By David Howerter, Ph.D., and Johann Walker
The Prairie Pothole Region
(PPR) of the United States and Canada forms the heart of duck production in North America. DU scientists working in the PPR today benefit from research conducted by generations of scientists who came before us. Pioneering work conducted in the late 1930s and early 1940s by early waterfowl scientists Al Hochbaum and Lyle Sowls culminated in two seminal books, The Canvasback on a Prairie Marsh
and Prairie Ducks
, respectively, which provided some of the first insights into the ecological interplay between ducks and their environments. These volumes are must reads for aspiring waterfowl biologists
to this day. Later, luminaries such as Lew Cowardin, Ray Greenwood, and Al Sargeant of the Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center in Jamestown, North Dakota, conducted studies that contributed immensely to our understanding of duck breeding ecology.
An important lesson from this early research was that ducks don't recognize the international border between Canada and the United States—the PPR is a single ecosystem. DU has long recognized this fact and works in both countries to solve the problems facing waterfowl. DU also conducts extensive research to help guide its prairie conservation programs. These studies focus on several issues that are of vital importance to accomplishing DU's conservation mission