Tyler Harms was awarded the Michael F.B. Nesbitt Family Research Fellowship for his PhD at Iowa State University. His research is focussed on improving waterfowl surveys to better inform conservation decisions in an intensively farmed landscape.
Waterfowl surveys provide information vital to many management and conservation decisions. In the intensively farmed landscape of the southern Prairie Pothole Region (PPR), where much of the historical breeding habitat has been and is continuing to be lost to agriculture, managers need accurate survey information to plan and evaluate land acquisition and restoration efforts. Tyler’s PhD will focus on improving existing breeding waterfowl survey techniques to ensure collection of reliable data. Specifically, he will conduct both helicopter and ground-based surveys for breeding ducks in the Iowa portion of the PPR to address the following objectives:
- Estimate detection probability of breeding duck pairs on both helicopter and ground-based surveys
- Compare detection probabilities and abundance estimates of breeding duck pairs between survey techniques
- Evaluate the influence of biotic (e.g., habitat conditions) and abiotic (e.g., weather variables) factors on detection probabilities
Tyler’s research will help managers assess which survey technique provides the most reliable information on breeding duck population size and distribution in the intensely-farmed southern PPR.