnerability of...
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