TWS Executive Director Williams presents plenary at Duck Symposium

By Dana Kobilinsky

American wigeons (Anas americana). ©Michael Mulqueen

Last week, federal and non-government conservation organizations, industry representatives and researchers gathered in Annapolis, Maryland, to address shared priorities for waterfowl and wetland conservation and management.

The 7th North American Duck Symposium, hosted by Associate Professor of Wildlife Ecology at the University of Delaware Christopher Williams and the university, provided the latest biological information on waterfowl as well as insight into their management, both of which face significant challenges due to uncertainties about what drives duck population changes in today’s fast-changing ecological and social environments.

But waterfowl management is on the cutting edge of integrated management of habitat, harvest and humans, says TWS Executive Director Ken Williams, who presented on “Prospects for the Integration of Waterfowl Science and Management.”

“The integration of waterfowl science and conservation on a continental scale is one of the great success stories in the history of renewable natural resources,” Williams said. “But there are widespread social, cultural and landscape changes that increasingly demand the attention of waterfowl biologists and managers to ensure a legacy of waterfowl for future generations.”

Also presenting in the session was Jim Nichols, senior scientist emeritus with the U.S. Geological Survey and recipient of the TWS 2015 Aldo Leopold Award. Nichols’ presentation, “Adaptive Waterfowl Harvest Management: Where Are We and How Did We Get Here?” built on the session’s theme of strengthening the links between waterfowl research and management.

The conference also featured six special sessions about special topics including the conservation of sea ducks, foraging and nutrition of monotypic ducks, Mexico’s waterfowl history, and others. Students also presented their own research and networked with professionals with similar interests. There were 430 people in attendance at the symposium, 25 percent of which were students.

Through the diverse selection of plenaries and sessions, the goal of the conference was to allow individuals to discuss sustainable wildlife harvest, identify sources of habitat degradation, understand more about waterfowl management, and to help develop collaborations in order to benefit waterfowl conservation.

“This symposium brought together some of the best waterfowl scientists and managers in the world to share information, innovations and provocative thinking,” Williams said. “The networking and interactions among participants is sure to have a positive impact for waterfowl science and conservation.”

Dana KobilinskyDana Kobilinsky is a science writer at The Wildlife Society. Contact her at dkobilinsky@wildlife.org with any questions or comments about her article. You can follow her on Twitter at @DanaKobi.

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