Kaylan Carrlson, PhD Candidate
As the Ducks Unlimited (DU) Manager of Conservation Planning for the Great Plains Region for the past five years, my work background has developed a strong base in natural resources management and conservation planning. My work focuses on designing and implementing research to develop conservation targeting tools, communicating research results to DU staff and partners, and working with other research partners in the Great Plains Region. Another key component of my job is to ensure that our conservation plans complement local agricultural stakeholders’ needs.
The area in which I work consists largely of the Prairie Pothole Region (PPR), and the wetland and grassland habitat in this region is continually shrinking due to outside pressures such as agriculture, energy development, and population growth. This region has been known to support upwards of 50% of the continent’s breeding waterfowl population. Historically, the PPR was dominated by rolling native prairie interspersed with shallow wetland basins. Today, despite substantial efforts within the conservation community, grassland and wetland habitat are disappearing faster than we can replace them. Without changing the way we approach the system, it’s highly likely that our conservation goals are unattainable.
Because of my work with Ducks Unlimited, and the growing need for a different approach towards grassland and wetlands conservation, I've become very interested in developing empirically based cross-disciplinary conservation targeting tools. Integrating recent advances in the field of systematic conservation planning, these tools could incorporate return on investment analyses, spatially referenced assessments of landowner willingness to participate, and biologically relevant species distribution models.
My interests led me to pursue a PhD supervised by Amy Diedrich, Bob Pressey (JCU) and Vanessa Adams (University of Tasmania) in an arena of the conservation world well-known for its successful exploration and development of the field of conservation planning. I hope to generate a functional systematic implementation plan for DU and local stakeholders as one of the end products of my thesis.