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SERS student nabs three major awards for waterfowl research

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Matt Dyson, a PhD student working under Brad Fedy at the School of Environment, Resources and Sustainability, earned awards totaling more than $40,000 for his research at the intersection of wildlife ecology and resource development.

Matt and Brad FedyDyson received the Delta Waterfowl Student Travel Award at the 7th North American Duck Symposium in Annapolis, Maryland. He received the award based on the submission of his abstract and a CV. Dyson also placed second for a Masters level oral presentation titled, "Habitat selection and survival of female wood ducks (Aix sponsa) and their broods at Long Point, ON."

Shortly afterwards Dyson received a $30,000 grant from Wildlife Habitat Canada for his current PhD research investigating the effects of resource development on waterfowl population demography in the western boreal forest (WBF).

“Some waterfowl populations are declining in the WBF, which is a concern because the WBF is the second most important breeding area in North America, supporting 12-15 million birds each spring. Resource development, including forestry and oil and gas exploration and extraction, has increased rapidly in the region and may contribute to population declines,” he said. “Habitat loss and fragmentation are major contributors to population declines and are a direct result of the infrastructure required by development. Habitat loss and fragmentation caused by resource development may result in a response by predators that results in an increase in population size or increases depredation rates because of easier access to prey.”

Dyson also received a prestigious Ducks Unlimited Canada - MBNA Conservation Fellowship worth $10,000 to conduct his PhD research with Dr. Brad Fedy. The fellowship is awarded to assist in the development of talented young professionals who are dedicated to furthering the conservation of wetlands and wetland wildlife, and to advance scientific understanding of the biology of waterfowl and wetlands in Canada.

“These funds are paramount to my scholarship because they allow us to conduct our research at a scale large enough to answer landscape level ecological questions related to anthropogenic landscape change by revealing the mechanisms that drive waterfowl population dynamics in the western boreal forest,” Dyson said.

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