Former Graduate Students

Paul Ashley – Wildlife Professor, Sir Sandford Fleming College

Paul has a long association with Long Point, having worked for the Canadian Wildlife Service at the Long Point and Big Creek National Wildlife Areas for 17 years. His interests while there included wetland management, habitat restoration, and various projects with amphibians, reptiles waterfowl and deer. While working, he completed, in 2005, an M.Sc. in Zoology at the University of Western Ontario. His thesis ‘Wing moult and age determination of American Black Ducks provided the background research for his most current project with Long Point Waterfowl linking natal and harvest areas of American Black Ducks through stable isotope analysis’. The project, funded through the Black Duck Joint Venture uses stable isotopes of hydrogen and carbon to infer natal origins of hatch year black ducks and links them to harvest locations within Canada. Prior to working for Canadian Wildlife Service, Paul earned a B.Sc.. (Honors) from Trent University in Environmental Science. Since completing his studies Paul spent five years in the Arctic developing environmental monitoring programs for Parks Canada. Recently, Paul accepted a position as Professor of Wildlife Studies at Fleming College in Lindsay Ontario, and is eager to strengthen the connections between the college and Long Point Waterfowl.


Dr. Shannon Badzinski – Waterfowl Biologist, Environment Canada / Canadian Wildlife Service

Shannon received his B.S. in Wildlife Biology with an emphasis in Waterfowl and Wetland Ecology from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point in 1995. He then came to Canada to attend the University of Western Ontario where he received his M.Sc. in 1998 after studying the growth and development of Canada Geese and Lesser Snow Geese on Akimiski Island, Nunavut. Shannon remained at the University of Western Ontario and began his doctoral research in 1998, which involved studying staging ecology and behaviour of Tundra Swans. His dissertation specifically evaluated the influences that Tundra Swans had on aquatic vegetation and other staging waterfowl at Long Point, and received his Ph.D. in 2003. From 2003 to 2010, he was employed at Bird Studies Canada as Long Point Waterfowl’s Scientist. Currently, Shannon is a Waterfowl Biologist in Ontario Region with Environment Canada / Canadian Wildlife Service specializing in Great Lakes-related waterfowl issues where he is a member of the Sea Duck Joint Venture Continental Technical Team and Ontario Waterfowl Advisory Committee and associate of the Environment Canada Waterfowl Technical Committee. Shannon’s professional and research interests include behavioural ecology and staging/wintering ecology of waterfowl and other waterbirds.


Ted Barney – Long Point Waterfowl Biologist

Ted Barney’s M.Sc. research focused on waste corn availability and nutritional quality for staging waterfowl, near Long Point. His results suggested that waste corn currently is not limiting to staging waterfowl at Long Point in either fall or spring. He also determined that older, (presumably) less efficient harvesters did not leave substantially more waste corn than did newer more efficient harvesters. Nutritional quality of waste corn also did not change significantly between seasons. Soil conservation practices such as reduced and zero till practices likely have contributed to increased amounts of waste corn available for staging waterfowl.

Ted currently is a biologist with Long Point Waterfowl where he assists with ongoing research in the Avian Energetics Lab, conducts aerial waterfowl surveys, and provides technical and field assistance for current graduate students.


Nick Bartok – Biologist with EBA Consulting

Nick received his B.ES. from the University of Waterloo in spring 2003.  Nick has worked on many avian projects across North America, including: secretive marsh bird surveys along the Lower Colorado River and bird banding in Ontario, Arizona, Oregon and British Columbia.  In June 2011, he completed his Master’s of Science at University of Western Ontario, in London. His research was entitled, Relative Abundance and Habitat Associations of Least Bitterns in Long Point, Lake Erie, Ontario.  Nick began field work in May 2008 and finished his field research in 2009.  He conducted all of his research in Long Point area wetlands.  Nick currently resides and works as a consultant in Calgary, Alberta.


Caroline Brady – Waterfowl Research Biologist

Caroline received her B.A in Environmental Forest Biology from SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in 2006 and completed her M.Sc. at the University of Western Ontario in 2009 in association with Long Point Waterfowl.  Her thesis explored the contaminant hypothesis as a possible cause of the continental Scaup decline.  Specifically she tested aspects of health and survival of captive Lesser Scaup throughout fall and winter in response to two different selenium treatments.  Caroline is a passionate waterfowler and has worked, volunteered and hunted in all four major flyways.  After bouncing around North America working various waterfowl field positions, she has finally settled in Sacramento, California, employed by California Waterfowl Association as the Wood Duck Program Coordinator/Outreach Biologist.


Robin Churchill - Biologist at Predator Bird Services


Robin received his B.Sc. in Biology from the University of Western Ontario in the spring of 2009. Robin began his M.Sc. at Western University in September 2009 after working with Delta Waterfowl and Long Point Waterfowl for the summer. Robin’s MSc looked at the long-term changes in the distribution and abundance of Dreissenid mussels in Long Point Bay and their influence on submerged aquatic vegetation. He also examined the carrying capacity for autumn and spring migrating waterfowl in LPB.

Over the past 7-years, while working on his MSc, Robin worked as a biologist for Predator Bird Services Inc., a wildlife management company that specializes in the use of falconry to deter wildlife from using airports, landfills, and large industrial operations.



Matt Dyson – Ph.D. Candidate at the University of Waterloo

Screen Shot 2016-01-04 at 4.05.19 PMMatt completed his Honours B.Sc. in Natural Resource Management with a major in Wildlife and Fisheries at the University of Northern British Columbia in May 2013. While pursuing his undergrad degree, Matt worked as a field technician at Long Point and Big Creek National Wildlife Areas from 2010 through 2012. Matt is also an active member of The Wildlife Society, where he was formerly the president of the UNBC Student Chapter and is currently the student representative to the Canadian Section. He completed his undergraduate thesis researching trends in emergent vegetation biodiversity in a managed wetland at Big Creek NWA.

Matt started with Long Point Waterfowl in April of 2013 as a technician working on the Wood Duck project and also worked as a technician during the fall of 2013 at Lake St. Clair. He completed his M.Sc. at Western in August 2015. Matt used radio telemetry to study survival and habitat selection of brood-rearing wood ducks at Long Point. Matt’s research will help guide best management practices for Wood Ducks in Southern Ontario. Matt is currently pursuing his PhD at the University of Waterloo, where he is working in partnership with Ducks Unlimited Canada, investigating the influence of energy development on waterfowl nest success in Alberta’s boreal forest (


Taylor FingerAssistant Migratory Game Bird Ecologist

Taylor received his M.Sc. in Biology from the University of Western Ontario in January, 2014 after completing research on how environmental variables influence spring migration in scaup. Prior to his M.Sc., Taylor completed his B.Sc. in Wildlife Management and Biology at the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point in the spring of 2010.  Between degrees he conducted research as a technician on energy expenditure of Black Ducks and Atlantic Brant in coastal New Jersey.  He has also worked as a technician with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources raising Cinnamon Teal for the purpose of researching Blue–winged Teal decline in the Great Lakes region. Taylor is now working near his home town with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources as an Assistant Migratory Game Bird Ecologist.


Dave Messmer – Ph.D. Candidate with the University of Saskatoon

Dave Messmer received a B.Sc. in wildlife science from the College of Environmental Science and Forestry in New York in 2006.  Following field work in the U.S. and Canada, Dave began a M.Sc. program at the University of Western Ontario, where his research focused on understanding how breeding waterfowl distribute themselves throughout southern Ontario in relation to upland and wetland habitats.  After completing this degree in 2010 Dave worked for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Ducks Unlimited Canada, before beginning a Ph.D. program at the University of Saskatchewan in 2011.  His research at the University of Saskatchewan will focus on modeling the North American scaup populations and furthering the understanding of wetland and aquatic invertebrate dynamics in the Western Boreal Forest of Canada.


Shawn Meyer - Boreal Issues Conservation Biologist, Canadian Wildlife Service (Ontario)

Shawn completed a M.Sc. with Long Point Waterfowl and the University of Western Ontario in 2003. His thesis focused on the use of Phragmites Australis by migratory birds, amphibians and small mammals at Long Point, Ontario. Currently, Shawn is a boreal issues biologist with the Canadian Wildlife Service focusing on the management of migratory bird populations in Ontario. He is a member of the Ontario Eastern Habitat Joint Venture Technical Steering Committee and Inland Colonial and Marsh Bird Technical Committee within the North American Bird Conservation Initiative. Shawn is still actively involved with the Long Point Waterfowl and Bird Studies Canada as a member of the Scientific Advisory Committee for the Fund and Marsh Monitoring Program.


Dr. Michael Schummer - Long Point Waterfowl Scientist

IMG_1444Dr. Schummer is dedicated to undergraduate teaching and his research interests include waterfowl population dynamics, wetland conservation, avian behavior and global change biology. Mike obtained a B.Sc. in Forest Resources (SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry), M.Sc. in Natural Resources (Southeast Missouri State University), Ph.D. in Zoology (University of Western Ontario). Mike’s Ph.D. focused on influences of changing food resources on waterfowl body condition/diet during winter and changes in waterfowl abundance within the Great Lakes basin. Mike has since served on Atlantic Flyway and Wild Turkey Technical Sections as Gamebird Biologist for the State of Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. Following this Dr. Schummer taught Wildlife Techniques, Waterfowl Ecology and Management, Wetland Ecology and Management, serving on the Satellite Telemetry Science Committee of the Mississippi Flyway, and would advise graduate student research at Mississippi State University, Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. Dr. Schummer is currently the new Long Point Waterfowl Scientist.


Jeremy Stempka – Pennsylvania Game Commission

Jeremy completed his graduate work on the use and colonization of artificial nesting cylinders by mallards and wood ducks in northwestern Pennsylvania and southern Ontario in the spring of 2009. Jeremy’s research suggests that mallards tend to select structures that are placed in areas with high wetland density adjacent to good nesting habitat such as grassland or hayfields. Jeremy’s research also showed that hen mallards exhibit a high rate of philopatry and typically return to nest in the same or adjacent nesting structure. Over time, occupancy rates by mallards and wood ducks typically increase as a result of high hen philopatry, new hens using the structures, and some hen offspring returning to nest. Prior to his graduate work with Long Point Waterfowl, Jeremy received his B.Sc. from the Pennsylvania State University in the spring of 2005. During that time, he has spent several summers as a field technician working on the evaluating the impact of Pennsylvania’s Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) on grassland nesting bird. Jeremy has also worked with the Pennsylvania Game Commission from 2005 to current as a technician in the migratory game bird section. During that time, Jeremy has worked on various projects including pre season duck banding, post season black duck banding, Canada goose banding, Atlantic population breeding waterfowl surveys, wood cock surveys, Canada goose surveys, and a variety of other surveys and projects.


Lena Vanden Elsen

Lena received her B.Sc. in Ecology and Evolution from the University of Western Ontario in spring 2010. While completing her undergraduate degree Lena volunteered with Long Point Waterfowl on numerous research projects and in 2011 she worked for Ducks Unlimited Canada on their Spatial and Temporal Variation in Nest Success of Prairie Ducks (SpATS) study, as well as their Northern Pintail brood survival study.

Lena began her M.Sc. in May 2012 and she will be investigating factors that influence autumn-winter distributions of dabbling ducks in the Atlantic, Mississippi, and Central Flyways of North America. Lena will use available waterfowl survey and nearby weather station data to develop species-specific weather threshold indices for dabbling ducks such as Northern Pintail, Green-winged Teal, and Northern Shoveler. These models, called Weather Severity Indices (WSI), predict when dabbling duck species are expected to migrate from northern locales with relatively severe weather to more southern latitudes where weather conditions are milder. A WSI has been developed for Mallards but additional species-specific weather threshold models will enable conservation planners to understand how changes in climate may influence species of dabbling ducks differently and which species may be most at risk under a warming climate. The weather models for each dabbling duck will be used to predict future distributions of dabbling duck species using future climate change scenarios.


Lindsay Ware – Project Manager at the Jackson Laboratory

Lindsay completed her M.Sc. research on selenium in Greater Scaup in August 2008. Her thesis in entitled Selenium uptake and effects in Greater Scaup (Aythya marila) wintering on western Lake Ontario. Lindsay’s research suggests that the body condition and general health of Greater Scaup wintering on Lake Ontario are not being affected by the consistently high selenium concentrations found in this species. It is possible that selenium is affecting scaup in ways not explored in Lindsay’s research. Conversely, scaup could have a high tolerance to selenium toxicity and are possibly not exhibiting any negative effects. Long Point Waterfowl is continuing this research by examining additional measures of health and examining selenium toxicity thresholds in captive scaup. Lindsay is currently employed as Project Manager at the Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor, Maine.


Katelyn Weaver – Veterinarian Student

65077_10101880161488681_1141772566707012849_nKatelyn’s M.Sc. research was completed in December 2013 and focused on the selection of agricultural, wetland and open water habitats during the nonbreeding period by Easter Population Tundra Swans. Katelyn used land cover and satellite telemetry data to compare the use and availability of habitats along migration corridors in the Boreal Forest, Prairies and Great Lakes and on wintering grounds in the Great Lakes and Atlantic Coast. Her results suggest that Tundra Swans selected open water and agriculture in winter, showed weak selection for wetlands during migration when open water was strongly selected (especially during autumn), and there was a 2-fold increase in use of agriculture from autumn to spring.

Following her M.Sc. Katelyn worked as a biologist with Long Point Waterfowl where her primary responsibilities included manuscript development, coordinating research and education programs at the REC, managing our website and social media sites and assisting with graduate research projects. Katelyn is currently studying veterinary medicine at the Ontario Veterinary College at the University of Guelph.

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