The Iowa landscape and economy is dominated by production agriculture. Game and non-game wildlife species inhabiting the state are influenced by the destruction, degradation and fragmentation of wetland, prairie and forest habitats caused by intensifying agricultural practices.
The Iowa DNR has been involved in long-term species and habitat restoration programs, and evaluating these efforts is important to the DNR. Iowa is bordered on the west by the Missouri River and on the east by the Mississippi River, and numerous native and restored wetlands occur in the northwest. These ecosystems and the resulting production and migration of waterfowl and other migratory birds are of importance to the cooperators.
Wildlife studies of the Unit should emphasize the impacts of agriculture on wildlife species and the effectiveness of restoration programs in sustaining viable wildlife populations. Landscape scale studies of the impacts of habitat fragmentation on wildlife, and potential solutions to fragmentation, will be especially important.
The aquatic resources of Iowa are utilized intensively and are significantly affected by agricultural and other human activities.
The fishery research studies of the Unit should reflect both the nature of Iowa's resources and their intense use through special emphasis on studies pertaining to habitat relations, production, ecology and management of fishes, the impact of agriculture on these resources, and the role of aquaculture in enhancing existing fisheries. In addition, Unit staff should consider studies that can connect effects of watershed-scale habitat management to water quality and other measures of ecosystem health.
The cooperators require that Unit research be of high quality and that the researchers be productive. It is understood that research will be conducted in Iowa whenever possible and that it will be concentrated on topics for which both state and federal governments benefit from the results. Strategic planning for long-range program development will emphasize those areas of concentration listed in paragraphs one and two, but new problems and new sources of funds will be explored as opportunities arise. While maintaining a commitment to traditional wildlife and fisheries management, the Unit should consider larger scale problems related to biodiversity, landscapes and ecosystems, urbanization, and restoration ecology. Unit personnel will propose new projects and programs to the cooperators in a timely manner.
The research and education programs of the Unit are designed to develop and disseminate information and knowledge that contribute to wildlife and fisheries sciences as well as to the needs of the cooperating agencies. Research conducted by graduate and post-graduate employees as part of their education program is the major vehicle through which the Unit accomplishes its goals. However, formal classroom teaching, in-service training, technical assistance, and expansion of the particular expertise of Unit staff also meet program desires and Unit goals.