Poster Session – Monday

ROOM: Ballroom ABC (Member Activity Center)

1 Factors Influencing Nest Survival of Mourning Doves in the Lower Rio Grande Valley, Texas
Kelton W. Mote; Jordan C. Giese; Heather A. Mathewson; Thomas W. Schwertner; Jeff B. Breeden
In the United States, mourning doves (Zenaida macroura) are harvested more than all other gamebirds combined. In the Lower Rio Grande Valley of south Texas, mourning doves nest in both citrus and remnant woodland land covers, both of which are decreasing in the region. The objectives of this study were to compare nest survival between citrus and woodland land covers and to model the influence of habitat characteristics on nest survival. In 2016, we located 100 nests in four citrus groves (n = 21) and two woodlots (n = 79) in Hidalgo and Cameron Counties, Texas. We monitored nests every three days and collected nest site vegetation measurements. We used logistic-exposure and AIC model selection to determine which environmental and temporal variables predicted nest survival. Candidate models included temporal variables and nest concealment variables such as overhead cover, side cover, distance to foliage edge, and density of vegetation below the nest. Daily survival rate was higher in citrus sites (0.972) than woodland sites (0.946). We determined that predation was the primary reason for nest failure. Density of vegetation below the nest was the best predictor of survival (AICcWt = 0.17) and had a positive influence. Land cover type was the next supported model (AICcWt = 0.12). The conversion of citrus agriculture to urban areas and row cropping should trouble wildlife managers in the region. Breeding mourning dove populations may be impacted by the extreme loss of citrus groves and woodlands that has occurred during the last 50 years.
2 Teaching Natural Resource Management in a Multi-Cultural Context Through Experiential Learning
Casey C. Day; Patrick A. Zollner; Jonathan H. Gilbert
Undergraduate students planning to enter careers in natural resource management, including wildlife management, will be faced with challenges that require addressing the needs of stakeholders with diverse cultural and socio-economic perspectives. To prepare students to successfully address such challenges, formal training is needed that exposes students to intercultural sensitivity and provides an understanding of and appreciation for diverse approaches to resource management. We developed an undergraduate course in the Department of Forestry and Natural Resources at Purdue University aimed at fulfilling these needs through in-class lectures and experiential learning. Guest speakers from diverse cultures and agencies were invited to lead in-class discussions on intercultural issues in resource management. These guest speakers were primarily from Indigenous cultures, but also included individuals from the LGBTQ and urban communities. Students also participated in a 1-week field trip to visit tribal agencies such as the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission in northern Wisconsin to gain first-hand knowledge and experience in Indigenous approaches to resource management, treaty rights, and inter-agency collaboration. Students were also exposed to state and county agency practices, as well as to stakeholders from non-profit groups such as the Timber Wolf Alliance. Feedback from students after the field trip was wholly positive, and we used the Intercultural Development Inventory to gauge their progress in Intercultural sensitivity. We conclude that in-class discussions of diverse resource management practices coupled with a transformative experience through experiential learning provides an excellent means for preparing students to enter careers in natural resource management. While many natural resources program require some type of coursework in multi-cultural awareness, our course was able to provide additional training by linking this content to resource management. We encourage undergraduate programs in natural resource and wildlife management to consider incorporating principles of cultural diversity and intercultural sensitivity into their own curricula.
3 Baseline Genetic Diversity and Population Structure of Yellow-Billed Magpies Prior to West Nile Virus-Induced Population Decline
Amelia Vazquez; Kyle Gustafson; Ben Harmeling; Holly Ernest
The arrival of West Nile virus (WNV) to the California in 2004 resulted in population declines of certain virus-sensitive avian species. Yellow-billed magpies (Pica nutalli; “YB magpie”) are only found in California and WNV is estimated to have reduced range-wide numbers of YB magpie by 40-50%. During rapid population size reductions, demographic bottlenecks can lead to rapid reductions in genetic diversity, compromising population adaptability and long-term population persistence. In most cases, genetic diversity prior to a population crash is not recorded and the extent to which genetic diversity was lost cannot be determined. We established genetic baseline information for YB magpies prior to WNV impacts. During 2002-2004, we opportunistically collected range-wide tissue samples from 135 YB magpies via the California Dead Bird WNV Surveillance program. Each sample was genotyped at 15 microsatellites, 9 of which were developed by our lab. Bayesian population assignment programs of the sample set indicate YB magpies likely consisted of a single panmictic population in the northern Sacramento Valley from which we had the most samples. Genetic diversity was relatively high (expected heterozygosity: 0.62; allelic richness: 6.1; effective population size: 185) and the population did not exhibit evidence for a pre-WNV bottleneck. Additionally, our research team has a separate, parallel study analyzing an additional >100 range-wide, post-WNV (2009-2011) samples to test for genetic diversity reductions following the WNV population reduction. Our results will help biologists manage Yellow-billed magpies, provide a genetic baseline for future comparisons of genetic diversity, and could be indicative of genetic changes that occurred in other bird species affected by WNV in the Sacramento Valley, including the American crow, Western-Scrub Jay, Stellar’s Jay, House finch, and Black-crowned Night-Heron. Comparing our dataset with data collected post-WNV will help conservationists understand how population genetic patterns change in response to sudden onset pathogens, such as WNV.
4 Camera Traps as a Tool to Increase Public Participation in Biodiversity Monitoring
Hollie A F Sutherland
It is difficult to devise adequate monitoring protocols for estimating wildlife population size and distribution, or for assessing behavior. Camera traps have become a well-established monitoring approach to surveying mammals remotely and with little human disturbance. In 2016, >1,000 publications cited the use of ‘camera traps’ in scientific research. In addition, cameras have become more affordable because of common purchase by the general public, which in turn makes them a potential vehicle to promote public participation in scientific research (citizen science). Because scientific camera trap studies are often limited by the number of cameras deployed, coordinated public participation has the potential to dramatically increase spatial coverage, resolution, and overall monitoring efforts and could lead to a better understanding of landscape scale biodiversity patterns and trends. Here we review current citizen-science-focused camera trap initiatives and identify common themes, challenges, and recommendations for future citizen science efforts. We also report on a survey of camera trap use by Massachusetts’s hunters to demonstrate that hunters represent a large camera trapping community with enormous potential for landscape level wildlife monitoring. Finally, we present a proposal for a much wider survey of non-hunting communities to understand how to increase public engagement in citizen science camera trap initiatives. By identifying common themes, successes and challenges of current citizen science camera trap projects, identifying the variety of camera trapping communities, and by considering how best to engage these communities in participation in scientific research, we can provide recommendations for future citizen science camera trap initiatives.
5 Sub-Saharan Africa: Wildlife, People and Culture – a Wildlife Biologist – Busman Holiday
Michael Matthews
In the autumn of 2015, the author, went to Africa with his spouse Fulbright Scholar Dr. Dorothy Matthews. They were posted Botswana for nine months and during that time visited, five other countries: Namibia, Rwanda, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The author traveled throughout Botswana crossing the Kalahari desert and going on safari in the Okavango delta. In February 2016, the author gave a paper on wildlife management in the United States at the Botswana Biodiversity Symposium at the Botswana University of Agriculture and Natural Resources. In addition, the author connected to the organization Birdlife Botswana, to do some fund raising for an environmental educational project called Nature Chobe This poster will include the wildlife encountered, land use, the people, the landscape and the future of Sub-Saharan Africa.
6 Using GIS to Develop Priority Areas for the Restoration of Eastern Wild Turkeys in Texas
Jason Anthony Estrella; Jason Hardin; Dave O’Donnell
Despite restoration efforts dating back to the late 1970’s, populations of Eastern wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo silvestris) in Texas have consistently remained low and fragmented. In 2007, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) funded research through Stephen F. Austin State University to test a super stocking model for restoring turkey populations, which showed promising results. Recently, TPWD reopened the Eastern wild turkey restoration program with a goal to restore wild turkeys to large tracks of suitable habitat utilizing this super stocking approach. TPWD staff constructed a landscape scale Habitat Suitability Index (HSI) as a tool to assist in restoration efforts. The HSI was developed to evaluate spatial data representing the environmental conditions that are favorable to Eastern wild turkey. The HSI evaluates Eastern wild turkey habitat based on 4 criteria: 1) Edge habitat, 2) Human Disturbance, 3) Land Use/Land Cover, and 4) Riparian Corridors. The habitat criteria input values were reclassified and normalized into raster layers with 10m resolution. Composite HSI scores were then calculated from those input rasters to show spatial ranking of suitable habitat. Further analysis was conducted to statistically identify focal areas of relatively high concentration of potentially suitable habitat for ongoing restoration efforts and management, impacting several counties in east Texas.
7 Assessment of Human-Common Leopard Conflict in Northwest Pakistan
Muhammad Awais; Tariq Mahmood; Muhammad Waseem
Human-common leopard (Panthera pardus) conflict can be significant security issue where people and leopards coexist. Leopard attacks on people in north-west Pakistan represent a major conservation challenge for leopards as human population is growing fast and compete with leopards for natural resources, and attacks on people seem to be increasing and predominantly affect the rural inhabitants. In 2016, we characterized the aspects of leopard attacks on humans using standardized survey and interviews in Galiat Forests of Abbottabad, Pakistan. We recorded 32 individuals attacked by leopards from 2000-2015 with 10 fatalities and 22 serious injuries. Male casualties were more than the female. Most of the attacks (13) occurred during summer (May-July) in the morning time (0400-0900 hours). Most injuries occurred in the forest habitat. Most of injuries, 20 occurred at head and neck region, 6 occurred on arms and back, while 6 occurred at legs. In all of the cases leopard was found to be an adult animal but sex of the leopard was unknown. We recommend education awareness programs to reduce human-leopard conflict. With proper training and mass awareness programs at local level, locals can learn to recognize the behavior of species and occurrence in the area, advising locals about when to enter forests, especially when alone and are the best tools to mitigate human-leopard conflict.
8 Shorebird Use of Military Lands in Interior Alaska
Ellen Martin; Kim Jochum; Calvin Bagley; Paul F. Doherty
Shorebird populations are declining globally and little is known about the use and distribution of breeding species in interior Alaska. The Program for Regional and International Shorebird Monitoring (PRISM) has developed shorebird survey methodology, with most effort in the Arctic and less effort in the boreal forest region. We fill this information void by using PRISM methods to estimate shorebird use of military lands in interior Alaska on Tanana Flats Training Area and Donnelly Training Areas (Fairbanks and Delta Junction, Alaska). We conducted surveys to (1) identify shorebird species using military lands, and (2) create occupancy/use models for these species and determine associated habitat covariates. We predicted species-specific covariate relationships (e.g., elevation, shrub height, distance to water). In general, we predict that shorebirds would more likely use open shrub and wet grassland Viereck habitat classifications. Using a stratified random sampling design, we surveyed 78 plots (400×400 m) twice. We found 6 shorebird species of moderate to high conservation concern as listed by the Alaska Shorebird Conservation Plan and 4 species of conservation concern as listed by the USFWS. For Lesser Yellowlegs, Wilson’s Snipe, and Spotted Sandpiper we will present correlations of use with variables of interest derived from occupancy/use models.
9 Evaluating Radio Transmitter Attachments, Retention, and Their Effects on Bobwhite Body Mass and Flight Performance
Byron R. Buckley; Brad Dabbert
Radio transmitters are the best available tool for evaluating the survival rate and movements of Northern bobwhites (Colinus virginianus). Necklace mounted radio transmitters are routinely used in the wild to assess bobwhite survival and movement. Recommendations for maximum allowable transmitter weight as a percentage of an individual’s body weight range from 3 to 5%. Our objective was to experimentally evaluate the influence of 3 different transmitter attachment methods and a transmitter weighing 4% of body weight on bobwhite flight performance, body mass, and transmitter retention. We used 4 different treatments [modified necklace, modified backpack, modified leg harness or control (leg band only)] on captive bobwhite to evaluate body mass and flight performance. We weighed each quail weekly for body mass changes and induced flight to measure flight speed (overall flight speed) and flush speed (explosive acceleration speed). Kaplan-Meier estimates for transmitter retentions were highest for backpack attachment (100%) followed by necklace (86.7%) and finally leg (26.3%) attachments (χ2 = 25.5, P < 0.001). There was no difference in initial body weights (P = 0.905), change in body mass between treatments (P = 0.216), flush speed (P = 0.276) or flight speed (P = 0.793). Body mass declined during the first week after moving all quail to the larger flight pens and attaching all transmitters and recording initial weights. Radio transmitters weighing ~3.8% of bobwhite body weight did not influence flight speed, flush speed, or change in average body weight in our experiment. Even though flight/flush speeds were not affected by transmitter weights, bobwhite with necklace style transmitters ran 2 times more than other treatments. Our data, though not a direct representation to birds in the wild, suggest using radio transmitter ~3.8 % of a bobwhite’s body weight would have no significant negative long term effect over a 12-week period.
10 Fine Scale Population Trends of White-Winged Dove in Texas: 2008 – 2016
Conor J. McInnerney; Heather A. Mathewson; T. Wayne Schwertner; Shaun L. Oldenburger; Mike Frisbie
White-winged dove (Zenaidia asiatica, WWDO) populations have expanded over the last few decades and are associated with urban environments more than rural ones (81.2% and 18.8%, respectively; TPWD 2015). Given their importance as a game species, TPWD expanded monitoring efforts in 2008 to provide a statewide Urban Dove Survey (UDS). Objectives of this study are to assess the population trends of WWDO at the city level as well as to provide an updated urban dove population estimate for 2016. To accomplish this, we used the Conventional Distance Sampling Engine (CDS) in Program DISTANCE 7.0 to quantify densities at the city level. We truncated observation data at 100 m to reduce the effects of outliers and selected models using Akaike Information Criteria corrected for small sample size (AICc). We performed a Multiple Response Permutation Procedure using banding and recovery data to identify subpopulations of WWDO in Texas. We modeled detection functions based on these subpopulations to attain density and abundance estimates by city. Analyses indicate that, predictably, the greatest increases in WWDO populations by city occurred in the ecoregions that had the most population growth over the survey period: Post Oak Savannah, Cross Timbers, and South Texas. Additionally, larger cities and those undergoing rapid urban development over the survey period (i.e. San Marcos, Denton) also experienced larger WWDO density increases (0.217 birds/ha 2008, 4.387 birds/ha 2015; 0.327 birds/ha 2008, 2.087 birds/ha 2015, respectively) as opposed to more rural towns. Knowledge of fine scale population trends of WWDO will allow us to address survey effort issues going forward. Routes within the UDS will likely need to be altered to make the survey as efficient as possible by allocating resources towards WWDO population centers.
12 Quantifying the Effects of Farm Bill Cost-Share Conservation Practices on Avian Species on Private Lands in South Carolina
Jesse M. Wood; Amy K. Tegeler; Beth E. Ross
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) offers private landowners financial incentives and technical advice for management practices that add or improve habitat for wildlife on agricultural lands through Farm Bill programs like the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). Despite participation by producers, evaluations of such programs and studies on wildlife responses to implemented practices are lacking or limited in the Southeast. In South Carolina, cost-share funding is often employed for forest stand improvement of pine stands, including prescribed burning, thinning, and herbicide control of hardwoods, primarily through EQIP and CRP. We seek to understand how the management of loblolly pines through USDA-incentive programs affects overall diversity and individual avian species abundance in the Piedmont region of South Carolina. We will use two methods (point counts and autonomous recording units) to survey birds from May-June 2017 and 2018 on South Carolina private lands implementing these forest stand improvement practices. We will then identify significant predictors of estimated abundance for species of interest and conservation concern. We will consider the effects of both local (forest stand characteristics, including vertical complexity of vegetation, time since implementation of practice) and landscape (including amount of forested and open habitat at multiple spatial scales) covariates on overall species richness of these sites. Quantifying the local effects of regionally implemented conservation measures on wildlife will be useful for Farm Bill program partners and participants, as well as state agencies and other groups managing wildlife.
13 Evaluation of the Conservation Reserve Program as a Conservation Practice for Lesser Prairie-Chickens in the Southern High Plains of Texas
Samuel W. Harryman; Blake A. Grisham; Clint W. Boal; Samantha S. Kahl; Christian A. Hagen
Lesser prairie-chickens (Tympanuchus pallidicinctus, LEPC) historically occurred in mixed-grass prairies in the Southern Great Plains of North America. Conversion of native prairie to agriculture, energy development, unmanaged grazing, and recurrent drought substantively reduced the LEPC’s geographic range, and the species has become a significant conservation priority. The Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) was initiated under the Federal Food Security Act of 1985, and 14 million ha of marginal croplands were seeded with grasses and other permanent vegetation as a result. The mass conversion of croplands to grasslands benefited many wildlife species, including LEPCs in the Northern portions of their range. However, the efficacy of CRP as a LEPC conservation practice within the Sand Shinnery Oak Prairie (SSOP) in Texas is still largely unknown. We examined home range size, breeding and non-breeding season survival, and nest success of LEPCs (N=9 males and 5 females) captured and marked in CRP fields in Bailey and Cochran Counties in 2015 and 2016. Our space use, survival, and nest success estimates fell within the range of estimates from other studies in the SSOP and other LEPC ecoregions. Single or grouped CRP fields greater than 400 ha in area with native grasses and forbs constituted LEPC habitat in our study area. However, LEPC populations in CRP were part of a larger population of LEPCs on the Southern High Plains of Texas. Maintaining large fields in grasses upon contract expiration and including forbs in newly seeded fields will benefit LEPCs in the distant future.
14 Compensatory Response of Common Carp Fecundity Following Removal Efforts in Utah Lake, Utah
Kenen Goodwin; Jereme W. Gaeta; Kevin Landom
Common Carp (Cyprinus carpio; hereafter carp) are a destructive invasive species that reduce the abundance of aquatic macrophytes, increase water turbidity, and ultimately contribute to the decline of native aquatic species. Introduced into Utah Lake, Utah during 1883, carp quickly degraded the lake ecosystem and dominated the fish community, as their population comprised over 90% of the lake’s total fish biomass. To alleviate the detrimental effects of carp on the ecosystem and native biota, managers initiated an ambitious invasive species removal effort during 2009, which involved the removal of approximately 3 million pounds of adult carp annually through 2016 with the goal of reducing population abundance by 75%. However, during large-scale removal efforts such as this, reduced intraspecific competition has the potential to result in increased body size, which may lead to improved fecundity of remaining females. We compared carp population egg production from 2012 to 2016 by combining Utah Lake carp body size-fecundity relationship data with carp body size distribution data derived from carp monitoring efforts. We found that due to substantial improvement in adult female body condition, population-level egg production remained constant from 2012 to 2016 despite declining densities. Such consistency in egg production during this time could have led to similar recruitment rates of young carp into the adult population currently being targeted for removal. Thus, our results showed a compensatory response to Utah Lake carp removal efforts that could hinder ongoing management strategies. This study emphasizes the importance of continuous monitoring of demographic characteristics during invasive species removal efforts and carries important implications for Utah Lake carp management recommendations, including consideration of size-selective removal of young carp to reduce recruitment rates in addition to current size-selective removal of large fecund individuals.
15 When the Freezer Breaks: Will Climate Warming Impact the Persistence of Resident Birds in Alaska?
Emily J. Williams; Laura M. Phillips; D. Ryan Norris; John M. Marzluff; Carol L. McIntyre
Food caching, or the storage of food for later use, is a behavior common to many taxa that has important implications for survival and demography. Many animals have adapted this behavior to survive harsh winters where food is scarce. Unlike most hoarding species, Gray Jays (Perisoreus canadensis) are unusual in that they store perishable food rather than more durable items. Under a changing climate, growing evidence suggests that perishable food caches are at risk of rotting during increasing warming regimes. This problem is exacerbated at higher latitudes, where Gray Jay populations rely on cached food for longer periods of time. Food spoilage and reduced availability of cached food may negatively impact Gray Jay survival and fitness, as individuals in poorer condition may invest less in reproduction. To examine whether Gray Jays at higher latitudes are more susceptible to a changing climate, we studied a population of resident Gray Jays in Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska in 2016-2017. We color-banded 60 individuals belonging to 22 family groups and monitored the fate of 20 nests. We followed the movements of juveniles ~2 weeks after fledging to monitor survival. Preliminary results indicate high adult overwinter survival (~95% raw survival) but low nest success. Ongoing studies quantifying reproductive performance, juvenile and adult survival will help determine the demographic consequences of a warming climate on Gray Jay persistence in Alaska’s boreal forests.
16 High versus Higher Elevations: Ecological Lessons from Breeding Sparrows
Ross R. Conover
Given the known climate change-induced alterations of mountain ecosystems, it is increasingly important to understand the variation in population-specific species responses across elevation gradients. We studied mountain white-crowned sparrows (Zonotrichia leucophrys oriantha) breeding at high (montane; 2,900-3,050m) and higher (subalpine; 3,450-3,600m) elevations in the Colorado Rockies from 2013-2017. Embedded within a long-term research project, short-term investigations have revealed some interesting patterns that demonstrate life-history tradeoffs between these distinct populations. Specifically, we hypothesized that birds in montane ecosystems would exhibit 1) increased activity in traps and 2) more dominant life-history characteristics, in comparison with subalpine breeding birds as a consequence of higher resource availability (e.g., ideal despotic distribution theory). We measured behavioral activity in traps by recording specific behaviors of first-time captured birds in potter traps for 10 seconds in one-second intervals. Recorded trap behaviors included low-activity (remaining still, feeding, clinging), mid-activity (flapping, cling-flapping) and high-activity (flap-ramming, bill-ramming). To test dominance, we measured several fitness metrics (e.g., tarsus length), in addition to crown-stripe width proportion, which has been previously reported as an indication of reproductive fitness in this species. Preliminary results demonstrate that, in contrast to our behavior hypothesis, birds at subalpine (higher) elevations exhibit increased amounts of high-activity behaviors in the traps (P=0.003), while birds at montane elevations exhibit reduced activity in traps. In support of our life-history hypothesis, crown-stripe width negatively correlated with elevation, though not significantly (P=0.08). We speculate that these trends indicate that birds in montane (lower) elevations undergo increased sexual selection, whereas birds at subalpine elevations are more food-stressed and thus, have less tolerance to temporary confinement in a trap.
17 Resource Selection and Movements of Feral Burros on the Fort Irwin National Training Center
Talesha Karish; Gary Roemer; James Cain
Many feral burro (Equus asinus) populations in the southwestern United States have increased to the point where they are causing severe rangeland degradation, are competing with native ungulates, and are increasing human-wildlife conflicts. Considering their widespread distribution and their ability to rapidly increase in population size, it is surprising how few studies have examined their ecology. The feral burro population on the Fort Irwin National Training Center (NTC) in California is interfering with training operations and contributing to vehicle collisions. The NTC plans on implementing an immunocontraceptive program to reduce the population size of the burros and requires ecological information on their patterns of resource use to reduce human-wildlife conflict. Our objectives were to examine space use and describe patterns of resource selection by feral burros. We captured burros using corral traps and darting, beginning in August 2015. We monitored 10 GPS and 27 VHF collared burros from October 2015 through April 2017. We will assess habitat selection in relation to vegetation type, forage conditions (NDVI), topography, thermal cover and water sources. We estimated the size of burro home ranges using the minimum convex polygon method, and will model the resource selection of burros at the landscape and home range scale. Preliminary results show the average home range sizes of both sexes are similar with larger home ranges in the wet season. The average home range size of females was 75.26 ±16.90 km2 and 43.67 ±6.41 km2 during the wet and dry seasons, respectively. Female home ranges were slightly more variable than comparable estimates of home range size for males, which averaged 64.93 ±9.81 km2 and 58.75 ±8.69 km2, respectively. Results from this study will provide information on the potential success of an immunocontraceptive program and describe patterns of habitat use that may be useful for managing this invasive species.
18 How Do Deer and Turkey Deal with Wild Pigs? A Study Using Occupancy Models
Alexandra Lewis; Nancy Sandoval; Brian Williams; Mark Smith; Stephen Ditchkoff
Invasive species such as wild pigs (Sus scrofa) are a known threat to native plants and wildlife. However, the degree to which they impact populations of individual species has long been a standing issue in ecology. Specifically, wild pigs can negatively impact wildlife populations through both competition and direct predation. In the southeastern U.S., effects on white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) and eastern wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo silvestris) are of particular concern because of their importance as game species. Despite these concerns, little data exist that empirically describe the impacts of wild pigs on populations of deer and turkey. Additionally, effective management of wild pigs through removing entire social groups, or whole sounder removal, remains un-tested. Therefore, objectives for this research are two-fold: to test efficacy of whole sounder removal and relative effect of pigs on the community ecology of Lowndes Wildlife Management Area. We utilize trail cameras to survey turkey and deer populations twice a year across one management area in Alabama. Additionally, we continuously trap and remove sounders in half of the area while capturing and deploying GPS/VHF collars on adult sows to monitor space use in the other. Using a multi-species multi-season occupancy model, we will explore the role of pig spatial dynamics, habitat, and whole sounder removal on deer and turkey. We anticipate that our results will facilitate a better understanding of species interactions and allow managers to form better management decisions concerning pigs.
19 Predation and Parental Care at Blue-winged Teal Nests in North Dakota
John Donald Palarski; Nickolas Conrad; Sam Krohn; Patrick Chastan; Kaylan Carrlson; Tanner Gue; Ryann Cressey; Susan Ellis-Felege
The blue-winged teal (Anas discors) is an upland nesting duck commonly found in the Prairie Pothole Region but very little research has been conducted regarding its nesting behavior. To gain a better understanding of blue-winged teal nesting ecology, we used continuously recording video-surveillance systems to monitor blue-winged teal nests at the Coteau and Davis Ranches in Denhoff, North Dakota, during the 2015 and 2016 breeding seasons. Specifically, we aimed to monitor nest events to identify and summarize 1) key nest predators and 2) hen behaviors associated with parental care (e.g., nest attendance, number of recesses, and nest defense). Using established nest dragging techniques, we located blue-winged teal nests and installed a miniature surveillance camera with infrared capabilities at 63 nests. We monitored all nests until hatch or failure, and we reviewed video footage to classify nest events. On average 29% of camera nests were successful (>1 egg hatched), while 71% failed. The primary cause of nest failure was due to badger (Taxidea taxus), accounting for 53% of depredations on camera over both years. On average, females took 2.6 recesses per day, with each recess lasting approximately 102 minutes. Females typically went on recess during the early morning and evening hours. Incubation constancy was not different by year or clutch age and averaged 80% of the day females attended the nest. Information on attendance patterns can be used to validate protocols on best times to locate nests when females are incubating. Video from this project has been uploaded to Wildlife@Home (, a citizen science project where the public can learn about waterfowl nesting ecology and watch nest activities.
20 Winter Diet of Montezuma Quail in Arizona and New Mexico
Oscar E. López Bujanda; Alberto Macías Duarte; Reyna A. Castillo Gámez; Angel B. Montoya
Investigating the diet of game species is fundamental for the understanding of their ecology and provides a relevant tool for their harvest and management, especially for species in arid lands where food resources may be limiting. The Montezuma quail (Cyrtonyx montezumae) is a popular game bird that inhabits semiarid oak grasslands in southern Arizona and New Mexico and whose diet has been poorly investigated. The objective of this research is to determine the composition of the diet of C. montezumae in Arizona and New Mexico from quails harvested during the hunting seasons of 2009-2016. We found that crop wet weight increases steadily during daytime (ANOVA for linear regression, F=179.03, d.f.=1, 152, P<0.001), suggesting that foraging time is a limiting factor during the winter. For the winter of 2015-2016 only, we found that acorns (frequency = 34.5%, n = 29) and insects (34.5%) were the most frequent food items, followed by bulbs of Cyperus (24.1%), seeds of Phaseolus (24.1%) and bulbs of Oxalis (10.3%). We found Oxalis bulbs in samples from Arizona only and Cyperus bulbs in samples from New Mexico only. Our results show a relatively low presence of Oxalis bulbs (only 2.3% in wet weight) in the diet of C. montezumae in Arizona and New Mexico, which differs from previous studies that suggest that Montezuma quails are specialists on Oxalis bulbs (up to 70% of their diet). This variation in diet composition suggests a plasticity in resource utilization in response to yearly variation in humidity and temperature.
21 Assessing Species-Habitat Relationships in Priority Open Pine Ecological Systems in Mississippi
Amber M. Owen; Kristine O. Evans; Michael T. Gray; Steve Reagan
Landscape-level conservation planning efforts require assumptions regarding species-habitat relationships in priority ecological systems when identifying desired future conditions across large landscapes. In the Southeastern U.S. indicator species in imperiled open pine ecosystems are used to provide wildlife managers and biologists insight into habitat conditions. In this study, we surveyed for five open pine system indicator species including Bachman’s sparrow (Peucaea aestivalis), Brown-headed nuthatch (Sitta pusilla), Northern bobwhite (Colinus virginiana), Red-cockaded woodpecker (Leuconotopicus borealis), Pine warbler (Setophaga pinus), and Prairie warbler (Setophaga discolor) in three management units containing upland pine forest in Sam D. Hamilton Noxubee Wildlife Refuge, Mississippi. These species all prefer open understory layers in a predominately pine system and the presence of some forbs and grasses. We sought to use empirical point transect bird survey and forest structure data across a random sample of 157 points during June 2016 to create species-habitat association models to further close knowledge gaps of how priority species interact with their habitat. We used Poisson regression models in an information theoretic approach to assess target species relationships with forest structure variables. Pine and Prairie warblers were the most detected target species across management units. Out of the five target species, habitat association models were made for Brown-headed nuthatch, Pine warbler, Prairie warbler. The models for Brown-headed nuthatch and Pine warbler showed a preference for predominately pine basal area. Additionally, the Pine warbler models showed that ground story also had a noticeable impact on relative abundance. Prairie Warbler models showed no noticeable preference for one habitat component with relative abundance influenced by components of pine basal area and overstory, hardwood midstory, and shrub and herbaceous ground cover.
23 Survey and Analyses of Current Uses of Technology And Needs of West Virginia Natural Resource Police Officers
Lauren Stollings; Hannah Warner; Darren Wood
Wildlife species are being threatened worldwide by habitat loss, degradation, and invasive organisms. Additionally, crimes against wildlife are responsible for losses of many game and non-game species. While conservation officers attempt to prevent exploitation of wildlife and fisheries resources, an overall lack of funding for equipment and staff, and limited use of new technologies, may prevent complete enforcement of game laws. Enforcement of these laws are important parts of game management in the state of West Virginia as hunting activities contribute an estimated $550 million dollars to the state’s economy. While previous studies have examined research demands and needs of wildlife law enforcement, the surveys were completed by wildlife law enforcement chiefs across the United States. Although surveying state conservation agency chiefs provides a broad perspective of needs, measuring the requirements of conservation officers whom enforce rules and regulations daily, may provide a more detailed response, as well as a different perspective than agency chiefs. In 2017, a survey was formed to assess the current needs of West Virginia Natural Resources Police Officers (WVNRPOs). The survey was created with three objectives: 1) to determine current uses of technology by WVNRPOs, 2) to determine current needs of WVNRPOs, and 3) to identify potential problems preventing the implementation of the first two goals. Currently, the survey is being vetted by both the chief and assistant chief of the WVNRP. Pending final approval, the electronic survey will be distributed to every officer within West Virginia (~100) in May 2017. Following survey completion, responses will be mapped and statistically analyzed to understand needs on a geographic scale, as well as demographic trends and overall needs. The results of this survey will not only be important for conservation officers in West Virginia, but will also raise attention for funding for other state’s conservation agencies.
24 Survival and Reproduction of Eastern Wild Turkeys in Northeastern South Dakota
Reina M. Tyl; Christopher T. Rota; Chadwick P. Lehman
Since their introduction in the 1990s, eastern wild turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo silvestris) have become a culturally and economically important game species in northeastern South Dakota. While the establishment of a growing population of eastern wild turkeys appeared to be successful in the years immediately following introduction, recent harvest trends suggest declining abundance in the region. The goal of this study is to identify the cause of the apparent decline. The objectives of this study are to (1) obtain annual survival and reproductive rates for both adult and yearling age classes of female eastern wild turkeys, (2) use field collected data and GIS-scale techniques to determine the effects of precipitation, temperature, land-use change, nest-site selection, and brood-rearing site selection on survival and reproduction of female eastern wild turkeys, and (3) use matrix projection models that incorporate survival estimates, reproductive parameters, climate data, and land-use data to predict turkey population growth (λ) in northeastern South Dakota. We captured, weighed, banded, and radio-marked 43 adult and 37 yearling hens in the winter of 2017. Hens will be monitored for survival, and data will be collected relative to reproductive success, via radio-telemetry over the next 2 years. We will report preliminary results of the study from the 2017 field season.
25 Relating Wind Patterns over the Gulf of Mexico to Landbird Stopover Distributions Along the Gulf Coast During Spring Migration
Hannah L. Clipp; Jaclyn A. Smolinsky; Emily B. Cohen; Andrew Farnsworth; Peter P. Marra; Steve Kelling; Jeffrey J. Buler
Winds over the Gulf of Mexico (GOM) are known to generally influence the spring arrival and distributions of trans-Gulf migrants along the northern GOM coast. However, a more explicit and quantitative understanding of the influence of winds on landbird stopover patterns could improve our ability to conserve stopover habitat along the northern GOM. We used archived weather surveillance radar and wind data to quantitatively relate wind patterns to migrant stopover distributions at finer temporal and spatial scales than previously examined. Our objectives were to: 1) discover how wind speed and direction affect where birds stopover; 2) ascertain the altitude of winds that best explain stopover patterns; and 3) determine what sub-region within the GOM do winds best predict bird stopover distributions around different radars. We used weather surveillance radars to measure reflectivity of birds aloft at onset of nocturnal migratory flights and estimated daily bird stopover densities during eight springs (2008-2015) for 11 radars along the GOM coast. Wind data during the night preceding a sampling day were downloaded from across the entire GOM and for four sub-regions. We averaged wind speeds and directions at three altitudes (~700, 1700, and 2700 m above ground level), then quantified crosswind, tailwind, or headwind components of wind direction into four categories (north, east, south, and west). We used boosted regression trees for each wind direction category to relate nine predictor variables to daily bird density. We also looked for specific interactions between wind speed and longitude, latitude, and distance from the coast. Data analysis is currently ongoing, but preliminary results reveal distinct stopover density patterns within and among radars.
27 Energy Infrastructure Effects on Predators and Prey: Common Ravens, Burrowing Owls, and Power Transmission Lines
Aidan B. Branney
Understanding the extent to which energy infrastructure alters habitat or wildlife populations is critical for management and conservation. Effects on wildlife can be direct, such as when wildlife are killed through collision with turbines or power transmission lines. But effects can also be indirect, such as when prey species suffer because of the increased nesting opportunities energy infrastructure affords predators. Common ravens (Corvus corax), which are generalist predators capable of remarkable behavioral innovation, present a threat to many species of conservation concern (Coates et al. 2014). Increases in raven abundance in some western landscapes are associated energy infrastructure development because power transmission towers provide perching and nesting sites in areas previously devoid of natural sites. One consequence of increased raven numbers is that they now visit a large proportion of burrowing owl (Athene cunicularia) nests where they prey on nestlings and kleptoparasitize owl prey. Burrowing owls are endangered in portions of their range, so understanding relationships among energy infrastructure, increasing raven populations, and potential effects on declining owl populations is critical for conservation. Thus, we examined patterns of co-occurrence of common ravens and burrowing owls in the Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation in Idaho through a series of point count and camera trap surveys and through monitoring of burrowing owl nests for raven predation. We did so in areas with and without power transmission lines and in areas proposed for new energy infrastructure development. Our poster describes factors most associated with raven-owl interactions, and results will be useful for pre- and post-construction comparisons to ascertain the influence of energy infrastructure development on burrowing owls.
28 The Anthropogenic Effects on the Urban and Rural Coyote Diet
Emily Masterton
With the human population growing in Wisconsin, wildlife is more likely to encounter some type of anthropogenic waste. The more contact with anthropogenic waste can often lead to change in the diet of wildlife, including coyotes (Canis latrans). This study compared the amount of anthropogenic waste between four sites. The study believed it would find that urban coyotes are eating more anthropogenic waste compared to rural coyotes. This study also believed that urban coyotes would have less of a diverse diet. The purpose of this study was to compare the diet of urban and rural coyotes to see how their habitats affected their diet. Scats were collected from two urban (Stevens Point, Wisconsin Rapids) and two rural (George W. Mead Wildlife Area, Buena Vista Prairie Chicken Meadow) sites. The scat was collected from footpaths, parks, dikes, roads, and bike trails, from September 2016 – March 2017. The content of the scat was then identified using keys and a reference collection. Results show rural coyotes had more of a diverse diet with a Shannon Wiener diversity of 1.799, while urban coyotes had a Shannon Wiener diversity of 1.479. There was a P value less than 0.05 between urban and rural for the diet items of vegetative, rodent, and deer. The number of scats collected was eighty-five. Contrary to the expectations, there were more traces of anthropogenic waste in the rural areas than the urban. This new data can help with future studies on coyote behavior and diet in urban areas. This can also lead to a better understanding of how to manage coyotes in both urban and rural areas.
29 Ring-Necked Pheasant Use of Spring Cover Crops In Western Kansas
Alixandra Godar; Adela Annis; David Haukos; Jeff Prendergast
Midwest landscapes have transformed in recent decades as agricultural practices have changed. One practice shift in Kansas is the increased use of spring cover crops when transitioning between a summer row crop, primarily corn (Zea mays) or sorghum (Sorghum bicolor), to winter wheat (Triticum aestivum). Benefits of spring cover crops for agriculture have been widely acknowledged, but effects on wildlife have not been widely documented. The ring-necked pheasant (Phasianus colchicus) is a popular game species in Kansas, but currently suffering from declining population trends. Spring cover crops may provide quality breeding habitat for pheasants and contribute to the reduction of recent declines. We collaborated with landowners in western Kansas to establish four treatments, including chemical fallow plots as a control and plots planted to three different cover crop mixes, including two mixes recommended for wildlife. We captured female pheasants near cover crop fields and outfitted them with 15-gram very-high-frequency necklace-style radio transmitters. Triangulated locations were used to estimate home ranges using minimum convex polygon (MCP) and kernel density estimators (KDE). We assessed habitat use with both Resource Selection Functions (RSF) and Resource Utilization Functions (RUF) focusing on the relative use of different cover crop mixes and other available habitat classifications (e.g., Conservation Reserve Program and green wheat). Cover crops were used disproportionately to their availability. Our findings will allow agricultural producers and wildlife managers in Kansas to make informed decisions on how to positively affect pheasant populations.
30 Negative Search Results Refine Habitat Requirements and Redirect Habitat Creation for an Endangered Songbird
Ken Tuininga; Peter Burke
The Endangered Kirtland’s Warbler (Setophaga kirtlandii) has made a dramatic comeback from a low of 167 singing males in 1974 to 2365 in 2015, the most recent full census. Coinciding with this population growth has been the establishment of a small population in central Ontario, and an increase in occurrences, but very few in northern Ontario where Jack Pine is common. In this poster we document the extensive searching for Kirtland’s Warbler in northern Ontario, describe the methodologies used to conduct habitat and bird surveys and discuss the ultimate decision to focus habitat creation in central Ontario. The Kirtland’s Warbler nests primarily in young Jack Pine (Pinus banksiana) on sandy glacial outwash plains. Forest vegetation and soil mapping were overlaid to identify large young Jack Pine tracts on sandy soils. Local agency and commercial foresters were also contacted for recent forest mapping. Searches consisted of both reconnaissance and surveys using a survey protocol. Automatic recording units were deployed in spring at multiple locations in northern Ontario and collected at the end of the breeding season from 2012 – 2015. Intensive searching in the past decade by the authors is the culmination of forty years of reconnaissance surveys for Kirtland’s Warbler in Ontario. Two Kirtland’s Warblers have been documented directly north of Michigan, both near the North Channel of Lake Huron: one near Thessalon (1997) prior to this study, the other in 2012 near Elliot Lake, detected on an automatic recording unit. The two occurrences were much further south than most of the surveyed Jack Pine stands. No Kirtland’s Warblers have been found in this part of northern Ontario suggesting there are factors that currently limit their potential to expand here. We review these factors and suggest what part of Ontario is likely to achieve successful habitat creation for Kirtland’s Warblers.
31 Breeding Bird Richness and Landscape Structure Relationships on South Texas Rangelands
Janel L. Ortiz; April A.T. Conkey; Leonard A. Brennan; Humberto L. Perotto-Baldivieso; David B. Wester; Tyler Campbell
The breeding season is a critical component of the avian life cycle with higher nutritional requirements to feed young, maintaining protection from predators, and attracting mates. The amount and spatial distribution of vegetation is fundamental to aid in breeding success. Landscape ecology has moved to the forefront in characterizing the spatial patterns of habitat that affect food, cover, and protection requirements for wildlife during the breeding season. Our objective was to identify relationships between avian foraging guild richness and landscape characteristics during the breeding season on South Texas rangelands. We used breeding bird point-count data conducted in May and June of 2014 on an East Foundation property in South Texas. A land cover classification map (1 m National Agriculture Imagery Program 2014) including woody, non-woody, and water was created to assess landscape structure surrounding each point-count location with a 200 m buffer. FRAGSTATS software was used to extract landscape metrics which describe spatial structure (percent cover, mean patch area, patch density, edge density) and aggregation (interspersion and juxtaposition index, aggregation index, mean nearest neighbor). Landscape metrics will be compared with bird species richness for each foraging guild to determine relationships. We predict that guild richness will be related to landscape structure specific to habitat requirements of their foraging guilds during the breeding season. This will provide important information as to the amount and spatial distribution of woody vegetation and open areas for managing, maintaining, and/or enhancing bird habitat in South Texas. Integrating landscape level information into studies of avian population dynamics has the potential to support better conservation planning and land management strategies for landowners and organizations that are interested in avian conservation.
33 Conservation Implications of Hummingbird-Flower Dynamics in the Aviary Setting
Alicia Smith
Recently there has been considerable concern in the conservation field about decreasing pollinator numbers and the resulting impacts, including decreased crop yield, poorer nutritional quality of the human food supply, and negative effects on biodiversity and ecosystem stability. Establishing pollinator habitats has been proposed as a means to preserve pollinator biodiversity. Hummingbirds, as highly specialized nectar feeders, show significant variation in feeding choices by species, particularly with regard to flower shape and length. Examination of hummingbird feeding habits in captivity can provide valuable insight into understanding these preferences and is essential to provide appropriate habitats for these species. The feeding preferences of four species of hummingbirds (Calypte anna, Calypte costae,Cynanthus latirostris, and Selasphorus platycercus) were observed at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum hummingbird aviary. Significant species differences were noted for length of flower, though these preferences were not as directly correlated with beak length as has been documented for other species. Contrary to conventional wisdom, orange flowers were fed upon most frequently, followed by red flowers, then yellow, with no observed feedings on purple flowers. Orange flowers, of varying lengths, seemed to have a universal appeal to the four observed species, in contrast to the general recommendation of red flowers to attract hummingbirds. The overlap between feeding habits of the species noted in this study provides valuable insight into designing habitats for these native and migratory hummingbirds of the American southwest. As in this aviary setting, mixing several species of flowering plants, particularly those with orange flowers, is likely to result in the best habitat to support a number of individuals of different species.
34 Flight Elevation of Migrating Swainson’s Hawks and Risk of Encountering Wind Turbines
Katheryn A. Watson; Clint W. Boal; Laurie M. Groen; James D. Ray
Swainson’s hawks (Buteo swainsoni) breed in western North America and migrate over 10,000 km to Argentina. Wind energy is expanding globally, and little research has been conducted on the potential threat wind turbines pose to migrating Swainson’s hawks. To explore this question, we attached 3-dimensional GPS transmitters to 24 adult Swainson’s hawks near Amarillo, TX. We collected location data from May 2011 to April 2017. We used average wind speed data to classify the migration pathway by the potential for wind energy development as being areas of high (winds > 6 m/s), moderate (4.2-6 m/s), or low (< 4.2 m/s) wind potential. We defined a “risk zone” where flying Swainson’s hawks are potentially at risk of encountering turbines to be 0 to 150 m above ground. We used GMTED2010 digital elevation models to convert our altitude data to above-ground height for analysis. Preliminary results suggest that 61% of migration data points were recorded within the risk zone. Twenty percent of location data were in high-wind-potential areas, where 63% of points were within the risk zone. Ninety-four percent of roost points and 48% of points during active hours were within the risk zone of the high-wind-potential regions. Our results indicate that if turbines are built within the migration pathway of Swainson’s hawks in the areas we identified as having high wind potential, migrating birds are likely to be flying at altitudes that put them at risk of turbine collision nearly half of the time. The moments when birds experience the greatest risk of encountering a turbine may be when they are entering and leaving roosting and resting areas. We do not know yet if wind energy will be a detriment to Swainson’s hawk populations, but our results suggest that their migratory behaviors may put them at risk where turbines are installed.
35 Aging Western Bluebirds Nestlings Using Morphometric Data and Feather Tract Development
Aaron Skinner; Chuck Hathcock; Brent Thompson; Jesse Berryhill; Emily Phillips; Maria Musgrave
Accurately aging nestling birds in the wild is an important part of biological monitoring and research projects. However, accurate aging can be difficult because developmental ontogeny differs by species, and robust data sets are lacking for many altricial passerines. The goal of this study is to provide development data for Western Bluebird (Sialia mexicana) nestlings, which is not reported in the literature. In the summers of 2015-2016 four morphometric measurements (culmen length, tarsus length, mass, and primary 9 length) were taken from Western Bluebird nestlings (n = 34) of known ages, from hatch day through fledging. Prominent qualitative features (e.g. feather track development) were also recorded, and documented daily through photos. The four morphometric measures were positively correlated with nestlings age, as expected, but the standard deviations were too large to permit accurate (to the day level) estimation of age. This is likely due to small sample size. However, of the qualitative features observed, pins consistently emerged from the nestling’s feather tracts on day 7. This would help pinpoint age for nestlings found on day 7 or earlier (assuming that daily monitoring occurs from then until pins emerge). Other developments (e.g. feathers extruding from the pins) on the feather tract also consistently occurred within a 2-day period (e.g. either day 8 or 9). More data are needed to reduce standard deviations on morphometric measurements and provide greater clarity on the timing of feather tract development. Ultimately, the goal is to combine multiple morphometric measurements with the status of the nestling’s feather tracts to produce an accurate prediction of age.
36 The Effects of Conifer Removal and Transmitter Type on Greater Sage-Grouse Breeding Season Survival
Andrew Olsen; John Severson; Jeremy Maestas; Todd Forbes; Dave Naugle; Christian Hagen
Conifers such as western juniper (Juniperus occidentalis; hereafter juniper) have encroached sagebrush (Artemisia spp.) ecosystems and impacted greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus; hereafter sage-grouse) habitat since European settlement of the Intermountain West largely due to anthropogenic changes in fire regimes. Sage-grouse avoid conifers at canopy cover levels as low as 1.3%, potentially due to increased predation risk in landscapes encroached by these trees. A long term study using a before-after-control-impact design was implemented to examine the effects of juniper removal on sage-grouse. Mark-recapture data from adult female sage-grouse marked with VHF necklace transmitters and GPS backpack transmitters from the 2015 and 2016 breeding seasons (March-August) was analyzed using a priori models in MARK with the objective of estimating adult female sage-grouse survival in the treatment and control areas and the potential impacts of the two transmitter types on survival. Previously marked individuals and grouse marked just prior to each breeding season were included in analyses. Being in the treatment area had a positive but non-measurable effect in 2015 (β = 0.22; 95% CI: -0.81 – 1.25). In 2016, survival was similar between the treatment and control areas (β = -0.01; 95% CI: -0.97 – 0.95). The effect of GPS transmitters was negative in 2015 (β = -1.14; 95% CI: -2.18 – -0.09) and negative but non-measurable in 2016 (β = -0.28; 95% CI: -1.33 – 0.76). The negative effect of GPS transmitters in 2015 may have been a result of “survivor bias” because most VHF were carry overs from the previous year. The lack of a measurable transmitter effect in 2016 may have resulted from more balanced samples of previously marked and newly marked birds of each marker type. Future analysis will examine additional factors related to juniper and juniper removal and their effects on survival at broader temporal scales.
37 The Botstiber Institute for Wildlife Fertility Control: Advancing an Emerging Field of Wildlife Management
Stephanie Boyles Griffin
As human populations expand, conflicts between humans and wildlife have increased exponentially, and up until recently, efforts to resolve such conflicts focused primarily on lethal population management methods including, but not limited to, culls with firearms, archery equipment, traps and toxicants. In response to human health and safety, animal welfare and environmental concerns associated with these traditional lethal wildlife management practices, in the late 20th century, researchers began exploring the possibility of mitigating conflicts by using fertility control to manage wildlife populations. Since then, scientists from around the world have been developing and testing the field applicability of a wide array of contraception and sterilization methods for both free-roaming and captive wildlife. Significant progress has been made in development of both agents and delivery systems, but some challenges related to feasibility, costs and sustainability remain that must be surmounted in order to supply the increasing demand from the public and wildlife managers for effective, nonlethal wildlife management tools. In 2016, the Botstiber Institute for Wildlife Fertility Control was established to accelerate and expand advances in this field and also serve as the world’s premier clearing house and scientific resource center on the subject. Specifically, the Institute will support research projects designed to test and promote innovations and maintain a repository for all literature produced and published on wildlife fertility control. In addition, the Institute will foster information sharing and collaboration through the continuation of the International Conference on Fertility Control in Wildlife series in the summer of 2017 and hosting workshops and symposiums on new technology as well as species or geographic areas of concern. Finally, the Institute will raise public awareness and support for wildlife fertility control where appropriate. This paper will report on the mission and activities of the Institute from 2016-2017.
38 Successes and Limitations of Estrogen-Induced Egg Aversion in Raccoons
Raymond D. Dueser; Joel D. Martin; Nancy D. Moncrief
Aversive conditioning is a promising but unproven non-lethal approach to reducing mammalian depredation on the eggs of ground‑nesting birds, terrapins and sea turtles. We tested the efficacy of oral estrogen as an aversive agent for raccoons (Procyon lotor) on Skidmore Island, Virginia (U.S.A.). We tagged, radio-collared and released 10 adult raccoons as the study population. We deployed estrogen-injected chicken eggs (Gallus domesticus) in 6 artificial nest “colonies” for 13 days, followed by a mix of treated and non-treated eggs for 19 days. We learned that: (1) Estrogen was an effective aversive agent – Egg predation declined from 21 eggs per colony on day 1 to 3 eggs on day 7 and 1 egg on day 12. Predation was suppressed to 1-2 eggs per colony per night through day 19, when 3 new, unmarked raccoons arrived on the island. Predation then spiked for 1 night before declining once again. (2) Averted raccoons changed their movement patterns – There was a concurrent reduction in colony visitation, from 5 raccoons per night on day 1 to 1-2 on day 12. (3) Estrogen was undetectable – Raccoons could not distinguish treated from non-treated eggs. (4) There was a habitat influence on our results – Both egg predation and raccoon visitation were lower on sites resembling the open habitat of nesting shorebirds and higher near wooded habitats. (5) Unfortunately, with our experimental design, the aversion did not generalize to Japanese quail eggs (Coturnix japonica) when the raccoons were presented with a choice of eggs. Estrogen was an effective deterrent and the effectiveness varied with habitat, but it seemed not to generalize.
39 Western Burrowing Owls Face Multiple Challenges Associated with Urban Living in Western Arizona Burrowing Owls Face Multiple Challenges Associated with Urban Living in Western Arizona
Kerrie Anne T. Loyd; Morgan T. Beckwith; Joseph J. Osinski
Burrowing owls (Athene cunicularia hypugaea) are labeled as species of conservation concern across the western US. In Lake Havasu City, Arizona, owls are commonly observed in nontraditional habitats- desert washes (arroyos) in developed locations. Urban and suburban washes may offer a large prey base and abundant existing burrows but owls are susceptible to disturbance from humans, depredation by high densities of coyotes and exposure to poisoned prey. We began studying habitat characteristics and productivity of local burrowing owls in February 2014. Over the past 3 breeding seasons, we’ve monitored 60 nests. Nest success increased from 2014 to 2015 (44% to 75%) but 2016 saw a decline in productivity (63% producing one or more fledglings). The mean number of fledglings per nest to date is 3.8 (range 1-7). Seventeen nests were abandoned for unknown reasons and 16 experienced a mortality of one or more adults and chicks. Four fresh carcasses found in 2014 and one in 2015 were confirmed to be contaminated with high levels of brodifacoum, the compound commonly used in second generation anticoagulant rodenticides. High levels of mortality throughout our study area in 2014 may be responsible for the difficulty we experienced in locating nesting pairs of owls in 2016. Results from regression models suggest that nest sites experiencing a mortality were less likely to produce fledglings but those with at least one satellite burrow within 10 meters were 1.5 times more likely to be successful. No significant differences were found when comparing plant cover, prey availability, burrow diameter or height from wash floor at successful vs. failed nest sites (Mann-Whitney U tests). Our research over the current and following nesting seasons will continue to provide baseline data on the local population as well as help biologists and managers understand the owls’ unique habitat preferences.
41 Is There a Relationship between Nest Temperature and Fledgling Age in Western Bluebirds
Emily Phillips; Chuck Hathcock; Brent Thompson
Extensive research has been conducted on nest temperature during the incubation periods of birds, but little has been studied during nestling development; and none with the Western Bluebird (Sialia mexicanus). iButton dataloggers were used during the nestling development phase to ascertain if there is a relationship between fledged age and nestbox temperature. The study was conducted in an existing nestbox network at Los Alamos National Laboratory and surrounding areas, in north central New Mexico. Based on age of nestlings at fledge, the nestboxes were split into three groups: Early (fledged at/before 17 days old), Average (fledged at/between 18 and 20 days old), and Late (fledged at/after 21 days old). A datalogger was placed underneath the nest & an ambient control placed on the outside, bottom of each box. Temperatures from 51 nestboxes were used in the analysis. There was less than a degree Celsius difference (temperatures taken every 25 minutes from 0300 to 0600 hrs.) between the nests in the Early group (n=11) and Late group (n=14) throughout their nestling phase (W=1758300, p<0.001). Early and Average (n=26) groups were found to be insignificant to one another (W=2598100, p=0.1169); which could mean the Early and Average groups may be combined into one group for better results, and will be looked into for future results. Ambient temperatures were significant between all groups (Early/Late: W=1723200, p<0.001; Early/Average: W=2566500, p=0.0260; Late/Average: W=3696200, p<0.001). The results suggest higher temperature nests during the nestling stage tend to fledge earlier. Data is still being collected and will be added to the study.
42 Comparisons of Habitat Selection and Behaviors between Mallards and American Black Ducks In The Finger Lakes Region During Winter
Adam J. Bleau; Jonathan Cohen; Michael Schummer
Mallards (Anas platyrynchos) and American Black Ducks (Anas rubripes) are closely related species with little niche separation, increasing likelihood of competition for resources. In the 1950’s, Mallards began filling the functional niche of American Black Ducks by expanding their range eastward concurrent with landscape changes and the release of captive mallards. We investigated ecological separation between Mallards and American Black Ducks in the Finger Lakes region of New York, January – March 2016 and 2017. Our goal was to develop management actions to sustain this population of wintering American Black Ducks. We conducted weekly occupancy surveys (n = 13 surveys, n = 1275 points) and used two-species occupancy models and repeat-visit mixture models to determine if the distribution of American Black Ducks was influenced by Mallards or presence of human structures. Results from 2016 indicated that American Black Ducks occurred independently of Mallards at 17% of survey points while Mallards occurred independently of American Black Ducks at 41% of survey points. Human structures did not appear to influence American Black Duck presence. However, presence of Mallards increased probability of detecting American Black Ducks by 100%. Standardized observations of these ducks are currently being analyzed to investigate if there are differences in behaviors among habitat types between American Black Ducks and Mallards. We also used baited walk-in traps to capture female American Black Ducks (n = 42) and Mallards (n = 33) to mark and track these ducks with 25g GPS/GSM backpack transmitters. We are currently comparing habitat selection and home ranges of marked ducks in relation to the available habitat on the landscape. Results will be computed by August and will hopefully assist with management decisions to help reverse the decline of American Black Ducks in the Finger Lakes Region and possibly elsewhere they are sympatric with Mallards during winter.
45 Effects of Grazing Management of Sharp-tailed Grouse Nest Survival in Mixed Grass Prairies
Megan C. Milligan; Lance B. McNew; Lorelle I. Berkeley
Grazing is the predominant land use across western North America and directly affects the structure, composition, and productivity of native grasslands. Thus, grazing management has a significant impact on the quality and extent of wildlife habitat. Sharp-tailed grouse (Tympanuchus phasianellus) have large home ranges and require a wide range of habitat types, allowing them to serve as an indicator species for wildlife communities in mixed-grass prairie ecosystems. To better understand the relationship between rangeland management, habitat conditions, and nesting ecology, we monitored radio-collared sharp-tailed grouse in eastern Montana to assess the effects of grazing management, local habitat, and female attributes on nest survival. Variables at the nest-site scale, including proportion shrub cover and visual obstruction, were better predictors of nest survival than variables at the home-range scale and we observed no evidence for an effect (β = -0.11 ± 0.38) of grazing system on daily nest survival. Nest survival declined with female age (β = -0.72 ± 0.34), and was higher for nests with great shrub cover (β = 0.03 ± 0.02) and visual obstruction (β = 0.93 ± 0.53). Overall, we found little support for an effect of grazing management on sharp-tailed grouse nest survival. Nevertheless, additional evaluation under variable seasonal conditions should be conducted as potential benefits may only be realized in years with severe weather.
46 Population Ecology And Survey Methodology of the Virginia Rail and Sora in the Lake Erie Coastal Marshes of Northern Ohio
James Hansen; Brendan Shirkey; John Simpson; Robert Gates
Secretive marsh bird surveys using the Standardized North American Marsh Bird Monitoring Protocol have been established across much of the upper Midwest over the past decade to assess population trends for numerous marsh bird species. However, sampling frameworks have varied between monitoring authorities, and species-specific and sub-region specific recommendations for various sampling frameworks have not been evaluated. Sora (Porzana carolina) and Virginia rails (Rallus limicola) are of particular interest in Ohio because of their status as game birds with liberal harvest regulations, and there are no estimates of abundance for these species in Ohio. We aim to evaluate the efficacy of contrasting sampling designs in regards to estimating population parameters of the Virginia rail and sora. Point count surveys using the national protocol will be conducted at Winous Point Marsh Conservancy in Northern Ohio, with points located on dikes and within interior portions of wetlands to draw comparisons between the two survey location types. Virginia rails and soras will be captured and fitted with VHF radio-transmitters and tracked daily to investigate bird movements between, within, and out of survey sites during secretive marsh bird monitoring windows to elucidate effects of bird movements on parameter estimates from point count surveys. Preliminary data from the prior field season indicated that 73 of 98 radio-marked rails (44 Virginia rail and 29 sora) left the study area during the breeding season, with 49 of the 98 rails (30 Virginia rail and 19 sora) departing the study site during the current three national secretive marsh bird survey windows. This field season we aim to investigate the implications of point count location and bird movements on abundance estimates of the Virginia rail and sora.
49 The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Investigating Perceptions of Wildlife and Vegetation in Urban Greenspaces
Andrew J. Mallinak; Charles Nilon; Robert Pierce; Sebastian Moreno
There is a growing level of empirical evidence supporting the contribution of urban greenspaces to wildlife and plant diversity within urban environments. In turn, these spaces serve as essential sources of nearby nature contact for local residents. Cities can work with residents to take unused vacant lands with spontaneous vegetation and transform them into resident-accepted spaces that can serve as wildlife habitat while benefiting local residents socially, economically, and psychologically. However, in order for these nature spaces to be positively valued, used, and cared for by local residents, planners must first understand how to design and manage them. This study is conducting focus groups and semi-structured interviews with residents, planners, and local organizations involved in two St. Louis, Missouri neighborhoods with a high percentage of vacant land. Using these methods, we seek to understand how wildlife and vegetation within these vacant lots affect people’s perceptions and management preferences of these urban greenspaces, with the ultimate goal being maximized benefits for wildlife and people.
50 Population Estimate for Black-Backed Woodpeckers in the Black Hills of South Dakota and Wyoming
Elizabeth A. Matseur; Brian E. Dickerson; Frank R. Thompson; Joshua Millspaugh
Black-backed Woodpeckers (Picoides arcticus) are rare residents of northern conifer forests and the Black Hills population of South Dakota and Wyoming has been petitioned to be considered threatened or endangered as a Distinct Population Segment under the Endangered Species Act. Specifically, the petition has identified a need for more information on their population size in the region. Our objective was to fit hierarchical abundance models to determine relationships between environmental and habitat factors and the probability of detection and abundance, and use the resulting model to map density and provide a population estimate of Black-backed Woodpeckers. We located 124 and 115 transects, containing 1,232 and 1,138 sampling points, in 2015 and 2016, respectively. We conducted 5-minute point count surveys from late March to late June and visited each point 3 times to estimate detection probability. We characterized vegetation around each point using GIS derived landscape variables that included: green top, red top, dead stem, and year since burn. We detected 362 Black-backed Woodpeckers across both years. We fit three-level hierarchical time-removal models that simultaneously estimate abundance, availability, and detection probability in R package “unmarked” using gmultmix and ranked models using Akaike Information Criterion. The global abundance model received the most support and showed a negative relationship with latitude, dead trees, and live trees and a positive relationship with dying beetle infested trees, and area 1-2, 3 , and 4-5 years post-burn. The estimated mean density was 0.0053 individuals/ha and 0.0063 individuals/ha and there were 2,920 (LCL: 1,449; UCL: 5,917) and 3,439 (LCL: 1,739; UCL: 6,908) individual Black-backed Woodpeckers in the Black Hills in 2015 and 2016, respectively. This study sets the stage for future analysis by combining previous research with our population estimate to predict future viability and trends for the species in the Black Hills.
51 Juvenile Survival and Dispersal in White-Headed Woodpecker
Philip C. Fischer; Teresa J. Lorenz
The white-headed woodpecker (Picoides albolarvatus) is a sensitive species and important cavity excavator in dry pine forests of western North America. While their nesting ecology has been well-studied, information is lacking on the fate of young after fledging. Past research has speculated that first-year survival and dispersal distances are low and limit populations. From 2014 to 2016, we radio-tracked 56 juvenile white-headed woodpeckers in central Washington during their first four months post-fledging. Kaplan-Meier survival from radio-tagged juveniles from 2014 to 2015 was 0.83 (95% CI = 0.67-0.92) did not differ from adult survival (n = 34) measured from 2011 to 2013 in our study area (x = 0.93, 95% CI: 0.76-0.98; χ2 = 1.19, P = 0.27). Dispersal distances were greater than expected based on past telemetry studies with related woodpecker species. Average dispersal distance at four months was 15.6 km (SD = 11.5 km; range 3.7-45.6 km), which is greater than dispersal for black-backed woodpeckers (P. arcticus) tracked in our study area. Dispersal distances did not differ by year (t13 = 1.1, P = 0.28 ) or sex (t13 = 1.2, P = 0.25), although the presence of ponderosa pine cones on natal territories delayed dispersal (but did not affect survival) of juveniles in 2015 and 2016.
52 Factors Influencing Survival and Recovery Rates of White-winged Doves in Texas
Jared D. Hall; Heather Mathewson; T. Wayne Schwertner; Shaun Oldenburger; Mike Frisbie
Understanding survival and breeding season length of game birds is important for effective management and conservation. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has banded 89,297 white-winged doves (Zenaida asiatica) across Texas since 2003. The objectives of this study are to: 1) Determine subpopulations of doves in Texas, 2) investigate annual survival and recovery rates of white-winged doves, 3) examine extrinsic and intrinsic factors influencing survival, and 4) determine peak breeding season. We predict hatch-year doves will have higher annual mortality than adults. Upon review of recent literature, we hypothesize that doves breed later in the summer than previous estimates. We used a MRPP analysis in program R to determine subpopulations. We will use Program MARK to analyze 89,297 bandings, of which 3,615 were recovered, to produce estimates stratified by each subpopulation. We will use molt scores of hatch-year doves recorded during annual banding operations to assess the length of the breeding season and update knowledge of breeding chronology. Furthermore, we will examine weather covariates, banding location, molt score and other factors which may influence survival on an annual basis. This information will help determine breeding season length for this species. A further understanding of dove population dynamics will assist state agencies in managing for this species more effectively in the future.
53 Seasonal and Interspecific Landscape Use of Sympatric Greater Prairie-Chickens and Sharp-tailed Grouse
Jamie E. McFadden; Tim L. Hiller; Larkin A. Powell; Walter H. Schacht
The prairie ecosystems of Nebraska, USA, provide habitat for culturally and economically important galliforms, including greater prairie-chickens (Tympanuchus cupido) and sharp-tailed grouse (Tympanuchus phasianellus). Native grasslands throughout the Great Plains have undergone varying levels of fragmentation across the landscape. The Sandhills region remains largely intact, but cropland development at the margins has provided potential for alternative winter forage sites. Our objectives were to understand intraspecific seasonal (summer, winter) shifts and interspecific differences in landscape use of sympatric Tympanuchus spp in the grass-stabilized Sandhills of northcentral Nebraska. We captured and radiomarked birds during 2015–2016 and used aerial telemetry to monitor birds. Greater prairie-chickens tended to move longer distances from breeding season to winter locations (up to 65 km), while all sharp-tailed grouse stayed within 15 km of their breeding season range. We used presence-only location data and ecological and anthropogenic variables (e.g., land-cover types, topography, vegetation productivity, roads) in a maximum entropy (MaxEnt) approach to develop and compare seasonal species distribution models. Our approach included model validation, and methods to quantify model performance. We compared differences in landscape use by categorizing intervals of probability of presence for each species and determining percent overlap. Our results provide support to coordinated, landscape-level management of galliforms, which can now be extended to seasonal priorities during management decisions by private landowners.
54 Evaluation of Land Restoration Practices on Northern Bobwhite Survival and Land Use in North Central Texas
Danielle Belleny; Heather Mathewson; Jeff Breeden; John Tomecek; T. Wayne Schwertner; Jim Giocomo
Land-use change is attributed as a predominate threat influencing widespread declines in grassland species throughout the last century. Land restoration practices offer opportunities to mitigate these declines. Due to their economic importance and reliance on healthy grasslands, attention focused towards land management for northern bobwhite (Colinus virginianus) also benefits other grassland species. This study addressed the effectiveness of land restoration practices that attempt to alleviate the impacts of land-use change on northern bobwhite. We radio-marked and located northern bobwhite to gather diurnal land use and survival information. From April – August 2016 we monitored 31 radio-marked individuals’ movements across restored and non-restored landscapes then compared their utilization distributions. Northern bobwhite in restored landscapes utilized on averaged 0.65 ha compared to 1.19 ha for those in non-restored landscapes. Survival analyses determined adult northern bobwhite have an 81% weekly survival and 34% survival over the 16-week interval. Our sample size restricted survival comparisons between landscapes. After location of radio-marked birds, we measured vegetation characteristics including visual obstruction and herbaceous ground cover. We compared the means of vegetation measurements at diurnal locations between restored and non-restored landscapes and found no significant differences (P > 0.05). We are currently monitoring the survival and movements of 120 radio-marked individuals. Furthermore, we are conducting additional landscape measurements on horizontal heterogeneity to determine if restoration practices change vegetation structure. These analyses will conclude August 2017. Further assessments of adult survival between restored and non-restored landscapes will provide a better understanding on the effects of restoration practices.
55 Using Urban Landscapes to Teach Biodiversity and Conservation for Introductory Lab Courses
Angela van Doorn; Christina Pondell
Urban environments offer students interesting opportunities to explore and examine how human modified landscapes influence biodiversity and ecosystems. Students demanding applied field experiences from their undergraduate environmental science (ENVS) programs can be well served in urban settings. Here, we present strategies for integrating urban areas into the undergraduate field experience. Urban locations provide an opportunity for a different type of local “field-work” than would otherwise be available. In the intro level undergraduate ENVS class, we use our campus, the surrounding neighborhood and city as well as a nearby National Park for field exercises. Activities include: assessing water quality from multiple sites, observing species composition and ecological succession using fallen logs, assessing biodiversity using biocubes, monitoring populations of urban wildlife, investigating conservation strategies through the local zoo, and walking one mile transects through local urban ecosystems to observe and collect data on biotic and abiotic features of the surrounding area. These labs provide inspiration and hands on skills that students apply to their own self-selected projects at the end of the semester. Here we share lesson plans for field activities that can be completed with incoming undergraduate students, and show how these activities help students gain quantitative and investigative competency.
56 GPS-GSM Technology to Inform Management of the Invasive Mute Swan in Michigan
Randall T. Knapik; David R. Luukkonen; Scott R. Winterstein
Mute swans (Cygnus olor) are large waterbirds native to northern and central Eurasia where they tend to live in close proximity to humans. Human-assisted movement of mute swans to North America has resulted large feral populations along the Atlantic coast and in the Great Lakes region. Populations in Michigan grew from a single pair in 1919 to a peak of over 17,000 feral swans in 2013. Management of mute swan populations in Michigan and the Mississippi Flyway has become a conservation priority due to their adverse effects on wetland communities and conflict with humans. Successful implementation of long-term population control measures necessitates a thorough understanding of the complete mute swan life cycle, but current knowledge regarding demographics and movement are constrained to their native range. A research partnership between Michigan State University, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services was established to inform management strategies for mute swans in Michigan. We are using aerial surveys, GPS-GSM transmitters, and Thermochron™ iButton temperature-logging technology to 1) derive age-specific survival rates, 2) document natal and breeding dispersal, and 3) estimate breeding productivity in light of potential density dependence. Early results show that breeding productivity is related to nesting density and that interannual nest site fidelity is high. In addition, clutch sizes are larger than in their native range and seasonal movement of mute swans is occurring into Indiana, Ohio, and Ontario. Mortality through verminous hemorrhagic ulcerative enteritis and lead poisoning has been documented for adults and juveniles. This research is being used to inform the strategies needed to reach long-term population goals of mute swans in Michigan.
57 Effect of Nest Micro-Climate on Reproductive Success of Burrowing Owls Along a Latitudinal Gradient
Carl G. Lundblad; Courtney J. Conway
Climate change might impact wildlife population dynamics via numerous direct and indirect mechanisms that may not be captured by simple “climate envelope models”. Our objective was to evaluate whether the thermal conditions in nest burrows affect Burrowing Owl (Athene cunicularia) reproductive success and whether those effects vary latitudinally. We used infrared video cameras and temperature loggers to monitor fecundity, incubation behavior, hatching patterns, and hatching success of Burrowing Owls nesting in nest boxes at 5 sites spanning a broad latitudinal gradient from southeastern California to northeastern Oregon. Owls at our warmest lowest-latitude sites: 1) laid smaller clutches, 2) initiated incubation earlier relative to egg-laying (which appear to be an adaptation to maintain egg viability under warm conditions), 3) hatched their clutches more asynchronously (which is associated with reduced nestling survival), and 4) suffered higher rates of hatching failure, compared to owls nesting at our higher-latitude sites. Failed eggs usually showed signs of embryo development suggesting that thermal intolerance of embryos, and not infertility, caused their failure. We also examined how these components of reproductive success were affected by thermal conditions in individual burrows within each study site. Our results indicate that climate envelope models do a poor job predicting the impacts of climate change on Burrowing Owls because reproductive success is constrained by thermal conditions at temperatures that are unlikely to approach the thermal tolerance of adults. Our research identifies alternative mechanisms by which climate change might affect wildlife populations and suggests that thermal constraints should be considered when designing and implementing nest box programs as a conservation and management tool.
58 Survival of Ring-Necked Pheasants in Western Kansas Spring Cover Crops
Adela Annis; Alixandra Godar; David Haukos; Jeff Prendergast
Ring-necked pheasants (Phasianus colchicus) are a popular and economically important upland gamebird in Kansas with hunters contributing on average $57 million annually to local and state economies. Agricultural intensification since the 1980’s and land-cover change have stakeholders searching for additional ways to manage and increase local and regional populations. Cover crops have been suggested as a possible tool for increasing habitat on the landscape during the breeding season when traditionally agricultural fields are left fallow. There is minimal information available on the benefits of spring cover crops to wildlife. Spring cover crops in Kansas are planted between March and May, and then terminated in June or July prior to the planting of a cash crop, namely winter wheat (Triticum aestivum). We evaluated use of three cover crop mixes, a custom mix, commercial mix, and a wildlife mix that was advertised to increase habitat for upland gamebirds, along with a chemical fallow control. Female pheasants were captured in proximity to the planted spring cover crops and collared with very-high-frequency (VHF) necklace style radio transmitters to estimate survival relative to use of spring cover crops and other types of land cover. Females were monitored daily during the breeding season to determine biological stage (breeding, nesting, brooding, and post-breeding) and the success of their breeding attempts. Weekly survival estimates from April through August were calculated using package RMark in Program R and using Program MARK known-fate models. Weekly survival was lowest during the nesting stage, but relatively greater during the remainder of the season. Subsequent results will provide information on pheasant survival and the potential benefits of spring cover crops for long-term population conservation in Kansas.
60 Distribution and Habitat Associations of Snag Nesting Purple Martins in Western Oregon
Lorelle Sherman
The western purple martin (Progne subis arboricola) is a species of conservation concern throughout the Pacific Northwest. As cavity-nesting, aerial insectivores, purple martins require open habitat with nesting structures and high insect productivity. Incidental observations suggest that purple martins use snags in early post-disturbance forest in western Oregon, but an estimate of current population size and distribution of snag-nesting purple martins is lacking. These preliminary results begin to describe snag nesting purple martin habitat and distribution. We determined occupancy and characterized available snags and surrounding habitat on public and private land in Douglas and Coos Counties. We observed 170 birds using 29 upland forest snags with 24 active nests. Active nests were observed in a range of open habitat, including recently logged clearcuts and stands with an established understory. Nest snags were primarily Douglas Fir (Psuedotsuga menziesii) and in advanced decay classes (mean=3.31, SE=0.14). Nest snag DBH and height were variable with means of 0.92m (SE=0.08m) and 17.59m (SE=1.85m), respectively. The maps of the current distribution of purple martins and quantification of key habitat factors that our project will produce can be used to guide management plans for maintaining sustainable snag-nesting colonies. We will also produce a habitat suitability model that can be used to estimate and map current and future habitat availability in western Oregon.
61 Effects of Oil and Gas Development on Duck Production in the Prairie Pothole Region of North Dakota and Montana
Mason Sieges; Kaylan Carrlson; Ryann Cressey; Tanner Gue; Johann Walker; Charles Loesch; Michael Szymanski
The Prairie Pothole Region (PPR) supports over 50% of North America’s breeding dabbling ducks. The PPR overlaps substantially with the Bakken formation, which contains significant recoverable oil reserves. Predictive pair abundance models for the five most abundant breeding dabbling duck species indicate that the Bakken formation overlaps with breeding habitat for over 1 million duck pairs (i.e., 25% of pairs) breeding in the US PPR. Given the extensive overlap between important waterfowl habitat and oil and gas reserves, understanding the relationships of breeding pair carrying capacity and reproduction with oil and gas development intensity will assist wildlife managers in the PPR make better informed conservation decisions. We are conducting research to assess the impact of energy development and associated disturbance on waterfowl productivity in the PPR using pair and brood surveys. We selected a sample of 10.4 km2 study plots within the area of overlap between the PPR and the Bakken in North Dakota and Montana (n = 111). After assessing different levels of energy development within 1.6 km of each wetland, we stratified wetlands on these study plots into four categories: Control (0 oil well pads), Low (1 pad), Medium (2-3 pads), and High (>3 pads). We then randomly selected wetlands within each category to obtain a geographically diverse sample within our study area. We surveyed sample wetlands for duck pairs during spring 2015 (nwet=3,185) and 2016 (nwet =2,670). We surveyed broods in summer 2014 (nwet =3,102), 2015 (nwet =4,281), and 2016 (nwet =4,293). Using these data, we developed zero-inflated Poisson models and hierarchical N-mixture models within a maximum likelihood framework to test hypotheses regarding pair and brood abundance respectively. For both pairs and broods, preliminary results indicated support for a quadratic relationship between waterfowl numbers at study wetlands and oil well density in the surrounding 10.4 km2 landscape.
62 Multi-Species Occupancy for an Early Successional Bird Community and Experimental Use of Conspecific Stimuli to Increase Detection for a Cryptic Species
Laura D. Graham; Christopher M. Lituma
High-elevation pastures in the Ridge and Valley region of West Virginia and Virginia are a persistent source of early successional habitat supporting a range of grassland and shrubland bird species, including loggerhead shrikes (Lanius ludovicianus), which have declined range-wide in the last 50 years. Loggerhead shrikes are a species of regional conservation concern and may act as an umbrella species for other early successional birds. Unfortunately, detection of loggerhead shrikes may be hindered by their unique behavior and phenology, thus standard roadside point-counts such as the North American Breeding Bird Survey may not provide accurate information on loggerhead shrike occurrence. My objectives are to determine whether loggerhead shrikes are an umbrella species for other early successional birds in the Ridge and Valley region. I will conduct roadside and off-road point-count surveys and couple results with habitat covariates at the patch and landscape level to develop multi-species occupancy models, which will provide an assessment of loggerhead shrike suitability as an umbrella species and identify other species and habitat relationships. I will also test whether the use of conspecific stimuli (audio playback and / or 3D-printed decoys) can increase loggerhead shrike detection during point-count surveys, and use automated recording units to assess whether loggerhead shrike phenology limits their availability for point-count surveys. I will model loggerhead shrike occupancy at the patch and landscape scale to provide region-specific information on habitat associations and habitat availability. This information will be used to guide management recommendations for private landowners to benefit a community of bird species using high-elevation pastures in the Ridge and Valley region, as well as provide recommendations on how standard point-count surveys can be modified to increase loggerhead shrike detection.
63 Evaluating Dig Site Selection in Montezuma Quail
Karlee Cork
Montezuma quail are one of the most understudied quail in the United States, this is due to their limited range, difficulty of capture, and low densities. Montezuma quail are unique in comparison to other North American quail in many different ways, notably, foraging strategy. Unlike other quail, Montezuma quail use their long feet and claws and short, thick legs to dig for subterraneous forage. Crop studies in the State of Mexico (Hernández 2004) and dig site studies (Albers and Gehlbach 1990) have shown that Oxalis is the preferred forage. It has been speculated that they also do not require free water, which may be why starchier forage is preferred. However, selection for habitat aspects, such as cover, slope, and tree densities have not been identified.
64 Weather-Induced Declines in Piñon Tree Condition and Response of a Declining Bird Species
Kristine Johnson; Giancarlo Sadoti; Jacqueline Smith
Climate impacts to piñon-juniper (Pinus edulis, P. monophylla, Juniperus spp.) woodlands in the western USA include large-scale mortality, reductions in canopy cover, and declines in cone production; recent climate models predict massive mortality of trees in these woodlands. These habitat impacts will affect piñon-juniper wildlife, exemplified by the Pinyon Jay (Gymnorhinus cyanocephalus). We : (1) examine trends in an index of piñon tree condition (vigor) from 2004-2012, (2) assess the impact of weather and stand structure variables on annual vigor changes, and (3) investigate the relationship between patterns of piñon condition and the distribution of nesting Pinyon Jays. Mean piñon vigor declined 0.12 units per year from 4.3 (maximum vigor = 5) in 2004 and appeared to bottom out at 3.2 in 2012 (a reduction of over 20%). Vigor changes were positive in areas of lower tree density and negative in areas of higher tree density, and larger trees were more likely than smaller trees to decline in vigor. Annual vigor decline was greater with decreasing cool-season precipitation. Probability of Pinyon Jays nesting was higher in areas of relatively higher piñon vigor in 2010-2012, and this relationship became more pronounced over these three years. This example suggests that incremental, weather-influenced changes in tree condition may impact the wildlife of arid woodlands.
65 Collecting Non-Invasive Polar Bear Genetic Id Samples Along the Chukchi Sea Coast: Working with Alaska Natives
Andrew Von Duyke; Kelly Nesvacil; Lori Quakenbush; Kimberly Titus
Estimating polar bear abundance in the Chukchi Sea is vital for setting an annual sustainable harvest quota as required by the US-Russia Bilateral Polar Bear Agreement. Remote and challenging conditions make data collection difficult. There is ongoing concern over invasive study methods among stakeholders (Alaska Natives) and researchers and agencies. Polar bear conservation will benefit from non-invasive approaches that are less controversial. We adapted hair snag methods used for black and brown bears. Goals were to 1) develop local support and field assistance, 2) determine the feasibility of estimating polar bear numbers moving by coastal communities, and 3) augment larger datasets used for spatial mark-recapture abundance estimates. We sought and received support from the Alaska Nanuuq Commission, Barrow Whaling Captains, Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission, coastal village community leaders, and the Scientific Working Group of the US-Russia Polar Bear Commission. Along with local hunters, we deployed 9 portable hair snare stations on shorefast ice near Barrow from 11-March to 15-May 2016, and 10 stations near Pt. Lay from 14-April to 5-May 2016. Stations used barbed wire to snag hair and visual and scent attractants. Stations were checked twice per week. Poor ice conditions near Pt. Lay limited station deployment. Over 127 trap nights along the beach near Pt. Lay we obtained 0 polar bear hair samples and 6 brown bear samples. In Barrow, we had 22 hair capture events at single trap stations, with 46 total samples over 340 trap nights. Polar bear visits to stations increased with nearby whaling activity. In 28 of 46 samples, > 75% of 13 loci were amplified. A total of 21 individual polar bears were identified suggesting that the method has promise to assist with management of Chukchi Sea bears. The project is expanding across additional coastal areas in cooperation with native communities.
66 Trends in Illegal Wildlife Trade: Analyzing Seizure Data in the Pacific Northwest
Rosemary T. Hitchens; April Blakeslee
The illegal import of wildlife and wildlife products into the U.S. is a growing concern due to its far-reaching consequences and the growing evidence to support the fact that the U.S. is one of the world’s top leaders in the consumption and transit of illegal wildlife and their derivatives. Yet, few studies have analyzed the illegal wildlife trade on a national or local scale. Therefore, this paper aims to contribute to the scholarly literature by analyzing wildlife seizures made at U.S. ports of entry in the Pacific Northwest between 1992 and 2016. Specifically, the following two questions are assessed: (1) How do the types of species seized compare across time and location and (2) How do personal baggage seizures compare with other types of seizures? This study finds that there is a significant different in the type of species across time and location and personal baggage seizures make up the majority of wildlife seizures in the Pacific Northwest. While wildlife seizures across taxonomic categories have decreased since 2008, other findings provide a reason for concern.
67 Falling for Fire Ants: Assessing Fire Ant Prevalence in a Burn-Mediated Ecosystems
Angelina Haines; Christopher Lepczyk; Robert Gitzen; Theron Terhune
In the longleaf pine ecosystem (Pinus palustris) of the southeastern US, prescribed fire is necessary to restore and maintain habitat for grassland birds, the majority of which have experienced steep population declines in the last few decades. Red imported fire ants (RIFA, Solenopsis invicta) are an invasive species whose density may increase in response to disturbances (e.g., fire). This is of concern because over 60 bird species that require fire-maintained grasslands are vulnerable to RIFA nest predation, such as the federally endangered red-cockaded woodpecker (Picoides borealis) and northern bobwhite quail (NOBO, Colinus virginianus). RIFA nest predation rates on NOBO vary across similarly managed longleaf pine areas, indicating that other environmental factors may influence RIFA nest predation beyond fire disturbance. To investigate what influences RIFA prevalence, mound surveys and pitfall trapping were conducted on nine properties in Florida and Georgia managed with frequent fire. Pitfall trapping is being used to estimate RIFA forager abundance, but also provided a way to evaluate other ant species and ground invertebrates. RIFA prevalence will be compared to time since burn, groundcover type, soil type, and interactions of these variables. General invertebrate and ant biodiversity will be compared to these environmental variables as well as RIFA prevalence, as there is an ongoing debate in the literature about how RIFA presence impacts invertebrate biodiversity. Our work fills a gap in understanding how RIFA invasions and predation may be related to restoration and disturbance. Answering these research questions will also elucidate basic biological invasion problems and guide management efforts targeted towards native species in fire-mediated landscapes.
68 User-Friendly Resource Design and Passive Extension Capacities: the Design of a Ground Squirrel Best Management Practices Website
Niamh Quinn; Roger A. Baldwin; Monica Dimson
Internet use continues to grow across U.S. demographics. In 2015, internet use increased to 84% among American adults, compared to 52% in 2000. California farmers are some of the most well-connected in the United States. According to the USDA, 70% of farms in the US have access to the web as of 2015. In California, 93% of counties exceed that national average. This presents outreach and extension programs with an opportunity to reach a growing audience through an increasingly popular digital medium which can be updated easily and with little cost. Our goal is not to replace print publications, but to adapt extension resources for a web context and thus connect with a large and geographically extensive audience, especially those who may not customarily seek or have access to more traditional extension services like meetings or field days, etc. A website allows homeowners, landowners, wildlife managers and pest-control professionals to consult this resource freely, at their leisure, and to adopt best management practices more quickly. However, the movement toward cloud-based resources comes with greater web familiarity and thus greater expectations for the websites people use. We developed a ground squirrel best management practices website for homeowners, landowners, natural-resource managers and pest-control professionals that they could consult freely, at their leisure, and would allow them to adopt best management practices more quickly. In order to provide a user-oriented experience comparable to that of other digital media resources, we need to consider the specific needs and behaviors of a web-based audience. We aimed to achieve this by synthesizing new and existing resources into consumable, approachable content on a website that focuses on usability, clarity, visual impact, and site-wide cohesion. We will discuss these goals and demonstrate how we achieved them.
69 The Effect of Season of Prescribed Burning on Avian and Plant Communities in Minnesota Lowland Brushland Habitat
Annie Hawkinson; Rebecca Montgomery; Lee Frelich; Charlotte Roy; Lindsey Shartell
Lowland brushlands are a disturbance-dependent, avian-rich biological community that make up 3.4 million hectares in Minnesota, roughly 20% of the landscape. Brushlands are comprised of a mix of cover types, with shrub-dominated patches interspersed throughout sedge, grass, forb, and moss meadows. Historically, this patchiness was maintained by fire that occurred in the spring, summer, and fall but currently, fire frequency is greatly reduced and limited to prescribed burns in the spring. Lack of fire or other disturbance results in increased dominance of shrubs and succession to forest cover types. Intact brushlands provide habitat for more than 250 wildlife species, 80 of which are on the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MNDNR) list of Species in Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN). Of these SGCN, 38 are birds, but little is known about their habitat use or selection in this structurally dynamic landscape. Our objective is to assess the response of avian and plant communities to season of burning in lowland brushland and use that information to inform brushland management. At 5 162-hectare sites in east-central Minnesota, we will apply prescribed burns in spring, summer, and fall months, and assess bird and plant communities prior to and following burns. We completed pre-treatment point counts, vegetation sampling, and fuel assessments during spring and summer 2016 and will repeat those assessments in 2017 and 2018, following treatment. During pre-treatment (2016) assessments we detected 81 bird species, including 16 SGCN such as, Sedge Wren (Cistothorus platensis), Golden-winged Warbler (Vermivora chrysoptera), and Le Conte’s Sparrow (Ammodramus leconteii). We identified 11 species of willow, along with threatened grape fern (Botrychium sp.) and swamp blackberry (Rubus semisetosus). Avian communities were mostly homogeneous within sites, and heterogeneous among sites, allowing us to partition study areas into burn-season treatment zones and generalize our results across a range of brushland conditions.
71 Effects of Hardwood Control on Breeding Birds in a Managed Loblolly Pine Forest
Marian Fuller-Morris; Darren Miller; Scott Rush
Temporary control of hardwood competition is a common management practice in young, managed loblolly pine (Pinus taeda) stands. Hardwood control reduces woody competition and may allow development of an herbaceous layer in young pine stands, which could affect occupancy by birds. To determine effects of hardwood control in these pine stands, we are conducting point counts for breeding birds and vegetation surveys in a set of replicated (n = 5) managed loblolly pine stands in Kemper County, Mississippi, USA within two treatments: 1) 6 – 7-year-old stands treated with herbicides (HC; imazapyr and metsulfuron-methyl), and 2) same-age stands not treated (Control). We began data collection in summer 2016 after the fall 2015 application of herbicide. After one year of data collection, vegetation surveys showed a denser understory in Control (0 – 5% of Nudds board visible within 1 m of ground, n= 125) compared with HC (6 – 25% visible, n = 125). Mean abundance of birds per survey was similar between Control (mean ± sd, 29.9 ± 2.0, n = 25 surveys) and HC (30.6 ± 2.0, n = 25). Mean number of species per survey was also similar between Control (mean ± sd, 12.2 ± 0.6, n = 25 surveys) and HC (12.2 ± 0.8, n = 25). These results indicate that while herbicide use fostered changes to the structure of understory vegetation in young pine stands, presence and abundance of bird species did not immediately respond to these changes. Data collection during the second growing season after treatment may show longer-term effects of hardwood control on vegetation structure and bird occupancy.
72 Monitoring of the Endangered Masked Bobwhite Quail Population in Mexican Desert Shrubland.
Masked bobwhite (Colinus virginianus ridgwayi), distinct from all other 22 bobwhite subspecies currently registered, is the only one included at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna in the Appendix I category (CITES 2008). Under Mexican legislation, it is considered as endangered (“en peligro de extinción”) since 1994, by the “Norma Oficial Mexicana NOM-ECOL-059” which regulates the protection of flora and fauna native species for the Nation (Diario Oficial de la Federación 2002). Present distribution is limited to a single wild population in Sonora estimated at 1000 to 2000 birds and a small number of individuals introduced in Arizona (Hernández et al. 2006). Historical distribution of masked ranged from South Arizona to central Sonora. In Mexico, within the municipality of Benjamin Hill, masked bobwhite was abundant in early 1990 at the iconic ranch “El Carrizo”. By late August 2015 call detection was registered at “Rancho San Dario”, were the latest registered sighting of the species occurred in 2008. This manuscript includes data obtained from intensive surveys of the species conducted at “San Dario Ranch”, the description of a call recording, and valuable unpublished information from personal communications and local people interviews.
73 Canada Warbler Response to Regenerating Seismic Lines
Jocelyn Gregoire; Erin Bayne
Cumulative effects of energy sector growth in northern Alberta have implications for species at risk in the boreal forest due to habitat removal, degradation and fragmentation. Linear features, such as seismic lines, make up a large component of this industry’s effects. They are a challenge to environmental managers because of their unnatural design and extensive footprint. The resulting lag between the creation and restoration of linear features creates a persistent disturbance on the landscape which will continue into the conceivable future. Species conservation requires that critical habitat be defined within the industrialized zone to promote mindful land-use planning concurrent with industry growth. The Canada Warbler (Cardellina canadensis) is a neotropical migrant songbird that breeds in the boreal forest and is classified as threatened by the Species At Risk Act (SARA). Recent studies on western populations indicate a tolerance for early seral post-harvest stands with residual forest patches. Comparatively, seismic lines are more pervasive across the landscape, but can be more easily perceived as a natural canopy gap at the local scale with the regeneration of understory vegetation. My thesis examines how vegetation regeneration on seismic lines influence the use of the feature and its edge by Canada Warblers. Each study site will use autonomous recording units (ARUs) in three rows parallel to and centered on a seismic line. By measuring the similarity in filtered root-means-squared amplitude between opposite units, I will be able to identify if a song event is within or outside of the grid and to which side of the line. This method represents an efficient design for assessing local scale edge effects. Edge use by Canada Warblers will help identify critical habitat for this species within the industrialized zone and define when a linear feature is considered recovered from an ecological perspective.
74 Cattle Ranching and Its Effect on Jaguar Conservation Adjacent to a Natural Protected Area in Northeastern Mexico
Elizabeth J. Painter; Octavio C. Rosas-Rosas; Luis A. Tarango-Arámbula; Juan Felipe Martinez-Montoya; Juan de Dios Guerrero-Rodríguez
The management of natural resources is a challenging and complicated process; it is successful when three separate elements work in harmony: scientific research, community interests, and the implementation of sound management practices. The nexus of these elements is the future of the field, and the conservation of jaguars (Panthera onca) provides an excellent case study with which to explore how these components support each other. The earth is experiencing a major decline in biodiversity across all species, and one tool that is being used to slow the process is protected areas. The caveat is, the effectiveness of protected areas in preserving biodiversity is limited by how land outside its borders is managed, and if it is consistent with the objectives of the reserve. In the state of San Luis Potosí in Northeastern Mexico, there is a small reserve that is threatened by isolation and land use change, specifically the unquantified effects of cattle ranching. The objective of this study is to describe cattle ranching adjacent to La Reserva de la Biosfera Sierra del Abra Tanchipa, and how this relates to the conservation of jaguars that utilize the habitat within and outside the reserve. Using satellite imagery, I will measure the land use changes from 1972 to 2016 within a 10 kilometer buffer around the reserve. I will apply data on land use changes in conjunction with cattle density data obtained from surveys of cattle ranchers and cattle associations to describe historical and current patterns of land use. I will then compare it to active jaguar movement patterns within the study area to provide a preliminary report on how the management of land outside the reserve has the potential to increase or decrease rates of encounters between cattle and jaguars.
75 Measuring Ruffed Grouse Drumming Log Characteristics
Jeffrey G. Williams; Samuel Lau; Heidi Putnam; Joseph Quehl
Abstract: The ruffed grouse (Bonasa umbellus) is an important game species in Wisconsin. We trapped and radio-marked male grouse at drumming sites near Tomahawk, Wisconsin as part of a UW- Stevens Point TWS chapter research project. We located radio-marked grouse from April 2015 through August 2017 to identify home range sizes. Next, we identified the number of drumming logs within each grouse’s home range. We also identified logs within home ranges that were not being used for drumming. We compared the following variables between used and unused logs: log species, log dimensions, level of decay, surface of the log (moss or bark), and indicators of grouse activity. We also used trail cameras situated on known drumming logs to determine how many individuals used a single log. Our findings can be used to identify potential limiting factors regarding log characteristics at our study area. With the data collected, we can better apply ruffed grouse management on Treehaven property.
76 People vs. Pig: A Look Into the Human Side of the Alabama Wild Pig Conflict
Ellary TuckerWilliams; Christopher Lepczyk; Wayde Morse
The wild pig (Sus scrofa) is one of the most detrimental invasive mammals in the Southeastern United States. Lack of adequate management and population control has allowed these animals to become well established across the landscape, wreaking economic and ecological havoc. Research has focused primarily on understanding the biology, economic costs, and ecological impacts associated with wild pigs, with little research focused on the human dimensions. Progress has been encumbered within wild pig policy and management due to the perceived conflict between stakeholder groups advocating wild pig removal and those promoting wild pigs as a cultural and natural resource. The goal of this project is to understand stakeholder motivation and sources of conflict and resistance surrounding wild pig management. To address this goal, specific research objectives are to: 1) measure the variation in knowledge of and attitudes towards wild pigs in reference to wild pig abundance; 2) determine the barriers to wild pig management consensus among stakeholders; 3) determine if stakeholders level of satisfaction with current management techniques is inducing illegal methods of wild pig population management; and, 4) determine what the desired management preference is for wild pigs. Through a combined internet and mail survey approach in accordance with the Tailored Design Method, this research project will take random representative samples of Alabama hunters, foresters, farmers, and state and federal wildlife biologists/land managers. Access to the four stakeholder groups will occur through collaboration with local, state and federal agencies and organizations in order to obtain pre-determined, self-identified stakeholder group membership. The aim of this approach is to gain a holistic perspective of the wild pig conflict and associated stakeholder groups throughout Alabama. Findings from this research will provide policy makers and wildlife managers with more efficient and effective strategies to manage the species and its stakeholders.
77 Winter Survival and Habitat Selection by Translocated Northern Bobwhite in the New Jersey Pine Barrens: Preliminary Results
Kaili R. Stevens; Christopher K. Williams; Theron M. Terhune; John P. Parke; John Cecil
Winter Survival and Habitat Selection by Translocated Northern Bobwhite in the New Jersey Pine Barrens: Preliminary Results ABSTRACT: Northern bobwhite (Colinus virginianus) populations have been experiencing precipitous range-wide declines for more than 50 years; some of the steepest declines occurring in the Mid-Atlantic states. These declines are largely attributed to habitat deterioration from urban sprawl, change in forest management, and intensive farming. This ongoing study aims to evaluate the efficacy of translocating wild bobwhites into the New Jersey Pine Barrens as a means to restore their historic populations. Translocation has proven relatively successful in augmenting bobwhite populations in other regions as well as restoring populations of gallinaceous species. This portion of the study aims to investigate what bobwhites require during winter months (October—March) in the Mid-Atlantic to survive until summer for reproduction. The study site, Pine Island Cranberry Company, is the largest privately owned tract of land (6,800 hectares) in New Jersey, with habitat comprised of pitch pine (Pinus rigida), shortleaf pine (Pinus echinata), scrub oak (Quercus ilicifolia), and early successional forbs and grasses. For three consecutive years (2015—2017) prior to breeding season, we will translocate 80 radio-collared bobwhites (40 male, 40 female) to Pine Island from wild populations in southwest Georgia. These bobwhites are radio-located 3—5 times per week throughout the year while this portion of the study focuses on the winter months. We are collecting microhabitat measurements (e.g., basal density, groundcover, understory, and canopy closure) from 30 random telemetry location points, per covey, per habitat type to characterize winter habitat use. Survival is estimated using staggered-entry Kaplan-Meier analyses and a Cox proportional hazard model in R to determine covariates of daily mortality. We are reporting on the first 2 years of results.
78 Do Birds Differentiate White Noise and Deterministic Chaos? a Playback Experiment
Daniel T. Blumstein; Jessica Whitaker; Judith J. Kennen; Gregory A. Bryant
Noisy, unpredictable sounds are often present in vocalizations of fearful and stressed juvenile animals across many taxa.  A variety of structural characteristics, called nonlinear acoustic phenomena, including subharmonics, rapid frequency modulations, and deterministic chaos are responsible for the harsh quality of these vocalizations. Exposure to nonlinear sound can elicit increased arousal in birds and mammals. Past experiments have used white noise to test for effects of deterministic chaos on perceivers. However, deterministic chaos differs structurally from white noise, and unlike white noise (which is random energy at all frequencies) may differ dramatically depending on how it is produced. The subtle structural variation of chaos may not be distinguishable in the environment due to the attenuation and degredation of sound over distance and different habitat types. We designed two experiments to clarify whether American robins (Turdus migratorius) and warbling vireos (Vireo gilvus) discriminate between white noise and deterministic chaos. We broadcast and re-recorded white noise and two exemplars of deterministic chaos—that constructed with a Chua oscillator, and that constructed with a logistic waveform–at 1, 10, 20, 30, 40, and 80 m across open and forested habitat used spectrogram correlations to compare stimuli along a degradational gradient. Sounds degraded similarly in both habitats when compared to reference distances of 1 m. Comparing pairs of stimuli across distance suggested that Chua chaos was more easily distinguishable from noise and logistic chaos. Additionally, all stimuli became more distinctive over increased distance. The second experiment tested behavioral responses of robins and warbling vireos to control sounds of tropical kingbird (Quiscalus mexicanus), white noise, and two exemplars of deterministic chaos (logistic and Chua). American robins nor warbling vireos discriminated noise from at least two types of deterministic chaos, indicating that future playback studies can continue to use white noise as a surrogate nonlinear stimulus.
79 Peoples Engagement in Wildlife Management:With Special Reference to Kaziranga National Park, Assam
Juri Goswami
The basic idea of Environment encompasses a whole lot of components wherein the concept of Wildlife is central to the protection of environment and conservation of bio diversity. The relationship between humans and wildlife is of immense importance since time immemorial as both co existed with one another. Kaziranga National Park, declared by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 1985, is home to the One Horned Rhinoceros. Though The Park is of immense stature in its diversity, it is faced by innumerable problems like poaching, floods, illegal encroachment, etc The World Community from time to time has passed various laws for the proper management of wildlife in general and Kaziranga National Park in particular. But laws alone cannot solve the problem. The general public should be engaged and educated in the protection of the wildlife, as they hold the key for the proper balancing of the eco system. Objectives: a) To know the trend and status of peoples initiative regarding wildlife protection. b) To know the traditional practices among the ethnic societies in relation to wildlife protection. c) To establish the extent to which mechanism of law helpful to the people for the protection of wildlife. d) To identify, if there is any Governmental move to revise the existing laws to make wildlife protection a more participative exercise. Methods: It has been proposed to collect first hand as well as second hand data relying on the Empirical and Doctrinal method of research respectively for the purpose of the study. Results: This study will lead to minimize the gap that is persistent in the present environment and will showcase the path for proper management of wildlife. Conclusion: The conclusion would be based on the research findings after conclusion of research.
80 Evaluation of Wild Pig Behavioral Responses to Scent Exposure on Cowden Plantation, Jackson, South Carolina
Samantha R. Hitchens
Increased numbers of wild pigs (Sus scrofa) cause multi-faceted problems with complex impacts. Due to the large quantity of locations affected worldwide, it is important to find methods of management suitable across different locales. Wild pigs have often been hunted with the assistance of dogs in many regions. This method of management is not currently legal in all areas with invasive pig damage. Combining this with the animals’ highly developed sense of smell led to the question: Can a natural scent be used as a satisfactory pig repellant? To investigate this hypothesis, we tested the following scents: dog hair, horseradish extract, cinnamon bark, camphor oil, tea tree oil, and black pepper oil. Pigs’ reactions were observed, via camera trapping, to weekly applications of each of the six scents. Trail cameras were placed in ten locations along the Savannah River swamp in a private Jackson, SC plantation, in various habitats to monitor the reactions captured on video clips. Dried corn, as an attractant, and scents were placed at each location and rotated each week for three months. The number of still images captured was used as the unit of measurement for population densities. Image totals for each scent were then compared to image totals for controls, with no scents. Behavior was categorized into five reaction groups: No Interaction, Smelled Not Repelled, Repelled, Rubbed Against, and Tasted. Activity and behavioral responses occurred around the scents in all habitat areas observed. Most activity was captured during the nights when weather conditions were dry. Pigs did not often respond to the scents as long as corn was present. The majority of scent related activity occurred after the corn attractants had been consumed.
83 Effects of Land Use Changes on American White Pelican Flock Size in the Mississippi Alluvial Valley
Ciera A. Rhodes; D. Tommy King; Guiming Wang; Peter J. Allen
Channel Catfish Ictalurus punctatus within aquaculture ponds in the Mississippi Alluvial Valley (MAV) are a primary food source for the American White Pelican (AWPE) Pelecanus erythrorhynchos. However, since 2008, economic recession, feed pricing, and competitive fish imports have led to a 50% decline in aquaculture acreage in the southeastern United States with only 16,000 hectares of fish production remaining in Mississippi. Although AWPE abundance data in the MAV are available, no such evaluation has been conducted after the 2008 recession of the catfish aquaculture industry. Information on the effect of declines in aquaculture on AWPE would benefit both landowners and ecologists in providing insight into how changes in land cover and their interactions with weather conditions influence the spatial distribution of AWPE. Therefore, the objective of our study was to determine how the regional declines in aquaculture acreage, precipitation, and temperature affected flock sizes of pelicans in the wintering grounds of the MAV. Aerial surveys were conducted to estimate AWPE flock sizes throughout the MAV during December, February, and April from 1997-1999 and 2015-2017. Pelican flocks were located using a cruise survey method at an altitude of 500-1000 m. AWPE flocks were located at 193 sites and ranged from 1 to 3500 birds. Data on flock sizes were used to test for the effects of distance to open water, distance to wetland, temperature and precipitation of the previous month on pelican counts. Distance to open water and wetland did not significantly influence pelican counts before or after industry decline. The effect of precipitation on pelican counts was minimal prior to decline in aquaculture; however, precipitation showed an inverse relationship with pelican counts after decline in aquaculture in the MAV. Spatial distributions of AWPE were more sensitive to changes in climate than in land use in their wintering grounds.
84 Do Nutrient Acquisition Strategies Among Spring Migrants Differ Depending on Breeding Area Destination? A Test Using Lesser Snow Geese
Drew N. Fowler; Mark P. Vrtiska; Keith A. Hobson; Elisabeth B. Webb
Long distance migratory birds use flexible strategies to cope with the energetic costs of migration and nutrient acquisition at migration stopover sites. Length of migration and individual body size can determine the extent of endogenous reserves allocated to reproductive efforts and individuals of species breeding at varying latitudes may rely on different nutrient acquisition strategies during spring migration in preparation for breeding. We used deuterium isotopic values (δ2H) in feathers of lesser snow geese (Chen caerulescens caerulescens) collected during early spring migration 2015 and 2016 to establish sub-arctic and arctic sub-population association for 259 birds based on the previous year’s molt location. We assessed rates of lipid and protein acquisition among four regions during early spring migration within the Mississippi and Central flyways and evaluated whether differences in body size among sub-populations contributed to explaining variation in rates of nutrient storage during spring migration. Spring harvest of lesser snow geese is common throughout the Mississippi and Central flyways and while sub-arctic nesting lesser snow geese make up approximately 10% of the total midcontinent population they experience substantially greater harvest rates than their arctic nesting counterparts. Understanding potential differences in nutrient acquisition strategies among lesser snow goose sub-populations related to tradeoffs in body size and migration distance may in part explain disproportionate spring harvest susceptibility.
85 Space Use by Cattle, and Its Cascading Effects on Lesser Prairie-Chicken Habitat Selection
Christopher K. Gulick; Jonathan Lautenbach; David Haukos
The lesser prairie-chicken (Tympanuchus pallidicinctus) is a species of prairie grouse that has experienced decline since European settlement of the Great Plains. A key driver of this trend is the loss and degradation of prairie due to mismanagement of grassland, conversion of the landscape to row crop agriculture, and energy exploration. These practices alter vital vegetation communities for lesser prairie-chickens. In the mixed-grass prairie, grazing is the primary management tool for improving lesser prairie- chicken habitat. Previous studies on lesser prairie-chickens have used stocking rates at the pasture scale to analyze the effects of patch-burn grazing on vegetation structure and composition. However, few studies have investigated the direct effects of fine scale cattle grazing and movement on lesser prairie-chicken space use. To better understand the drivers of domestic cattle (Bos taurus) space use within pastures, we analyzed cattle locations at multiple spatial scales within patch-burn grazing and rotational grazing management systems. We assessed cascading effects that both fire and grazing have on female lesser prairie chickens. We attached GPS transmitters to female lesser prairie-chickens and cattle to track their movement. Using these data, we used a resource selection function to analyze potential drivers of cattle movement and space use within pastures. We modeled cattle density within pastures and compare those data with female nest and brood locations to determine potential factors related to grazing intensity that drive female lesser prairie-chicken space use. We hypothesized that prescribed fires within pastures will concentrate cattle space use, allowing for a gradient of vegetative communities that are beneficial to lesser prairie-chicken populations at different life stages. This is the first known study to analyze the combined effects of prescribed burning and fine-scale cattle space use on lesser prairie-chicken habitat selection.
86 Factors Affecting Space Use of Sharp-tailed Grouse in Mixed Grass Prairies
Megan C. Milligan; Lance B. McNew; Lorelle I. Berkeley
Temperate grasslands suffer from the greatest levels of habitat loss and degradation of any ecosystem. Mixed grass prairies, in particular, have lost most of their original land, with only an estimated 25% of historic prairie intact in some states, which can have cascading negative effects including the extinction and decline of many populations and species, changes in ecosystem function, and the deterioration of ecosystem services. With large home ranges and differing requirements for nesting and winter habitat, sharp-tailed grouse (Tympanuchus phasianellus) require large and complex areas of habitat, making them an ideal umbrella species for grassland habitats. We used compositional analysis and linear models to assess space use by female sharp-tailed grouse in relation to lek sites, habitat conditions, and anthropogenic development. Breeding season home ranges averaged 569 ± 122 ha, but varied from 77 ha to 4,077 ha. Distance to lek, grassland edge, anthropogenic disturbances, including roads and oilpads, and grazing system at the home range centroid did not have an important influence on home range size. Breeding season habitat use was ranked as follows: mixed grass prairie >> depressional wetlands >> introduced upland perennial grasslands > shrubland > wheat >> developed ruderal grassland. Grouse actively selected for mixed grass prairie, even though roughly 81% of the entire study area was composed of prairie. By evaluating the influence of different rangeland management practices and anthropogenic disturbances on habitat selection, this project will develop specific management recommendations for the conservation of sharp-tailed grouse
87 Microhabitat Use of Migrating Northern Saw-whet Owls
Ian Bierke; Logan Hubbard; Amanda Lang; Jake Shurba; Janelle Taylor
Microhabitat use of migrating Northern saw-whet owls (Aegolius acadicus) The Northern saw-whet owl (Aegolius acadicus) (NSWO) is a mesopredator within upland ecosystems. NSWO’s migrate in fall from September until December, peaking in around mid-October. During migration this species encounters a wide variety of habitat types. Little is known about fine-scale habitat use of migrating NSWO’s within migration corridors. We utilized data from the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point student chapter of The Wildlife Society’s long-term saw-whet owl banding project at Sandhill Wildlife Area in Babcock, Wisconsin from fall 2007 to 2015. NSWO’s were lured and captured using call playback devices and mist-nets and were banded using USGS aluminum leg bands. Trapping occurred in seven microhabitat types: seral stage pine and oak mix, late successional big tooth aspen, old growth white pine, intermediate big tooth aspen, intermediate red maple and big tooth aspen, mature red oak, and oak savanna. We used a Chi Square test for goodness of fit to assess the habitat use during the fall migration for individual years. We then assessed the correlation between Chi Square value and number of owls caught with a regression statistic and found no significance.
88 Nesting Ecology of Bell’s Vireo in Northeast Texas
Natasha R. Lehr; Dean Ransom, Jr.
Bell’s vireo (Vireo belli) is a small migratory passerine bird that breeds throughout the central and southwest United States to northern Mexico. The species is considered a species of concern due to population declines. The subspecies of Bell’s vireo (Vireo belli belli) whose breeding range encompasses parts of northeast Texas is listed among the species. Little is known about the Bell’s vireo population in this region. Our goal is to quantify nest fate, quantify nest site characteristics, and develop a resource selection function model using logistic regression and AIC. We located 43 nests across 2 sites from late May to late July. Overall success rate of nests was 33.3%, with depredation and parasitism accounting for the remaining 66.7% of nest fates. The nests were compared to 43 randomly generated points. Predictor variables for nest sites were found to be lateral concealment (P = 0.0068) and canopy cover (P = 0.0273). The distance from the ground to the rim of the nest was a predictor variable in nest fate (P=0.0427). Daily survival rates of nests were related to the distance of the nest to the edge of the nest substrate, woody density, and visual obstruction. We compared vegetative variables between the sites and found significance in concealment below the nest (P = 0.0404), distance from the nest to the trunk of the nest substrate (P = 0.0185), distance from the ground to the rim of the nest (P = 0.0178), visual obstruction (P = 0.0338), and woody density (P = 0.0377). The information gathered from this study will set a baseline for future studies and land management practices concerning Bell’s vireo in the region.


Location: Albuquerque Convention Center Date: September 25, 2017 Time: 9:00 am - 5:00 pm