Date of Award

May 2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Wildlife and Fisheries Biology

Committee Member

Richard Kaminski

Committee Member

Daniel Hitchcock

Committee Member

Althea Hagan

Committee Member

Shari Rodriguez

Committee Member

William Conner


University programs with waterfowl teaching, research, and outreach in the United States and Canada have decreased from approximately 55 to 33 programs (~40%). A reduction in these programs may lead to a loss in professional capacity of waterfowl and wetlands specialists working for science and conservation of these resources. Three research projects were conducted: (1) the creation and assessment of inaugural online course in waterfowl ecology and management, (2) identifying academic and experiential credentials perceived important for a successful career in the waterfowl profession by professionals and current students, and (3) identifying waterfowl graduate students’ performance in publishing in peer-review literature. In the assessment of the online course in waterfowl ecology and management, students indicated that pedagogical components of the waterfowl course maintained similar effectiveness in helping them learn material when compared to both in-person and other online courses. Significant differences observed between graduate and undergraduate responses suggested opportunities to modify current theoretical models in online learning. A survey of waterfowl professionals and students revealed that technical field and practical skills, such as animal capturing and handling and species identification, as well as traditional coursework in ecology and wildlife management, are important for a successful career in the waterfowl profession. A separate survey of waterfowl professionals and students identified strategies are most often used to motivate graduate students to publish and the most common barriers to publication. Professionals and students indicated that a combination of encouragement and assistance in editing manuscripts could improve student publication performance. Most common barriers to publication were lack of time during and outside work hours, as well as lack of job incentives to publish. The results from these three studies can aid university waterfowl programs to advise and prepare their students for success in their future careers.



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