Research | Dr. Kevin Ringelman

Current Research

Ringelman Lab: Current Graduate Student Research

Wood duck nesting ecology and recruitment in Louisiana

Photo of a Wood DuckEstablishing nest boxes for wood ducks is a common management practice throughout their range, but their relative contribution to local populations is rarely assessed.

Ph.D. student Dylan Bakner is monitoring wood duck boxes throughout Louisiana, banding and PIT-tagging hens and ducklings to study recruitment, and also gathering new information on the nesting ecology of black-bellied whistling-ducks.

Mottled duck nest predator community

photo of a raccoonMottled duck nest predation rates in Louisiana appear to be extremely high, and it is difficult to truly evaluate the intensity of predation rates because many nests are destroyed before they can be located, either through systematic nest searches or telemetry. 

M.S. student Alex Dopkin is using simulated nests and trail cameras to study rates of nest predation and predator identity in various habitat types in southwest Louisiana.

Evaluating wintering waterfowl habitat use in the Mississippi Valley with UAVs

Understanding waterfowl responses to habitat management is important for achieving conservation goals in the Mississippi Alluvial Valley (MAV), but waterfowl are difficult to detect and speciate in flooded bottomland hardwood forest of ducks

M.S. student Zack Loken is using an unmanned aerial vehicle equipped with a multi-spectral camera to capture footage of ducks in the MAV, and is developing Python automated detection tools using deep residual networks.





Designing an aerial waterfowl survey in the Louisiana Mississippi Alluvial Valley

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries currently NE LA mapconducts opportunistic cruise-style wintering waterfowl surveys in northeastern Louisiana.  The goal of Tori Drake's project is to shift the survey design to a statistically-robust transect survey, and evaluate three types of sampling stratification to determine the most precise and cost-effective survey design. Additionally, she will be working closely with Zack Loken to calculate visibility correction factors for specific habitat types.   






Movement and breeding ecology of black-bellied whistling-ducks

Relatively little is known about the ecology of black-bellied whistling-ducks.  They are common breeders in Louisiana during the summer,


but most disappear in early fall; some congregate in urban parks, but many seemingly migrate to places unknown.  M.S. student Katie Miranda is building on her undergraduate honors thesis on BBWD to study their movement ecology using geolocators.  Geolocators attached to leg bands log light levels every 5 minutes throughout the year and when recovered, day length and the midpoint between dawn and dusk can be used to calculate the approximate latitude and longitude of the bird.  In addition, Katie will continue to monitor BBWD nesting ecology and expand her work to study other demographic parameters of interest.


Evaluating waterfowl productivity in prairie Saskatchewanduck

M.S. students Grant Rhodes (LSU) and Hannah Sabatier (U. Wisconsin Stevens Point) are evaluating waterfowl productivity in prairie Canada.  The teams are using unmanned aerial vehicles to conduct breeding pair counts and are monitoring duck nests found by ATV chain-drags.  Grant is fencing some blue-winged teal nests to increase survival rates, then is capturing the hen on the nest and fitting her with a nasal saddle so she and her brood can be relocated with the UAV.  Some hens are also receiving VHF transmitters, which we can detect and auto-triangulate with a new UAV system.  The goal of Grant's work is to study brood movements and survival, and determine the utility of UAV technology as a rapid assessment of waterfowl productivity.