Ducks Unlimited prairie science back in the field

Research technicians head back to the Bakken

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Ducks Unlimited's prairies research techs are back in the field. (L to R) Adam McDaniel, Ethan Coombes, Brett Leach, Alex Barnes, Cindy Anch

The ducks are back and so is the research crew. Last week Ducks Unlimited's Prairie Pothole research crew began training for a non-traditional duck season- a research season.

During May and June, technicians will be surveying for breeding pairs before switching their attention to broods in July and August. The goal of this research is to understand if breeding waterfowl are responding to disturbance associated with oil and gas extraction activity occurring in the Prairie Pothole Region.

A week of training in the cold, rainy weather gave everyone a chance to get to know each other and brush up on their duck identification skills. Mock wetland surveys were done to talk through how to collect quality data without disturbing the ducks. Returning technicians helped new technicians split up the daily workload to around 40 wetlands per person and armed with binoculars and clipboards, the research crew kicked off the official start of the season on May 1st. Overall, it is shaping up to be another great research season in the Prairie Pothole Region and we anticipate the crew will have plenty more exciting news to share.

Also this spring, DU's nestcam collaboration the University of North Dakota with involve even more video cameras bringing people an inside look at duck nests on Ducks Unlimited's Coteau Ranch, near Bismarck, N.D. In its second year, the project will include two new UND interns. The educational venture is also expanding onto The Nature Conservancy's (TNC) Davis Ranch, next door to the Coteau Ranch.  

The Ecofootprint Enbridge Grant Program is providing funding this year via the Minnesota Association of Resource Conservation and Development, and the USGS Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center will supply ATVs and instruction in field-data collection for the students.

This internship program was developed, in part, so young biologists can gain valuable skills working in the field with DU professionals. The collaboration will also allow people to participate in a UND citizen-science program Wildlife@Home.

Read more about Ducks Unlimited's prairies research.