Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

Fall 2009


Great Plains Research 19 (Fall 2009):157-67


The relative influence of physical, chemical, and biotic wetland characteristics on wetland use by spring migrating lesser scaup (Aythya affinis [Eyton]; hereafter “scaup”) is not well understood. We compared characteristics of used and unused wetlands in eastern South Dakota. Used wetlands were larger (>2 ha; P = 0.05), with higher amphipod densities (>500 individuals m-2; P = 0.01) and higher chlorophyll-a concentrations (>0.2; P < 0.05). These wetlands had lower ionic conductivity (1.8 mS; P = 0.02), lower nitrates (1.0 ppm; P = 0.01), lower submerged aquatic vegetation density (P < 0.01), and lower fine sediment proportions (≤150 μm grain size; P < 0.01). Wetland use was best described by amphipod and submerged aquatic vegetation densities. The predictive model explained 50.4% of the variation in scaup use in a reserve dataset. Thresholds of tolerance by amphipods in relation to wetland habitats in the upper Midwest should be investigated further as indicators of a broader range of water and habitat quality characteristics for scaup.