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

show menu

Evaluating the Influence of Climate Change on Wetland Density and Land Use: What are the Consequences for Waterfowl Production in Prairie Canada?

Lead DUC Researcher: Lauren E. Bortolotti, Ph.D.

About the Study

The Prairie Pothole Region contains millions of wetlands, and is the continent’s most productive breeding ground for waterfowl. The wetlands that waterfowl depend on are expected to be sensitive to changes in temperature and precipitation. As such, climate change could alter wetland abundance and distribution. Climate change may also affect waterfowl nesting habitat by influencing which crops can grow or are most economical to grow in the Canadian prairies. This project will examine the joint effect of these direct climatic impacts on wetlands and economically driven land use change on waterfowl nest success.

We are collaborating with Dr. Yanping Li at the University of Saskatchewan to use cutting-edge dynamically downscaled climate data to predict wetland distribution under potential future climates. We will combine these predictions with previous research on economically driven changes in upland duck nesting habitats. To understand associated impacts on duck nesting success, a crucial component of sustaining healthy waterfowl populations, we will input these data into Ducks Unlimited Canada’s Waterfowl Productivity Model.


We have already completed the economic analysis of the effects of climate change on agricultural land use in conjunction with Ben Beaman and Dr. Benjamin Rashford at the University of Wyoming. Modelling of the direct effects of climate change on wetland distribution is ongoing and expected to be completed by March 2020.

Goals & Purpose

Our objective is to understand the effects of climate change on prairie wetland abundance and distribution, agricultural land use, and associated impacts on waterfowl. This information will better inform our conservation decisions and plans, including ensuring that the investments we make now will contribute to sustaining healthy waterfowl populations into the future.

Related Stories

 Computing for Conservation