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Influence of Shelterbelts on Success and Density of Waterfowl Nests within the Prairie Pothole Region of North America

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Waterbirds 2016 v.39 no.1 pp. 74-80
air flow, ducks, mammals, nests, planting, porosity, predators, shelterbelts, snags, trees, turbulent flow, utility poles, waterfowl, wind, wind erosion, Great Plains region, North America, Prairie Pothole region
Shelterbelts are long rows of trees planted in the Great Plains of North America to reduce wind erosion of soil. Shelterbelts alter airflow, creating updrafts on the windward side (updraft zone), slow winds immediately on the leeward side (calm zone), and increased turbulence farther downwind of the shelterbelt (turbulent zone). They also provide hunting perches for avian predators and serve as corridors for mammalian predators. By determining the fate of 247 duck nests located in 27 Waterfowl Production Areas during 2006 and 2007, this study tested the hypothesis that duck nests located close to shelterbelts are more likely to be depredated than nests located in open fields and that nest densities are lower near shelterbelts than in open fields. Nest density in a shelterbelt's calm zone (0.22 nests/ha) was lower than in open fields (1.02 nest/ha). Shelterbelt orientation and porosity to airflow did not affect nest success or nest density. Shelterbelt height did not influence nest density, but nest success decreased as shelterbelts increased in height. Depredation rates were higher for nests near isolated structures (e.g., isolated trees, snags, and utility poles) than for nests near shelterbelts or in open fields.