From the Field: Research on the Prairie Continues
BISMARCK, N.D., May 18, 2005 – Early May finds the prairies bustling with activity as duck pairs display courtship rituals, territories are vigorously defended and nest sites carefully selected in preparation for egg-laying. And the activity is not limited to the birds. Ducks Unlimited research crews are spread across the key prairie breeding areas and are busy collecting critical field data on how the ducks fare in different landscape settings. The information gained through this field research ensures DU’s conservation investments yield the greatest return of new ducks into the fall flight.
Spring 2005 represents our sixth year of research in the Dakotas on the factors influencing duck nesting success. Over that time period, we’ve been able to monitor more than 9,000 duck nests and 600 non-game bird nests. The results have
confirmed the important influence that the amount and arrangement of grassland have on the success rate of ducks and other grassland nesting birds when attempting to hatch nests. However, much remains to be learned about how nesting success is influenced by the dynamic environmental conditions on the prairies and how those changing conditions resonate through populations of small mammals, nest predators and, finally, to the nesting success of the ducks.
DU remains keenly focused on its waterfowl mission and conservation vision. We are in business to sustain duck populations for the long term, and we are committed to maximizing the long-term impact of conservation investments. That has led us to an unswerving commitment to manage adaptively. We embrace science, landscape-scale solutions and broad partnerships in our approach to the business of conservation. The challenges before us are daunting, but exciting new ideas are ready to be evaluated and new tools ready to be used to address our important information needs. We stand ready and well prepared for the work ahead. With our on-going learning, choices we make today are wiser than the ones we made yesterday, and the ones we make tomorrow will be better still.
Beginning this year, our research crews enter all their data into small, handheld computers in the field and upload the new information to the server in our office each night. Taking advantage of this technology allows us to provide nearly real-time updates of the current nesting activity to everyone via our Web site (http://prairie.ducks.org/research
). We hope that you’ll enjoy learning more about our work, keeping abreast of how the ducks are faring and learning along with us. We appreciate your interest and continued support as we seek to maintain healthy populations of ducks for generations to come.