Date of Award
Master of Science
Due to the loss and degradation of wetland habitat it has become accepted that active management of remaining habitat is needed to provide sufficient resources for migrating and wintering waterfowl. Numerous studies have documented increased seed production and waterfowl use on actively managed wetlands; however, no studies have evaluated the cost of active management or compared the cost effectiveness of actively and passively managed wetlands. I surveyed a random sample of restored wetlands in southern Illinois in 2005 and 2006 to compare the cost effectiveness of actively and passively managed wetlands. Actively managed wetlands had a greater percent cover of common waterfowl foods, Echinochloa spp. and Panicum spp., but also tended to have a greater percent cover of Xanthium strumarium, a common nuisance species. Actively managed wetlands also had greater waterfowl densities in 2005 and 2006. Duck energy-days were calculated from fall 2005 and fall 2006 seed biomass data and used as an effectiveness measure in the cost effectiveness analysis. In 2005, actively managed wetlands tended to provide more "duck energy-days" than passively managed wetlands, however, no difference was observed in 2006. Actively managed wetlands cost nearly 7 times more to restore per hectare, and nearly 3 times more to manage per hectare, than passively managed wetlands. My results suggest that although actively managed wetlands have the potential to provide more foraging resources for waterfowl, the cost effectiveness of actively and passively managed wetlands is similar. Choosing passive management as the typical restoration option would allow for more acres restored and may therefore be more beneficial to waterfowl, as well as other wildlife groups. When managers are faced with fixed budgets, management effectiveness could be enhanced if costs were considered in addition to the benefits of each management alternative.
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