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Our science brings conservation to life.


Our research guides our mission.

The results of our investments in science strengthen our conservation focus across North America. Our big-picture approach continues to be successful in habitats that support waterfowl populations.

Decades of research and innovation at Ducks Unlimited Canada have helped uncover unique relationships among wetlands, waterfowl, watersheds, biodiversity, species at risk, and more. Today, we also focus on how those habitats can affect other wildlife and directly improve human lives too.

International science report Ontario

Science Literacy Week

Science Literacy Week (September 18-24, 2023) is an open invitation for everyone to explore and enjoy the diversity of science and technology in Canada. Learn more about DUC’s projects, studies, partners and careers in science.

Test your knowledge of the boreal forest

How much do you know about the world’s largest biome?

How much do you know about conservation in Canada?

Try all of our fun and fascinating nature and wildlife quizzes in one place.

Learn more

Highlights of Ducks Unlimited Science

Celebrating 85 years of science-driven conservation

This year, DUC is celebrating 85 Years of Conservation successes driven by decades of commitment to progress through science, research and technology. Our researchers, biologists, ecologists, agrologists, engineers, GIS technicians, and other science-related staff are dedicated to the conservation and restoration of wetlands and other essential ecosystems.

Since its founding, DUC has embraced a scientific approach to conserving wetlands and associated uplands that support North America’s waterfowl populations.

DUC’s application of science has expanded to increase understanding of how habitat conservation affects ecosystem services (e.g., water quality, flood mitigation) that directly improve human health and livelihoods. This approach ensures DUC’s conservation actions continue to sustain waterfowl populations while increasing their relevance and benefits to broader segments of society.

DUC has built a continental network that connects people and resources to identify and solve conservation challenges. Across the country, DUC experts are using their knowledge and skills to ask and answer big environmental questions that affect all of us.

Ducks Unlimited International Science Report

Lead DUC Researcher: Stuart M. Slattery, Ph.D.

The annual Ducks Unlimited International Science Report highlights research projects across North America led by staff, university and student partners, and other collaborators of Ducks Unlimited Canada, Ducks Unlimited Inc. and DU de México.

Our science supporters and partners are government agencies at every level, university researchers, non-governmental organizations, foundations, North American Waterfowl Management Plan Joint Ventures, corporations, private landowners–all of it anchored by our volunteers and donors.

National research programs

DUC’s national research programs are setting the stage for decades of conservation work across Canada. Researchers uncover the information that conservationists use for effective decisions on the ground. It all starts here.

DUC’s research resources >>

Image: DUC headquarters at Oak Hammock Marsh, Manitoba © DUC

Oak Hammock Marsh - Ducks Unlimited Canada national headquarters

DUC’s research team

Members of our core research team are experts in wetland and waterfowl biology and ecology, wetland and spatial ecology, avian demography, statistics, GIS technology, ecosystem services, carbon cycling, knowledge transfer, boreal ecology and more. No matter what they do or where they do it, our flock takes to conservation like ducks to water.

DUC’s core research team >>

Image: Lauren Bortolotti © DUC

Researcher Lauren Bortolotti
Duck Doctors

Our Duck Doctors video series brings DUC scientists to the microphone to answer frequently asked questions about wetlands, waterfowl and wildlife—sharing their expertise on topics such as “Why do some ducks stay north in winter?” and “Why is blue-green algae getting worse?”

Subscribe on YouTube to ensure you don’t miss an episode.

Our research team is making a positive difference in a pivotal era for conservation and biodiversity in Canada:

  • Building partnerships to address key research questions
  • Understanding the impacts of landscape and environmental change
  • Conducting watershed scale research to inform sustainable wetland policies
  • Quantifying and raising awareness of ecosystem services that wetlands provide
  • Measuring effects on wetland biodiversity from habitat change
  • Surveying waterfowl to inform conservation planning in important regions
  • Supporting and assessing restoration of important habitats
  • Evaluating the responses of waterfowl to landscape level changes
  • Using science results to guide conservation plans and investments
  • Engaging with wildlife and landscape management working groups
  • Developing scenarios to evaluate future benefits of habitat restoration
Young scientist working in Prairie wetland

Understanding our changing environment

Urban centres are growing. Industry is expanding. Agriculture is adapting to meet growing demands for food and fibre. These changes are impacting waterfowl and wetlands. That’s why we plan, track, evaluate and adapt our conservation programs based on studies of our changing environment.

Stalking “energy powerballs” in Canada’s changing boreal zone

Stalking “energy powerballs” in Canada’s changing boreal zone

Research in the boreal forest helps us understand ducks and the predators they have to avoid.

Focus on biodiversity in Ontario

Focus on biodiversity in Ontario

We’re working all the angles to support biodiversity in Ontario communities.

Species and places of special concern

DUC examines what limits waterfowl populations so we can deliver habitat programs that support these species’ life cycles. Waterfowl we’re watching with concern include scaup, northern pintails, wigeon and sea ducks. The foundational component of population success is available habitat. We are working with conservation partnerships to protect, restore and understand Canada’s important habitat regions.

New sea duck atlas sheds light on poorly understood species and how we can protect them

New sea duck atlas sheds light on poorly understood species and how we can protect them

Canadian landscapes identified among 85 North American sites that provide critical habitat for sea ducks.

Saving The Fraser River Estuary: A Priority

Saving The Fraser River Estuary: A Priority

A new paper by 23 prominent B.C. conservation specialists lays out the Priority Threat Management plan to save one of the most important ecosystems on Canada's West Coast .

Informing public policy

We gather scientific information to promote the creation of effective wetland policies. We do this by growing and sharing our knowledge of the ecological value wetlands provide to communities when they reduce floods and droughts, support climate resilience, and remove pollutants from water.

New study showcases nature’s ability to mitigate greenhouse-gas emissions in Canada

New study showcases nature’s ability to mitigate greenhouse-gas emissions in Canada

DUC research scientist plays key role in demonstrating value of wetlands to provide natural climate solutions.

The power of small wetlands for clean water

The power of small wetlands for clean water

New DUC research quantifies the role of restored wetlands in capturing phosphorus in agricultural watersheds.

Sharing science and knowledge

We regularly publish study results, reports, presentations and more to share our knowledge with research partners, scientists interested in our work, government decision makers, and our supporters.

DUC Endowed Chair in Wetland and Waterfowl Conservation

DUC’s support for education will ensure that generations of students at the University of Saskatchewan pursue their passion for conservation and conduct research that addresses the pressing environmental issues of our time.

Education and training

Young scientists are integral to our research programs and we’re proud to help them launch their careers in environmental conservation. DUC supports the next generation of conservation scientists through employment, contracts and funded fellowships that support graduate research.

Environmental conservation is our priority

Our conservation priorities and methods are guided by knowledge and expertise to reach the best outcomes for wildlife, ecosystems and communities.

We address the greatest environmental uncertainties, supporting our on-the-ground conservation actions to sustain waterfowl populations while increasingly building on the relevance of nature and wildlife to the progress, safety and health of human communities.

  • Conservation program planning, delivery and adaptation
  • Ecosystem services and human dimensions
  • Sustainable agriculture Implications of climate change for conservation
  • Waterfowl species of concern
  • Development and refinement of international conservation plans