News Story

MSU professor and alumni attend Wetlands Conference

Posted on 6/29/2009 by Rick Kaminski

The Society of Wetland Scientists 30th International Meeting convened in Madison, Wisc. in late June. The theme of this year’s meeting was Wetlands Connections, with the goal of exchanging information and connecting people concerned about wetlands science and conservation. Consistent with the society’s focus on wetlands, the site of the meeting overlooked beautiful Lake Monona in Madison only a block from the state capitol building.

Rick Kaminski, associate dean and holder of the James C. Kennedy Endowed Chair in Waterfowl and Wetlands Conservation, participated in the meeting. Kaminski and three former graduate students were invited by conference organizers to give plenary presentations in a symposium entitled, "Connections Among Wetlands, Wildlife, and Agriculture." Alumni who presented at the conference were Aaron Pearse, Josh Stafford, and Scott Stephens.

"It’s a special privilege to be invited to give a plenary presentation at an international meeting of a professional society," remarked Kaminski. "I was honored to share the podium with three former students who are doing landmark research on waterfowl and wetlands and were also invited to present highlights from their programs."

Kaminski entitled his presentation, "Connecting Croplands, Wetlands, and Waterfowl through Science and Conservation in the Lower Mississippi Flyway." The presentation reviewed major findings by his graduate students from their research over the past decade throughout the Lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley or Delta.

Kaminski emphasized in his presentation, "Our research empirically demonstrates that large flocks of ducks and other waterfowl often are ‘connected’ to ‘complexes’ of wetlands and not merely one type of habitat. For example, flocks of 100 or more mallards and other dabbling ducks tended to be associated with habitat complexes composed of flooded croplands such as rice and soybean lands, forested wetlands such as bottomland hardwood and scrub-shrub wetlands, grass-sedge wetlands, and permanent water bodies such as rivers, catfish ponds, and bayous."

Quantitative knowledge of the make-up of habitat complexes attracting abundant waterfowl provides valuable guidance to conservationists developing and managing public and private lands for waterfowl and other wildlife.

Pearse’s, Stafford’s, and Stephens’ presentations illustrated how farmers, ranchers, and conservationists can work together for mutual ecological, environmental, and economical benefits.

A wildlife scientist for the U.S. Geological Survey in North Dakota, Pearse’s current work centers on spring migrating ducks, geese, and sandhill cranes through the intensively farmed Rainwater Basin along the Platte River in central Nebraska.

Stafford’s team studies waterfowl and wetlands throughout the heavily farmed Illinois River Valley. He is currently a director of the F.C. Bellrose Memorial Waterfowl Research Laboratory in Illinois.

Director of conservation for Ducks Unlimited, Stephens’ program is centered in the Prairie-Pothole Region in South and North Dakota. Here, Stephens and DU partners are conserving and restoring wetlands and prairie landscapes and working with landowners enrolled in conservation programs of the Farm Bill in efforts to improve breeding habitats for waterfowl.

Kaminski concluded, "We are proud of our former students, making important research discoveries and conserving habitats for ducks and other wildlife beyond MSU in the Mississippi and Central Flyways."