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Comparison of Amphibian Habitat Suitability in USDA CREP Wetlands and Natural Wetlands in the Des Moines Lobe of Iowa


September 2011 - December 2013


The Iowa Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program is a state-federal partnership with a goal of restoring 3,600 ha of wetlands and associated grassland buffers in a 37 county region of the most intensively tile-drained region in north-central Iowa. Its primary objective of the program is to improve water quality by reducing nitrogen loading into streams. Another objective is to provide wildlife habitat, but no field studies to date have assessed the functionality of these wetlands for sustaining amphibian populations.

The goal of this proposed project is to address the question, “Do CREP wetlands in agricultural landscape facilitate source or sink amphibian populations?” The objective is to compare attributes of the breeding amphibian community and of relevant habitat covariates such as water quality in a small number of CREP and reference wetlands. The wetlands span across multiple types (e.g., CREP wetlands, farmed wetlands, farmed wetland restorations [WRP and CRP], ditches, natural wetlands and constructed treatment wetlands [i.e., wastewater treatment cell]). Such comparative assessments can provide USDA, state and local decision-makers with information necessary to more fully evaluate conservation practices. The utility of these wetlands will be assessed for their ability to provide habitat and landscape connectivity to amphibians in the Des Moines Lobe by examining water quality, presence of amphibian disease, and estimating survival, reproduction, and stress levels in native frogs. Understanding the potential utility of restored and constructed wetlands for amphibian conservation is important to land managers and the agricultural community as well.


Current Staff

Federal Staff: 2

Masters Students: 2

Phd Students: 2

Post Docs: 0

University Staff: 6

5 Year Summary

Students graduated: 15

Scientific Publications: 33

Presentations: 60



Funding Agencies

  • Fort Collins Science Center


Iowa Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit Cooperators

  1. Iowa Department of Natural Resources
  2. Iowa State University
  3. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  4. U.S. Geological Survey
  5. Wildlife Management Institute