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Waterfowl Management Handbook


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| Preface | Foreword | Acknowledgements | Table of Contents | NWRC Library Digital Collection |

Wetland losses and perturbations have been extensive in the conterminous States and Hawaii. In the Hawaiian Islands, about 2,000 of the 10,000 freshwater wetland acres are in public ownership; of this total, less than 200 acres have been developed to allow effective control of water levels. Losses in the conterminous States are estimated to have reached more than 50 percent of the presettlement wetland area, and losses continue at the staggering rate of 450,000 acres per year. The present situation in Alaska is more fortunate, but the demand for gas and oil and use by the military and recreationists will result in future losses and perturbations.

In many cases, the natural hydrology of wetlands was modified before national wildlife refuge lands were purchased. Wetlands developed for management further modified hydrology. If managers are to maintain productivity in wetland systems with modified hydrology, they require information that will enable them to emulate natural water regimes. Information on wetlands has expanded rapidly in the recent past and now includes an ever-growing base of knowledge on microbial action; nutrient cycling; decomposition; invertebrate ecology, productivity, values, and functions; wildlife use; aesthetics; and economics. Likewise, information on energetics, habitat use, behavior, and the continuum of events in the annual cycle of waterfowl has increased rapidly. Once waterfowl had innumerable options to meet their needs in the annual cycle. Today, managers on public and private lands often provide the only options available to meet waterfowl needs because of extensive wetland losses and perturbations. Managers are at a disadvantage because the growing body of information is not readily available to them. The usual scientific outlets rarely provide syntheses that are usable by managers attempting to keep abreast of current concepts and procedures.

Our experience suggests that managers truly are the experts on specific sites because they have a grasp of water availability and control, topography, soil type, composition of vegetation, problem plants, and other management constraints. To increase their effectiveness, managers need conceptual information that they can incorporate with their knowledge relating to the specific problems and characteristics of a site. Specific advice presented in management manuals on factors such as timing of manipulations, water depths, or other procedures may lead to ineffective actions, because refuges represent diverse ecosystems with a wide range of potentials and constraints. Application of more general concepts has great potential for management enhancement across widely separated refuges.

The information in these chapters does not represent a thorough synthesis of all pertinent literature, but rather highlights important information for developing a conceptual framework for managers. Sections are brief by design, and have figures and tables to facilitate a rapid assessment of information on a specific topic. If the manager wishes additional information, the brief Suggested Reading section lists titles of key papers. Where more detailed information or additional assistance is required, the Office of Information Transfer can place the manager in contact with an expert. Experts on a vast array of topics of interest to refuge managers are available throughout the United States and Canada.

Managers across the continent identified topics for inclusion in future chapters of this handbook. We appreciate their enthusiastic support.

Leigh H. Fredrickson and Frederic A. Reid
Gaylord Memorial Laboratory
School of Forestry, Fisheries and Wildlife
University of Missouri-Columbia
Puxico, Missouri 63960
April 1987

| Preface | Foreword | Acknowledgements | Table of Contents | NWRC Library Digital Collection |

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