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Biology Wildlife

Biology and Wildlife

Wildlife habitat needs to provide food, water, cover and the interspersion of these requirements. All land uses provide some wildlife habitat. How the particular land use is managed will determine the quality of wildlife habitat.

Wildlife and Trees

North Dakota is dominated by grasslands however there is about 450,000 acres of forestland. These naturally forested lands provide habitat for woodland dependent wildlife species.  North Dakota has many trees and shrubs that are planted for windbreaks, shelterbelts and wildlife.  These planted trees and shrubs provide some life requests for various wildlife species.  However, Trees and shrubs can also have a negative impact on some species such as grassland nesting birds, pheasants, waterfowl and other game bird species when they are planted in the wrong location.   It is important to make sure that woody habitat that is planted to benefit one species does not negatively impact another.


Wetlands are some of the most productive and dynamic habitats in the world. North Dakota is known for the depressional wetlands, known as the prairie pothole.  North Dakota is in the heart of the prairie pothole region, the duck factory of North America.

Wetlands have many functions.  The physical, chemical, and biological interactions within wetlands are often referred to as wetland functions. These functions include surface and subsurface water storage, nutrient cycling, particulate removal, maintenance of plant and animal communities, water filtration or purification, and groundwater recharge. Similarly, the characteristics of wetlands that are beneficial to society are called wetland values. Perhaps these can best be thought of as the importance of a wetland function to an individual or group. Some examples of wetland values include reduced damage from flooding, water quality improvement, and fish and wildlife habitat.

It is important to maintain and restore wetland functions and values because wetlands contribute to the overall health of the environment.

Values to Society

There are a number of other values society receives from wetlands. Some of these values are providing sites for hunting, fishing, trapping, photography, outdoor classrooms or environmental education, and the enjoyment of open spaces. The ecological diversity and high productivity of wetlands make them one of the most scenic features on any landscape


Pollinator species are important for food production in the United States.  In North Dakota most crops are self pollinated.  However, crops such as canola and sunflower can benefit from pollinator species.  Insects also provide an excellent food source for many species of birds and are especially important to recently hatched pheasant, grouse and partridge chicks.  Choosing species with varying flower dates is important to provide quality pollinator habitat through the entire growing season.

Sage Grouse

Greater Sage grouse are only found in Bowman, Slope and a small portion of Golden Valley County in North Dakota.  They depend on Big Sage brush to survive.  Due to the loss and fragmentation of habitat, Greater sage grouse populations have been declining.  NRCS has been working with landowners to develop and improve sage grouse habitat.

Additional Documents

Contact Information:

Curtis W. Bradbury
State Biologist
(701) 530-2083