Wetland and waterfowl research continue in the Great Plains Region despite challenges presented by the pandemic. Two graduate student projects are occurring this year, each supervised by University of North Dakota professor Dr. Susan Ellis-Felege and supported by Ducks Unlimited and The Nature Conservancy.

Taylor Linder is investigating the impacts of high-intensity, short duration grazing on upland nesting birds. Mason Ryckman, a North Dakota native, is examining the effects of using drones for research on breeding bird behaviors and developing best research practices for drone use.

While any graduate project is challenging, these two individuals face the unique challenge of conducting their field season with one-quarter to one-half of the expected number of technicians. Housing the original number of technicians would have required up to five individuals to share a housing unit - not a safe option this year. Regardless, both students remain enthusiastic and energetic. With masks, sanitizer, one technician per project, separate housing locations and vehicles for everyone, both are collecting data through the summer. DU's conservation planning research scientists - Mason Sieges and Kyle Kuechle - assist both field crews.

Check out the students' Facebook page, Real Duck Tails, and Instagram, @realducktails for videos and pictures of the research season.

Read more about the research.