Poster Session – Tuesday

ROOM: Ballroom ABC (Member Activity Center)

1 Ghosts of Caribou Herds Past: Evaluating Historical Herd Crashes using Genetics
Karen Mager
Stories of caribou (Rangifer tarandus) herd crashes pervade the historical record in Arctic regions, yet their mechanisms—whether herd declines, extinctions, mergers, or range shifts—are poorly understood. My aim was to determine how Alaskan caribou herds declined in the pre-telemetry period of the 19th-20th century, in order to understand their links to herds inhabiting Alaska today and offer insights into the behavioral and genetic identity and resilience of caribou herds. My methods incorporated historical research with prediction-driven genetic analysis. First, I examined primary historical sources and their interpretation by various authors to describe alternative hypotheses about the herd crashes in each of three regions: 1) Bering Sea region 1870-1900, 2) Alaska Peninsula 1875-present, and 3) North Slope 1900-1920. Next, I formulated predictions about the population genetic patterns we would expect to find in each region if each particular alternative hypothesis were correct. Finally, I used genetic data from modern herds to evaluate each prediction and provide more robust interpretations of each historical population crash. I found that only herds on the Alaska Peninsula have experienced recent crashes severe enough to reduce their genetic diversity. Support is limited for hypotheses of herd extinction and replacement in three herds, indicating that the Unimak Island herd, the Central Arctic Herd, and perhaps the Teshekpuk herd persisted after population declines. Genetic data also indicate that the formerly abundant caribou in the Bering seacoast region were more likely to have been small, sedentary herds with limited gene flow rather than a large migratory herd. I interpret these results in light of more-recent examples of herd crashes and recovery documented with telemetry data, thus adding information to debates over conceptions of herd identity, caribou ecotypes, and resilience of caribou to global change.
2 Antler Characteristics and Age Structure of Mule Deer in Texas
Carolina Medina-Nava
In cervid management, antlers can be used as a selective harvest tool to reduce harvest of young animals. Since 2002, with the implementation of antler restrictions by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) on white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) in eastern Texas counties, the average age class and antler size of harvested bucks have increased. With regards to mule deer (O. hemionus), harvest and population data show that a high percentage of bucks are being harvested at ≤3 years of age in the southeastern Panhandle, resulting in a young buck age structure. TPWD data also indicates that mule deer bucks reach their greatest antler size at ≥6 years of age; suggesting that mule deer antler quality and hunter satisfaction are currently not reaching their potential. The idea of increasing age structure, and hence antler size, of mule deer bucks in the southeastern Panhandle through an antler restriction has arisen. If an effective antler restriction is possible for mule deer, as it is in white-tails, ear tip-to-tip and inside/outside antler spread measurements must be understood for each age class of bucks. Data was collected from various on-going mule deer studies and TPWD harvest data. This study will add to the information we have on antler and ear spread characteristics for mule deer in Texas, thus allowing TPWD to further explore an antler restriction for mule deer in certain areas of the state.
3 Investigating the Effects of Landscape Connectivity on the Occurrence of Chronic Wasting Disease in Michigan
Hunter Stanke; Jonathan Cook; Sonja Christensen; William F. Porter; David M. Williams
Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is a transmissible spongiform encephalopathy affecting cervid species in select regions of North America. In Michigan, it was first detected in a free-ranging white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) in April of 2015. Since, surveillance efforts have detected 8 additional positive individuals across 6 locations spanning 32 km. This suggests that CWD may have been detected early and be emergent in Michigan. As such it is imperative that managers inform ongoing and future surveillance and control efforts with the best possible information on how the disease might be spreading. We hypothesized that the spatial distribution of the disease at the landscape level was associated with movement patterns of deer and thus the relative resistance of landscape features. We evaluated this hypothesis using least-cost path analyses and a use-available framework. We constructed a resistance surface of the affected region based on land cover type, forest density, and road density. We examined the relative connectivity between points of CWD occurrence by performing least-cost path analyses between each possible combination of CWD positive locations and ranking each associated cost to a respective distribution produced by sampling the landscape surrounding each point of origin. We found evidence for directionality, where eastbound paths consistently ranked lower in cost than corresponding westbound paths. These findings suggest that if landscape resistance is driving deer movement, then deer within the study area are more likely to move in an eastward direction. If the spread of CWD is strongly associated with deer movement patterns, then the disease source is likely west of the study area and spreading eastward. This direction of spread is opposite that in which the disease has been detected in Michigan over time through disease surveillance efforts. We propose an increase in disease monitoring efforts along the western edge of the study area.
4 Impacts of Land-Use Change on Riparian Bird and Bat Communities in the Ecuadorian Andes
Elyce N. Gosselin; Rodrigo Cisneros; Leonardo Ordoñez; David Roon; Lisette Waits
Southern Ecuador is an area of extreme biodiversity, with a large portion of it falling within the Tropical Andes biodiversity hotspot. Unfortunately, deforestation rates within this region are high (up to 2.7% per year) and much of the native habitat has undergone urbanization or been replaced with pasture or agriculture. This research will assess how changes in land-use influence riparian-stream biodiversity with a focus on bird and bat diversity. Our study area is in southern Ecuador in the Zamora watershed and data will be collected from June to July, 2017. To evaluate the impacts of land-use types on the diversity of these groups, bird and bat communities will be sampled at 12 stream-catchments: three dominantly forest sites, three forest-pasture sites, three pasture sites, and three forest-pasture-urban sites. To assess riparian bird communities, three 200-m line transects will be walked for three consecutive days at each of the 12 sites, and auditory and visual information about the presence of birds will be collected. To assess riparian bat communities, bats will be captured using mist nets and identified to species; additionally, echolocations will be recorded using the Wildlife Acoustics Song Meter SM3BAT and identified to species. We hypothesize that a species’ presence at a site within a certain land-use category will depend on feeding guild. We expect the species richness of insectivorous, carnivorous, and nectarivorous birds and bats to be lower in pasture and urban areas than in the forest habitat because pasture and urban areas are less likely to support the resources they depend on. Preliminary results from bird community sampling conducted during the summer of 2016 support this prediction: bird species richness decreased more for carnivores (100%), nectarivores (88%), and insectivores (77%) than for omnivores (67%) or granivores (0%) between the forest and forest-pasture-urban sites.
5 Evaluating Private Lands Conservation Practices for Gopher Tortoise and Savanna-Like Ecosystems in the Southeastern Coastal Plain
Thomas J. Prebyl
Open savanna-like ecosystems maintained by fire and other disturbances were once common in the southeastern coastal plain of the United States. The decline of iconic ecological communities such as the longleaf pine / wiregrass system has been driven by multiple factors including degradation through fire suppression and conversion to agriculture, urban development, and pine plantations. The loss of open woodlands and savannas has reduced the populations of many wildlife species including the gopher tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus) which is federally listed as threatened in the western portion of its range and is a candidate species elsewhere. Despite historic declines, remaining populations of gopher tortoise on private working lands demonstrate that conservation of the species may be compatible with ongoing timber and livestock production. In this study, we will conduct assessments of conservation practices implemented on private lands through the Natural Resources Conservation Service Working Lands for Wildlife gopher tortoise partnership. We will assess vegetation response to practices such as prescribed fire, stand thinning, and prescribed grazing designed to improve overstory and herbaceous layer habitat conditions. In addition, we will use line transect distance sampling to estimate gopher tortoise abundance and age-structure on contract sites with varying management histories. Population data from this study and throughout the range will be used to construct statistical models and test hypotheses regarding the influence of vegetation structure, herbaceous species composition, and management history on gopher tortoise abundance and reproduction. Preliminary results from the first field season will be presented. We expect this study will contribute to the design and targeting of conservation efforts on private lands which are an essential part of the larger conservation effort for gopher tortoises and savanna-like ecosystems in the Southeast.
7 Distribution of Swift Fox and Sympatric Canid Species in the Dakotas
Emily L. Mitchell; Tammy L. Wilson; Donelle Schwalm; Jonathan A. Jenks
The swift fox (Vulpes velox), a native species once abundant throughout the Northern Great Plains (NGP), has declined due to changes in land use and historic predator eradication programs. Currently, the species is estimated to occupy 44% of its historic range. Swift fox populations remain uncommon in the NGP, where they are considered a rare species in North Dakota and are listed as Threatened in South Dakota. Knowledge of the current status of swift foxes in the NGP is lacking due to an absence of systematic population monitoring; while there are occasional reports of swift foxes in northwest South Dakota and southwest North Dakota, the population is thought to be small. Sympatric canid species, such as coyotes (Canis latrans) and red fox (Vulpes vulpes), may negatively influence swift fox expansion in the Dakotas. Our objective was to evaluate the influence of sympatric canid populations on swift fox distribution patterns in the Dakotas. We conducted a systematic camera trap survey to assess occupancy and distribution of swift fox and sympatric canids. Using camera trap detections and anecdotal sightings, we live-trapped and fitted 26 swift fox with radio-collars then tracked them weekly. Using species detections from the camera survey we modeled the occupancy of coyotes and red foxes. We were unable to use occupancy modelling for swift fox due to limited camera detections, thus we used Random Forest to model distribution from a combination of data sources including camera detections, anecdotal sightings, and weekly tracking locations. We used these models to assess spatial overlap between swift fox and sympatric canid distributions, and what factors determine the distribution of each species. In areas similar to our study area, where state expenditures on predator control are high, understanding the relationship between swift foxes and sympatric canid species is vital information for managers.
8 Survey Olive Ridley Turtle in Cuthbert Bay Sanctuary of Middle Andaman Forest Division, Andaman Nicobar Islands, India
M. Rajkumar
Olive ridleys are globally distributed in the tropical regions of the South Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans. In the northern Indian Ocean, arribadas( Mass Nesting) occur on three different beaches along the coast of India. Solitary nesting occurs extensively throughout this species’ range; nesting has been documented in approximately 40 countries worldwide. The olive ridley is listed as endangered by the World Conservation Union (IUCN) . Degradation of nesting beaches, ongoing directed harvest, and bycatch in fisheries have all contributed to the decline of the species. The olive ridley may be the most abundant sea turtle on the planet, but some argue that it is also the most exploited.This paper provide scientific information that is needed fordeveloping and implementing the long-term conservation and management of the oliveridley sea turtle population in Cuthbert bay sanctuary of Middle Andaman Islands of Andaman & Nicobar Islands , India .
9 Evaluation of White-tailed Deer Population in the Nelsonville Bypass, Ohio, and Use of Mitigation Structures
Devon Cottrill; Steven Porter; Matthew Trainer; Eileen Wyza; Robert Wiley; Jeffrey Roush; Nicole Dake; Viorel D. Popescu
Wildlife-vehicle strikes are a major concern for both human safety and impacts on animal populations. White-Tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus) are of particular concern, as they are involved in wildlife-vehicle collisions that result in significant economic impact. To mitigate deer-vehicle strikes, the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) implemented mitigation structures along a newly build 9-mile Nelsonville Bypass, OH Route 33: a 8-ft tall wildlife fence, 3 underpasses, and 16 deer jumpouts to allow deer that entered Right-of-Way (ROW) to exit safely. The effectiveness and use of mitigation structures, and annual activity patterns of deer were inferred from camera trapping (July 2015 – December 2016). We evaluated the deer population using ROW using pellet counts (Fecal Accumulation Rate method) on 50 50×2 m strip transects. We identified two peaks in deer activity: a major peak during rut (October – December) and a smaller peak during (June-August), likely associated with green browse within ROW. We found that the density of deer inside ROW during June-July 2016 was 4-6 deer/km2. The majority of deer events captured at cameras (65%) were recorded at underpasses, suggesting that underpasses are conducive to movement between the eastbound and westbound habitats outside ROW. Jumpouts performed relatively well, facilitating evacuation of ROW, but their performance was highly dependent on the landscape context (21% of all deer events inside ROW resulted in deer exiting ROW). We recorded significantly more deer events outside ROW (median =39/month) vs. inside ROW (median = 11/month), suggesting that the wildlife fence may have reduced deer access to ROW. Deer movement was positively associated with the percent Developed land up to 1 km from the camera trap locations. In summary, mitigation structures had various degrees of success, and we recommend focusing efforts on the regular maintenance of wildlife fence to reduce deer access to ROW.
10 Layering Landscapes of Fear: the Role of Predation Risk and Human Disturbance in a California Large Mammal Community
Kaitlyn M. Gaynor; Alex McInturff; Justin S. Brashares
The “landscape of fear” has become a new frontier of ecological research, furthering our understanding of predator-prey interactions in heterogeneous landscapes. Spatial variation in predation can explain patterns of animal behavior and distribution, and the fear associated with predation risk is a key driver of survival and population dynamics. The landscape of fear framework can also shed light on the ecology of human-wildlife interactions. Humans can reshape landscapes of fear both by transforming physical habitats and creating novel risk landscapes through lethal and non-lethal activities. While the landscape of fear concept is typically applied to a single species, ecological communities are typically characterized by multiple interacting prey and predator species and a range of human influences. Each species perceives and responds to fear from natural and anthropogenic threats, and these layered landscapes of fear help pattern the spatiotemporal structure of ecological communities. This year, I began a study of multi-species landscapes of fear in an oak savanna system at the Hopland Research and Extension Center in Mendocino County, California. The system is heterogeneous both in terms of habitat (grassland, woodland, and chaparral) and human footprint (grazed pastures, vineyards, roads, fences). This heterogeneity sets the stage for fear-driven interactions between deer, mountain lions, bears, and coyotes, as well as hunters, sheep, and guard dogs. My research utilizes camera traps and GPS telemetry on each of these wild and domestic species, including hunters, to understand patterns of movement and spatial distribution. I will then use information on predation and harvest locations, coupled with GIS maps of landscape features, to map landscapes of fear for each species and explore how fear predicts behavior. My research will elucidate behaviorally-mediated trophic cascades in human-altered landscapes as fear ripples through the large mammal community, and unite our understanding of behavior and landscape patterns.
11 Prevalence and Distribution of Raccoon Roundworm (Baylisascaris Procyonis) in a Semi-Urban Landscape in Northwest Missouri as Determined by Fecal Flotation Analysis.
Bridgette French-Harbison; Cary D. Chevalier; Bethany Bolander; Cassie Daldrup; Rachael Domann; Eli Eber; Cody Phillips; Nina Gray; Jessica Gunderson; Chris Kelley; Jaime Lynch; Stephanie Malone; Nick Williams
Raccoons are the only member of the raccoon family to naturally occur in Missouri, and are very adaptable to life around humans. Their proximity to humans can cause some health concerns as . They can carry diseases and parasites that could be transmitted to humans. One such parasite is raccoon roundworm (Baylisascaris procyonis). Raccoon roundworm larvae can infect the central nervous system of humans, causing disease and in rare cases death. Since raccoons live in urban and suburban environments, there is increasing awareness of the possibility of human infection from raccoon roundworm. Roundworm eggs are shed in raccoon feces, and can remain viable in the environment for long periods of time. We surveyed the Missouri Western State University campus (approx.. 670 acres) for raccoon feces and latrine sites during the summers of 2014-2017 to determine the distribution and prevalence of raccoon roundworm. We divided the campus into 100 x 100 m grids systematically searched each grid once for raccoon feces. We recorded the location of each fecal sample and latrine using mapping grade global positioning systems (Trimble Navigation, Ltd., Sunnyvale, CA). From each feces we made 5 subsamples from which we applied standard fecal floatation technique. A slide was made from each floatation episode and carefully scanned for raccoon roundworm eggs. We collected and analyzed 517 feces and found raccoon roundworm eggs in 38; an approximately 7.4% infection rate.
13 An Individual-Based Model of Hispid Cotton Rat Response to Habitat Variables in a Biofuel Feedstock Production System
Angela L. Larsen; Volker Grimm; Jessica A. Homyack; T. Bently Wigley; Darren A. Miller; Matina C. Kalcounis-Rueppell
Assessing effects of forest management practices on wildlife primarily focuses on monitoring responses of populations or communities. However, populations are composed of individuals making decisions that affect fitness. Therefore, understanding which behaviors drive population dynamics in a managed environment while allowing for individual variation may provide a more accurate model to simulate population responses. One current management practice (intercropping) is producing feedstock for biofuel by planting switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) between rows of planted loblolly pine (Pinus taeda). We used cotton rats (Sigmodon hispidus) as a focal species to assess effects of this management practice on rodents because it is a grassland specialist and the dominant rodent in our study area with a key ecosystem role. Our previous research indicated that cotton rat behaviors and population dynamics were intermediate in switchgrass-pine intercrop plots compared to switchgrass monocrop and pine control plots. To simulate cotton rat population dynamics in intercrop plots, we developed and implemented an individual-based model that includes submodels for territoriality, foraging behavior, and reproduction. Habitat variables include amount of food and cover in each habitat cell. For all submodels, an individual’s decisions based on habitat variables lead to behaviors rather than behaviors being imposed. All model processes will be completed in Program NetLogo. Once the model is developed and calibrated, we will perform a sensitivity analysis by changing habitat attributes (e.g., size, amount of grass, and amount of cover) to evaluate how differing management activities on a larger scale could potentially affect cotton rat populations. Our results will provide an assessment of intercropping and our model, with minor adjustments, could be used to investigate rodent response to multiple management settings.
14 Consumption and Assimilation Patterns of the Eastern Box Turtle, a Diet Generalist
Miranda Figueras; Kent Hatch; Timothy Green; Russell Burke
Eastern Box Turtles (Terrapene carolina, EBT) are generalist omnivores and important seed and fungal spore dispersers throughout the eastern United States. Studies have shown that EBT feed opportunistically on seasonally available fruit, plants, invertebrates, and occasionally carrion. We radio-located EBT in the Pine Barrens of Long Island, New York and collected fecal and blood samples. We identified prey items to the highest possible taxonomic level, and quantified seeds in the fecal samples. Plasma was analyzed for C and N isotopes ratios (δ C and δ N). We found highly seasonal patterns in fruit seed abundances in fecal samples correlating with availability. Vaccinium fruit were in 50% (June), 50% (July), and 20% (August) of samples, showing consumption of Vaccinium before they ripened and after they fell to the ground. Unidentifiable plant material was in 90-100% of samples in all periods. Coleopterans were in 70% (June), 85% (July), 80% (August), and 80% (October) of samples. Snails were in 10% of samples from June, August, and October, and 28% of July samples. Mushrooms were in 10% of June samples, 45% (July), 10% (August), and none in October. The R package SIBER was used to plot elilipses representing isotopic niche breadth in order to compare seasona. Surprisingly, stable isotope analysis indicated no significant differences in the δ C and δ N from EBT plasma sampled throughout their active season despite seasonal consumption patterns. Low plant digestibility reducing nutrient assimilation, diet items with similar δ C and δ N contributions, and a short study period may have affected EBT nutrient assimilation patterns.
15 Influence of Prairie Dog Colonies on Vegetation and Cattle Movement in the Marathon Basin
Graduate R. Assistant; Whitney J. Gann; Louis A. Harveson; Bonnie J. Warnock; Ryan O’Shaughnessy
The Black-tailed prairie dog (Cynomys ludovicianus) plays an important role in maintaining biological stability in western grasslands, unfortunately, within the Trans-Pecos region of Texas populations have declined. Public opinion on potential competition for forage resources between prairie dogs and cattle influences conservation and management strategies for these native herbivores. Understanding the ecological relationship between prairie dogs, cattle, and vegetation is important for management of rangelands. Objectives for this study are: 1) evaluate movement and grazing patterns of cattle in pastures with varying ratios of prairie dog and non-prairie dog colony, 2) assess spatial variation and trade-offs between forage quality and quantity in and out of prairie dog colonies, and 3) document seasonal variation in forage quality and quantity. Biomass of vegetation will be collected every month beginning June 2017. Cattle (n = 26; 10 wearing GPS collars) are being rotated through 3 pastures with varying amounts of prairie dog colony to evaluate movement and grazing patterns. Rotations are going continue for one year to represent a normal grazing routine common to the Marathon Basin. Vegetation biomass and nutritional quality data inside and outside the prairie dog colony are being assessed on monthly basis. A selection model using a logistic mixed model analyses will be used to determine the probability of cattle using prairie dog colony or non-colony on an annual and/or seasonal basis. Data collected allows for a better understanding of how prairie dog colonies influence cattle movement, alter nutritional content of vegetation, and educate the public about the role of prairie dogs in grassland systems.
16 Telemetr: A Modular Telemetry Data Management System
Mitchell A. Gritts; Cody McKee
Animal movement data is an increasingly important tool for the management of wildlife. With decreased price and size and increased capabilities and longevity of GPS tracking devices, the amount of data has grown substantially. This increased volume of data has created new challenges for managing and effectively using these data. Over the last several years, there have been attempts to simplify this process with tools like MoveBank. These tools can be inflexible and require moving data between services, file formats, and software. To cope with these short-comings we have developed a modularized system for the management, storage, and analysis of telemetry data. A spatial database serves as the backend to store the data, an application programming interface (API) to transfer data between the database and client, and several applications to manage, visualize, and analyze the data. The goal of this is to give wildlife managers a set of useful tools for examining and synthesizing their data into management recommendations. We present a brief explanation of the technical aspects of development and deployment of the tool, real-world examples of analyses and visualizations, and possible management uses.
17 Development and Analysis of Avian Index of Biological Integrity for Kentucky Wetlands
Kaitlyn Kelly; David Brown
The quality of wetlands can be assessed using landscape, rapid, and intensive assessment, all three of these levels rely on indicators of human disturbance to the integrity of the ecological system within the wetland. Kentucky currently uses a rapid assessment method, designed as a regulatory tool, for determining the condition of wetlands. We developed a Kentucky specific avian index of biological integrity (IBI) that provides an intensive, level 3, assessment method for wetlands. Bird communities are frequently used as bioindicators to assess environmental conditions, including in wetland habitats. Birds are useful indicators because they are sensitive to environmental changes, abundant in various landscapes, and sampled cost-effectively. Bird point count survey data from 140 sites, collected during breeding seasons 2013-2017, were used to calculate a set of metrics, including avian community measures and guilds based on percent species present. Metrics were tested for correlation with an independent measure of wetland condition based on landscape and site stressors. High performing, non-repetitive metrics were tested in various combinations to find the best set of avian community metrics that predict wetland condition. Final metrics were scaled and assembled into an index of biological integrity. We found four superior metrics to be correlated with the independent disturbance index. Insectivorous and foliage-gleaning guilds had higher relative abundance at higher condition wetlands, while omnivorous and ground-gleaning guild percentages had higher relative abundance at lower condition wetlands. The guilds represented in these metrics included more species than other metrics tested, creating a greater degree of variation within the guild to correlate to the disturbance index. Previous studies in other regions found similar results with insectivorous and foliage-gleaning guilds being intolerant to human disturbance, whereas omnivorous and ground-gleaning guilds tending to be more tolerant. A cost-effective and time-efficient IBI complements the other assessment tools for the wetlands of Kentucky.
18 Estimating Sizes of Ocelot Populations in Coastal Tamaulipas, Mexico
Mitch Sternberg; Rogelio Carrera-Treviño; Francisco Illescas-Martínez; Luis F. Martinez-García; Angel O. Salinas-Andrade; Luis J. Peña; Thomas deMaar
Ocelot (Leopardus pardalis) population densities reported throughout the species range vary from 5 to 80 ocelots/100 km2. The characteristics of ocelot populations in Mexico are not well-known, and effective recovery actions for this endangered species requires additional information on distribution and status of populations. The objectives of this study were to investigate ocelot abundance and density in the coastal landscape of the Laguna Madre region of Tamaulipas in northeastern Mexico. Wildlife cameras were deployed for 3,750 camera-nights on two ranches in 2013, and 3,312 camera-nights on two different ranches in 2016 in the area of Soto La Marina municipality to estimate the size of the populations of ocelots. Ocelot individuals were identified based on the pattern of their spots. Thirty-two double-camera sets documented 20 ocelots in 2013, and 18 double-camera sets documented 32 ocelots in 2016. Analyses using Program CAPTURE provided population estimates of 33 ocelots (95% CI 24-54) in 2013 and 32 ocelots (95% CI 32-32) in 2016. Mean Maximum Distance Moved was used to estimate ocelot densities of 20.3/100 km2 in 2013 and 59.2/100 km2 in 2016. Preliminary analyses indicate this region has the highest ocelot densities reported in Mexico. These populations are robust and could serve as a source for translocating ocelots into smaller populations in need of genetic augmentation, such as the two populations in Texas.
19 Linking Wildlife Communities to Prescribed Fire on Camp Bland Joint Military Installation in Northern Florida
Marcelo H. Jorge; Elina P. Garrison; Mike L. Conner; Michael J. Cherry
Military lands are important conservation landscapes as they are managed for multiple objectives including game management and endangered species conservation. Our project seeks to better understand how wildlife habitat management and forestry practices influence a suites of species of conservation importance on Camp Bland Joint Military Installation, in a longleaf pine ecosystem in northern Florida. Our multispecies approach with illuminate the effects of federally mandated, habitat management practices for the endangered red-cocked woodpecker (Leuconotopicus borealis) on non-target species. We will examine how stand attributes and fire conditions affect the distribution and interactions of wildlife species. First, we will estimate occupancy for selected birds and mammals relative to time since fire, season of fire, and stand type using 34 camera traps and paired acoustic detectors in a grid across the installation. We will also use noninvasive techniques to examine how prescribed fire, habitat structure, and predator activity influence white-tailed deer (Odocileus virginianus) recruitment and survival. We will estimate survival and recruitment in a spatial capture recapture framework using capture histories from fawn identified using their spot patterns from 60 camera traps. This objective will link fawn recruitment and survival to fire and habitat management. Ultimately, our study will examine the effects of fire and forest management activities mandated for a single species influence wildlife communities.
20 Bisphenol a Contamination in Yellow-Bellied Sliders
Robert B. Cromer; Kayla McDavid
The effects of bisphenol A (BPA) in turtle species has been studied over the past decade due to its tendency to leach from plastics and accumulate in aquatic food webs. BPA has been linked to endocrine disruption in several vertebrate species, including turtles. BPA mimics the hormone estrogen, which makes developing embryos more likely to produce female reproductive parts even if the sex is male. Our objectives were to quantify BPA concentrations in the plasma of Yellow-bellied slider turtles (Trachemys scripta scripta) and to quantify BPA concentrations in soils from wetlands where turtles were captured. We trapped turtles (n=31) at two ponds in the vicinity of Augusta, GA (Reed Creek Interpretive Center and Brick Pond Park). Blood samples were taken from the subcarapacial vein. Plasma was separated and stored at -30 C. Ten 5 cm deep soil core were collected from each wetland. BPA was extracted from soil cores in methanol through sonication. Excess methanol was removed through roto-evaporation. Plasma and soil extracts were analyzed through BPA-specific enzyme-linked immunoassay (ELISA) kits. Reed Creek turtle blood samples degraded prior to analysis and were rejected. All plasma samples from turtles collected at Brick Pond Park tested positive for BPA (mean = 0.3054 ppm). T-Test revealed no significant difference in BPA concentration between males and females (p = 0.638). Turtle mass and BPA concentrations were found to have a weak correlation with each other (R2 = 0.0326). Reed Creek soils contained significantly higher concentrations of BPA than soils at Brick Pond Park (p = 0.0283). Our results show that BPA can bioaccumulate in wild-caught turtles. The high levels of BPA blood samples relative to soils cores is most likely due to biomagnification of the contaminant throughout the food web of the Yellow-bellied slider.
22 Occupancy of Co-Occurring Mountain Plover, Burrowing Owl, and Swift Fox on a Disturbed Short-Grass Prairie
Ryan A. Parker; Tyler Michels; Diana Tomback; Angela Dwyer; Laurel Hartley; Michael B. Wunder
Research has independently linked Mountain Plover (Charadrius montanus), Burrowing Owl (Athene cunicularia), and Swift Fox (Vulpes velox) to Black-tailed Prairie Dog (Cynomys ludovicianus) colonies in short-grass prairie ecosystems throughout the Western Plains. Patterns emerged from trend data for plovers, owls, and foxes collected on prairie dog colonies by the US Forest Service on the Thunder Basin National Grassland (TBNG) in eastern Wyoming, suggesting an interspecific relationship may exist between these species. This research draws from current literature on these species and their required habitat to create a multi-species research design addressing potential trophic-level relationships. We are using occupancy-based sampling and modeling to investigate whether dynamics between predatory swift fox and burrowing owl influence the breeding biology of a shared prey resource, mountain plover, using a subset of black-tailed prairie dog colonies on the TBNG. The main objective is to model the rate of occupancy of mountain plover, burrowing owl, and swift fox as a function of observation (time, observer) and site level (colony size, plague history, species co-occurrence) covariates on prairie dog colonies. This project will provide a multi-species management tool for land management agencies and contribute to broad-scale research initiatives throughout the distribution of the short-grass prairie ecosystem.
23 The Influence of Environmental Variables, Age, and Sex on Eastern Gray Squirrel Capture Probability and Population
Jacob Shurba; Heidi Putnam; Nathaniel Yost
The eastern gray squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) is a common game species that primarily inhabits forested habitats with adequate mast production. Since 2012, students with the UWSP student chapter of The Wildlife Society have trapped gray squirrels in Sandhill Wildlife Area near Babcock, Wisconsin to identify relationships between timber harvest and gray squirrel abundance. Environmental variables, sex, and age can influence the number of squirrels captured per year and their population estimate. Three separate trapping grids were placed in timber stands harvested in different years: Mature (1932), Intermediate (1996), and Young (2011). We record sex, age, and weight for each squirrel, as well as record trap number. We live trap squirrels during the winter months from late January through March, until the snow melts. A closed population model will be used to estimate the capture probability and population of eastern gray squirrels each year using 2012-2016 trapping years.
24 Prediction of Emperor Penguin Population at Northern Antarctic Peninsula
Mikail Akshin Bakhtiyarov
The emperor penguin (Aptenodytes forsteri) is the largest of the seventeen penguin species known to the world. Emperor penguins populate only the Antarctic continent and their home is exclusively massive icebergs, ice cliffs, and cold seas. There are about 46 colonies distributed around the Antarctica. Six colonies are made up of 60,000 breeding pairs, and they are located west of the Ross Sea. The recent studied conducted by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) found that emperor penguins could be extinct by the year 2100 due to global climate change. This paper analyzed existing mathematical models to predict how the loss of sea ice from climate warming would affect a big colony of emperor penguins in northern Antarctic Peninsula. Based on the published statistical data the paper predicts the emperor penguin population changes for next 50 years in northern Antarctic Peninsula using regression analysis technique.
25 Effects of Differential Management Practices on Managed Wetlands within the California Central Valley
dustin howland
Different management techniques shape habitats in different ways. Wetlands within California’s Central Valley are often heavily managed for a number of different desired outcomes. Is it possible that the use of these systems as agriculture runoff dumps, paired with too many waterfowl on each pool with a lack of active flowing water could be harming the wetlands as a whole. Should water quality and overall biodiversity be seen as a more important goal of these systems than what they are currently designed for? In this study we look at water quality inflows and outflows of ponds throughout much of the Central Valley. We use this along with management practices of each site and some known biodiversity information to evaluate current management practices.
26 Infectivity and Transmission of Reticuloendotheliosis Virus in Northern Bobwhite
Melissa K. Hopkins; Jeff Breeden; Dustin Edwards; T. Wayne Schwertner
Northern bobwhite populations have recently been declining across their range, due in large part to habitat loss and fragmentation. The role of disease in this decline, however, has been little-studied. Our objectives include determining if northern bobwhites can be infected with reticuloendotheliosis virus (REV) and the transmission method of the virus. REV has been detected in other gallinaceous birds, but not yet observed in northern bobwhites. The purpose of this study is to determine if REV may be a contributing factor to the decline of northern bobwhites. A total of 30 quail, anesthetized using isofluorane, will be inoculated with varying doses (0%, 25%, 50%, 100%) of 103.4 TCID50 of virus intramuscularly into the breast muscle. Virus detection by PCR will be performed at 6 weeks to determine infection. After determining infection, mosquitoes will be starved overnight in a feeding jar and then allowed to feed for 15 minutes on REV-infected or uninfected quail. At 15 minutes, fully engorged mosquitoes will be collected, observed under a binocular microscope for blood content, and frozen at -80°C. Based on previous research involving Japanese quail, we expect to find that northern bobwhites are susceptible to REV infection. We also expect to find that mosquitoes are viable vectors for REV. All experiments and analyses will be concluded prior to the beginning of the conference.
27 Examining Reptile and Amphibian Detection Methods at Schenck Memorial Forest, Raleigh, North Carolina
Daniel J. Guinto
Abstract Reptiles and amphibians can be difficult to detect and study in a natural setting because of their cryptic and coloration or secretive behaviors. Additionally using only one or two surveying methods may reveal a high density of a few species, but may not accurately represent the diversity of a particular area. The objective of this project is to evaluate the species composition and diversity of herpetofauna living in Schenck Memorial Forest and to compare the effectiveness of the different detection methods being used. The field methods were initiated in March 2017. Twenty wood cover boards were placed in a meadow area of the property and will be checked every other week at approximately nine in the morning. Thirty PVC pipes were placed along a slow moving creek and intermittent wetlands and are also checked every other week once at approximately ten thirty in the morning and once at night. Ten leaf litter bags were placed in the intermittent wetlands on the property and will be checked once every other week around eleven in the morning. Additionally road cruises are conducted every other week at sun down, and thirty minute active searches are conducted every other week at approximately eleven-thirty in the morning. Field work will be conducted through June and data will then be analyzed.
28 Modeling the Effects of White-Nose Syndrome on the Bat Community of Wisconsin
Jordan J. Meyer; Robin E. Russell; Scott E. Hygnstrom; Jason D. Riddle; Christopher J. Yahnke
White-nose syndrome (hereafter; WNS) is a disease caused by an invasive fungal pathogen (Pseudogymnoascus destructans), which is traumatically affecting several cave-dwelling bat species of North America. WNS has spread to numerous counties in Wisconsin since its initial discovery in 2014. This disease has already begun to greatly impact half of the available bat species of Wisconsin, big brown bat (Eptesicus fuscus), little brown bat (Myotis lucifugus), northern long-eared bat (Myotis septentrionalis), and tri-colored bat (Perimyotis subflavus). Understanding how this disease could shift community dynamics regionally is a current focus of research. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources established 5 permanent long-term bat monitoring stations (LTBMS) at Cofrin Arboretum, Kemp Natural Resource Station, Schmeeckle Reserve, the Urban Ecology Center, and the University of Wisconsin – Madison Arboretum in the year 2007. These LTBMS record echolocation calls, which were automatically classified to species and then manually vetted. This study evaluates the site occupancy of Wisconsin’s bat species at these LTBMS using a hierarchal Bayesian multispecies model. By comparing the community dynamics prior to the 2014 discovery of WNS in Wisconsin to the years that follow, this study could greatly improve the understanding the impact that this disease poses as it encroaches across North America.
31 Does Urbanization Ameliorate the Effect of Endoparasite Infection in Merriam’s Kangaroo Rat?
Gizelle Hurtado; Ghislaine Mayer; Karen Mabry
Urban development can fragment and degrade remnant habitat. These habitat alterations can have profound impacts on wildlife populations, including parasite infection status and body condition of animals living in urban and suburban areas. We investigated the influence of urbanization on populations of Merriam’s kangaroo rat (Dipodomys merriami) and their parasites. We predicted that urban development would affect infection status and body condition of kangaroo rats in urban versus wildland areas. We live trapped kangaroo rats at 5 urban and 5 wildland sites in and around Las Cruces, NM from 2013-2015, and collected fecal samples from 209 kangaroo rats. Endoparasite presence was determined using fecal flotation and molecular barcoding. Seven parasite species were detected, although only two, parasitic worms Mastophorus dipodomis and Pterygodermatites dipodomis, occurred frequently enough to allow for statistical analysis. We found an effect of the interaction between urbanization level and infection status on body condition in kangaroo rats infected with P. dipodomis, but not with M. dipodomis. Wildland animals infected with P. dipodomis had lower body condition scores than infected animals in urban areas or uninfected animals in either habitat. This result suggests that living in an urban environment may buffer Merriam’s kangaroo rats from some detrimental impacts of endoparasite infection. Possible mechanisms of this effect may be increased availability of anthropogenic resources, alterations to intermediate host abundance, or behavioral differences between populations.
32 Recording Ultrasonic and Infrasonic Southern Flying Squirrel Responses
Katherine A. Rexroad; Brandon J. Enck; Sara L. Fischer
Animals use many forms of communication. It is an important part of their behavior. Communication in the form of audible and ultrasonic calling is common for many rodent species. Ultrasonic and infrasonic calling has been documented in southern flying squirrels (Glaucomys volans) in a lab setting, but attempts to record this activity in nature are elusive. In addition, the potential stimuli (conspecific vs. predator) eliciting a response is still unclear. There is evidence to suspect they use infrasonic calls as a predator avoidance technique because owls are one of their main predators and owls cannot hear below 12 kHz. In this study, we aimed to test whether southern flying squirrels would respond more ultrasonically or infrasonically to either calls of other southern flying squirrels or to owl calls. We hypothesize southern flying squirrels will call more infrasonically and ultrasonically to owl calls than to calls of southern flying squirrels. We selected Schmeekle Reserve in Stevens Point, WI as our study area because a known population of southern flying squirrels use established nest boxes here. We randomly selected three squirrel boxes and used an ICOtec electric game call to play either a squirrel call or an owl call 1-2 nights per week from late February through early April 2017. We played a call underneath a box and recorded two minutes using a Wildlife Acoustics Song Meter. After two minutes of rest, we played the same call again and recorded for another three minutes. To analyze the data we will use two separate (ultra- vs infrasonically) two-tailed t-test to compare response rates between squirrel and owl calls. We also intend to examine potential effects of environmental co-variates such as temperature. The study is ongoing, but we hope to gain more insight into what stimulates southern flying squirrels to call ultra- and infrasonically.
33 Ticks and Tick-Borne Pathogens in the Southeastern United States
Madeleine A. Pfaff; Michael J. Yabsley; Joseph L. Corn
Due to the medical and veterinary importance of ticks in the southeastern United States, active surveillance for ticks and their associated pathogens can be an important tool for assessing distribution and life history traits of ticks. Tick species distribution varies between regions and habitats. The main objective of this project is to determine the phenology and potential suitable habitats for southeastern tick species. Sites in four physiographic regions (Mountain, Lower Coastal, Upper Coastal and Piedmont) were identified as potential tick habitat, and three replicated habitats were selected within each region. Data collection was conducted once during each season beginning in July 2015. Ticks were collected using a drag cloth method and then identified to species and life stage, which will provide information about life history of these ticks in the southeast. Seasonal habitat, climate and microclimate data were also collected at each site. These data will contribute to knowledge of tick species distribution in the southeast and describe habitat variables that are most likely related to habitat suitability for each tick species. Finally, ticks will be tested for pathogens of medical and veterinary importance after the final data collection period in May 2017. The goal of the study is to provide information that can be used in models for a wider application in predicting tick distribution and habitat in the southeast.
34 ASK Yourself Where You Best Fit on the Wildlifehealth Team – Identification of Key Attitudes, Skills, and Knowledge Forupcoming Wildlife Health Professionals
Julie Wittrock; Tricia Fry; Michele Anholt; Colleen Duncan; Adam Herring; Craig Stephen
Wildlife health problems are complex, requiring management strategies that are cumulative and multi-factorial in nature, crossing disciplines, ecosystems, and social dynamics. Wildlife health workers able to adapt systems-based approaches need a diverse skillset in order to address the complex issues of today and the uncertainty of the future. Other disciplines are investigating and implementing systems-based approaches for complicated contemporary problems; however, these have not been identified for wildlife health. Our objective was to identify the attitudes, skills, and knowledge (ASK) that would benefit a socio-ecological approach to wildlife health. We undertook a series of literature-based discussions amongst a group of graduate students, young professionals, faculty, and contractors involved in wildlife health (n=12). This step helped to identify the types of problems wildlife health can anticipate facing in the near future and guiding principles of a socio-ecologic approach. Subsequent discussions reviewed core competency frameworks for disciplines with similar guiding principles. Each member of the group submitted a list of the ASK they identified as addressing the guiding principles and problems. A sub-group (n=6) conducted a thematic analysis on these ASKs and cross-refenced it with common themes found from other disciplines. Foundational ASKs deemed critical for application of a socio-ecological approach to wildlife health were: (i) disciplinary excellence (to be knowledgeable and skilled in your specialty), (ii) capable of building trusting relationships, (iii) capable of systems thinking, (iv) an inclination towards adaptive management, and (v) a knowledge-to-action mentality.
35 An Investigation into the Health of Polar Bears in the Southern Beaufort Sea
Tricia L. Fry; Todd Atwood; Colleen Duncan; Kelly Patyk; Tony Goldberg
Wildlife health is often assessed by looking for evidence of exposure to disease-causing agents or contaminants in individuals and extrapolating inferred effects to populations; however, there is a growing need to complement this “bottom-up” approach with “top-down” assessments that examine populations as a whole. A population-level approach requires a holistic definition of health that encompasses multiple factors related to physiology, ecology, and the environment, emphasizing interactions between individuals and the physical environment. It has been well documented that polar bear (Ursus maritimus) populations in the southern Beaufort Sea (SB) have been declining with declines being linked to the loss of sea ice habitat due to climate change, but until now, there has been limited investigations into changes in the health of the population. Our goal is to develop an evidence-based health-monitoring program for the SB polar bear population that utilizes health metrics that reflect the potential cumulative effects of past, present, and future stressors. We will review the validity of diagnostic assays available to identify pathological, biochemical, nutritional, toxicological, and environmental hazards. Using data collected over the last 50 years to present, we will determine reference intervals and validate diagnostic methods using archived samples. Additionally, we will investigate known and novel pathogens using next generation DNA sequencing to identify infectious agents that co-varied with polar bear population declines. Upon development of the health assessment panel, we will investigate how health might change with altered environmental and anthropogenic change; thus, allowing us to develop a model that considers how changes in climate, habitat, infection, contaminants, nutrition and physiology impact SB polar bears at individual and population levels. This work will result in recommendations for improved monitoring of population health as identified in the U.S. Polar Bear Conservation Management Plan.
36 Abundance, Activity Patterns, and Interactions Among Ocelots, Bobcats, Cattle, Nilgai, Feral Hog, and Javelinas
Shelby B. Carter; Michael E. Tewes; Jason V. Lombardi; Justin P. Wied; John P. Leonard; Alfonso Ortega-Sanchez; Tyler A. Campbell
In southern Texas, ocelots (Leopardus pardalis albescens) occur in two small breeding populations on private and public lands in Willacy and Cameron counties. East El Sauz Ranch of the East Foundation, in Willacy County, has the largest known population of ocelots in the United States. Research on ocelot interactions with other carnivores and prey species have been previously studied across their geographic range; however, interactions with cattle and game species on private lands has not been examined. This study analyzes photographic data from 2011-2017 to examine differences in abundance, activity patterns and interactions among ocelot, bobcat (Lynx rufus), cattle, and three game species, nilgai (Boselaphus tragocamelus), feral hogs (Sus scrofa), and javelina (Pecari tajacu). We will focus on use of trails and occurrence within dense thornshrub by the target species. Patterns have shown that the two smaller game species, hog and javelina, have greater overlap of activity. These species used areas that were secluded and isolated, similar to behavior observed by ocelots. Nilgai occurrence was not related to ocelot movement or activity. Information derived from this study will assist management of cattle, game species, bobcat and ocelot coexistence. Furthermore, these results will benefit future ocelot recovery and conservation on private lands in southern Texas.
37 The Structural Complexity Index: A Nonparametric Descriptor of Habitat Heterogeneity for Wildlife Research and Management
Larkin A. Powell; Maggi Sliwinski; Walter Schacht; Edward J. Raynor
Habitat heterogeneity is considered to be the basis for biodiversity and a management goal in grasslands. However, our measures of habitat heterogeneity have not been satisfactory and are not easily interpreted. More critically, current measures may not represent the biological aspects of heterogeneity that are important to wildlife. We present a new metric to be used to depict structural heterogeneity: the Structural Complexity Index (SCI). We assessed the efficacy of the SCI with the use of visual obstruction reading (VOR) measures from 11 ranches during May 2014 in the Nebraska Sandhills. Our objectives were to compare levels of pasture-level heterogeneity among ranches, and to compare the SCI with other potential metrics of structural heterogeneity. To calculate the SCI for a habitat unit, we binned of sample of VOR measures into 14 3-cm groups (0-3, 3.1-6, 6.1-9, ⋯, 39.1-42 cm). Heterogeneity was measured as the sum of the absolute differences of the number of samples (ni) between neighboring bins (n2n1, n3n2, ⋯, n14n13), divided by the total number of samples. Mean VOR at each ranch ranged from 2.1 to 8.5 cm, and SCI scores for each ranch ranged from 0.31 to 0.72. The graphic depiction of the binned data was immediately useful to visually compare central tendencies and variation of VOR among the ranches. The SCI and the SD of measures for each ranch were negatively correlated (Pearson’s R = -0.706, P = 0.02), indicating that the SCI provided similar, yet unique, information to the SD. Neither SD nor SCI were correlated with CV. We suggest that the nonparametric SCI is a direct measure of variability of habitat structure while also offering an advantage to visualization of patterns of heterogeneity at study sites.
38 Simultaneous Estimation of Individual and Population Level Resource Selection Coefficients And Home Range Size Using Random-Effects Poisson Process Models
Daniel A. Crawford; Richard B. Chandler; Michael J. Cherry; Elina P. Garrison; Brian D. Kelly; L. Mike Conner; Karl V. Miller
The ‘pseudo-absence problem’ associated with resource selection analysis using presence-only data warrants development of analytical methodologies which appropriately characterize available resources. This problem is symptomatic of presence-only data as observations represent used space, yet there remains difficulty in determining availability. Employment of Bayesian inference and hierarchical point process models for resource selection considers availability in terms of quadrature points thus allowing deterministic selection of available units. We expand on this approach and propose a distance-based, random-effects Poisson process methodology that simultaneously estimates home range size as well as individual and population-level selection coefficients. Inclusion of distance to home range center as a covariate characterizes availability based on individual mobility and facilitates estimation of selection coefficients without prior home range delineation. Subsequently, individual selection coefficients of various habitat types and features are used to estimate a utilization distribution which mechanistically characterizes probability of use. We demonstrate the utility of our approach by assessing sex-specific resource selection of 154 white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) using GPS-telemetry data collected from 01 February 2015 through 31 January 2017 in the Big Cypress Basin of southwestern Florida. Spatial covariates included distance to cypress, hardwood hammock, flatwoods, marsh, and prairie habitat types as well as distance to edges and roads. While population level inference reveals minimal differences in selection by the sexes, individual variation in selection within the sexes and across biological seasons was significant, and male 90% home range and 50 % core area sizes were greater than female across all seasons. We conclude that simultaneous estimation of home range and resource selection at both individual and population levels using distance-based random-effects Poisson process models efficiently provides comprehensive insight into sources of variation in selection and home range size among and within demographic groups while effectively mitigating the ‘pseudo-absence problem’ and allowing for population level inference.
39 The NASA Applied Sciences Program Transitioning Research to Applications: Case Studies Focused on Terrestrial and Aquatic Wildlife
Maury Estes; Jay Skiles; Cindy Schmidt; Woody Turner
The NASA Applied Sciences Program (ASP) was established to apply research findings to help solve real-world problems by working with stakeholders in government, non-profit organizations and industry. The ASP seeks to facilitate the use of remotely sensed data products, models, citizen science data and other resources to develop tools that can benefit decision support systems and be sustained post grant funding. The ASP has four thematic areas: water resources, ecological forecasting, health and air quality, and disasters plus crosscutting projects in related areas. Our objectives are to increase awareness of the NASA ASP and to provide updates on cutting edge research funded by the Ecological Forecasting Program. Recent research results and their application to management decisions for salmonids, waterfowl and elk will be presented, including the following: (1) Working with Trout Unlimited and other partners, University of Georgia scientists are using new modeling approaches and high resolution environmental datasets coupled with NASA imagery to estimate population viability, genetic diversity and other population characteristics of salmonid species in the western U.S. The modeling system is used to evaluate proposed management scenarios to inform conservation planning decision support systems. (2) Working with the California Nature Conservancy, scientists at Cornell University are studying the effect of keeping rice fields in the North American Flyway submerged for weeks before and weeks after the normal rice growing seasons. This provides migrating waterfowl with resting habitat in route to winter and summer breeding areas during times of drought in California. (3) The University of Wisconsin is integrating images from camera traps, satellite remote sensing and citizen science activities to improve population modeling for large mammals in Wisconsin. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has used this information for increased understanding about introduced-elk populations.
41 Prevalence of Batrachochytrium Dendrobatidis in Two Sympatric Tree Frog Species, Hyla Cinerea and Hyla Versicolor
Andrea Villamizar-Gomez; Thanchira Suriyamonkol; Kaitlyn N. Forks; William E. Grant; Hsiao-Hsuan Wang; Michael R.J. Forstner; Ivana Mali
Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis in two sympatric treefrogs, Hyla cinerea and Hyla versicolor in North America. This study sought to assess the prevalence of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) in Hyla cinerea and Hyla versicolor within a system of ponds in central Texas, and to provide a thorough literature review evaluating the spread of Bd in both species throughout the US. We used tissue samples collected from an ongoing amphibian assessment in Bastrop County, Texas. This study shows that Hyla cinerea regularly tested negative for Bd (n = 123) in Texas, which is consistent with previous studies done in Texas. In the same bodies of water, we detected Bd in Hyla versicolor despite a much smaller sample size (N = 27). Our literature review demonstrated that the prevalence of Bd in Hyla cinerea has been assessed in 7 states within their range with no positive samples detected up to date. Prevalence of Bd in Hyla versicolor has been assessed in 12 states within their range. Bd was detected in 3 of the 12 states that were sampled. Our study provides an updated assessment for the prevalence of Bd among Hyla versicolor but extends the results to include our own confirmation of zero prevalence in a sympatric frog, Hyla cinerea.
42 Public Trust Thinking: Comparing Public Ownership of Wildlife in Italy and the United States
Darragh Hare; Stefano Giacomelli; Michael Gibbert; Bernd Blossey
The public trust doctrine (PTD) is a common-law framework for managing natural resources, including wildlife, in which government acts as a trustee on behalf of all current and future members of the public. PTD provides the legal foundation for public wildlife management in the United States (U.S.). Public trust thinking (PTT), the philosophical underpinning for PTD, treats certain natural resources as an intergenerational inheritance, managed in the interests of all members of the public, and available for current use without jeopardizing availability to future generations. PTT’s central tenets can be discerned in environmental law and policy around the world and in a variety of cultural traditions throughout history. Nevertheless, there has been little focused attention to whether and how they inspire wildlife management in any European country. We ask whether PTT applies in Italy, which has a civil-law system in which laws are derived from statutes and legislation. We compare Italian and U.S. public wildlife conservation systems (laws, court decisions, governance structures, and management practices) and find that, despite different governance structures and legal histories, the principles of PTT public wildlife conservation in both countries. Even without the specific legal concepts of a ‘public trust’, public wildlife conservation in Italy shares fundamental aspirations with public wildlife conservation in the U.S.: rejection of exclusive private ownership, consideration of all public interests including those of future generations, public participation in wildlife decisions, and public accountability. Similar obstacles to meeting these aspirations also apply in both countries: consumptive interests have come to dominate wildlife policy, and division of wildlife responsibilities among public agencies and across levels of governance is unclear.
44 Population Dynamics of a Recolonizing American Black Bear Population Under Hunting Pressures in Southeastern Oklahoma
Erica Perez; W. Sue Fairbanks; Morgan Pfander
Since their extirpation from Oklahoma in the early 1900s, and subsequent reintroduction in the 1950s in Arkansas, black bears (Ursus americanus) have successfully recolonized portions of eastern Oklahoma. After preliminary demographic studies were conducted in 2001 and 2007, a hunting season was implemented in 2009 in four southeastern counties. To examine the effects of hunting pressures on the population and how their expansion has progressed throughout the four hunted counties, a reassessment of the demographics was implemented in 2014. From May to August 2014-2016, snares were placed along established trap lines in both core and expanded study areas encompassing 3 of the 4 hunted counties. Over a period of 3,128 trap nights, 150 individuals (77M, 73F) were handled 241 times. While the median age of individuals in the core and expanded areas did not differ significantly, males and females differed significantly at 3 and 5 years, respectively. Using satellite data from 40 individuals (12M, 28F) average home range size for males and females was 550.8 ± 326.2 km2 and 49.6 ± 16.2 km2 respectively. For the 2017 denning season, we observed 8 females with cubs resulting in an average litter size of 2.25 ± 0.49 individuals. In the three years trapping efforts have coincided with the hunting season, 27 tagged bears, 6 of which were collared, have been harvested with an average annual harvest rate of 7.8 ± 2.7%. The age structure of the harvested population is significantly different from the captured individuals (p=0.0001) with more individuals in younger age classes in the harvested population. We will continue to monitor vital rates such as survival and fecundity in order to estimate the population growth rate, although preliminary results indicate this population is demonstrating characteristics similar to other hunted, well-established black bear populations. We will continue trapping efforts in May-August 2017.
46 A Closer Look at Modeling Vertebrate Richness Using Local Habitat Heterogeneity: A Multi-Scale Approach for Multiple Taxa
William J. Cooper
Vertebrate species richness patterns are a product of both local and regional processes. They have been associated with environmental heterogeneity gradients such as climate and vegetation at scales as fine as 1 km2. However, recent reviews show a lack of studies investigating the effect of these heterogeneity measures on multiple taxa at multiple scales, especially local scales (< 1 km2). My research investigates how vertebrate species richness is affected by the interaction of local productivity and vegetation structure by using acoustic and camera monitoring, fine resolution remote sensing data and novel statistical techniques. The study sites for this project are located on three different properties in Northwestern Virginia in the Shenandoah Valley. Local scale species richness data were collected from acoustic recording units and camera traps for mammals, birds, and amphibians. Fine resolution LiDAR and hyperspectral imagery data assessed habitat heterogeneity and productivity at multiple spatial scales including 5-meter, 25-meter, 50-meter, 125-meter, and 250-meter radiuses. A Bayesian multiple species occupancy model will be used to estimate species richness and the effect that covariates such as vertical habitat structure, vegetation health, canopy height, and biomass have on the species richness of each surveyed vertebrate taxa. It is predicted that each taxon will respond more strongly to measurements at a specific scale and that these covariates will have strong influences on species richness that are different for each taxon. The results of this study will shed light on how different vertebrate taxa respond to conditions in their local habitats and allow management to better inform their own practices and help protect animal populations and biodiversity at local sites that are at a reasonable scale for conservation management.
47 Reducing Bat Fatalities at Wind Facilities Through Smart Curtailment
Lauren A. Hooton; Crissy Sutter; John Goodrich-Mahoney; Sue Schumacher
We conducted a study at a wind facility near Fond du Lac, Wisconsin to determine if using real-time measures of bat exposure (activity at the nacelle) and weather to initiate curtailment (smart curtailment) could reduce bat fatalities and increase operational time compared to standard curtailment strategies. During the 2015 fall migratory season, ten turbines operated normally and ten turbines operated under a model that curtailed turbines in response to real-time bat exposure and weather conditions. The 20 turbines in the study were searched daily for bat carcasses. The model-operated turbines showed an 83% reduction in overall bat fatalities and a 90% reduction in Myotis lucifugus fatalities as compared to the normally operating turbines. The number of curtailed hours was slightly less (9%) under the model scenario than a 5.5 m/s cut-in speed scenario but was substantially less (35%) than if a 6.9 m/s cut-in speed had been employed. The results of the study also showed a strong correlation between bat activity and mortality, validating the use of activity data to inform mitigation. This is the first curtailment study to demonstrate a reduction in fatalities of any Myotis species. The successful implementation of this technology would allow wind energy facilities to maximize bat conservation while minimizing loss of energy and revenue. Replication of this approach at other wind energy facilities is being pursued to assess the robustness of this approach across a wide range of species and facilities.
48 Improving Line Transect Distance Sampling for Estimating Gopher Tortoise Populations
Heather E. Gaya; Lora L. Smith; Clinton Moore
The gopher tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus) is considered a keystone species in upland scrub and longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) habitats of the southeastern United States. The species is listed as threatened in the western part of its range and is currently being considered for federal listing throughout the remainder of its range. Gopher tortoise surveys use a standard line-transect distance sampling (LTDS) protocol to find tortoise burrows and estimate populations in a given area. However, LTDS has two known challenges. Juvenile burrows are frequently overlooked, leading to systematic underestimation of juvenile populations. Second, variation in vegetation leads to difficulty detecting burrows of all sizes, reducing precision of all demographic estimates. The goal of this project is to overcome these two challenges through a juvenile-focused searching protocol and systematic vegetation measurements along the transect. We will test the effectiveness of adding an intensive search area around subsamples of found burrows and assess the impact of vegetation on detection. We will compare the density and size-demography of burrows found using the standard LTDS methodology to burrows found with our juvenile-focused protocol. Vegetation measurements will be used to model the relationship between burrow detection and vegetation obstruction, and then integrated into our density estimates. Preliminary evidence suggests that the addition of intensive searching areas successfully increases juvenile detection and leads to improved density estimates. However, efficacy of the protocol may vary with tortoise density at the site. We hope this study will improve our ability to produce reliable population estimates and make informed decisions about management and conservation practices throughout the gopher tortoise’s native range.
49 Carnivore Communities Structure and Activity Patterns in a Restored Tall Grass Prairie
Jena Staggs; Abby Williams; Matthew Gompper
Mammalian carnivores are known to mediate important top-down effects on ecosystem structure and function. In remnant grassland ecosystems, how the carnivore community is influenced by habitat restoration is poorly understood. We have undertaken a study at Prairie Forks Conservation Area in central Missouri to discern the use of restored prairie, focusing on differential habitat use and activity patterns. PFCA contains grassland habitats of varying age as well as some interspersed forest habitat. A camera trapping survey commenced in late 2016 at PFCA, with the objectives of (1) assessing whether carnivore species vary in their use of different age habitats, and (2) where this use is reflected in their activity patterns when in these same habitats. Camera traps were randomly placed in different habitat types and photographic images (over 100,000 to date) identified to species. To date we have identified the presence of 9 species (all 9 in grassland and 5 also found in forested habitats). Asymptotic curve analyses suggest most species have now been identified. Analyses of the relative likelihood of detecting these species in grassland and forested habitats is ongoing, as is analysis of activity patterns of each species.
51 Analysis of Allelic Variation in Prion Protein Gene of Texas Mule Deer
Gael A. Sanchez; Randall DeYoung; Damon Williford; David Hewitt; Timothy Fulbright; Humberto Perotto-Baldivieso; Louis Harveson; Shawn Gray
Subject Category: Wildlife Disease and Toxicology Abstract: Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) was discovered in North American cervids in 1981 and has become a major management concern in recent decades. Chronic wasting disease was detected in Texas mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) in 2012, most likely spread to Texas from New Mexico via natural movements of mule deer in the Hueco Mountains. Management has focused on containment of the disease as the most realistic and economically viable option. There is no cure or evidence of resistance to CWD, but mutations in the prion protein gene (PrP) affect susceptibility, incubation time, and the ability to detect the disease. We amplified and sequenced the PrP gene from tissue samples collected at CWD check stations in the Trans-Pecos and Panhandle regions of Texas during 2012-2015. We observed both synonymous and nonsynonymous mutations in the PrP gene, including several not previously reported in cervids. Six deer phenotypically identified as mule deer had nucleotide substitutions at codon 96, mutations originally identified in the white-tailed deer (O. virginianus) PrP gene. Two mule deer had mutations at codon 225, resulting in an amino acid substitution associated with CWD prevalence and progression in Colorado and Wyoming populations. Our preliminary results reveal a diverse set of PrnP alleles in Texas mule deer, due to past hybridization and backcrossing with white-tailed deer, as well as novel nonsynonymous mutations, with unknown significance. Genetic variation in the PrP gene has implications for detection of CWD and future management decisions throughout the state aimed at controlling the spread of the disease.
52 Feasibility of Remote Mark-Recapture Methods on Fisher in Clarion County, Pennsylvania
Laken S. Ganoe; Carol Bocetti; Jeff Larkin; W. D. Walter
The fisher (Pekania pennanti), a member of the weasel family, was reintroduced into Pennsylvania between the years of 1994 and 1998 due to extirpation in the early 1900’s. Since then, the Pennsylvania fisher population has taken hold and is growing significantly. Original population estimates involved sightings by Wildlife Conservation Officers, accidental captures by trappers, and telemetry techniques. This study was designed to test the feasibility of using remote mark-recapture methods of hair snares on fishers to estimate population size. Hair snares are much less expensive and less invasive than traditional capture techniques. Using microsatellites from samples retrieved from hair snares, individuals will be identified genetically.  Repeated sampling of individuals will then allow mark-recapture methods to be used to estimate population size. The study will be completed at two State Game Lands in Clarion County to test the feasibility of this technique with hopes of applying it statewide in the future. It is important to estimate the population of fishers in Pennsylvania accurately for management purposes and use by the Pennsylvania Game Commission to create bag limits for the species during the trapping season. 
53 Twenty Years of the Modern Vaginal Implant Transmitter Then and Now
Justin R. Dion; Jacob L. Bowman; Jacob M. Haus; Joseph E. Rogerson
The modern winged Vaginal Implant Transmitter (VIT) was developed 20 years ago by Bowman and Jacobson (1998) to increase retention and eliminate the need for sutures. Recently, ATS developed the Neolink-ITX VIT which allows communication with the GPS collar and notifies researchers of a birth event via iridium satellite network. Two signals are sent via email with each birth; the first when the VIT temperature drops below 32.8 degrees Celsius and the second when the collar moves more than 6 ft. from VIT. In 2016, we deployed 20 Neolink VITs and compared effectiveness to traditional VHF VITs. We had 4 equipment failures, 4 premature expulsions and 2 pre-birth mortalities, leaving us with 10 properly functioning VITs. Neolink systems resulted in substantial reductions of time spent monitoring the VIT signals before birth. We spent ~400 person-hours (48 person days) monitoring 4 VHF VITs. The Neolink systems required less than 1 hour per day of monitoring. We captured 17 fawns from 10 functioning Neolink VITs (1.7 fawns/VIT) with 70% of birth events resulting in twins. During the 2017 adult capture season, we deployed 25 additional Neolink VITs and will be comparing them to our VHF VITs. The Neolink system gives the user the ability to continuously monitor each device in the study at the same time, eliminating the need for rotational monitoring and reducing time from birth event to search initiation. The use of Neolink VITs allows projects examining neonate fawn survival to increase sample size while reducing monitoring effort and labor costs.
54 Characterizing Intertidal Flat Habitat in Northern Brazil
Daniel Merchant; Richard G. Lathrop; Larry Niles
Nearshore intertidal flats are dynamic and ever changing ecosystems that supports an exceptional abundance and diversity of life. A number of forces can change the physical features of the intertidal zone over relatively short time periods, including longshore currents, and storm surge. These features, such as sandbars and mudflats, host invertebrates which subsequently provide the food source for wading shorebirds when exposed at low tide. Modeling and mapping this temporally dynamic ecosystem is an essential step to evaluating landscape-scale dynamics of the species that use the ecosystem, as well as any conservation planning methods enacted to protect those species. A pixel based remote sensing approach using Landsat 8 imagery was developed for the northern Brazil along the coast of states of Pará and Maranhão. Normalized Difference Water Index in conjunction with unsupervised classification was used to map intertidal flat habitat types. Patch and landscape scale features were also mapped and characterized for incorporation into species distribution models. Approximately 4,100,000 hectares of intertidal flat habitat was delineated along the Pará-Maranhão coast. 75,000 hectares fell within the 12 federal extractive reserves, representing 14% of the area within those extractive reserves. Over 28400 distinct patches were identified, ranging in size from 24 to 0.27 hectares. The methods developed were effective at characterizing the intertidal flat habitat composition, which will be used to further evaluate both the suitability of the habitat for overwintering migratory shorebirds and the gaps between existing management strategies and shorebird habitat.
55 Burrowing Arthropods as Bio-Indicators in Sustainable Forest Management
Dacotah B. Ateah
Objectives: To determine the significance of sustainable forest management and the effect of healthy root systems in burrowing arthropod abundance within the given study area. It is assumed that the presence of undamaged root systems due to harvesting will have a higher species abundance. Arthropod species of significance yet to be determined. Methods: Coordinates generated through a random number generator, simple random sampling method, use of burrow cams, location of burrows, pitfall traps Principal Results: Amount of species located (trapped), amount of burrows detected, statistical analysis conducted in percentages of species abundance, occurrence, and number of species present Conclusion: To prove or disprove initial hypothesis of species abundance being higher in non-harvested areas as opposed to harvested (damaged root systems) study areas
56 Lead and Mercury Prevalence in Bald Eagles in the Mid-Atlantic United States
Andreas Eleftheriou; Lisa Murphy; Sallie Welte
Environmental contamination with heavy metals remains a critical health problem. In particular, lead and mercury may affect avian health. Predatory birds (e.g. bald eagles) become exposed to these metals through their diets. In the mid-Atlantic United States, studies found a decreasing trend in lead contamination but no trend for mercury. Chesapeake Bay was found to have higher mercury contamination than Delaware and Barnegat Bays, but similar lead contamination. We evaluated lead and mercury prevalence in bald eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) from Delaware, New Jersey, and Maryland, across time (2004 -2013) and space (county). Blood samples from birds presenting at the Tristate Bird Rescue and Research Inc., in Delaware, were analyzed for blood lead levels (BLL) and blood mercury levels (BML) using atomic absorption spectrometry at PADLS Toxicology Laboratory. Threshold detection limits for lead and mercury were reported as 0.05ppm, and 0.3ppm, respectively. We categorized BLL > 0.6ppm, and BML > 1ppm, as clinically significant. Wilcoxon score tests for censored data were used to detect trends in BLL and BML prevalence over time. Counties of origin for birds with clinically significant BLL and BML were identified. There were no significant trends in lead and mercury prevalence over time. We found that bald eagles with clinically significant BLL originated from counties near Chesapeake and Delaware Bays, whereas most bald eagles with clinically significant BML originated from counties near Delaware, and Barnegat Bays. Our findings suggest that lead and mercury contamination in the environment continues to persist in the mid-Atlantic United States. By routinely monitoring bald eagles for these contaminants, we can ensure that they do not negatively impact their populations, while at the same time, gain knowledge of the degree and trend of heavy metal contamination in the environment. The latter is crucial for protecting the health of animals, humans and the environment.
58 The Use of the TRACT Tool to Prioritize and Rank the National Wildlife Refuge System’s Land Acquisitions
Keenan Adams; Ken Fowler; Sean Fields; Kathy Fleming; Brad Andres; Mike Estey; Connie Rose; Julie Reeves; Delissa Padilla; Sarena Selbo; Mindy Rice
Identifying priority landscapes for conservation and management of wildlife is an important application for agencies tasked with acquiring land. Roughly 350 of the 563 national wildlife refuges in the National Wildlife Refuge System (NWRS) of the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) have unprotected lands and/or waters located within their approved land acquisition boundaries. Many of these lands and waters provide important wildlife habitat, and protecting this habitat through land acquisition would help USFWS fulfill its mission to conserve fish, wildlife, and plant species. USFWS recently developed a Strategic Growth Policy for the NWRS. This Policy identifies specific biological criteria that will be used to evaluate and prioritize proposed land acquisitions at existing refuges, as well as evaluating and prioritizing proposed new refuges and refuge expansion proposals. The three priority conservation targets outlined in the policy include recovery of threatened and endangered species, implementing the North American Waterfowl Management Plan (NAWMP) and conserving migratory birds of conservation concern (including landbirds, shorebird, and waterbirds). Our team identified various potential factors and data sources to rank proposed land acquisitions based on these priorities. Team members incorporated the appropriate factors and data sources into separate decision trees for each USFWS priority, to provide a biological, science-based, and transparent process for ranking refuges within proposed NWRS land acquisitions. Collectively, these decision trees and the associated criteria are known as the Targeted Resource Acquisition Comparison Tool, or the TRACT. The TRACT is a decision support tool, not a decision making tool, and thus, the goal of TRACT’s rankings is to provide decision makers with an objective analysis that is grounded in the best available science. As such, TRACT will continue to be developed and refined as new data and information becomes available.
59 Establishing a Reliable Population Survey for Bobcats in the State of Oklahoma
Kalynn Branham; Wendelyn S. Fairbanks
The Oklahoma State University student chapter of The Wildlife Society, the University of Central Oklahoma student chapter of The Wildlife Society, and the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation teamed up to conduct a pilot study on the effectiveness of hair snares to detect bobcat (Lynx rufus) presence for occupancy modeling. Data previously used to monitor trends in Oklahoma’s bobcat population was highly dependent on fur prices. We are working on an occupancy study that will provide information on distribution trends of bobcats in different parts of the state, while taking into account differences in detectability. Because the bobcat is a major furbearer species in Oklahoma, the information resulting over time will be useful for managing the species. In November, we invited experienced trappers to visit our student chapter of The Wildlife Society to train students in setting cubbies designed to collect hair from bobcats. Students and other interested volunteers constructed and set out the cubbies in December/January when students went home for winter break, allowing widespread coverage of the state. Each cubby had 4 .30 caliber gun brushes to collect hair samples. During the spring semester, students performed microscopic identification of hairs extracted from the cubbies. In this study, fifteen counties were sampled. At this point, 84 gun bore brushes have been examined. 52% of those brushes contained 1-141 hairs. Work on identification of hairs is ongoing. Results of hair identification will be presented in the poster, and that, based on successes from the first season, we will expand the area covered in winter 2017-18.
60 High-Resolution GPS Tracking of Hunters and Black-tailed Deer in California
Alex McInturff; Kaitlyn Gaynor; Justin Brashares
Every year, millions of people in the United States become active participants in wildlife communities by hunting deer. While the consequences of hunting on deer population dynamics have been well studied, we know surprisingly little about how hunting shapes patterns of wildlife movement and behavior. Recent developments in GPS technology now allow the collection of very high-resolution movement and activity data that can shed light on these questions. At the 5,300 acre Hopland Research and Extension Center in northern California, I have collected data from 240 hunters with wearing GPS units set at 5-second intervals. In collaboration with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), I have also begun the process of installing GPS collars on 20 legally huntable black-tailed deer (O. hemionus columbianus) bucks, as well as 40 does. Collection of GPS data from both hunters and deer will support three major analyses. First, I will examine whether and how deer alter their behavior and movement during the course of the hunting season. Hunters and wildlife biologists have long suggested that deer respond to – and may even anticipate – hunting seasons by hiding and contracting their ranges. However, a rigorous analysis of how deer alter their behavior, the spatial and temporal extent of these changes, and their attenuation after hunting season will provide important information to biologists and managers. Second, by collecting spatial data on both human predators and prey, I will be able to examine the behavioral responses of deer to hunters in real time at an unprecedented resolution. Finally, the spatial data collected from hunters and their kill sites will support development of a statewide spatial model of hunting pressure that will help CDFW improve the precision and application of its game management strategies.
62 A Comparison of White-tailed Deer Recruitment Rates to Relative Predator Abundance in Maryland
Eric Ness; Jacob Bowman; Brian Eyler
Predation of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) can affect deer density and recruitment rates. Evidence of this effect has been highly variable across the white-tailed deer range. Due to this variability, determining the relationship between predator density and deer demographic rates is valuable for localized management practices. To quantify this relationship, extensive effort is required to monitor individuals and determine the cause of death. Although providing robust information on the predator-prey relationship, this monitoring can be costly and time consuming. Using noninvasive surveys, we investigated if the density of predators is associated with the density and recruitment of deer within our study area of western Maryland. The predator community in the region consists of black bear (Ursus americanus), coyote (Canis latrans), and bobcat (Lynx rufus). Deer density and fawn recruitment were estimated using 6 distance surveys on 50km road transects from August-October 2015 and 2016. Across our 3 study sites, deer density ranged from 7-13 deer/km2 in 2015 and 7-19 deer/km2 in 2016. Fawn recruitment ranged from 0.57-0.59 (fawn/doe) in 2015 and 0.46-0.52 (fawn/doe) in 2016. Predator densities were estimated with package unmarked for program R using a 60 day camera survey from June-August 2015 and 2016. Predator densities of black bear (0.26-0.46 bear/km2), coyote (0.03-0.23 coyote/km2), and bobcat (0.02-0.04 bobcat/km2) did not differ among years. We performed a supplemental camera survey in winter 2016 targeting coyote (0.13-0.41 coyote/km2) and bobcat (0.03-0.13 bobcat/km2). Additionally, we compared fawn recruitment estimates based on harvest data from other counties of the region where predator communities are not well established. This information will allow managers to determine if fawn recruitment differs with changes in predator communities.
63 Efficacy of Timed Vs. Triggered Shots Using Reconyx PC900 Game Cameras
Holly Jones; Mariah Maser; Dr. Rachael E. Urbanek; Colleen Olfenbuttel; Geriann Albers
Reconyx® game cameras are touted by many biologists as one of the best brands to monitor wildlife species and inform management decisions. As part of a larger study, we used Reconyx PC900® cameras in a wildlife survey during August-September 2016 and February-March 2017 in the Coastal Plain Furbearer Management region of North Carolina. We deployed 12 cameras for 2 weeks each at 3 sites in this region: Holly Shelter Game Land, Van Swamp Game Land, and Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge. At each site, we set up 3 cameras 0.8km apart along a random sample of roads in 2 locations and 3 cameras 250m apart in 2 random interior cluster locations. Each camera trap was baited with a fatty-acid scent tablet that was replaced weekly. The cameras took pictures every minute (timed shot) and took a burst of 3 photos when the camera was triggered (triggered shot). We are currently organizing and labeling the 800,000+ photos from 2016 and have noted that animals are often captured in the timed shots but not using the triggered shots. Given that most studies rely on triggered shots, we are now analyzing the pictures to see which photo method captures animals most effectively. The cameras used in this study trigger if an animal walks through at least 2 of the divisions within a specific overlying infrared frame. We are placing this overlay on each of the photos that captured an animal to determine the efficacy of this camera model for different species. By assessing the timed shots, triggered shots, and the overlay, we hope to inform the best uses for Reconyx® cameras in wildlife field methods.
64 Measuring Predator Abundance Using Scent Stations and Trail Cameras in the Rolling Plains of Texas
Bryan D. Bingham; Grady Bergquist; Chris Taborsky; Matthew C. McEwen; C. Brad Dabbert
Investigators in north Florida used scent stations to examine the influence of predator abundance on Northern Bobwhite reproductive success. Their research identified that at a threshold level of ≥ 0.16 nest predators per scent station day, nest and chick predation limit bobwhite population growth in the Red Hills of Florida and Georgia. Similar nest predator effects on nesting are not available for the Rolling Plains of Texas. Our objective was to estimate nest predator abundance in the Rolling Plains of Texas and to measure variability across seasons and among locations. We used scent stations composed of a fatty acid scent tablet centered in 1m2 of bare soil and a trail camera to record predator visitations. One scent station present for 1 day equals 1 station day. Predator abundance is calculated as the total number of predators detected divided by the total number of station days. We measured primary nest predator abundance at scent stations on previously established quail call count points (N = 6) on 26 ranches in the Rolling Plains of Texas during all 4 seasons of the year. Across the ranches surveyed, the primary nest predator index annual average was 0.11, which is below the 0.16 threshold index reported by the Tall Timbers Research Station in Florida. Seasonal averages ranged from 0.16 in the winter to 0.07 in the spring. However, individual ranches had annual averages ranging from 0.02-0.44. Of the 26 ranches surveyed, 5 had annual averages above 0.16. Our data indicate primary nest predator abundances observed in the Rolling Plains of Texas during our study exceed the threshold shown to limit bobwhite population growth in the Rolling Red Hills of Florida and Georgia. Future research will focus on examining if a similar relationship exists in the Rolling Plains of Texas.
65 Efficacy of Sodium Nitrite Based HOGGONE in a Controlled Free Range Setting
John C. Kinsey; Justin A. Foster; Kurt C. VerCauteren; Nathan P. Snow; Simon Humphreys; Linton Staples; Janis K. Bush
Research conducted in a pen setting has identified HOGGONE® as an effective Sodium Nitrite based oral toxicant for feral swine (>90% mortality N=42) and related studies have identified feeder designs as feral swine specific delivery systems, outside of bear habitat. Though feral swine readily consumed the toxicant from open top troughs in pen trials, uncertainty remains as to how consumption and mortality rates will translate to free range populations feeding from species specific delivery systems. Our team is conducting controlled free-range trials in a 121.5-ha pasture permitted by Texas Animal Health Commission as a Certified Holding Facility. The pasture is a recent addition to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s Feral Swine Research Facility located on the Kerr Wildlife Management Area. Three bait stations, consisting of 3 species specific bait boxes each, have been established within the pasture at a density of one bait station for 40.5 ha. Trials will be conducted with known densities of uniquely marked feral swine at 3 different levels (low: 1 sounder, medium: 2 sounders, and high: 3 sounders), and each density will be replicated 4 times over the course of 1 year. Simple computations of proportions of swine in each treatment which succumb to sodium nitrite poisoning will be the metrics of toxicant efficacy. Behavior at feeders will be analyzed through 3 metrics indexed by imagery and video 1) the amount of bait consumed, 2) the amount of time spent feeding, and 3) the number of individuals which open the bait box vs. the number that access the bait. These tests will indicate how delivery methods and mortality rates associated with HOGGONE® in a pen setting translate to a free range setting prior to establishing a research design to be used under an Experimental Use Permit for registration of a pesticide with the EPA.
66 Identifying Resting Locations of Small, Elusive, Forest-Dwelling Carnivores Using GPS Clusters
Katie M. Moriarty; Caylen Cummins; Bruce Hollen
Conservation of wildlife populations on managed landscapes requires the capacity to describe features correlated with individual persistence without bias. Fishers (Pekania pennanti) are forest-dependent carnivores (1-6kg) and select habitat at multiple scales, including the microsite where they rest, den, and forage (4th order selection). We collected fine-scale location data (15 minute interval) intermittently on adult fishers (Oct 2015-Apr 2017, n = 9). We used simple algorithms to identify periods when they were presumed resting (e.g., clusters of locations with minimal movement for >3 hours). From clusters, we spatially buffered an area using mean GPS error, presuming the area encompassed the resting structure (“rest zone”). We tested our assumption by spatially identifying resting structures found using VHF telemetry and by randomly selecting rest zones and deploying remote cameras (n = 12 rest zones with increased probability of use, 3 individuals). We conservatively quantified metrics to describe fisher resting ecology in the Cascade range of southern Oregon. Of the areas with both VHF and GPS telemetry, 42% of rest zones had a VHF identified resting structure within the predicted rest zone. We documented fisher occurrence at 92% of the rest zones using remote cameras. We identified 574 rest zones, 63±24 (mean±SD) per individual and 22.3±6.9 per individual/month. Reuse estimates were 83%, starkly contrasting with prior reported estimations <25%. Approximately 50% of rest zones were used >5 occasions within a month, and 10% were used by >1 fisher. Spatially, nearest neighbor estimates for rest zones were on average 378 meters (maximum distance = 2.8km). We were unable to locate all VHF resting locations with short term GPS deployments (42%), but suspect fairly high accuracy based on camera verification. Our novel application using fine-scale GPS data provided a complementary method to quantify the habits and habitat of an elusive forest carnivore.
67 Management and Monitoring Wildlife and Its Habitat on Melrose Air Force Range
Charles E. Dixon
Management and Monitoring Wildlife and its Habitat on Melrose Air Force Range. CHARLES E. DIXON, PhD, Natural Resources Specialist Cannon AFB. Bld 102, Rm 120, Cannon, AFB 88103, 575-808-1221, Abstract: Melrose Air Force Range (MAFR) is the 71,000 acres training range for Cannon Air Force Base and other Special Forces Units throughout all branches of the US Military. MAFR is primarily a training range but also home to numerous wildlife species and a variety of habitats. Grazing and farming were discontinued in 2012 and fire is currently the primary habitat management tool. Natural resources management is driven but several plans including the Integrated Natural Resources Management Plan, Wildland Fire Management Plan and Fence To Fence Plan that collectively provide the parameters of management. The Integrated Natural Resources Management Plan is prepared with input from New Mexico Department of Game and Fish and the US Fish and Wildlife Service and these agencies sign off on the plan. Monitoring is a major component of the management of MAFR. These monitoring activities are primarily conducted through a contract with TX A&M University but others assist periodically. Plant composition, migratory birds, presence/absence of lesser prairie chicken leking activities, breeding birds, small mammals, large mammals, black-tailed prairie dogs, burrowing owls, golden eagles and other raptors are included in the monitoring activities. Additional monitoring is planned for the future including the effects of frequent fire on MAFR habitats in the absence of livestock.
68 Geospatial Analysis of Wildlife Crimes in West Virginia
Michael Miglore; Hannah Warner; Lauren Stollings; Darren Wood
Conservation officers are tasked with the duty to uphold laws that protect wildlife species as well as humans, which often require officers to put themselves in harm’s way. While officers often face dangerous conditions, they also experience challenges outside of their control which can include budgetary constraints and staffing shortages. Currently in West Virginia, there are approximately 100 Natural Resource Police Officers (WVNRPO) covering all 55 counties within the state. In a state with a mix of rural and urban landscapes, as well as an abundance of wildlife, there are frequent occurrences of wildlife crimes. To maximize officer time and financial resources, a geospatial database is being developed to geo-reference wildlife crime and identify wildlife crime hotspots. Both historical and contemporary events will be analyzed to identify trends, broken down by type of wildlife crime in a particular area. These types of common wildlife crime could include hunting without a license, possession of unchecked or illegal game, possession of illegal wildlife, and hunting on land without permission. Locating historical and contemporary wildlife crime hotspots across a geographic scale will allow for WVNRPOs to better assess the enforcement needs of their county and allow for an easier transition if relocated to a new area. Additionally, this will allow for officers to provide greater assistance in counties outside of their assigned area and also help the agency address staffing needs in counties with high concentrations of wildlife crime. While current sampling and analyses are being concentrated within a single region in West Virginia, the results of this study will provide a framework for similar analysis that can be applied in other regions around the world.
69 Lyme Disease in the Adirondacks: Are Dogs Good Sentinels for Lyme Disease in Essex and Franklin County?
Ashley G. Hodge
Lyme disease (Borrelia burgdorferi) is the most prevalent zoonotic disease in the United States. With an increase of cases every year in new areas, it is crucial that researchers and veterinarians use sentinels, such as dogs, to determine the prevalence of Lyme disease in emerging areas where tick density may be low. Our main objective for this study is to assess human risk of Lyme disease using dogs as sentinels in two counties located in the Northern Adirondack Park in New York. An immunologic assay will be used to determine percent of dogs exposed to Lyme bacteria as well as timing of exposure. A minimum of fifty random blood samples will be collected from a local veterinary office during routine health screenings, and analyzed for Borrelia burgdorferi antibodies. Using GIS, maps will be created to detect new and emerging areas in the counties by comparing tick density data, as well as dot density maps of dogs who tested positive for Lyme disease.
70 Patterns of Infection of American Marten by the Nematode Parasite Soboliphyme Baturini in Interior Alaska
Steven Guerin; Elisa Gagliano; Emma Fries; Mariel L. Campbel; Kerry L. Nicholson; Joe Cook
American marten (Martes americana) are small mustelid carnivores and a commercially important fur-bearer widely distributed in boreal forests of North America. Marten are predators of small mammals and birds, and populations demonstrate regional and historical fluctuations which may be related to variability in prey abundance or other factors such as disease or parasitism. One of the most common parasites of marten is the stomach nematode, Soboliphyme baturini, which reaches high intensities of infection. As part of a larger study investigating marten population health, 300 marten stomachs collected in 2015/16 trapping season throughout Interior Alaska were examined to determine prevalence and intensity of Soboliphyme baturini infection. Infection rate was 38%, with individual infection rates varying significantly across the geographic region. These results will be compared with data on host sex, age, abdominal fat, diet, and reproductive status to understand the influence of Soboliphyme parasitism on American marten.
71 Home on the Range: Terrestrial Ecology of the Endangered Sonoran Tiger Salamander
Colin W. Brocka; John L. Koprowski
Knowledge of ecological and behavioral processes is essential for the conservation of species at risk of extinction. Approximately one third of all amphibians are threatened or endangered, and those with small populations or limited distribution are particularly vulnerable. To develop effective conservation strategies for at-risk amphibians, managers need to understand their ecological requirements. The Sonoran tiger salamander (STS; Ambystoma mavortium stebbinsi) is a federally endangered subspecies endemic to the San Rafael Valley of southeastern Arizona and northern Sonora, Mexico. The STS was listed as endangered in 1997 due to highly restricted distribution, dependence on human-constructed environments, invasive species, genetic swamping by non-native salamanders, and disease. Cattle tanks created by ranchers have taken the place of natural springs in the area, and are now primary breeding sites for salamanders. The terrestrial life stage is the only means of responding to pond drying or die-offs and thus is critical to the maintenance of metapopulation dynamics. However, the ecology of metamorphosed salamanders outside of breeding tanks is virtually unknown. We are using radio-telemetry and habitat measurements to assess STS terrestrial movement patterns, habitat preference, and life history. This project will provide essential data regarding the ecology and terrestrial requirements of the subspecies. This information is important for wildlife managers to develop effective management strategies to conserve the Sonoran tiger salamander and other isolated amphibians.
72 Effects of Environmentally Relevant Mixtures of Major Ions and Coal-Contaminated Sediment on Freshwater Mussels
Garrett S. Rhyne
Effects of environmentally relevant mixtures of major ions and coal-contaminated sediment on freshwater mussels Garrett Rhyne*, Undergraduate student, Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation, Virginia Tech Serena Ciparis, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation, Virginia Tech Abstract The Powell River (Virginia, USA) supports a diverse assemblage of freshwater mussels. This watershed is subject to extensive coal mining activity, and elevated concentrations of major ions have been recorded in the river. We conducted a laboratory study to determine the effects of elevated salinity and coal-contaminated sediment on energy storage and biochemical processes of adult mussels (Lampsilis fasciola). Mussels underwent a 6 – week exposure in a 2 x 2 full factorial design including pond water, simulated Powell River water with environmentally relevant mixtures of major ions, including K+, HCO3+, Mg2+, PO4+, SO42-, and Ca2+, clean sediment, and coal-contaminated sediment from the Powell River . There was no mortality in any treatment. Activities of antioxidant enzymes including glutathione-S-transferase (GST), glutathione peroxidase (GPx), and glutathione reductase (GR) were not significantly different between treatments, but GR activity was significantly different between male and female mussels (p= 0.0092). Energy storage, measured as glycogen in mantle tissue, was found to be different between genders (p= 0.038) and between water treatments (p = 0.014). There was an apparent negative effect of simulated Powell River water on glycogen storage for males only. Elevated major ion concentrations decreased males’ ability to store energy, perhaps due to use of more energy to combat osmotic stress. Females were in a post-gravid reproductive stage, which may have contributed to the observations of differences between female and male mussels. Presenting author: Garrett Rhyne (704) – 608 – 9982
73 Arizona Game and Fish Department International Wildlife Collaborations
Francisco J. Abarca; Cynthia Soria
The Arizona Game and Fish Department has a long-history of binational wildlife collaborations that started more than 30 years ago with native fish and Sonoran pronghorn surveys on both sides of the border. Over the last few years, our partnership with groups in Mexico, particularly with the State of Sonora, has achieved important goals for the management and conservation of wildlife and their habitats. Our successful collaborations with Mexico have allowed us to exchange wildlife genetic material and expand the knowledge of the natural history of species common to the border area. The information collected has assisted the Department and other state and federal agencies in the resource decision-making process and has helped develop an effective management program for those species in both countries. In addition to native fishes and Sonoran pronghorn, the Department has collaborated on the management and recovery of black-tailed prairie dog, Mexican wolf, white-tailed deer, thick-billed parrot, masked bobwhite, cactus ferruginous pygmy owl, Gould’s turkey, waterfowl and shorebirds, desert tortoise, and native frogs. Over the last 21 years, the Department has led an effort in wetland training and capacity building in Mexico with the assistance of wetland scientists and managers from the United States, Canada, and Mexico. In addition, the Department has actively participated in the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies’ International Relations Committee, the Arizona-Mexico Commission, the Border Governors Conference, the North American Commission on Environmental Cooperation, Good Neighbor Environmental Program, Sonoran Joint Venture, Desert Landscape Conservation Cooperative, Convention on Biodiversity, and the Canada/Mexico/U.S. Trilateral Committee for Wildlife and Ecosystem Conservation and Management. These successful binational collaborations have received important recognitions and awards from state and federal agencies from both countries.
74 Using Tablets to Collect Avian Spot Mapping Data
John R. Stanek; Jenna E. Stanek
The practicality and productivity of electronic data entry for wildlife field studies appear to improve annually. Android tablets and iPads are increasingly more powerful, and apps capable of field data collection have increased in availability and capability. While not without risks or weaknesses, the potential advantages of using digital data entry, relative to paper data forms, are substantial and depending on the project may include: the ability to collect additional data with considerable time and cost savings; QA/QC improvements by eliminating the human transfer of data from paper forms to an electronic format; and the ability to upload and sync all collected field data to the project database once an internet connection is established in the field or office. In 2016, we initiated a five-year avian spot mapping project, using a territory mapping method typically conducted by recording observed birds and behaviors on paper maps. Prior to the initial field season, we reviewed several field data collection apps, weighing pros and cons, and choose the ESRI ArcGIS Collector app to record our field data. Here we discuss the pros and cons of tablet based data entry, and our methods and experiences using ESRI’s ArcGIS Collector on android tablets for our spot mapping data collection and analysis.
75 Using Citizen-Science to Inform Urban Canid Management in Madison, WI
Marcus A. Mueller; David Drake; Maximilian L. Allen
Wildlife populations in urban areas present novel scenarios for managers when compared to rural populations, often because of more diverse stakeholders with a wide range of attitudes and opinions regarding urban wildlife. This presents urban wildlife managers with unique challenges, especially when it comes to charismatic wildlife species. Wild urban canids—especially coyotes—have been the subject of increasing interest throughout North America in recent years. We used iNaturalist to collect citizen-generated location data in 2015 and 2016 for red foxes and coyotes in Madison, WI, and concurrently captured, radio-collared, and tracked 9 red foxes and 11 coyotes. We compared iNaturalist to radio-telemetry locations to identify factors that led to a positive relationship between these two inherently different location-data sets. Greatest overlap between iNaturalist and radio-location data for both foxes and coyotes occurred in areas with moderate human development; conversely, there was minimal overlap in natural areas. The overlap betwwen iNaturalist and telemetry locations was comparable for both species, but the underlying mechanism differed by species specific habitat use. Our radio-location data indicated greatest canid activity occurred during nocturnal periods, but most iNaturalist observations were recorded during crepuscular hours. iNaturalist reports appeared to show where humans most often interacted with red foxes and coyotes, rather than their true distribution. Understanding the relationship between citizen-generated reports and local canid distribution may inform how iNaturalist can be used as an urban wildlife management tool, and allow managers to proactively monitor and manage human-wildlife conflict with wild urban canids.
76 Climate Change Implications from an Anuran Annual Cycle Perspective
Cassandra Thompson; Viorel Popescu
Environmental variation during development can have profound, variable effects on an organism’s phenotype, fitness, and physiological attributes. With increasing environmental temperatures and higher frequency of extreme events, ectotherms across the globe are expected to experience thermal ranges and extreme heat events beyond their physiological capacity. Anurans have a dual life cycle, raising the question of whether detrimental environmental conditions experienced in the aquatic (larval) stage are carried over in the terrestrial (juvenile and adult) stage, and whether the negative impacts on growth and survival in the larval stage are exacerbated by changes in temperature and moisture availability in the terrestrial realm. Notably, while many studies have focused on the effects of pool permanency on developmental rates and survival of larval amphibians, few have considered carryover effects into the metamorph life stage, and fewer have assessed carryover effects throughout an entire annual cycle. This study is designed to evaluate the potential effects of pool permanency on two model amphibians, wood frogs (Lithobates sylvaticus), and American toads (Anaxyrus americanus). My specific objectives are: (1) Evaluate the impacts of pond drying periods on larval development and survival; (2) Evaluate fitness carryover effects of pool permanency on locomotor performance (jumping performance and endurance) of juvenile anurans; (3) Evaluate carryover effects of variable pond drying conditions into the terrestrial stage on juvenile growth and survival; (4) Evaluate aquatic and early terrestrial carryover effects on post-overwintering survival and fitness. The biological and physiological insights from this work will help predict amphibian vulnerabilities to climate change of at-risk climate threatened species and inform future conservation strategies.
77 Comparison of Three Techniques for Estimating Population Size of Raccoons on Ruler’s Bar Hassock, New York
Jeanette Rodriguez
Estimating population size is an essential part of many management and conservation decisions. The goal of this study is to compare the effectiveness and cost/sampling effort trade-offs of three techniques: traditional mark-recapture, DNA-based capture-recapture, and wildlife camera traps. Each method has its advantages and disadvantages in regards to invasiveness, cost, type of data obtained, and labor/time required. The model organism for this test, the raccoon (Procyon lotor), is common on the island of Ruler’s Bar Hassock (RBH), in Jamaica Bay, New York. Each technique was conducted over four sessions from 2015-2016. During each session 20-25 of each trap type were placed at different locations across RBH. Traditional mark-recapture involved medium-sized box traps baited with cat food. Captured raccoons were sedated with Telazol and microchipped for future identification. Mark-recapture data will be analyzed using program MARK and DENSITY for calculating population estimates. DNA-based capture-recapture involved collection of hair samples from baited “cubbies”, 5-gallon buckets anchored on their sides with barbed wire strands suspended inside in an inverted ‘V’. During each inspection, all hairs were removed and stored in a labeled envelope with a desiccant to prevent DNA degradation. In the lab DNA will be extracted from samples and amplified using standard PCR techniques and raccoon-specific primers. The results of microsatellite fragment analysis will provide a genetic fingerprint allowing individual identification and estimate population size using MARK. Unbaited wildlife camera traps were attached to vertical objects and facing open ground. Results from camera traps will be used to estimate population size following a model proposed by Rowcliffe et al. (2008), which scales trapping rate linearly with animal density, based on biological variables (average animal group size and speed) and camera parameters. The benefit of this model is that it does not require individuals to have uniquely recognizable markings.
78 Tools of the Trade: Herpetofauna as Models for Conservation
Brian R. Blais; John L. Koprowski
Wildlife conservation and management requires focused, detailed information about a species distribution, demography, and systematics to assist with science-based, informed actions. There are numerous tools that researchers and managers use to gain knowledge about species and communities, including those at-risk. Augmentation of novel techniques can reduce environmental impact and costs for stakeholders and wildlife managers. Diverse taxonomic groups, such as amphibians and reptiles, make excellent models for testing conservation techniques. Herpetofauna are indicators of environmental health, help regulate ecosystem food chains, and are important for human health and medicine. Wide scale declines of herpetofauna are well documented. Roughly 1/3 of all amphibian species are threatened, and adequate knowledge bases do not exist for many other herpetofauna assessments. We use herpetofauna models to outline the efficacy of three novel tools for conservation: conservation genomics, non-invasive radio telemetry, and citizen science. We reveal how conservation genetics and genomics have shed light on a grassland bioindicator species (Smooth Greensnake – Opheodrys vernalis) by identifying phylogeographic structure and population demographics. We found that populations fared better in the mesic, northern portions of the species range, but disjunct populations isolated in dryer, discontinuous areas are contracting, have lower genetic diversity, and are at higher inbreeding risks. All populations are highly differentiated on both latitudinal and longitudinal gradients and managers should focus efforts at the population level rather than continuous distributions. We also show how non-invasive radio telemetry continues to provide insight into the spatial dynamics, behavior, and microhabitat usage from a reintroduction of an enigmatic, threatened species (Narrow-headed Gartersnake – Thamnophis rufipunctatus). The cumulative results can be informative to adaptively managing conservation measures. Finally, we exemplify how citizen science can harvest population dynamic data en masse (Anura). These novel, non-invasive tools are invaluable to researchers and managers, and subsequent data can inform strategic conservation decisions.


Location: Albuquerque Convention Center Date: September 26, 2017 Time: 9:00 am - 5:00 pm