New Faculty Profile: Waterfowl Research Returns Ringelman to His Roots

Tobie Blanchard  |  10/12/2016 3:06:35 PM

Tobie Blanchard

Kevin Ringelman developed his interest in waterfowl on the plains of Bismarck, North Dakota. Ringelman, an assistant professor and waterfowl ecologist with the LSU College of Agriculture, grew up hunting and learning about ducks in that region.

Waterfowl is also part of his legacy.

“My dad spent his entire career working with waterfowl, so it was a natural fit for me,” Ringelman said.

Ringelman received his bachelor’s degree from Cornell University and his Ph.D. from the University of California at Davis. He joined the College of Agriculture’s faculty in August 2014.

Ringelman’s research has him returning to his roots, while also learning more about waterfowl wintering in Louisiana.

“My research is split between issues in Louisiana and breeding grounds in North Dakota,” he said.

Ringelman has a master’s student in North Dakota working on a project to study how fracking—a technique used in the energy industry to extract oil and gas from rock by injecting high-pressure mixtures of water, sand or gravel and chemicals—is affecting breeding, nesting and duckling survival. Another student is studying lesser scaup diving ducks on Lake Pontchartrain.

Ringelman said the fracking activity in North Dakota may have affected waterfowl in several ways.

“They may find quieter places to nest, so we may see fewer pairs, but the fracking may be affecting predators so nesting success could be higher,” Ringelman said.

Fracking could lead to lower duckling survival, Ringelman said, because brine contamination in wetlands could kill the insects that ducklings eat, affecting their food supply.

Ringelman also plans to have a Ph.D. student lead a study at Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge in Cameron Parish on mottled duck adult survival during the breeding season.

Being in Louisiana affords Ringelman many research opportunities because that state is a wintering area for waterfowl.

Ringelman takes some of his classes out in the field for hands-on wildlife activities. Next spring, he plans to have the class help capture ducks using rocket nets and band them. They’ll also get to observe veterinarians implant radio transmitters in waterfowl.

“I’m very impressed with the undergraduates here. They want to stay out in the field longer. They are just so enthusiastic about being outside,” he said.

Tobie Blanchard is a communications specialist and College of Agriculture communication coordinator.


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Assistant professor and waterfowl ecologist Kevin Ringelman, left, with students on a field trip to Alexander State Forest in Woodworth, Louisiana.

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Clay Stroud, Cassandra Skaggs and Jacqueline Satter, students in the LSU College of Agriculture, attended the 2016 North American Duck Symposium in Annapolis, Maryland, with Kevin Ringelman, assistant professor and waterfowl ecologist.

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