US Geological Survey


Date of this Version



Published in WETLANDS, Vol. 28, No. 1, March 2008, pp. 184–196.


Nutritional, behavioral, and diet data for lesser scaup (Aythya affinis [Eyton, 1838]) indicates that there has been a decrease in amphipod (Gammarus lacustris [G. O. Sars, 1863] and Hyalella azteca [Saussure, 1858]) density and wetland quality throughout the upper-Midwest, USA. Accordingly, we estimated densities of Gammarus and Hyalella in six eco-physiographic regions of Iowa, Minnesota, and North Dakota; 356 randomly selected semi-permanent and permanent wetlands were sampled during springs 2004 and 2005. We also examined indices of wetland quality (e.g., turbidity, fish communities, aquatic vegetation) among regions in a random subset of these wetlands (n = 267). Gammarus and Hyalella were present in 19% and 54% of wetlands sampled, respectively. Gammarus and Hyalella densities in North Dakota were higher than those in Iowa and Minnesota. Although historical data are limited, our regional mean (1 to 12 m-3 ) amphipod densities (Gammarus + Hyalella) were markedly lower than any of the historical density estimates. Fish, important predators of amphipods, occurred in 31%–45% of wetlands in North Dakota, 84% of wetlands in the Red River Valley, and 74%–84% of wetlands in Iowa and Minnesota. Turbidity in wetlands of Minnesota Morainal (4.0 NTU geometric mean) and Red River Valley (6.1 NTU) regions appeared low relative to that of the rest of the upper- Midwest (13.2–17.5 NTU). We conclude that observed estimates of amphipods, fish, and turbidity are consistent with low wetland quality, which has resulted in lower food availability for various wildlife species, especially lesser scaup, which use these wetlands in the upper-Midwest.