Evaluating wetland ecosystem health using real-time nutrient dynamics of ducks

Science Center Objects

Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center (NPWRC) leads a collaborative effort, spanning several studies, with the objective of improving techniques to assess the quality of spring migration habitat for ducks. Spring is a critical time in in the life cycle of migratory ducks because during migration they experience peak energetic needs at a time when food resources are often at their scarcest. Accordingly, ducks must maximize energy replenishment rates by eating high-lipid forage on spring stopover habitats. Our research is focused on assessing the quality of those stopover habitats and improving the techniques for those efforts.  We are utilizing plasma-lipid metabolites of migratory ducks to assess their real-time refueling rates on spring stopover wetland habitats.  This work is being done through three graduate students that are being co-advised at NPWRC.  The results will improve further research on spring stopover habitats and assess wetland ecosystem health on a broad scale to inform more efficient conservation efforts (e.g., restoration and protection of wetland habitats).