Ducks Unlimited Podcast

Ducks Unlimited and the University of Texas at El Paso announce the launch of duckDNA, a new project where waterfowl hunters will collect and submit tissue samples from harvested ducks for genetic analysis. Participants will be contributing to cutting-edge science, and in exchange will receive certificates of genetic analysis for their harvested ducks. Join Dr. Phil Lavretsky, Dr. Mike Brasher, and Ashley Tunstall to learn how you can get involved. duckDNA: Where You Become the Scientist!

Creators & Guests

Mike Brasher
Ducks Unlimited Podcast Science Host

What is Ducks Unlimited Podcast?

Ducks Unlimited Podcast is a constant discussion of all things waterfowl; from in-depth hunting tips and tactics, to waterfowl biology, research, science, and habitat updates. The DU Podcast is the go-to resource for waterfowl hunters and conservationists. Ducks Unlimited is the world's leader in wetlands conservation.

00:00 SPEAKER_02 Hey, everybody. Welcome back. I'm your host, Dr. Mike Brasher, and on today's episode, we have a really special announcement. It's something that's really unusual. It is a project that we are rolling out for this fall and winter for the 2023-24 hunting season, and it's a project that you can be involved in. As a waterfowl hunter, you are one of the key participants in this effort. It's a project that we're calling Duck DNA, and it's a project that we've been working on for about a year. We've been actually, to be honest, I didn't know until a few months ago if we were actually going to be able to make this happen. A few things fell into place, and it is a go. And so it's DuckDNA. There is a website associated with it where you can learn more about it, And basically what it is, is we are going to be enlisting the help of waterfowl hunters to collect and submit tissue samples from harvested waterfowl that will then be going through some genetic analyses to help us gather really important data, help some of our researchers gather some really important data on waterfowl genetics, hybridization, all sorts of things. Today's episode is where we're going to describe that project and tell you how you can apply to be part of Duck DNA for this upcoming hunting season. Joining me to help describe this project is, joining remotely, Dr. Phil Ovretsky. He's been on with us before. Phil, it's great to have you here with us.

01:22 SPEAKER_00 Always happy to be here.

01:23 SPEAKER_02 And then in studio, I'm very excited to welcome in Ashley Tunstall, our conservation science assistant here at Ducks Unlimited. Ashley, it's great to have you here as well. Thanks, Mike. Thanks for letting me do this. So Phil, we've heard from you a number of times, like who you are, what you do. So we're going to skip over that introduction for you. People are going to start to learn as we get into this episode, what you do. You're a geneticist. You're studying genetics in waterfowl. and are doing a lot of groundbreaking research. And this program, Duck DNA, is the next really exciting step in some of that work. Ashley, first time being on the Ducks Unlimited podcast and so you've been with us here at the National Headquarters since, what was it, February? You have become our project manager, the leader on this program, this project, and so I want to give you an opportunity to introduce yourself to our audience. Where'd you come from? What has this experience been like for you?

02:21 SPEAKER_01 Yeah, I'm originally from the New Orleans area in Louisiana. I went to Louisiana State University for my undergrad and graduated in 2021. I did undergraduate research under Dr. Kevin Ringelman for a few years and that really kind of introduced me to the world of waterfowl because I'm neither a hunter nor outdoor enthusiast in that way or I wasn't until I really started to learn more about how cool and unique waterfowl are and now I'm working here at Ducks Unlimited helping y'all to do some community science and I'm really excited for the opportunity.

02:51 SPEAKER_02 So, thanks for that, Ashley. We're going to jump right into the discussion here and Phil, this really all starts with you. You are the leading waterfowl geneticist in North America and the work that we're doing through DuckDNA is critical to you in sort of advancing our understanding about waterfowl genetics and some of the important issues that are unfolding in that space. We've had you on a number of times. The most recent episode in the Ducks Unlimited podcast where we discussed this issue of waterfowl genetics was episode 477, released in June of this year. Discoveries from duck DNA and how it's changing everything about how we're thinking of waterfowl. I would encourage people to go back and listen to that episode. That kind of gives you the most current understanding of where we are. Duck DNA is sort of the next installment of this, where we're leveraging the power of waterfowl hunters all across this landscape to expand the scale and, quite frankly, the quantity of samples that are going to be collected and submitted for genetic analysis to inform some of these questions that Phil has been asking. So, Phil, I'll ask you to give our audience the 30,000-foot view of where we are with our understanding of waterfowl genetics, the key issues that we're trying to address, and then how does duck DNA fit into sort of the next step of that.

04:10 SPEAKER_00 Yeah. 30,000 feet. I don't know if I have that capacity. Give it your best shot. How do I explain this? So I'm a geneticist. I'm a wildlife geneticist, but I sort of have the foundational knowledge of the ecology and management of waterfowl, particularly, and I sort of go after all of that with using genetics as and all be all, like what is it that we're studying? And this whole area that we're moving into really comes down to the fact that we use genetics to find out some interesting patterns in, at that time, mallards and black ducks. And we use that information then to then ask the next question, what exactly is happening to wild North American mallards here? Something invisible was occurring at that time. And fast forward, that was 2019, fast forward to today, not a lot of time, but through lots and lots of collaborations, including private individuals that were providing samples, we now know that that that new genetics that is in North America is actually from game farm mallards. That was a big, big new idea that we knew that game farm mallards, these domestic variants that are basically being released for you know, shooting preserves, hunting purposes, we all dogmatically thought they did nothing to the population. But essentially there was this silent conservation concern that was occurring over the last hundred years that has transformed the genetic component, genetics of our wild North American mallards more and more towards this kind of domestic variant ancestry. And so where that led us to is trying to understand at what landscape level is this occurring? What are the consequences? Their ability to migrate, their ability to feed, their ability to survive, have kids, all of that has direct implications to populations. And in this case, wild North American mallard populations, which is, obviously a top tier duck that all of us duck hunters prize. So it's quite concerning the levels that we've learned to date of what is occurring on the landscape. And so that is the 30,000 foot understanding of where we are and what we got here. And this is the conversation that you and I had. And lo and behold, how better to study a species, a game species, than to bring in the masses of hunters into the fold to allow studies at scales that are inconceivable for almost any other species. Then this is where we are with Duck DNA.

07:13 SPEAKER_02 You know, Phil, this idea really began whenever we were talking a number of months ago about how people have been getting in touch with you just sort of organically over the past couple of years, asking you how they can submit tissue samples or how they can figure out what kind of weird hybrid that they have that they've harvested. And you've made ways for them to submit those tissue samples and you can identify sort of the parentage of these birds. But we began to think about, can we expand that? Can we get more information, can we leverage that same interest to get more information about waterfowl genetics, not just hybrids, but from that entire mallard clade and find out other things that may be going on taxonomically and hybridization-wise and so forth. And so, that's kind of what is happening here, is this idea is going beyond just hybrids, and we're going to be soliciting participation from hunters to submit tissue samples from hybrids, that's still going to be a viable option, but also from a suite of species that fall within this mallard clade to help us really better understand the issue that you just described, and it's really cool, I think, to be able to do this, for hunters to be able to participate in the science, and then in exchange, we're going to provide information to the hunters about the genetic sort of makeup of their birds, sort of a genetic profile, scientifically analyzed by you and your folks in your lab. And so that's kind of where we are with this. It's a really exciting moment. I guess where we need to go right now is sort of explaining what this is, how hunters can be involved, how you can apply to be involved. And for that, I'm going to turn it over to Ashley. And I guess we kind of start with the website, right?

08:56 SPEAKER_01 So, yeah, people will be able to go to You can put that in your web browser right now and go to the website and see it. And there's going to be Some information on that website for you to read and look through about the project and what our goals are and what the background is, a little bit about what Dr. Levretsky and Mike have talked about today, as well as some additional information, some information about Dr. Levretsky's lab at UTEP, so you can learn more about other research they're doing there as well. And then there's going to be an Apply Today button. And if you hit that Apply Today button, a modal will come up that will ask you for your email address, your name, and the place that you primarily hunt. And so that information is going to be kept in a database on our end, and then come mid-October, we're going to select our first round of participants. The first round will be 150 folks. We'll do that again in November.

09:46 SPEAKER_02 Somewhere around in there. We're still working.

09:48 SPEAKER_01 In November, December.

09:51 SPEAKER_02 I think early December is probably where we'll end up, but we'll see.

09:55 SPEAKER_01 Well, we'll select a second round in the latter half of the year, almost towards the end, and then y'all will all get… Anybody who signed up and submitted their email address will get an email telling them and notifying them that they've been selected. And at that point, you can log on to your individualized portal and enter a little bit more information so that we can then mail you your Duck DNA kit. This kit is something that we have painstakingly designed to try to make it… I'll say. As user-friendly and as intuitive as possible. In that kit, you will find all the components necessary for you to conduct your hunter scientist research. You'll be able to collect samples and put them into vials prepared by Dr. Levretsky and his lab mates, his technicians. And then you will have to reseal those vials and prep them all, and then you'll be able to mail them back to Dr. Levretsky after you've collected all five, or if you couldn't collect all five in the hunting season, that's fine too. And then Dr. Levretsky and his team will go through, analyze those samples, sequence the DNA, and you will get an individualized certificate sent back to your account with all of the genetic information you could want about your harvested waterfowl. If you've harvested a brown duck, some kind of mallard clade individual, you will get a certificate of purity, which will be how percent pure wild mallard your mallard is. And you can compare with your buddies to see who's got the best duck.

11:18 SPEAKER_02 And then… I can just hear the conversations already.

11:24 SPEAKER_01 And then, you know, alternatively, if you've shot what you believe to be a hybrid, you will then receive a certificate with a certificate of parentage, which will indicate, you know, what two species made up that hybrid if it is a hybrid or Dr. Phil can show you. This is not a hybrid. This is this one species. It just looks really weird, you know, and so there's going to be so many options and deliverables for you guys to get to see and a way for y'all to really get to participate in the science and have an invested hand in the future of this research as well.

11:55 SPEAKER_02 That was awesome, Ashley. Thanks for that introduction. So many questions still running through my mind here, things I know people, we're going to have like an extensive frequently asked questions list eventually on this website. I will ask people to bear with us as we first get into this. We're, I don't know, we're going to see, we're going to be providing, putting additional information on the website over the coming days and weeks. So if you go there today and you don't find all the information that Ashley described, Keep coming back. It's going to be there. You will be able to apply, but some of the other information in the background on Dr. Levretsky's lab, we're still working on that. This is literally still a sort of an active, ongoing project that we're building out, and it's really exciting. There is no cost for people to participate. We will mail out the kits, or more precisely, Phil and his folks will mail the kits out. It will include prepaid return shipping. It includes professionally designed infographic, stepwise instructions on how to collect the sample. where actually I've already had several people ask me what is acceptable tissue. We're just instructing people to take a little quarter-inch snip of the tongue of a duck that they harvest. That allows them to… like if they want to… if it's a hybrid and they want to get it mounted, they don't have to sort of… damage the skin or the muscle or anything of that nature. They just take a little snip of the tongue. Phil, you confirmed last year with some samples that we were experimenting with that that little quarter-inch piece of tongue material, tongue tissue, delivers exceptional DNA results, right?

13:50 SPEAKER_00 Yeah, no, you were able to provide that. And then we just finished out some collecting out in Arizona with Mexican ducks and mallards and other things. And I did the same thing. We had blood, tissue, and tongue, and we just finished comparisons and they were great. So I'm pretty excited about it. One thing that I was afraid of is that we would get like a bunch of DNA from the food that they eat and that might cause issues. And potentially we could still do that. But regardless, the nice thing is that Ancestry Call, we get tons of duck DNA and it's been, it works just as well as any other tissue form. So yeah, I've been pretty excited and pleasantly surprised how well it works, so.

14:35 SPEAKER_01 Just to ask something in regards to that, you're saying that tongue works as well as any of the other sample types. So theoretically, if for some reason a hunter doesn't feel comfortable giving you a piece of tongue, those alternatives will work just as well. We just prefer tongue for standardization or

14:50 SPEAKER_00 No, we just prefer tongue so that way nobody needs to like carefully slice into the breast tissue and pull out tissue without contaminating everything else. You know, that takes a little bit more work. And especially as Mike mentioned, you know, if you're going to if you're going to do a taxidermy, well, then maybe the taxidermist has to do and that delays things. It's just it's a highly more standardized if you have like a toenail clipper sized clipper, and you just sort of clip off the edge of the tongue, and then obviously wipe ethanol wipes or something to sanitize it between the ducts so we don't cross-contaminate. It's just way easier, and it's way easier for us too, because then we were able to quickly freeze the birds for transportation, but then we didn't have to spend the time actually taking the muscle tissue out, we quickly just clip the tongue in the field. So we're doing it now pretty much. I think we're going to transition even for our own research to this tissue because the buffer and that tissue for one reason or another works great. So there's no reason not to do it.

16:00 SPEAKER_02 Yeah, and Phil, just to clarify for people that may be listening, when you're talking about the sampling that you're doing in the field, you're not talking about cutting the tongue off a live duck. You're talking about from harvest to duck.

16:09 SPEAKER_00 Yeah, yeah, yeah. All of these are scientifically collected birds. They're all going to our museum here at University of Texas El Paso, our partnering national museum, where they will be housed. But currently, when we do these kind of collections, we're bringing them in So that way we can look at the morphology really, really closely. So that way we can start to understand the different molt cycles, the different plumage types, what does a hybrid look like? For that, we need to first figure out who is a hybrid, and then we can start parsing those types of questions out. That's a big part of my research program here. And so, yeah, so these birds, yeah, no, no, no. If they're alive, we're just taking blood and letting them go.

16:59 SPEAKER_02 So, this first year, we're going to select up to 300 total participants. Each of those participants will receive five sample vials. They'll be able to submit samples from five harvested ducks. We're going to emphasize collections from the mallard clade as well as any other hybrid duck. We're limiting it to ducks only. Right now, participation is limited to hunters in the U.S. or people that are mailing back their packages from the U.S. to be more specific because that's That's the area from which we calculated this prepaid shipping postage, so that's going to be included. Phil, you mentioned the ethanol wipes. Those two are going to be included. We've tried not to leave any stone unturned on this thing. The only thing we're not including is the knife or scissors or whatever it is that they need in order to collect that tongue sample, but we're assuming that folks are certainly going to be able to do that. Let's see, what else, no cost this year, keep checking back. Did we mention, Ashley, whenever people, so they're gonna sign up initially, and let's say we get 5,000 people sign up within the first three weeks or something, that's a crazy number, but let's say it happens anyway, the order in which you sign up doesn't matter. It's gonna be a random drawing come sort of the first or second, probably the second week of October. So even if you apply, apply to participate the day before we draw. Your odds of getting selected are just as good as a person that's going to have applied.

18:26 SPEAKER_00 It's New Mexico draw, no preference points. Okay, there you go.

18:32 SPEAKER_02 No preference points. And then people can continue to sign up to apply to participate up until we do that additional drawing in late November or early December. We're doing those two different drawing periods for, I guess, one main reason, and that is to get some both geographic representation, recognizing that the hunting seasons, some people may not be fully into duck hunting mode like right now, some southern hunters, and so this may not be on their radar necessarily. And then also we just want to get that temporal sampling, greater sampling across the hunting season as well. All of this ultimately, Phil, goes to the idea that we want hunters who contribute data and have for years in other ways that is helpful to waterfowl management, band recoveries, harvest surveys, etc. This is another way for them to contribute to waterfowl management and the science that we use to make those decisions. And so, the broader that representation across space and time, the better we get a handle, or you specifically, Phil, your lab and other scientists that will have access to this data, will get a handle on this issue of genetics. And so, the presence of game farm malar genes is sort of the low-hanging fruit right now, right? In terms of what we can learn from this and how this issue is spreading. But the other thing that you and I have talked about is, theoretically, the more we learn, and we're going to ask a few questions associated with each of the samples that people provide, the more we learn about, you know, hypothetically, the habitat use, the location of harvest, you know, there's even the possibility that if we can link in band recovery information of birds that are submitted, then you have the banding origin of these birds. You can start to imagine this idea of pulling more and more genetically controlled information out of these birds and link it to those behavioral traits. And so it kind of takes you down this line of thinking related to Ancestry or 23andMe or some of these other services that are out there. Am I thinking about it right, Phil?

20:44 SPEAKER_00 Oh, absolutely. I mean, this is more or less what I've been trying to do pro bono and just sort of like, you know, folks contacting me and helping me out. Obviously, in addition to all of the state and federal agencies that I've been able to partner with. Yeah. I mean, the reason 23andMe and come back and ask, hey, do you want to re revise your genetic ancestries? Because they got they have that many more human genomes, right? They know they can associate that many more genes to certain diseases or propensity to do things. In our case, I mean, to have, you know, I envisioned this years ago, having this like army of waterfowl, you know, hunter scientists out there. To be able to get data across time and space during this time is, again, unimaginable for almost any wildlife. This is impossible unless you had billions and billions and billions of dollars, right? we have a resource in these waterfowl hunters that could potentially unlock all sorts of new information that we could never have figured out. Why does a certain duck go to a certain area? You could use telemetry and band recovery data to to sort of come with some hypotheses. But there could be genetic mechanisms that explain exactly why they're feeding at a certain time, using a certain wetland. You know, those associations will be able to overlay, you know, using genetics as that foundation, we can overlay habitat information, resource allocation information. weather severity information and understand whether there's certain genetic constitutes out there that may better explain, be a better explaining variable to why waterfowl are doing what they're doing. And in that case, that information goes back to folks like DU where we can create maps and say, hey, There seems to be something happening here where there's a whole bunch of hybrids, certain types of hybrids. Or over here, this is really good key model duck habitat where there are no hybrids. So obviously, model ducks really like this habitat. We need to do something about that. We can start to build that kind of information. And hopefully the folks out there are just as excited as I am and we are, and they'll sign up and sign everybody they know up, and we can start moving, keeping waterfowl at the forefront of wildlife conservation.

23:24 SPEAKER_02 Ashley, it's almost as though Phil is excited about this. Did you get that?

23:27 SPEAKER_01 Did you pick that up? I did pick it up, yeah.

23:30 SPEAKER_02 That's awesome, Phil.

23:31 SPEAKER_00 This is a dream. This has been a dream.

23:33 SPEAKER_02 You are beside yourself right now.

23:35 SPEAKER_00 It's awesome. I am beside myself. The fact that I was doing… We're in this podcast, I'm sort of like at an out of… out-of-body experience. I was like, wow, 10 years ago, nobody would talk to me. And then it was like, this is amazing that this idea that I've always had in the back of my mind, how awesome this would be to include the entire waterfowl conservation group like this. I mean, we could do so much that so many others can't.

24:06 SPEAKER_01 Y'all can't see his puppy dog eyes right now. You can't let him down, so you gotta sign up.

24:11 SPEAKER_02 Those aren't puppy dog eyes. Those are eyes of, like, I just… A rabid animal.

24:15 SPEAKER_01 Jumped over the moon.

24:17 SPEAKER_02 So, let me think. Phil, my mind was going somewhere. It was going somewhere and I lost it there, but… Oh, that's what I was gonna ask you. Like, I think we talked about this. So, you've been collecting samples. through your organized research that's funded through state and federal partners for the past several years, and you've told us on the past episode, episode 477, is where we talk about some of this, and people go back to that episode and listen, and you will hear some of the things that Phil just talked about in terms of what's possible, some of the new things that we're learning and what we're really wanting to leverage this broader base of of samples for, but you were saying that you have samples from every state, all 48 states at least, right now, but the total number of samples is what, 1,500, 2,000, something like that?

25:04 SPEAKER_00 Yeah, so I've been collecting over the last 10 years. We have every state and every Canadian province and most Mexican states of a variety of species. And at this point, just mallards alone, we're almost at 3000 samples. We have hundreds of model ducks and hundreds of Mexican ducks. And then we have, you know, the 20, 30 plus samples of all the different other waterfowl species. And the reason that we got to the point that we are now is because we have these references, right? You can send me a duck and you're like, I think this is, even send it, be like, I think this is a buffalo head merganser. We can do that because we've been able to, through all these studies I've been a part of, develop data sets that can serve now as references comparing these. And at this moment in time, exactly at this moment in time, we're in fact diving deeper into bringing in geese. Hopefully in two years or so, we'll have the reference data sets for every North American goose group species. So that way you could be like, oh, is this a raw snow hybrid? We could answer that kind of question soon. Just as much as we can tell you how much of a brewer's duck your brewer's duck is. And so yeah, so over, this is sort of, we've come to the part where we're able to do the things that we are because of the last 10 years.

26:39 SPEAKER_02 So, in one year now, going forward, we hope to increase that sample size for mallards and some of the other species by 30-40%. Maybe even… I don't think we'll get to 50% because for… maybe for model ducks, Mexican ducks, depends on how things go, who our participants are, but we're going to make a sizable increase in that data set just in one year. So, right now, we know we're doing it this year, 300 participants, I should say up to 300 participants, Up to 1,500 total samples collected. We're going to be focusing on the mallard, clade, and hybrids, no geese this year. The website is That's pretty easy to remember, I think. It's a little catchy name there. Surely folks won't forget that. And it's free for people to participate, random draw to determine those participants, but you have to sign up, you have to apply to be considered. If you're selected, they're going to, did we say they're going to talk about how they're going to create an account? I think I mentioned it. Yeah, they'll create an account and then once you sample, you harvest your birds, collect the tissue, you'll, yeah, you'll submit some information and then drop it in the mail. And then in a few weeks, what are we thinking, what's the turnaround, what do we think it's going to be?

27:56 SPEAKER_01 Three to four week turnaround, hopefully, for this.

27:59 SPEAKER_02 For them to get the results?

28:01 SPEAKER_01 Yes. Yeah. Results reported to your portal and certificate delivered within three to four weeks. And we know that sounds a little bit long, but we're asking for some patience because of, you know, we're still figuring out the kinks logistically as well.

28:13 SPEAKER_02 Yeah, Phil, you and I were talking yesterday and we're, so, so we're over here in Memphis. We've got some of the, some of the components of this. Our staff, our IT and web staff are just doing incredible work to build this website, get everything functional. Uh, and then of course, we're going to be sending you and your staff out in El Paso, the shipping materials and a lot of other things. And, uh, people that, that get selected are also get these little cool Duck DNA stickers, logo stickers. Uh, that, that our staff have also created. And we, we both realize when we were talking yesterday, Phil, that we're, you know, this is, we're going to have to just get comfortable with a little bit of a wild, wild West as we start to get into this, because we don't know the pace at which, at which people are going to sign up. We don't know the pace at which we're going to have to be mailing out these kits. We don't know the pace at which they're going to be returned to us. We don't know the pace at which we're going to be able to turn these certificates around. So, there will be some unknowns here, but it's full go. It's happening. Whether this continues next year, I think, is going to depend on the interest this year and feedback we get and how well we execute on all the important steps. We will have a helpline on the website. We'll be looking for, and we'll make ourselves available to answer questions. We'll probably, I can imagine us reaching out to participants afterwards to find out what they liked, disliked, what we need to improve upon for next year.

29:42 SPEAKER_01 What am I missing? Just keep in mind whenever you call that customer service number, you better get used to these voices because it's going to be me and Mike answering all of your questions. Oh, that's right. I can hear the prank calls coming now. We're here for you, though. You know, like something I really, really want to reiterate is, and I know that so many of you hunters listening already know this, but Y'all are the ones that are the most active participants in this kind of conservation and you really care about the species that you're invested in and your engagement with this is paramount. We need you as much as y'all need those ducks. So let's help each other out this year. That's right.

30:18 SPEAKER_02 What else, Phil? I think we're about… There's going to be all sorts of resources coming out on various social media channels. DU Nation. What else? There will be some videos on the website. We're going to provide as many resources as possible. Try to get the word out as far and wide as possible. Share with all of your friends. We want to find out what the real interest is and demand is for this type of hunter-scientist participation. Phil, what else?

30:45 SPEAKER_00 No, I think you guys covered it. I mean, once we start going, I'll be excited to hear what people say. Hopefully good. I'm sure there's some bad, and hopefully we'll be able to answer some of those questions. All I can say is I'm excited about it, and I hope that the hunters out there are excited about it. Just think about it as you're not only investing into additional information that will help science conserve the future of waterfowl and waterfowl hunting, but you're gonna be able to be there and say, hey, you know that duck that's sitting on that mantle? Funny fact, that's 50% mallard, 50% pintail. And the mom was a pintail. So you're gonna, you know, those are, I think that's pretty cool and pretty awesome. So I hope folks get excited.

31:31 SPEAKER_02 Or it's 99% wild mallard, you know?

31:35 SPEAKER_00 And then you could be like, you got a 90% wild mallard. That's right.

31:41 SPEAKER_02 You know, all sorts of competitions, you know? Who in your club ends up with the mallard with the highest percentage of wild mallard genetics at the end of the year? All sorts of fun that people can have.

31:56 SPEAKER_00 All sorts of stuff you could bet on. No, and the other part of it is that, you know, for every state as we could, hopefully we, we, we continue after this year, but as we grow this data set on the Mallard side, on, on the other, the general hybrid side, we're going to be able to fine tune areas. Like I said, of where potentially, if you're a hybrid enthusiast, you could go to this region and go get yourself a model duck Mexican duck hybrid. That's new. You could go over there and for, you know, potentially for some reason there might be pintail mallard hybrids in certain areas. Once we start gathering this data, we can provide, we'll be providing these sorts of like 30,000 foot elevation maps where you're going to start to zone in and look closer and closer to where are hybrids, where are the pure mallards and pure mottleducks and black ducks and pintail and so forth. And you can start thinking about where you want to go hunting and how you want to hunt. And obviously, coming back to the habitat, That information is going to be key and critical to put another layer of decision making on what habitat and where that habitat needs to be conserved for the DU side of things.

33:12 SPEAKER_02 Phil, I really, really appreciate your excitement, your engagement, all the contributions that y'all are making to this project. We are thrilled that we're able to be part of it, thrilled that we're able to bring this to life. Ashley, thank you so much for all the absolutely stunning leadership that you've been able to provide on this and working across multiple departments. I don't think when you arrived here, you thought you'd be working with as many people, great people, of different backgrounds, different areas of expertise as you have been, right?

33:44 SPEAKER_01 Yeah, I know. Every moment I'm learning more about the pieces that go into this kind of stuff and also growing my own confidence knowing that I can manage it, you know, and handle it to some degree.

33:56 SPEAKER_02 Yeah, so we've got you for a few more months and then of course we'll all keep track of you and where you go in your career. There's more information that we'll hopefully share, have an opportunity to share in the future on that. I do have to acknowledge the people that are helping to fund this research. I mentioned it's free to the participants. At this, we're still fundraising for it right now. If folks are interested, feel free to reach out to me. You can, you can reach us through the Ducks Unlimited, uh, through the DU podcast email. That's Uh, right now we have Mark and Sherry Pierce that have been financial contributors to this effort. the Ducks Unlimited Southern Regional Office. And I know our development officers are working with a number of other folks right now. We don't have the full list of those folks, but they will eventually appear on that website. If you're interested, get in touch with us. We'll fill you in with more about this opportunity. And yeah, we'll be bringing more information to you in a lot of different forms going forward. Share this episode with all your friends. Make them aware of this opportunity. No other effort underway like this on the planet, and you can be a part of it. Ashley, thanks for joining us. Phil, it's great to have you here as well, and I look forward to catching up with you again in the future.

35:15 SPEAKER_00 Thank you guys.

35:16 SPEAKER_02 Yeah, thank y'all. A very special thanks to our guests on today's episode, Dr. Phil Levretsky, University of Texas, El Paso, and Ashley Tunstall, our conservation science assistant here at Ducks Unlimited's national headquarters. We appreciate all their expertise and support on this effort. We thank you, the listener, and Hunter for your participation in this podcast, for your participation in Duck DNA. We thank you most importantly for your longstanding commitment and support of wetlands and waterfowl conservation.