Ducks Unlimited Canada
Institute for Wetland & Waterfowl Research
PO Box 1160
Stonewall, Manitoba, Canada
R0C 2Z0

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The objectives of the DUC-MBNA Canada Bank® Conservation Fellowship are to develop talented young professionals who are dedicated to furthering the conservation of wetlands and wildlife, and to advance the scientific understanding of waterfowl and wetland biology in Canada.

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The DUC-MBNA Canada Bank® fellowship was awarded to Matthew Dyson, a PhD student at University of Waterloo. Matt’s project focusses on assessing whether waterfowl nest success declines with increasing levels of industrial development in the boreal forest, thereby testing a key Ducks Unlimited Canada conservation planning assumption.

The western boreal forest (WBF) is the second most important waterfowl breeding area in North America, supporting 12 to 15 million birds annually. Resource development, including forestry and oil and gas, has rapidly intensified in the region and there is growing concern over its potential effect on waterfowl populations. Habitat loss and fragmentation are a direct result of the infrastructure (e.g., linear features such as roads, pipelines, seismic lines, well pads) required by resource development and effects have been demonstrated on many species of birds and mammals. However, our understanding of effects on waterfowl and their predators is limited. The objective of Matt’s PhD research is to investigate potential effects of industrial activities on duck populations by examining changes in nest success and predator communities across of gradients of resource development levels. He will use a combination of field experiments and agent-based models to assess:

  • How increasing industrial development changes (simulated) predator movement patterns
  • Whether duck predators increase in abundance as the landscape becomes more fragmented
  • If duck nest success decreases as development levels increase

The relative importance of different industrial landscape changes to nest success.

About the Fellowship

The fellowship is open to Canadian graduate students enrolled at a university in Canada or abroad. Subject matter for the student’s research can deal with any aspect of waterfowl or wetland biology that promises to advance conservation in Canada. Fellowships will be awarded based upon the following criteria:

  • The qualifications of the applicant; the scientific soundness of the student’s research proposal
  • Originality and creativity in study design
  • Expected contributions of the research to furthering waterfowl conservation
  • The achievability of the work.

Preference will be given to proposals with demonstrable management applications. One award of up to $10,000/year (Canadian funds) is available to provide personal or research support for the successful applicant. The award may be renewable for up to two additional years for PhD students, once for Master’s students.

Past Fellowship Winners

2013-2015: David Johns, PhD. Landscape-level breeding ecology in prairie ducks: Patterns in settlement, reproduction, survival and physiology, University of Saskatchewan

2011-2012: Jennifer Sheppard, MSc. Habitat selection trade-offs and reproductive success of mallards in the Prairie Parklands, Canada, University of Saskatchewan

2008-2010: Kirsty Gurney, PhD. Temporal and spatial patterns of duckling survival and productivity in temperate-nesting waterfowl, University of Saskatchewan

2007: Jean-Michael Devink, PhD. Comparative Ecology and Reproductive Energetics of Boreal Breeding Lesser Scaup, Ring-necked Ducks and White-winged Scoters, University of Saskatchewan