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The Souris River watershed spans more than 23,000 square miles (61,000 square kilometers) across Saskatchewan, North Dakota and Manitoba. The funding will support a cross-jurisdictional study led by Ducks Unlimited, Inc., Ducks Unlimited Canada, and Province of Manitoba researchers that will combine current and historic wetland inventories and examine water quality trends across watersheds with varying levels of wetland cover. Non-point source pollution from the Souris River watershed has been known to impact water quality throughout the watershed including the adjoining Assiniboine River and Lake Winnipeg.
Native grasslands have been reduced to a fraction of their original extent, with estimated total loss prior to the 1990s of 70% for prairie grassland (Federal Provincial and Territorial Governments of Canada 2010). Conversion of native grassland to cropland and tame hayfields or pasture has been one of the leading drivers of native grassland loss in North America. Degradation of native grasslands also continues in some areas due to changes in natural disturbance regimes such as fire suppression and intensive prolonged cattle grazing, threats from invasive non-native species, fragmentation, intensification of agriculture, and economic development associated with population growth(Federal Provincial and Territorial...
This carbon sequestration research is part of a new pilot grassland conservation program to protect at-risk grasslands from conversion to cropland in the northern Great Plains. Natural resources partners have leveraged more than $3 million in private and federal funding to support an innovative program that extends protection of privately-owned grasslands that have expired under the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). In the past two years alone, the number of CRP acres nationally has dropped from 31.2 million to 27 million. Of the 4.2-million-acre-decline, lands lost in North Dakota and Montana accounted for 1.6 million acres, or 38 percent. The program aims to encourage private landowners to conserve CRP grasslands...
The Prairie Pothole Region (PPR) of the north-central U.S. and south-central Canada contains millions of small prairie wetlands that provide critical habitat to many migrating and breeding waterbirds. Due to their small size and the relatively dry climate of the region, these wetlands are considered at high risk for negative climate change effects as temperatures increase. To estimate the potential impacts of climate change on breeding waterbirds, we predicted current and future distributions of species common in the PPR using species distribution models (SDMs). We created regional-scale SDMs for the U.S. PPR using Breeding Bird Survey occurrence records for 1971–2011 and wetland, upland, and climate variables....
The Williston Basin, located in the NorthernGreat Plains, is experiencing rapid energy developmentwith North Dakota and Montana being the epicenter ofcurrent and projected development in the USA. Theaverage single-bore well pad is 5 acres with an estimated58,485 wells in North Dakota alone. This landscapeleveldisturbance may provide a pathway for the establishmentof non-native plants. To evaluate potentialinfluences of energy development on the presence andabundance of non-native species, vegetation surveyswere conducted at 30 oil well sites (14 ten-year-oldand 16 five-year-old wells) and 14 control sites in nativeprairie environments across the Williston Basin. Nonnativespecies richness and cover were recorded...
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The project will utilize a 4.5 million acre study area on the Montana Glaciated Plains. The objectives are to (1) identify environmental conditions and management practices that will maintain habitat for grassland birds but not impact ranching sustainability, and (2) identify areas on the landscape that have the greatest conservation potential for grassland birds. This spatial analysis will provide the framework for a rigorous assessment of management actions on the Montana Glaciated Plains.
This project will build a Geographic Information System (GIS) database for the Plains and Prairie Potholes LCC comprised of1) wetland abundance, 2) land cover, 3) primary productivity, and 4) wetness. Ultimately, the database will provide foundational information for future research and will facilitate management and conservation activities for multiple species across the entire LCC.
We used publically available data on duck breeding distribution and recently compiled geospatialdata on upland habitat and environmental conditions to develop a spatially explicitmodel of breeding duck populations across the entire Prairie Pothole Region (PPR). Ourspatial population models were able to identify key areas for duck conservation across thePPR and predict between 62.1 – 79.1% (68.4% avg.) of the variation in duck counts by yearfrom 2002 – 2010. The median difference in observed vs. predicted duck counts at a transectsegment level was 4.6 ducks. Our models are the first seamless spatially explicit modelsof waterfowl abundance across the entire PPR and represent an initial step toward jointconservation...
Unconventional oil development in the Bakken shale region has increased rapidly as a result of new technologies. This region also supports a particularly high density and diversity of grassland bird species, which are declining across North America. We examined grassland bird response to unconventional oil extraction sites (i.e. developed with hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling) and associated roads in North Dakota. Our goal was to quantify the amount of habitat that was indirectly degraded by oil development, as evidenced by patterns of avoidance by birds. Grassland birds avoided areas within 149 m of roads (95% CI: 4 – 294 m), 267 m of single-bore well pads (95% CI: 157 – 377 m), and 150 m of multi-bore...
Rural America has changed dramatically over the last century, from having over half the population living in rural settings to only 20 percent residing in a rural area today, and outmigration of younger populations from rural communities remains a constant issue for local governing officials. A declining tax base and concurrent rising costs for maintenance and repair of aging infrastructure add further challenges to policy decisions. Reduced enrollment has caused school closures or mergers. Farm consolidation and technical advances reduced the demand for local labor. On the positive side, however, record-high commodity prices have amplified farm income to new heights. The increased revenues can lead to farmers spending...
Cottonwood forests are in decline becasue of losses from land use conversion and reduced regeneration from river regulation. Projecting lon-term implications of current trends and policies, or alterations of these, will help to identify the importance and scale of restoration activities needed to offset losses. This project developed a landscape dynamic model to project future (eig. 25, 50, 100 year) trends in cottonwood forst area and age distribution for four remnant floodplain reches on the Missouri River, based on recent rates (or alternative scenarios) of land use change, cottonwood recruitment, and succession. For two reaches, these changes are used to project the effects onabundances of selected songbird...
Land transformations occurring from energy development and agrarian use have altered the natural connectivity of fish communities inhabiting prairie waterways. The nation’s prairie waterways are obstructed by thousands of barriers that include road culverts, irrigation diversions, and dams. Connectivity is essential for the long term viability of aquatic species. One of the most promising adaptive management strategies for addressing impacts to aquatic systems by climate change and other landscape stressors is increasing connectivity. The purpose of this research is to characterize swimming abilities of three northern plains fish species; the sauger, the longnose dace, and the fathead minnow. The results of the...
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Map drained wetland basins in the PPR of Iowa and complete data set for the eastern (Region 3) of the U.S. Prairie Pothole Regionl. These data form the foundation for a newly launced inititative to develop an “Integrated Conservation Design Strategy for the PPR of Minnesota and Iowa.” This new initiative integrates wildlife habitat, water quality and flood attenuation objectives with wetland restoration potential maps to develop multi-objective wetland restoration plans for landscape-scale watershed.
The Midwest Glacial Lakes Partnership (MGLP), a Fish Habitat Partnership (FHP) recognized by the National Fish Habitat Action Plan (NFHAP) Board in March 2009, has been developing a dataset for the Midwest glacial lakes, equivalent to the NHD, since 2008. This project will complete development of a standardized lakeshed dataset that identifies the geographic extent of each lake, its local catchment, and tributary catchment.
Habitat loss is one of the key factors contributing to loss of wildlife, but ultimately it comes down to decisions made at he private landowner. Economin pressures from comodity prices probably heavily wieght in decisions. However, understanding how a private landowner responds to economic incentives and pressures may identify strategies to reduce habitat loss in the plains and prairie pothole region. Also, farmers & ranchers generally have more thn an econominc interest in their lands with strong social and cultura ties. The aging trend inteh agricultrual industry is another factor contributing to decisions about land, foten with farm/rances being split among surviving relatives who may not continue to...
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Rapid expansion of cropland threatens grassland ecosystems across western North America and broad-scaleplanning can be a catalyst motivating individuals and agencies to accelerate conservation. Sprague’s Pipit(Anthus spragueii) is an imperiled grassland songbird whose population has been declining rapidly in recent decades.Here, we present a strategic framework for conservation of pipits and their habitat in the northern GreatPlains.We modeled pipit distribution across its million-km2 breeding range in Canada and the U.S.We describefactors shaping distribution, delineate population cores and assess vulnerability to future grassland losses. Pipitsselected landscapes with a high proportion of continuous grassland...
This report provides a final update of work performed for the period beginning December 20, 2010 and ending December 31, 2012. The report describes two umbrella projects: (1) to improve fish passage and landscape connectivity for native species and 2) to determine the thermal effects on fish species sensitive to climate change. The work was performed through a partnership led by the Western Transportation Institute at Montana State University and the Bozeman Fish Technology Center (BFTC) of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. The report is divided into five chapters that provide details on accomplishments to meet specific objectives outlined in our proposal during the period. Several of the projects that...
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The Matador Ranch Grassbank is the most successful grassbank in the country, annually incentivizing conservation actions on over 200,000 acres of participating ranches. Incentives for management actions are in the form of discounts, which reduce the cost of leased grazing at the Matador Ranch. One of the required discounts for participating in the grassbank is a ranch management plan that guides grazing and benefits natural communities and the wildlife dependent upon them. This report details the results of our work to assess resource conditions and craft management plans with eight ranches on over 113,000 acres. Our analysis found that overall ranches implemented grazing management practices that maintained ecological...
In this thesis I explore a derivation of the MSAM using the DDO survey method to create a multispecies dependent double-observer abundance (MDAM) model. I use this tool to explore how two widely used grazing systems affect the abundance of eight songbird species with varying reliance on grassland vegetation in a sagebrush ecosystem.
South Dakota's State Wildlife Action Plan (SWAP) is a comprehensive strategy to maintain the health and diversity of wildlife within the state, including reducing the need for future listings under the Endangered Species Act. Special emphasis is given to addressing wildlife species that have received less attention in the past, including those that are not hunted or fished. All 50 states have developed SWAPs, providing a framework for planning and coordination on wildlife issues that cross state boundaries. The development and implementation of SWAPs is supported by the US Fish and Wildlife Services' State and Tribal Wildlife Grant Program.South Dakota's SWAP addresses a variety of wildlife and habitat management...


map background search result map search result map Iowa Wetland Assessment and Restorable Wetland Inventory:  Improving Wetland Restoration Planning Through Processing of Recently Collected LIDAR data for the Prairie Pothole Region of Iowa Grassland Bird Conservation on Working Landscapes: Spatial analysis linking populations to habitat Assessing the impacts to rural communities of wildlife habitat protection and restoration Assessing and Implementing Ranch Management Planning at Scale through the Matador Ranch Grassbank One step ahead of the plow: Using cropland conversion risk to guide Sprague's Pipit conservation in the northern Great Plains Iowa Wetland Assessment and Restorable Wetland Inventory:  Improving Wetland Restoration Planning Through Processing of Recently Collected LIDAR data for the Prairie Pothole Region of Iowa Grassland Bird Conservation on Working Landscapes: Spatial analysis linking populations to habitat Assessing and Implementing Ranch Management Planning at Scale through the Matador Ranch Grassbank One step ahead of the plow: Using cropland conversion risk to guide Sprague's Pipit conservation in the northern Great Plains