Ducks Unlimited Research in the Prairies

DU's science monitoring duck production across the prairies


Photo © Michael Furtman


In one of the world's most productive waterfowl nesting grounds, the Prairie Pothole Region, Ducks Unlimited's scientists are looking for the best-of-the-best nesting habitat. Using this research, DU and its partners can invest in protecting and restoring the type of habitat that will produce the most waterfowl.

DU's research in the Prairie Pothole Region in North Dakota and Montana helps our scientists answer questions such as:

This summer, DU scientists will focus on a research study in the waterfowl breeding grounds within the Bakken oil field as well as a collaborative nest-cam project.

Research in the Bakken

Ducks Unlimited is working with partners to assess whether oil and gas development in the Bakken oil field is impacting where waterfowl pairs settle in the spring or how successful the female is at rearing young.  Roughly one-third of the Prairie Pothole Region overlaps part of the Bakken oil field in North Dakota and Montana. At least 50 percent of North America's waterfowl population breeds in the PPR, so this is an important landscape to monitor.

Climb into the nest

Rarely do humans get a chance to see what happens in a duck nest while the hen is on the nest. Ducks Unlimited's collaboration with the University of North Dakota allows you a peek at what happens in the daily life of a nesting duck and her brood. Watch the videos from nestcams that interns from UND will be setting up at Ducks Unlimited's Coteau Ranch and The Nature Conservancy's Davis Ranch in North Dakota. Partners make it happen.

This internship program was developed, in part, so young biologists could gain valuable skills working in the field with DU professionals.  In its second year, the collaboration will also allow people to participate in UND's Citizen Science program.

DU and University of North Dakota Nesting Camera Project Underway: Watch video clips from the project

Past research updates: