Edited by Dale Humburg
Waterfowl managers in North America must ensure that more than 40 species of ducks, geese and swans find landscapes with sufficient habitat to sustain them throughout the year. The diversity of species and habitats, the great number of birds and the continental scale involved make this a daunting conservation challenge. Ducks Unlimited and its partners have identified and prioritized the landscapes that are most important to continental waterfowl populations. These designations help ensure that we spend our supporters' hard-earned dollars in the places that will give us the biggest bang—and most ducks—for the buck.
Defining these high-priority conservation areas, however, requires a balance of perspectives and science-based judgments. For conservation planners, "life-history" events that impact waterfowl production and survival are primary considerations. For example, research indicates that events that occur on the breeding grounds—especially nesting success and hen and brood survival—are the most important limiting factors for prairie ducks. In other cases, the availability of food resources and wetland habitat on key migration and wintering areas are pressing concerns. Following are DU's five highest-priority landscapes, their importance to waterfowl and our efforts to conserve them for present and future generations.