Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science


Animal Ecology


The glaciated prairie region of north-central and northwestern Iowa once contained a 3-million-ha prairie-marsh complex, but since settlement, 95% of the area's wetlands has been lost (Bishop 1981). Wetland loss has also been great elsewhere in the Prairie Pothole Region, contributing to regional declines of breeding populations of ducks (Batt et al. 1989) and other water bird species (U.S. Fish Wildl. Serv. 1987). To recover some of this lost habitat, federal and state agencies, and private organizations have been restoring large numbers of drained basins since the middle 1980's, mostly on private agricultural land (e.g., Madsen 1988). In Iowa, most restorations have taken place since 1987(Washburn 1991, Iowa Dep. Nat. Resour., unpubl. data). Because large-scale restoration efforts are so recent, little information on the biotic recovery of restored prairie wetlands exists. LaGrange and Dinsmore (1989) surveyed 4 Story County, Iowa wetlands that were inadvertently restored 2-4 years previously and found a total of 11 bird species, 18 aquatic invertebrate taxa, and 45 wetland plant species. Sewell (1989) studied 156 restored wetlands in eastern South Dakota and western Minnesota, and found extensive use by breeding waterfowl, colonization by 31 aquatic invertebrate taxa, and establishment of wetland vegetation as early as the first year following restoration. These studies demonstrate that restored prairie potholes recover a variety of typical wetland plants and animals soon after restoration, but how they might differ from natural wetlands apparently has not been examined. An implicit goal of restoration is the return of former wetlands to conditions typical of natural wetlands. Therefore, comparisons between the biotic communities of restored and natural wetlands can help determine the "success" of restoration. My objectives were to (1) collect baseline data on the breeding bird and aquatic macroinvertebrate taxa present at restored Iowa wetlands 2-3 years following restoration; (2) compare the breeding bird and aquatic macroinvertebrate communities of restored Iowa prairie wetlands to those of natural wetlands; and (3) compare the nest success of common bird species between the 2 wetland types.



Digital Repository @ Iowa State University,

Copyright Owner

Philip J. Delphey



File Format


File Size

88 pages