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Accession Number 5004023

Title Evaluating rice fields as foraging habitat for waterfowl to improve delivery of the

Lower Mississippi Valley Joint Venture

Project Description The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Lower Mississippi Valley Joint Venture has developed habitat

objectives for regional migratory bird conservation in the Mississippi Alluvial Valley based on

biological criteria. Management plans are integrated in the sense that habitat objectives for

waterfowl and other migratory birds, and for public and private lands, are interdependent. For

example, if most of the foraging habitat for priority waterfowl species can be provided on private

agricultural lands, managers of public wildlife areas can decrease resources allocated to food

production for waterfowl and increase efforts to restore natural wetlands for a diverse array of

migratory birds. Thus, a key element of the current approach to formulating habitat objectives for

waterfowl is the capability of private agricultural lands, especially harvested rice fields, to provide

food for ducks. Data currently used by the Joint Venture to assess the capability of rice fields to

feed ducks were collected in Arkansas during 1983-84 and 1984-85. More recent data from

Mississippi suggest that little of the grain lost during rice harvest remains in early winter when

waterfowl arrive, perhaps because harvest now occurs earlier in autumn and rice seeds sprout in

the interval between harvest and early winter. Research is needed to estimate current densities of

rice seed available to waterfowl, identify rates and pathways of seed loss between harvest and

waterfowl arrival, and quantify the extent to which available rice seed is depleted and therefore

may represent a limiting resource for waterfowl. The survey sampling strategy and related

experiments designed to answer these questions will be implemented on a landscape scale so

that results can be used by the Lower Mississippi Valley Joint Venture in their adaptive or iterative

process of refining habitat objectives.

Keywords food resources, habitat inventory, limiting factors, lmv joint venture, nawmp, private lands, rice,

waterfowl management,

Principal Kenneth J Reinecke, USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center: ken_reinecke@usgs.gov; Richard

Investigators M Kaminski, Mississippi State University: rkaminski@cfr.msstate.edu; Mark J Petrie, Ducks

Unlimited, Pacific Northwest Office: mpetrie@ducks.org; Bruce D Dugger, Southern Illinois

University: bdugger@siu.edu; William B Uihlein, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Lower Mississippi

Valley Joint Venture: bill_uihlein@fws.gov;

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