BISMARCK, N.D., March 9, 2009 - The Ducks Unlimited Great Plains Regional Office will begin its tenth consecutive field season of nest searching research this spring. This research is a large-scale, long-term project and researchers will use the data collected to investigate hypotheses about the relationships between nest survival and land-use and environmental conditions across the Prairie Pothole Region. Results of this research will help habitat managers and conservation planners understand better the relationships between duck production and landscape-scale habitat characteristics in the PPR.
Field crews will be nest searching on 21 sites in the Missouri Coteau of the PPR in North and South Dakota. The crews will begin work in mid-April and conclude the field season in mid-July. In past years, the most common nests found were that of mallard, gadwall, blue-winged teal, northern pintail and northern shoveler. Field crews will also be monitoring nests of shorebirds and raptors. In 2008, crews found and monitored 1,364 nests comprising of 1,257 duck, 53 shorebird and 54 raptor nests.
“This winter the Dakotas received a lot more snow than in previous years,” said Scott Stephens DU director of conservation planning and programs. “With all this precipitation, we expect habitat conditions to be much improved over the drought conditions we had in 2008.”
DU Researchers are optimistic that during 2009 crews will find more nesting birds than in previous years that will provide good data and a robust sample size for analysis. This year will also offer a positive contrast to the poorer habitat conditions encountered in 2008.