Research Hopes To Shed Light on Bluebill Duck Decline
MEMPHIS, TN, July 8, 2004 – Ducks Unlimited (DU) biologists joined field research efforts this spring to help unravel the mystery of the lesser scaup (bluebill duck) decline in North America. On-going, collaborative, field and laboratory research with Louisiana State University (LSU) may soon provide answers to many of the questions and theories pondered by scientists.
Five DU biologists from the organization’s Great Plains Regional Office in Bismarck, North Dakota, focused their assigned collection efforts on female lesser scaup in random townships throughout the state of North Dakota—sending them to the lab for examination. Tests will provide much-needed data about the health of the birds (body condition) and where these key nutrients are available in wetlands during migration.
While most duck populations are stable, lesser scaup (and pintail) are prime targets for waterfowl research because of significant population declines in recent decades. Many researchers suspect decline in lesser scaup is a result of delayed nesting times and poor health conditions due to the lack of nutrition (aquatic invertebrates) available during migration. This on-going research will follow the migration of the lesser scaup across the Midwest to Canada in hopes of confirming the reason behind these losses, and help design conservation plans for wetland restoration and enhancement critical to migrating scaup in Minnesota, Iowa and the Dakotas.
“In Minnesota alone, most of the wetland habitats have been lost, making the remaining wetlands even more critical for migrating waterfowl. Unfortunately, those remaining wetlands continue to be degraded,” said DU Research Bioloigst Dr. Scott Stephens. “This study should shed some light on hypotheses that competition from fish is causing a shortage of small aquatic invertebrates and water quality and management of key shallow lakes may hold the key to a lesser scaup comeback,” he added.
Contact: Bob Benson
With more than a million supporters, Ducks Unlimited is the world's largest and most effective wetland and waterfowl conservation organization. The United States alone has lost more than half of its original wetlands - nature's most productive ecosystems - and continues to lose more than 100,000 wetland acres each year.