Poster Session – Wednesday

ROOM: Ballroom C

1 Snowshoe Hare in Lower Michigan: the Shifting Range of a Climate-Sensitive Species
Spencer West
Snowshoe hares (Lepus americanus) are herbivorous lagomorphs that typically inhabit thick boreal forests. Available habitat in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula (MLP) is fragmented mixed-deciduous forest, which is functionally different from preferred habitat in core snowshoe hare range. Historically, the majority of research involving snowshoe hares has been concerned with the hare-lynx (Lynx canadensis) predator-prey population cycles. However, Canada lynx were extirpated in MLP in the mid-1900’s, indicating that different factors are affecting snowshoe hares in MLP than the factors recorded in other research. Common problems are found in other southern portions of the snowshoe hare range, resulting in recent northward range shifts. Climate change has also begun to play even more of a role in recent years by altering forest composition, precipitation patterns, and predator ranges. We will be surveying the Manistee National Forest in MLP for snowshoe hares. Using pellet surveys and winter track surveys, we will compare current presence to historic occurrence in order to document any recent range shifts. We will also be using live captures and radio telemetry to monitor hare habitat use in a fragmented forest in the southern portion of the snowshoe hare range. This research will provide information helpful to improved management of snowshoe hare for Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Little River Band of Ottawa Indians Natural Resources Department.
3 Summer Forage Quality Differs for Migrants and Residents in a Partially Migratory Population of Elk
Kristin J. Barker; Michael Mitchell; Kelly M. Proffitt; Jesse DeVoe; Craig Jourdonnais; Philip Ramsey
Partial migration, in which some individuals in a migratory population remain resident on a shared range year-round, is the most common form of migratory behavior in ungulates. In the western United States, elk (Cervus elaphus) that exhibit different migratory behaviors typically occupy different portions of the population range during summer. Although the effect of summer forage quality on fecundity and survival of ungulates is well known, nutritional consequences of differing migratory behaviors remain unclear. Our objective was to determine whether elk that exhibited different migratory behaviors had access to similar forage quality during summer. We sampled vegetation and female elk movements for 2 years, developed a predictive model of summer forage quality, and tested for differences in access to forage for migrants and residents in a partially migratory population of elk in west-central Montana. We found residents had access to higher forage quality than migrants; these nutritional differences have potential to strongly influence elk distributions and affect migratory behaviors. Our results suggest irrigated agricultural land in low elevation areas can be a key driver of differences in nutritional resources across migrant and resident summer ranges of elk.
4 An Ounce of Prevention: Quantifying the Effects of Prevention Measures on Wolf Behavior
Rebecca Much; Stewart Breck; Nathan Lance; Peggy Callahan
Human-carnivore conflict is deeply rooted in history and is presently on the rise as human populations continue to grow and carnivore conservation efforts are successful. The behaviors exhibited by carnivores that cause conflict are often learned, therefore, reducing learning potential though the use of prevention methods is important for coexistence. In this study we measured how prior experience (i.e., conditioning) influenced the motivation and persistence of captive wolves (Canis lupus) seeking a food reward. Our study used bear canisters as a prevention measure to secure food rewards from wolves where conditioned wolves had learned to receive food reward from unsecured canisters prior to the start of our study and unconditioned wolves had not. We measured investigative behaviors (defined as baseline exploratory behaviors directed towards the bear canister) and work behaviors (defined as behaviors that exhibited concerted effort to access bear canister contents) and quantified 1) latency to first behavior (how quickly wolves initiated investigative and work behavior) and 2) duration of behavior (amount of time wolves performed investigative and work behavior). We found no differences between conditioned and unconditioned wolves in the duration of time spent in investigative and work behaviors. We did find conditioned wolves were much quicker to initiate (i.e., latency to first behavior) both investigative and work behaviors, indicating increased motivation to gain reward with prior experience (i.e., learning). We also found that the duration of both investigative and work behaviors declined over the course of three weeks (for both conditioned and unconditioned wolves) indicating decreased persistence with the application of a secure prevention measure. Overall, our results provide behavioral evidence that preventing wolves from learning about anthropogenic food can lessen conflict primarily by reducing the chances that wolves will initiate behavior leading to conflict.
5 Distribution and Habitat Associations of Pacific Fisher, American Marten, and Sierra Nevada Red Fox in the Klamath Network Parks
Marisa Specht; Joan Hagar
We are investigating habitat associations of three mesocarnivore species of special conservation concern: Martes americana, Pekania pennanti, and Vulpes vulpes necator in the Klamath Network Parks. Not much is currently known about their distribution and habitat associations within these parks. Therefore, this study’s goal is to document and explain patterns in their distributions within these parks. This study’s objectives are to: 1) compare habitat characteristics at camera sites where each focal species is and is not detected to assess influence of habitat on both detectability and occupancy probability, and 2) to assess the effect of distance to areas with high human visitation rates on occupancy probability for each species. We surveyed Crater Lake National Park (CRLA) in 2016 using cameras deployed throughout the park to detect animals and derive occupancy estimates for each species. At each camera, we collected 15 habitat variables – ecologically meaningful to each species based on the literature – describing tree and shrub species composition and habitat structure. Each habitat variable was compared between cameras with and without detections. We used a 400m buffer around heavy human-use areas to determine whether cameras were within high or low visitor-use areas to explain the influence of visitor use on both detectability and occupancy for each species. In CRLA, cameras where marten were detected had a greater average percent cover of coarse woody debris (two-sample t- test: 10% greater, p-value=0.0579) and average range of percent shrub cover (two-sample t-test: 20% greater, p-value=0.0074) compared to where they were not detected. 70% of cameras that detected marten were in areas of low visitor-use. The results of this study suggest that percent cover of coarse woody debris, variability in percent shrub cover, and proximity to areas of high human-use may be important factors in estimating marten detectability and occupancy probabilities in CRLA.
6 Understanding the Relative Role of Nutrition and Predation Risk in Regulating Sympatric Ungulate Populations in Southwest Wyoming
Katey Huggler; Matthew M. Hayes; Patrick Burke; Mark Zornes; Dan Thompson; Kevin Spence; Kevin L. Monteith
Large ungulate populations are typically driven by neonate survival as adult survival, pregnancy and fetal rates are typically high and not limiting. In systems where ungulates co-occur with predators, neonate mortality can be largely driven by predation, but identifying cause of death is of little value without understanding the underlying basis of those mortalities. Moreover, predator avoidance by females during parturition is a common phenomenon among ungulates to minimize predation risk to newborns, and typically involves increased use of habitat that provides adequate cover for neonates. Nevertheless, the need to avoid predators likely depends on vulnerability to that predator, and such behavior may conflict with the need for females to acquire adequate forage to meet the high energetic demands of lactation. We aimed to understand the nutritional and behavioral contributions to survival of neonate mule deer and elk, relative to a key predator, the coyote. We expected that mule deer and elk, both of which differ in body size and vulnerability to predation, would respond differently to the presence and risk of predation from coyotes. Specifically, we expected that elk (Cervus elaphus), because of their larger body size and greater mobility, would be less sensitive to predation risk from coyotes (Canis latrans) relative to mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus). Conversely, we expected female mule deer to adjust their habitat use during partition relative to coyote habitat use to reduce predation risk to neonates, especially during the first two weeks post-parturition. Understanding the nutritional and behavioral contributions to neonate survival in sympatric ungulate populations will allow us to understand what tactics benefit one species or another and the relative effects of these factors on ungulate population trajectories.
7 Furthering Population Genetics Study of Interior Alaskan Marten
Elise Stacy; Kris Hundertmark; Kerry Nicholson
Furthering Population Genetics Study of Interior Alaskan Marten Elise StacyKris Hundertmark, Mentor, University of Alaska FairbanksCollaboration with Kerry L. Nicholson, Alaska Department of Fish and Game In this research project we are expanding the number of samples, study regions and number of microsatellite markers previously used to quantify the structure, diversity and overall relatedness of the American marten (Martes americana) in Interior Alaska. Although marten have been widely studied throughout their range in North America, knowledge of its genetic structure in the interior is lacking. Information on the nature of a region’s population structure can lead to more informed management decisions, which is especially important for heavily harvested species like marten. From the previously analyzed results of 120 marten samples, differences in the Minchumina and Central regions were detected but require further investigation for conclusive results. We have now extracted DNA from 240 marten samples from twelve study regions in the Interior, designated from an ongoing study conducted by Alaska Department of Fish and Game. Using additional DNA primers developed for use on American marten and previous results we will gain a more comprehensive view on inter- and intra-region population structure using GeneMapper and STRUCTURE. Due to homogeneity in landscape and habitat in these interior regions it is surprising to see differences between regions and would instead expect high diversity of alleles in all regions.
9 Effects of an Abnormal Hydrologic Event On Space Use, Resource Selection, and Movement of White-tailed Deer in Southern Florida
Heather N. Abernathy; Richard B. Chandler; Elina P. Garrison; Daniel A. Crawford A. Crawford; Brian D. Kelly D. Kelly; Kristin Engerbretsen; David B. Shindle; Karl V. Miller; Mike L. Conner; Michael J. Cherry
Ecological restoration in southern Florida in part aims to restore hydrological conditions that were present prior to anthropogenic modification. However, the restoration of previous hydrological conditions may be competing with other conservation efforts, such as maintaining white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) populations; such populations are an important cultural resource and prey for endangered Florida panthers (Puma concolor coryi). The effects of flooding on deer populations are likely to be greatest when concurrent with fawning because females reduce space-use to a fraction of their home ranges, and movement is restricted by relatively immobile neonates. Maternal investment peaks during early lactation, and selection of and within fawn-rearing areas can influence concealment cover and forage availability, likely limiting fawning success. When flooding occurs during the fawning season, pregnant or lactating females can lose access to available forage and experience crowding in upland habitat, which may reduce forage quantity and quality, and increase predation. The implications of such events likely impact fawn recruitment, depending on the timing, duration and depth of flooding events, and how deer respond behaviorally; however, little is known about how deer respond to such events. Since 2014 we have monitored 263 white-tailed deer via GPS collars in the Big Cypress Basin of Florida, and in 2015 and the study area experienced the largest flooding event on record during the dry season which is concurrent with fawning. Due to such an unpredicted natural occurrence, we had a quasi-experimental and unique opportunity to examine resource selection, movement patterns, and home range size of female deer during a flooded dry season year compared to normal dry season years. Our results will provide decision makers with information regarding how hydrological regimes impact white-tailed deer to support the development of BMPs for water management that influence a wide range of species.
10 Influence of Movement and Resource Use on Reproductive Success of Elk in a Restored Landscape
Sharon E. Smythe; James W. Cain III; Warren C. Conway; Mark A. Peyton; Robert R. Parmenter
Due to historical land use and fire suppression, forests in northern New Mexico are at abnormally high risk for catastrophic wildfires. In response, a coalition of agencies (including the newly established Valles Caldera National Preserve, VALL) under a USDA Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Project (2010-2019) and DOI Resilient Landscapes Program (2015-2024) began restoring 210,000 ha in the Jemez Mountains to the historical fire regime via thinning and prescribed fire. As part of these restoration efforts, responses of all large, wild mammals present on the landscape are being modeled, including Rocky Mountain elk (Cervus canadensis). Since 2012, >100 cow elk have been collared with VHF, store-on-board, or iridium GPS collars and their movements measured relative to their dominant natural competitors (mule deer, Odocoileus hemionus), predators (black bears, Ursus americanus, and cougars, Puma concolor), available forage, topography, and water sources. Mule deer, black bear, and cougar movements are also monitored by store-on-board or iridium GPS collars, while forage availability and quality have been measured across the landscape using 200 vegetation plots sampled annually and seasonally since 2013. Starting in summer 2016, elk calves were captured and tagged to estimate elk reproductive success and calf survival. Initial results suggest coyotes (Canis latrans), bears, and cougars are all notable contributors to calf mortality and that specific calving areas may be associated with greater species-specific predation risk depending on cover characteristics. This research will aid NPS and state agencies as they continue development and management of the VALL calving areas, while contributing to knowledge regarding the influences of landscape restoration on elk reproductive success.
11 Micro- and Macro-Habitat Factors of Ocelot Occupancy
Jason V. Lombardi; Michael E. Tewes; Humberto L. Perotto; Justin P. Wied; John P. Leonard; Jose Mata; Daniel Kunz; Tyler A. Campbell
The ocelot (Leopardus pardalis albescens) is a small endangered subtropical felid found in two small populations in the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas. Degradation and loss of habitat is one of the principal drivers of loss of ocelot genetic diversity in the region. Previous research on ocelot habitat use has indicated ocelots select for dense closed canopy thornshrub (>75%) and will occasionally use more open cover types. However, research is needed to examine if other habitat variables affect initial occupancy, local colonization and local extinction of ocelots. From 2011-2017, we conducted remote camera surveys at 28 sites on the East Foundation’s El Sauz Ranch, Willacy County, TX. Preliminary data from 2011-2016, indicates initial occupancy was positively influenced by low canopy height and lower light intensity, colonization was influenced by thermal cover (e.g., less intense light, lower temperatures, lower wind speed, and lower relative humidity), and localized extinction was influenced by increasing patch density of herbaceous vegetation. This data indicates canopy height, not percentage of canopy cover, is more likely to influence what types of areas ocelots were more likely to occur in 2011-2012. The impact of thermal cover in dense thornshrub suggests that ocelots will seek out these areas when colonizing new areas, as well as for resting, latrine and den sites. As patch density of herbaceous cover increases, there will be lower amounts of preferred habitat for ocelots, which has severely impacted the species over the last thirty years. This research provides information into habitat components most likely to influence where ocelots occur which is essential for future ocelot recovery and habitat restoration in the Lower Rio Grande Valley.
12 Understanding the Maintenance of Partial Migration: A Test of the Fitness Balancing Hypothesis with Mule Deer in South-Central Wyoming
Anna C. Ortega; Matthew Kauffman; Patrick Burke
Intraspecific variation in the extent and timing of migration exists across a broad range of taxa, including the persistence of individuals with a purely resident or short-distance migratory strategy. In the fitness balancing hypothesis (FBH), partial migration is maintained when certain tradeoffs in life-history characteristics (e.g., mortality rate vs. reproductive success) result in equivalent demographic fitness (λ ≥ 1) among migrants and residents. Environmental variability then acts to annually shift the fitness benefits among different migration strategies. The primary objective of my research is to test the fitness balancing hypothesis in a partially migratory herd of mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) that spends the winter in Wyoming’s Red Desert. Three migratory strategies have been observed in the Sublette Mule Deer Herd, including long-distance migration (~150 miles), medium-distance migration (~70 miles), and short-distance migration (<30 miles). The research will include existing movement data from n=60 female mule deer (collared in 2011 and 2012) in conjunction with data from 90 currently collared female mule deer wintering in the Red Desert (2014 to present). To assess individual fitness and population growth rates, I will evaluate and compare fat dynamics (using measures of ingesta-free body fat), as well as birth rates, fawn recruitment, and adult survival among migratory strategies. To evaluate how environmental variability may annually alter the relative benefits of migration, I will assess annual variability in foraging success and demography. I will also build survival models across a 5-year dataset to quantify the direction and strength of environmental variables on demographic rates for each migration strategy. Many migratory species exhibit partial migration; however, the mechanisms driving partial migration have been unclear and understudied. Testing the FBH in mule deer will be an important step in understanding the factors maintaining variability in migration behavior and will aid in future conservation and management efforts.
13 The Effects of Predator Presence on White-tailed Deer Foraging
Joseph Fischer
I am studying the giving-up densities (GUDs) of white-tailed deer Odocoileus virginianus across habitats within the Cleveland Metroparks in Ohio to determine deer habitat preferences. The amount of food a forager leaves behind in a patch is a reliable index of the species’ preference for that habitat. GUDs are used to show preferences by animals for foraging in a habitat based on the cost of foraging in it. A forager should select to forage in a subset of the environment (i.e. a patch) that on average yields higher harvest rates or has more benefits than other patches. The design will mimic the diminishing returns experienced by the deer when they are foraging naturally. This is achieved by using 15 cm lengths of black irrigation tubing as an inedible matrix. The matrix encourages normal foraging behaviors from animals being studied. Once a day the remaining feed in the bins will be collected and weighed. The amount of food remaining in a patch (=GUD) is the density of food remaining when the animal gave up on foraging. If an animal prefers a particular patch, it will consume more of the food in the patch. For example, in patches where there is a higher risk of predation for the deer, they will spend less time foraging and consequently have a higher GUD. The GUDs are measured in 24 bins, arranged in transects across three patches (woodland, ecotone and open field). I will also simulate the effects of predators by placing feces and urine in close proximity to the bins. I will examine the effects of native coyotes and domestic dogs, and non-native mountain lions and bobcats. I will place a measured amount of feed in each of 24 bins daily, and run controls and those with predator signs in separate weeks.
14 Potential Effects of Gas and Oil Development on Mule Deer Survival and Fawn Rearing Resource Selection in North Dakota
Brett Skelly; Chris Rota; John Edwards; Joshua Millspaugh
There has been a decrease in mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) abundance across much of the western United States. In North Dakota, much of the recent gas and oil development has occurred on critical mule deer habitat. Mule deer declines throughout the region are not well understood but have been attributed to low fawn survival, habitat loss and conversion, predation, and adverse weather conditions. The direct and indirect effects of gas and oil development are not well understood but may be playing an important role in mule deer populations. These declines have raised concern for the big game species and sparked investigation behind the forces driving these population trends. The objectives of this study are to (1) evaluate the effects that oil and gas development potentially have on survival probabilities of mule deer in western North Dakota, and (2) evaluate the potential effects that oil and gas development have on fawn rearing resource selection. We are assessing mule deer survival and rearing resource selection by evaluating 268 global positioning system (GPS) radio-collars that were deployed from 2012 to 2016. Survival probabilities are being evaluated using Known-fate models. Survival covariates include proximity to oil and gas development, proportion of actively drilling wells, road density, minimum temperature, instantaneous rate of green-up, and age. Rearing resource selection will be evaluated using discrete choice analysis. The rearing resource covariates include distance to gas and oil development, distance to road, elevation, terrain ruggedness, slope, distance to water resources, and forage availability. Determining the potential effects that gas and oil development have on mule deer survival and rearing resource selection can help inform managers on ways to mitigate potential adverse effect to the herd. We will provide the current state of the survival and rearing resource analysis.
15 Cougars in Utah’s Cache County: Approaching the Beast from Multiple Perspectives
Margaret A. Hallerud; David C. Stoner; Daniel R. MacNulty
The cougar (Puma concolor) is a notoriously difficult study animal due to its elusive behavior, wide-ranging movements, and low density on the landscape. The lack of cougar monitoring efforts is a persistent issue throughout the species range, and Utah is no exception. In fact, the majority of information about cougars in Utah comes solely from human-caused mortality records, which only show broad trends in the population. As a result, the Utah public has recently expressed concern about the state’s management of the species, particularly basing harvest levels on these uncertain measures. Therefore, more accurate means of monitoring would be useful for guiding state management of the species and alleviating public concerns. Using traditional wildlife monitoring methods, researchers have been recruiting the manpower provided by USU undergraduate wildlife students to gain information on the cougar population in Cache County. Fieldwork has focused on targeted and systematic placement of camera-traps to detect and confirm cougar activity. Locations of tracks and other natural sign has also been recorded, including sites where prey is cached. Events of natural predation by cougars have been investigated opportunistically. Demographic and spatial analysis of harvest data is being undertaken, and a framework for recording public encounters is being designed. By using many methods on this small scale, the relative and combined effectiveness for monitoring cougars can be compared, while concurrently gathering information on the local cougar population. Success of such a complex project has hinged on recruiting research partners and volunteers to participate, and this research highlights the benefits and risks of implementing large-scale research via citizen scientists.
16 Integrating Landscape Genetics and Simulations to Guide Restoration of New England Cottontail Populations in a Fragmented Landscape
Melissa L. Bauer; Adrienne I. Kovach; Heidi Holman
Habitat loss and fragmentation from land use change reduce connectivity of wildlife populations. Isolated populations are at greater risk of extinction due to small population sizes and decreased genetic diversity. These issues are germane to the conservation of the New England cottontail (Sylvilagus transitionalis). Loss and fragmentation of shrubland habitat have impeded dispersal within cottontail metapopulations, which historically offset patch extinctions. Today, cottontails persist on isolated shrubland patches surrounded by inhospitable matrix. This study uses landscape genetics and simulations to guide restoration aimed at reconnecting remnant cottontail populations. The objectives are to 1) use landscape genetic tools to a) assess how landscape features such as land cover, roads, and shrub-dominated utility corridors influence gene flow and genetic diversity along a fragmentation gradient in three diverse landscapes, and b) to identify restoration corridors; and 2) use simulation modeling to predict a) the outcomes of habitat restoration scenarios of management interest and b) effects of the release of captive-bred cottontails on population connectivity, genetic diversity, and size. Landscape influences on gene flow are assessed with a resistance surface approach. Geographic cost-distances are related to genetic distances between sampled cottontail individuals identified through fecal pellet surveys. The relative influence of landscape features on dispersal are evaluated using mixed effects models. Models of cottontail gene flow are compared in different study areas across a fragmentation gradient and corridors of low resistance are identified. We predict that barrier landscape features will have more influence on gene flow in more fragmented landscapes and landscapes with lower cottontail densities. Resistance surfaces will be used in conjunction with CDPOP, a simulator of gene flow in complex landscapes, to identify restoration scenarios that will improve metapopulation connectivity and genetic diversity. These efforts will provide managers with information on cottontail dispersal in fragmented landscapes and guide ongoing conservation efforts.
17 The Effects of Mixed-Severity Wildfires on Fisher Population Dynamics
David S. Green; Sean M. Matthews; Laura L. Finley; Roger A. Powell
The combination of many years of fire suppression and global climate change is predicted to increase the frequency and intensity of wildfires in certain parts of the world, especially in the western United States. Large-scale wildfires have the capacity to reduce, fragment, or permanently change habitat, and are a major source of conservation and management concern for forest obligate carnivores. Here we used data collected from a long-term monitoring program to investigate the effects of two naturally-occurring mixed-severity wildfires on a population of fishers (Pekania pennanti) in northern California and southern Oregon. Using genetic data collected non-invasively with hair snares, we applied spatial capture-recapture models to estimate fisher density and distribution for 8 years prior to the wildfires and for 3 years following them. We present the short-term effects of these wildfires on the density of fishers over time and how this variation in density was affected by spatially-explicit fire severity and post-fire salvage logging covariates. Our findings help identify how a species of conservation concern are affected by landscape level ecological disturbances, and can also help to inform fire management decisions in the western United States for forest obligate species.
18 Assessing Changes in Bat Activity in Response to an Acoustic Deterrent – Implications for Decreasing Bat Fatalities at Wind Facilities
Cole T. Lindsey
Although wind power is a renewable energy resource with many environmental benefits, there are increasing concerns about negative impacts to bats. Across North America, large numbers of tree bats, in particular, are killed by wind turbines on an annual basis and the need to develop effective impact mitigation strategies is immediate. One emerging technical solution is to deploy acoustic deterrents on wind turbines to disrupt bat echolocation, thereby preventing bats from entering the rotor swept zone. Together with our research partners, we conducted ground tests of an acoustic deterrent at an operational wind facility in the southern Great Plains, U.S. In 2015 we evaluated bat activity and behavior in response to continuous and pulsed ultrasonic signals emitted from a deterrent device placed 10, 20, and 30 m from paired wind turbines and cattle ponds. In 2016 the surveys included a modified pulsing signal, and we evaluated bat activity and behavior at cattle ponds only. Bat activity was highly variable across survey nights in both years; using video cameras we detected from 0-69 bats in our nightly video surveys, with more bats observed at ponds compared to turbines. Bat activity was lower during the deterrent trials compared to the silent control periods, although the difference was only significant in 2016. We found no difference in bat activity among the continuous and pulsed acoustic signals, suggesting that pulsed signals may be as effective at reducing bat activity as continuous signals. The deterrent also changed bat flight behavior, with bats exhibiting significantly fewer complex foraging flight paths and significantly more simple straight-line flight paths during deterrent tests compared to control periods. Although the observed reduction in effectiveness with distance is a challenge with the current technology, acoustic deterrents show promise as an effective impact mitigation strategy and warrant further research.
19 Evaluation of Home Range, Habitat Selection, and Denning Behavior of Urban Striped Skunks in North Dakota
Anna Schneider; Amy Gilbert; Brett Goodwin; Michael Niedzielski; Jason Boulanger
Few studies have investigated the ecology of urban striped skunks (Mephitis mephitis), particularly in the Northern Great Plains, despite their ability to thrive in these landscapes. Our aim is to obtain baseline ecological information from this important rabies vector to better inform rabies management decisions. We collected data on nightly movements, home ranges, habitat use, and denning behavior. During summer 2016, we captured 86 skunks (59 kits, 15 adults, and 10 adult recaptures) over 2,026 trap nights. We captured the majority (n=72) of skunks within the urban/rural interface; few (n=12) were captured within the urban interior. Of 15 adults (3 male, 12 female) fitted with VHF radio collars, 5 disappeared from the study area and 2 died from vehicle collisions. We monitored movement from the remaining skunks beginning in fall 2016. Using trail cameras, we recorded communal denning at multiple sites during winter 2016. Our intent is to present these data, along with preliminary seasonal and yearly home ranges and habitat selection from 2 field seasons.
20 Ecological Parameters of Black Bear in the Northwest of Cumbres De Monterrey National Park, Nuevo Leon, Mexico.
Mercedes A. Salinas Camarena
Black bear is an important species in the ecosystems where it lives and can be used as key, to understanding the health of those ecosystems. There are no jobs with Ursus americanus eremicus in Cumbres de Monterrey national park (PNCM), hence the need to seek information on ecology of the species, which allow to join efforts to preserve. Aims of study were estimate relative abundance, compared with relative abundance of other carnivores in study area; determinate the habitat use and activity patterns of black bear through systematic sampling by camera traps. Field work was carried out August to December 2013; June – December 2014 and January – July 2015. Information was analyzed from 51 stations, where black bear had a naive occupancy of 30 sites. We obtained 2, 961 independent records of all carnivores, which 241 were black bear, being the second carnivore most abundant. Regarding habitat use, it was found that pine and mixed oak – pine forest, are used more than expected, while oak forest and desert scrub were used lesser than expected by bears (X2= 94.97570617; P= 1.86869E-20; α = 0.05; gL=3). Daily activity patterns showed black bear is mainly crepuscular, while July was the busiest activity month. Keywords: U. americanus eremicus, Cumbres de Monterrey national park, north of Mexico, camera traps, relative abundance, habitat use, activity patterns.
21 Comparative Lynx Density Estimation and Ecological Implications
Darcy Doran-Myers
Reliable density estimates are fundamental for species management and ecological research but can be difficult to obtain. Recent technological and statistical advances have made achieving this objective easier and allowed for improved estimates given a variety of data types. Studies of density estimates of Canada lynx, a species of both ecological interest and conservation concern, have yet to adopt these advances. Noninvasive sampling methods have potential to improve density estimates of lynx and to increase the efficiency, effectiveness, and precision of estimates. Improved knowledge of density is important for lynx management and for ongoing investigations of population dynamics. I am testing noninvasive data collection methods, including DNA hair sampling, remote cameras, and snow tracking alongside live capture and collaring of individuals. I am applying these data to several appropriate statistical analyses aimed at density estimation, including SECR, spatial mark-resight, REM, the FMP formula, and a novel density estimation method for camera data (in development). I am comparing the results and performance of data collection and statistical methods to estimate lynx density and comparing absolute density to current and historical indices of abundance for the same population. In addition, I am exploring numerical responses of predators to prey density by estimating density for another predator (coyote) and prey (snowshoe hare) species. Results from this research will push theoretical population ecology forward, support monitoring efforts of protected lynx populations in the southern range, and provide tools for calculating harvest quotas where lynx are managed for fur trapping.
22 A Study of Social Development in African Painted Dog Pups
Rikki Curto; Victoria L. Jackson
The African painted dog (APD), Lycaon pictus, is currently an endangered species, and populations have continued to decline. This has resulted in various conservation efforts, such as studying pack dynamics. Pack dynamics are widely understood in the wild, but currently there is little knowledge about pack dynamics in captive populations. The primary objectives for this study are: to observe behaviors that designate pack ranking, define those behaviors, and determine the best methodology for assessing the pups and these behaviors. This study strictly focuses on pup interactions; preliminary data collection began when pups were six weeks of age. Focal observations and novel object presentations will occur 3-4 times a week. Focal observations will occur 3 times a week, 10 minutes per pup, use all-occurrence and interval sampling methods. A detailed ethogram will be used and spatial relations will be noted. Novel object presentations will occur once a week, and are video recorded for 60 minutes. Data collection for novel object presentations will be collected about pups’ interactions with novel object: first contact, first possession, latency to approach, time spent with object. Our study will conclude when the pups become yearlings. The purpose of this study is to help improve decisions about managing captive populations of APD as a metapopulation. This study will expand the knowledge of artificial pack formation in captivity and may be used as a new conservation effort.
23 Oka’ Yanahli Nature Preserve Baseline Mammal Survey
Wendy S. Monterroso; Victoria L. Jackson
Oka’Yanahli Preserve is a 3598-acre area located in the Blue River Watershed.  Habitats on this area include limestone prairies interspersed with oak mottes and some bottomland hardwoods along the river.  Located close to The Nature Conservancy’s Pontotoc Ridge Preserve, this relatively new preserve is currently being surveyed for mammals. Since August 2016 we have surveyed various areas within the preserve with diverse habitats. We have set on average of 200-300 Sherman live traps for two nights and two days each month when weather was permitting. So far, we have determined that the highest percentage of trapped individuals have been Sigmodon hispidus (36%), Peromyscus maniculatus (32%), and Reithrodontomys fulvescens (19%). The remaining percentage is comprised of specimens that were difficult to identify or specimens that were caught only once such as Chaetodipus hispidus, Cryptotis parva, Microtus pinetorum, and Reithrodontomys montanus. Small and medium tomahawks have been utilized as well to trap mammals in areas along ponds and uninhabited sheds. Procyon lotor, Didelphis virginiana, and Neotoma floridana have been successfully trapped using this method. The goal of this survey is to establish baseline knowledge of the abundance and species richness of mammals as it is imperative to gain an understanding of how mammals react to different management strategies.  Long-term monitoring efforts can be compared to this baseline inventory.  In addition, knowing which species inhabit the area may alert property managers to species of conservation concern.  The survey will conclude in Spring of 2017.
24 Disentangling Drivers of Pocket Mouse Occupancy in the Sagebrush Sea
Kristina Harkins; Merav Ben-David; Doug Keinath
Relative to other mid-latitude ecosystems, the sagebrush “sea” is often considered homogenous with little variation in vegetation structure and community composition. Nonetheless, soil composition, water, and nutrient availability can create variation on a local scale. Local variation may lead to diverse small mammal communities within the perceived homogeneous sagebrush sea. Habitat structure plays a crucial role in the composition and stability of small mammal communities. However, a vast body of literature, accumulated over decades, documents the effects of biotic interactions (largely competition) on community composition, diversity, and species abundance. Thus, the diversity of small mammal communities in the sagebrush sea may be higher than expected based on habitat alone and may affect the distribution and detectability of rare species such as pocket mice (e.g., olive-backed pocket mouse [Perognathus fasciatus], Great Basin pocket mouse [P. parvus], and silky pocket mouse [P. flavus]). Over the course of the study we surveyed 99 sites across the basins of Wyoming and measured soil characteristics (percent sand), vegetation structure, plant diversity, small mammal community composition, and ant colony density. Using occupancy modeling approaches we evaluate the relative importance of these variables in determining detectability and distribution of pocket mice. Because small mammal abundance changed dramatically between 2015 and 2016 across Wyoming, the potential effects of competition could be disentangled from those of habitat structure using our data.
25 Fisher Population Status, Habitat Use, and Competition with Pine Marten in Southeast Alaska
Caitlin Kupferman; Anthony Crupi; Sophie Gilbert
The fisher (Martes pennanti) is a habitat specialist occupying forests with dense canopy structure across northern North America. Fishers have recently expanded their range north and westward, including into the coastal temperate rainforest of Southeast Alaska, and climate-driven decreases in winter snow accumulation will likely increase potential fisher habitat there in the future. Fishers are an ecologically important forest carnivore, as well as a potential competitor with the pine marten (Martes martes), an important regional furbearer. Understanding the status and potential ecological effects of the fisher population in Southeast Alaska will be important in developing effective management strategies if the population continues to expand. This study aims to determine the colonization status of the Southeast Alaska fisher population, as well as their habitat requirements and potential for competition with pine marten. Research will be focused on the Taku river corridor in Southeast Alaska, which ranges from the Canadian border to the Taku Glacier. Baited camera trap and hare snare stations will be deployed to identify genetically-determined sex-ratios and fisher density, along with co-occupancy with pine marten, and habitat surveys will be conducted to develop a map of fisher habitat quality. Additionally, vital rates will be estimated from GPS collared fishers if sample sizes allow. We will use these complimentary lines of evidence to test four hypotheses regarding fisher colonization status: 1) the fisher population is actively colonizing, 2) the population is fully established and at low density, 3) the population is fully established and at moderate or high density, or 4) the population is a “sink” dependent on dispersers from British Columbia. This information will be used to inform future management decisions regarding this novel forest carnivore in Southeast Alaska.
27 Mountain Lion Kill Rates and Competition with Black Bears in New Mexico
Arthur J. Anaya; James W. Cain III; James R. Biggs; Mark Peyton
Kleptoparasitism of mountain lion (Puma concolor) prey by black bears (Ursus americanus) has been documented in the Rocky Mountain region. Determining the effects of kleptoparasitism is important in understanding resource use between dominate (black bears) and subordinate (lions) competitors. Despite the recent interest in kleptoparasitism, few studies exist on the impacts it has on mountain lion behavior. Previous studies have suggested that kleptoparasitism by black bears increases mountain lion kill rates. However the degree to which black bears influence the predation rates of lions is still unclear. We captured 13 (7 male, 6 female) adult mountain lions in the Jemez, 5 (2 male, 3 female) in the Gallina, and 12 (7 male, 5 female) in the Fra Cristobal mountains in New Mexico. All lions were fitted with both GPS Iridium and VHF collars. Our objectives were to 1) determine kill rates and prey composition across all study lions and 2) determine rates of kleptoparasitism by black bears on mountain lion kills. Rates of kleptoparasitism will be compared between areas of low (Fra Christobal), moderate (Gallina), and high (Jemez) bear density using data collected from the Jemez, Gallina, and Fra Cristobal mountains. Handling time scaled by prey biomass will be calculated and used to infer rates of kleptoparasitism between locations and seasons (summer vs. winter). We predict a decrease in prey handling time and increased lion kill rates with increasing bear density.
28 Predicting Habitat Use by Bats to Protect Bats and Inform Wind Energy Development
Clarissa A. Starbuck; Carol L. Chambers
Although wind turbines are a clean source of energy, they incidentally kill many bats and birds. Migratory species have the highest mortality; in 2012, ~600,000 bats died from encounters with turbines in the U.S. alone. Arizona has 28 bat species and a high proportion of migratory species that creates a high risk of mortality from interactions at wind energy facilities. Our objectives are to determine the species composition, bat use, and topographic features that might influence bat movement. Our study area encompasses open grassland and shrubland in northern Arizona that were similar to where wind energy sites were considered for development. We deployed 34 acoustic detectors (SM3BAT) to sample for bat activity at randomly-selected points that represented a range of measures for each habitat covariate. We surveyed points during spring, summer, and fall of 2015, 2016, and 2017 and used SonoBat 3 software to identify bat calls to species or species groups. We used occupancy modeling to evaluate the effects of landscape covariates on bat activity. In preliminary analyses, the highest bat activity occurred in valleys, lower slopes, and evergreen forests. Since most wind energy development in northern Arizona has occurred on flat slopes, shrubland, and grassland, this might indicate that the best sites for wind energy might not overlap with the best sites for bat use. Our predictive map will show bat use in areas of northern Arizona considered best suitable for wind energy development given acoustic activity.
29 Desert Bighorn Sheep Occupancy Modeling: Do Sheep Use Different Terrain in Response to Human Disturbance?
Andrew M. Antaya
Desert bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis meixcana) in southwestern Arizona and northern Sonora, Mexico occupy rugged, mountainous terrain, and have little access to water. Additionally, bighorn sheep are sensitive to human disturbance. Human activity may be displacing bighorn sheep from suitable habitat in the U.S. In this study, we are comparing sheep site occupancy in areas with little or no human disturbance to areas with high levels of human disturbance, both in Mexico, and in the U.S. We are surveying a variety of terrain features (e.g., small hills isolated hills, large isolated hills, and mountain ridges) by foot. We are using sheep fecal pellet counts as indicators of site occupancy, as well as documenting any visual detections of sheep. We are also collecting sheep fecal pellets for future genetic analysis. This study will give insight into how desert bighorn sheep use different terrain types in response to human activity, and will identify areas bighorn sheep do not occupy regardless of human activity level.
30 Influence of Introgressive Hybridization on Morphology of Coyotes in Pennsylvania
Uma Ramakrishnan; Vincent Buonaccorsi; Kelsey Barth
Introgressive hybridization can have a significant influence on the evolution and ecology of mammals. This study evaluates the impact of hybridization between coyotes (Canis latrans) and wolves (Canis lupus) on the morphometrics and coat color of coyotes in Pennsylvania. We collected data from 354 coyotes between 2014 and 2016. Genetic information was obtained by genotyping 63 ancestry-informative loci from 190 individuals. The proportion of wolf genomic DNA introgressed into coyotes varied across the state, with lower proportions in the west and southwest and higher proportions in the northeast. This pattern could be explained by the two known migratory routes coyotes used when moving into PA. In the northern route, coyotes were sympatric and hybridized with wolves, while those that migrated in through the Midwest were unlikely to have such contact. This migration pattern could also be used to explain our findings of the differences in morphometrics across the state. We found that animals in central and northeastern PA were generally larger in most morphometrics measurements than their counterparts in western PA, and percent wolf correlating with at least one measure of size. Finally, an interesting finding of this study is the difference in the proportion of wolf genetics, color and morphometrics between males and females. Males are larger than females and have significantly lower proportions of wolf genomic DNA. Males also have redder ears and legs. Redness is a characteristic of coyotes, so this color difference could be the result of higher proportions of coyote DNA in males. Lower survival of males with higher percent wolf DNA may be attributable to deleterious wolf genes expressed on the X chromosome.
31 Microclimatic Conditions in Lassen National Forest, California: Implications for the Pacific Marten
Marie E. Martin; Katie M. Moriarty
Though many species employ behaviors to mediate metabolic costs, it is difficult to identify factors that influence these behaviors. This is especially true for the Pacific marten (Martes caurina); a small and cryptic carnivore, martens have high energy requirements that may necessitate bouts of rest to offset expenditures. We hypothesized that microsites (e.g., subnivean chambers, cavities in trees) may provide thermal refugia during resting bouts. Further, we presumed that structurally complex forest stands would exhibit less thermal fluctuation than managed or open stands. To evaluate the thermal properties of marten rest structures and habitat we used data loggers to 1) quantify the thermal efficiency of resting microsites and 2) collect hourly temperature data among environmental strata. We deployed data loggers at subnivean rest sites (n=11) and points stratified by vegetative stand type, elevation, and aspect (n=46). Temperature generally decreased at a slower rate inside microsites than at paired exposed sites (𝑥;in =22.2 minutes, 𝑥;ex = 17.2 minutes, P=0.18). On the landscape scale, we found that daily temperature fluctuates significantly less in complex forest stands than in simple or open stands (𝑥;Comp =9.5°C, 𝑥;Simp =12.2°C, 𝑥;Open=16.2°C, F=30.1, P=<0.0001); structurally complex stands also accounted for the greatest proportion of marten resting and denning locations. We believe martens may use these stands in part because of their thermal buffering capacity. In 2017, we will continue deploying loggers within microsites, and maintain ambient stations. We will also attempt to quantify the effect of temperature on marten movements by pairing thermal data with GPS collar data. Through these efforts, we hope to highlight the physiological impacts of forest management and disturbance.
32 Identifying Home Range and Resource Selection Patterns of a Reintroduced Elk Population: Black River State Forest, Wisconsin
Travis Bryan
Travis Bryan University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point Identifying Home Range and Resource Selection Patterns of a Reintroduced Elk Population: Black River State Forest, Wisconsin ABSRACT Elk (Cervus canadensis) once ranged throughout the majority of Wisconsin, but unregulated hunting led to their extirpation by the 1880s. In 1995, 25 elk were released in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest near Clam Lake, WI. That population has grown and remained stable. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WIDNR) has implemented another reintroduction effort, with the goal of establishing a second elk herd. August 2015, 19 adult elk and 4 calves were reintroduced to Black River State Forest (BRSF), and 38 adult elk and 10 calves were released in July 2016. Adult elk have been fitted with GPS collars that possess satellite uplink capabilities, allowing researchers to monitor the elk remotely and download spatial data as needed. Spatial data collected by the GPS collars will be analyzed in programs R and ArcGIS, using the time scaled local convex hull method (t-LoCoH) to identify and describe release site fidelity, home range size, and core range size. Analysis of the data will be conducted on various spatiotemporal scales, and on individual, subpopulation, and population scales. Habitat characteristic data was collected from 200 sampling plots throughout the summer of 2016, and will be used to estimate canopy cover, ground cover, basal area, and forage biomass. This data will be compiled and analyzed in conjunction with elk location data, which will be used to develop a resource selection function model (RSF). The RSF will be used by resource managers to determine the likelihood of future resource utilization by elk on BRSF, and to identify additional locations in Wisconsin suitable for future elk reintroductions.
33 Den Site Selection of Florida Spotted Skunks in a Dry Prairie Ecosystem
Stephen N. Harris
The eastern spotted skunk (Spilogale putorius) has experienced a major decline since the mid-20th century. It is a species of conservation concern in many states, and the plains subspecies (S. p. interrupta) is currently being petitioned for federal protection. However, recent research indicates that the subspecies inhabiting peninsular Florida, S. p. ambarvalis, is still relatively abundant in the endemic dry prairie ecosystem. Research in the dry prairie has also revealed that the subspecies is an important nest predator of the Florida grasshopper sparrow (Ammodramus savannarum floridanus), a critically endangered, non-migratory resident of the ecosystem. We are studying spotted skunks in dry prairie at Three Lakes Management Area in Florida to gather data on the skunks’ general ecology and role as predators of the sparrows. To better understand resource (i.e., den and resting site) selection of skunks in this ecosystem and to evaluate potential factors affecting it (e.g., habitat characteristics, den characteristics, prescribed fire management), we are fitting 30 skunks with VHF radio collars to track them to and identify their den sites. To date, we have tracked 28 skunks and characterized approximately 500 den and resting sites. Preliminary data indicate that seven discernible types of den and resting site are utilized by skunks in the dry prairie, with the majority of these sites being mammal burrows or above-ground resting sites. We will be presenting preliminary results and analyses from these data. This project represents one of the first detailed studies on the Florida spotted skunk, and increasing our understanding of skunk den site selection in dry prairie will ultimately allow us to recommend possible management strategies to mitigate predation pressure on the declining Florida grasshopper sparrow.
34 Diet Composition and Prey Selectivity of Gray Wolves in Prince Albert National Park, Saskatchewan, Canada
Justin R. Shave; Andrew E. Derocher; Seth G. Cherry
Few studies have investigated the direct role of gray wolves (Canis lupus) in predator-prey dynamics with the plains bison (Bison bison bison). This project aims to study wolf predation on plains bison and other ungulates in the southwest corner of Prince Albert National Park (PANP), Saskatchewan, Canada. The Sturgeon River plains bison (SRPB) population in PANP is the only free-ranging population of plains bison in their historical range in Canada, and have experienced a decline of around 50% in the last eight years. We investigated to what extent wolves are contributing to the decline of the SRPB population using direct observations of wolf kill sites and stable isotope analysis. Kill sites were determined via spatially- and temporally-clustered data points obtained from GPS-collared wolves over three consecutive winters (2014, 2015, and 2016). Overall, white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) were consumed most frequently, followed by moose (Alces alces) and plains bison. The next step in this study will be to perform stable isotope analysis on wolf hair and blood tissue, to assess whether the proportion of prey species consumed by wolves changes in comparison to kill site investigation results. In addition, we will assess the influence of prey body condition and stress physiology on prey selection by wolves, by conducting marrow fat and cortisol analysis on plains bison tissues collected at wolf kill sites and from tissues collected from harvested bison. The results of this study will quantify the impact that wolves are having on SRPB population mortality, and will help to inform management plans that will contribute to the long-term viability of plains bison in this region.
35 Population Dynamics of Mule and White-tailed Deer in the Chihuahuan Desert
Cuau Vital-García; Martha P. Olivas-Sánchez; Fernando Rodríguez; Michelle Lugo-Castro
Deer populations are experimenting major population fluctuations throughout North America, in Mexico the historic range for mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) has been drastically reduced, nowadays the end of their distribution range is in Chihuahua. Given the inhospitable conditions of the dessert we strive to monitor both mule and white tailed deer (O. virginianus) populations in a constant basis. Our objective is to evaluate deer population dynamics in the Chihuahuan desert; we present two different sets of results, first we monitored mule deer during a translocation project. The first year following relocation is a crucial period to determine habitat selection and successful adaptation, thus we monitored using telemetry (TXF-345C Telenax ©) a group of four females and a male mule deer released in the western region of Chihuahua. We used a 3-element Yagi antenna with a 25km range with optimal conditions monitoring deer once a month for 2 days conducting surveys from 6am to 11am and from 5pm to 8pm. For the second project, we conducted a retrospective study on data from wildlife managers in Chihuahua collected using night census, analyzing data for the two-year drought: 2011-2013. Our results suggest that translocated mule deer moved an average of 1.9km from release site, female had a 3.7 km2 habitat range, while the male, used a territory of 3.8 km2 before we lost track of his readings. For the second set of results, we found that both females and males respond differently to the drought, while males appear to take a decline one year into the drought, females show a decline the year the drought starts; indicating a different coping mechanism that has been suggested in previous studies. Overall our results suggest that deer populations are healthy in chihuahua, that active management will help populations survive and grow.
36 A Mother Knows Best? Implications of Female Caribou Habitat Selection on Calf Survival on a Multi-Predator Landscape
Gillian Fraser; Jason T. Fisher; John Volpe
The suspected causes of decline of woodland caribou (Rangifer tarandus) populations in Alberta, Canada, is a monster with many heads. Landscape change, apparent competition, low calf recruitment and increased predation risk have all been identified in driving caribou declines in the Rocky Mountains. However, the current federal recovery strategy for the boreal population of woodland caribou specifies the gray wolf as a key threat to caribou and has resulted in targeted predator control. Though the gray wolf plays a role in structuring ungulate populations, there remains a suite of unnamed large carnivores that may cumulatively impact caribou. High mortality during the calving period contributes to population declines and research has shown that caribou calves are not only vulnerable to predation by gray wolf, but also brown bear, grizzly bear, lynx, wolverine, and cougar. This is in part due to selection of calving grounds by parturient caribou that are high in forage quality and high in predation risk reflecting high energetic requirements of the lactation period. Although this behaviour has been evaluated, it remains to be asked whether this— potentially maladaptive response—plays a role in driving caribou calf survival given a multi-predator landscape. I focus on identifying drivers of female caribou habitat selection that maximize caribou calf survival accounting for cumulative risk variables including forage quality, multi-predator predation risk and human footprint. I capitalize on existing telemetry data of two caribou herds in the Rocky Mountains to model habitat selection based on used and available habitat. I also use camera trap arrays to estimate predator distributions to use as a proxy for the predation risk variable. Using survival-based modeling, I identify important risk factors that contribute to caribou calf survival and mortality events. These results will guide future woodland caribou population recovery by outlining risks that need to be minimized.
37 Pacific Fisher Distribution and Detectability in Southwestern Oregon
Brent R. Barry; Katie Moriarty; Taal Levi
Fishers (Pekania pennanti) are medium sized members of the weasel family endemic to North America. In the Pacific states fishers were deemed warranted but precluded in 2014 for Federal listing under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), however, the listing was withdrawn in 2016 and that decision is under litigation. Two fisher populations persist in Oregon: a remnant indigenous population in the Klamath Mountains of southwestern Oregon, and a reintroduced population near Crater Lake in the southern Cascades. Despite candidacy for the ESA, current information on fisher populations in Oregon is scarce – lacking both data to assess the contemporary distribution and predicted habitat associations. We conducted surveys using motion-activated cameras to assess the distribution of fisher populations and detectability of fishers. We deployed over 198 camera sample units, equating to over 743 survey stations, collecting data for a minimum of 35 days in winter and 60 days in summer. We obtained over 3 million photographs, amassing one of the largest systematically-surveyed photo datasets. Fishers were detected at 47 unique sample units and 99 individual survey stations, confirming the presence of the indigenous and introduced populations. Detectability varied between three bait types and season, suggesting future surveys should consider season-specific baits. Distributional results show a shift or contraction of the southern Cascades reintroduced population, and a larger indigenous population with a reduced range in the coastal ranges. Neither population showed significant signs of expansion into historically occupied forests. Creating consistency with carnivore surveys using a protocol that maximizes seasonal detectability would allow for comparisons across surveys, and future evaluation of fisher distributions in Oregon. We will be combining these data with telemetry locations to assess predicted habitat.
38 Population Size and Habitat of Indian Gazelle in Nizampur Area, District Nowshehra, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan
saif ullah
The Indian gazelle (Gazella bennettii) also known as Chinkara, is a very adaptable wild animal found in the District Nowshera, Khyber Pukhtunkhwa. The present study was conducted on population size and habitat association of Indian gazelle in Manglot near Nizampur area of District Nowshera. The study was conducted from September 2015 to July 2016. The data on population density was collected by direct counting using vantage point method. Data on population was collected by scanning from four vantage points. A total of 19 Indian gazelles were observed in these four different study sites between 328 m and 504 m elevation in the study area. Of the total individuals observed, 21% were males, 37% were females, 32% were yearlings and 10% were young. Habitat analysis was done through vegetation survey using quadrate method in its habitat. Relative density, relative frequency, relative cover and importance value index were calculated for all plant species recorded in Indian gazelle habitat at four study sites. A total of 22 quadrates were taken between the elevation of 328m and 504m near four Vantage Points. A total of 33 plant species belonging to 16 families were recorded in Indian gazelle habitat. Among these species trees were 24.2%, shrubs were 30.3%, herbs were 18.2% and grasses were 27.3%. Indian gazelle in the study area is facing some problems due to impact of increasing human population and also extension of agriculture practices in its potential habitat
39 Estimating Site Occupancy, Species Richness, And Activity Patterns of Mesocarnivores by Using Baited and Un-Baited Camera Traps In Oka’ Yanahli Preserve in Johnson County, Southcentral Oklahoma
Dineesha L. Premathilake; Victoria Jackson
Mesocarnivores have important ecological roles as the main predators of food webs, and have a significant contribution to the management of the lower trophic levels. Various anthropogenic effects impact the viability of mesocarnivore populations; therefore, conservation is essential to maintain ecosystem integrity. Study site of this research is Oka’ Yanahli Preserve, located in southcentral Oklahoma. The primary goal of this project is to expand the current body of knowledge about mesocarnivore ecology in south-central Oklahoma, specifically on Oka’ Yanahli Nature Preserve. We are going to identify, (a) the species richness of mesocarnivores, (b) preferable habitats and habitat occupancy, (c) seasonal variations in habitat occupancy and activity pattern, and (d) detection probability of baited and un-baited camera traps. Camera traps are being used to trap mesocarnivores in the preserve over winter 2016-2017 and summer 2017. Six remotely-triggered infra-red cameras were set up and kept for 4 weeks. After 4 weeks they were removed and set up on another 6 locations, chosen randomly over the Preserve. Cameras were systematically baited by using canned mackerel. Using the photos obtained from the camera traps, species richness, detection frequencies, detectability, and occupancy estimates will be determined. The data gathered from winter season, shows that most naïve occupancy estimates in the preserve is by coyotes (Canis latrans) (0.73). Raccoons (Procyon lotor) have a naïve occupancy of 0.57, while bobcats (Lynx rufus), opossum (Didelphis virginiana), and spotted skunks (Mephitis mephitis) have lesser occupancies (0.19,0.26,0.23 respectively). Highest activity was recorded from raccoons while highest occupancy for winter season was recorded from coyotes. The data gathered from this research would be useful in conservation, management, and habitat restoration of mesocarnivores in this Preserve. I will be reporting this research in progress and the project will not be complete until fall 2017.
40 Survival and Movements of Rehabilitated Black Bear Cubs Released in North Carolina
Casey A. Gray; Colleen Olfenbuttel
Throughout North America, orphaned black bear cubs are rehabilitated and released back into the wild. Initially released to supplement recovering black bear populations, now cubs are often rehabilitated to fulfill the public’s expectation on how this public trust resource should be managed. Historically, rehabilitated cubs were not monitored post-release due to limitations of technology. Consequently, little is known about survivorship rates, mortality factors, movements and whether these bears are more prone to cause nuisance issues. Since 1976, the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC) has rehabilitated and released 114 black bear cubs back into the wild. Starting in July 2015, the NCWRC fitted all rehabilitated bears with Vectronics GPS collars (n=12) and released these bears on state managed lands in both the mountain and coastal plain regions of North Carolina. The mean survival rate of rehabilitated cubs in the first 7 months after release was .400 ± 0.2 (SE). Five of eight mortalities were caused by legal hunter harvest. Although the estimated survival rate is lower than other reported studies, high hunter mortality may reflect higher harvest pressure than other areas. Maximum dispersal was 43.93 km from release site and minimum dispersal was 5.55 km. We did not find a difference in average daily movements between weeks during the 13 weeks after release (F (12,117) =0.592, p= 0.845). While results are preliminary, we have no reports of conflict issues with people or property. In June 2017, 8 more bears will be released and monitored. We will continue to evaluate post-release movements, mortality factors, survivorship, and the influence of environmental factors (e.g., release site) on results. Through collaboration with other researchers, combined with our data, we hope to gain better insight on the fate of rehabilitated bears that will aide in making management decisions based on sound science.
42 The Effects of Land Use and Food Availability on Gelada Habitat Use in the Simien Mountains National Park, Ethiopia
Julie C. Jarvey; Bobbi S. Low; Jacinta C. Beehner
Human encroachment and land use change pose many problems for wildlife. Montane species are particularly affected by these threats as human populations extend to higher elevations, and sub-populations and inhabitable areas become isolated. Gelada monkeys (Theropithecus gelada), a graminivorous primate, endemic to the Ethiopian highlands, represent a species under such threats. Geladas have a limited altitudinal range (1700-4200 m) of suitable habitat; much of which has been converted to agricultural and grazing land. Here, we investigated how human activities and food availability influence seasonal movement patterns and habitat use in a population of geladas in the Simien Mountains National Park, Ethiopia. We collected feeding and spatial data on eight groups of habituated geladas, as well as availability of aboveground (e.g., grasses), and underground (e.g., roots, corms, tubers) food for 13 months. Our results highlight several key factors that influenced gelada movement. First, geladas used less of their home range in the dry season than in the wet season. Second, agricultural activity strongly restricted gelada movement patterns and home range use, but gelada ranging overlapped with domestic livestock year-round. Third, habitat use in the dry season was more strongly influenced by underground food availability, an alternative diet item consumed mainly in the dry season, than by the availability of green grasses. These results highlight the importance of both land use practices and alternative food resources in understanding habitat suitability for geladas. In much of the remaining gelada habitat, where aboveground vegetation is substantially reduced by grazing livestock, it is essential to understand the distribution and abundance of seasonally valuable food resources for gelada habitat conservation.
43 The Adaptability and Disease Patterns of an Urban Coyote Population in the Mojave Desert
Craig D. Reddell; Gary W. Roemer; James W. Cain
While numerous studies have examined the ecology of urban coyotes (Canis latrans), few have investigated the impact of disease and parasite loads on these populations. High density populations typically experience higher transmission rates and infected individuals may have altered behavioral patterns, particularly in regards to use of anthropogenic resources. We trapped, radio-collared, and monitored coyotes (n = 41) at the National Training Center (NTC), Fort Irwin, CA from May 2015 to April 2017. The NTC has a large permanently occupied garrison that has become home to a number of urban coyotes that also use the surrounding Mojave Desert. Our objectives were to assess the mechanisms maintaining an epizootic of sarcoptic mange within this urban population and determine how mange influences survival, movement patterns, and resource use. Annual survival rates were calculated using known fate models and the Kaplan-Meier staggered entry design. Home range size was estimated using 95% minimum convex polygons (MCP), and resource selection functions were used to assess resource selection among seven land-cover types. Signs of sarcoptic mange were identified in 26 (63%) coyotes, and cumulative annual survival of coyotes was 0.37 (n = 29), with 11 confirmed mortalities. Eight of the mortalities were suspected of being mange related, two died of unknown causes, and one mortality resulted from suspected predation. Estimates of home range size (n = 11) varied from 4.92 to 423.11 km2. Waste treatment and commercial were the most highly selected land-cover types, but the percentage of coyote relocations within urban (48 ± 20%) and non-urban (51 ± 21%) land-cover types was similar. Preliminary results appear to contrast with similar studies, with a higher prevalence of mange, lower survival rates, and a higher relative use of urban land-cover types over natural types in this heavily diseased population.
45 Influence of Life-History Stage, Movement State, and Resource Dispersion on Swift Fox Habitat Use in the Northern Great Plains
Andrew Butler; Kristy Bly; Heather Harris; Bob Inman; Axel Moehrenschlager; Donelle Schwalm; David Jachowski
Identifying the factors that influence movement decisions is important to understanding the behavior and ecology of a species and developing sound management strategies. An individual’s movement patterns result from the complex interactions between intrinsic (relating to an individual’s state) and extrinsic (relating to the environment) factors. A detailed understanding of movement ecology is particularly important for the conservation and restoration of threatened species, such as the swift fox (Vulpes velox) in the Northern Great Plains ecosystem. The objective of this study is to evaluate how two intrinsic factors (life-history stage and movement state) and one extrinsic factor (resource dispersion) influence swift fox habitat use in northeastern Montana. Thus far, we have captured and placed Global Positioning System (GPS) collars on 11 adult and 9 juvenile swift foxes, who will be tracked for 1-2 years or until death, with the goal of collaring 40 adult and 40 juvenile foxes in total. This is the first large scale use of GPS collars to study swift fox ecology. For adults, we will incorporate locational data into hidden Markov models to identify the movement state of each individual within the home range, such as encamped, exploratory, and area-restricted search, and then estimate the utilization distribution for each state. Then we will build resource utilization functions for each state to test our hypotheses about how resource dispersion and movement state influence habitat use. For juveniles, we will identify the different dispersal phases for each individual using behavioral change point analysis. We will calculate step selection functions for each phase to estimate the effects of dispersal and resource dispersion on habitat use. This project will increase our understanding of the mechanisms of animal movement and lead to the creation of habitat suitability and connectivity models in Montana to help guide restoration efforts.
46 Woodland Caribou Habitat Considerations along the Lake Superior Coast
Jack McClinchey
WOODLAND CARIBOU HABITAT CONSIDERATIONS ALONG THE LAKE SUPERIOR COAST Jack McClinchey It is universally agreed upon that predation is limiting for woodland caribou (Rangifer tarandus caribou Gmelin) rather than food, as they can travel long distances for appropriate forage. The north shore region of Lake Superior, from Terrace Bay to Marathon, Ontario, does not appear to fit traditional habitat models for boreal woodland caribou. This can be largely attributed to high instances of deciduous or mixed forest types, which better support populations of moose (Alces alces L.), and consequently wolves (Canis lupis L.). Yet, this area appears to have supported some of the greatest densities of animals along the coast. It is hypothesized that in these areas, rugged terrain has allowed relic caribou populations to escape wolf predation. A habitat model will be developed to map some of the rugged features in the area, and inferences will be made on how caribou may have selected certain features for predator avoidance and evasion. Some uncertainty permeates around historical densities of moose, and thus wolves, in the region. A better understanding of this relationship is paramount to the understanding of woodland caribou population dynamics, and a review of data on the topic will be undertaken. Caribou habitat considerations will also be made for the Black Bay peninsula, as well as the islands of Nipigon Bay.
47 Using Distance Measurements to Assess How Fishers Respond to Fuel Reduction Treatments in an Oregon Forest.
Tessa Smith; Eric Gese; Pat Terletzky; Craig Thompson
The escalating threat of wildfire severity created the need for a proactive plan to reduce heavy fuel loads and dense timber stands within a large watershed unit near Ashland, Oregon. In order to accomplish these goals, the US Forest Service launched a long-term project of thinning and prescribed burns in focused treatment areas. The result of multiple-use methods created openings in both the understory and canopy levels, reducing hazardous ground fuels and the risk of spreading crown fires. However, the alteration of important vegetative characteristics may affect how wildlife species use the landscape. In 2010, a concurrent study began examining how fishers (Pekania pennanti) responded to treatment disturbances within their home ranges. Our objective included assessing fisher distance parameters after a treatment occurred in a time frame of 30, 60 and 90 days post-treatment. From 2010 to 2016, ten fishers (7 females, 3 males) were captured and affixed with GPS radio-collars, with point locations downloaded at least once per month. Using ArcGIS, we determined how far fishers were located from the closest treatment unit in its home range after thinning had been applied. Results varied depending on several factors: GPS point availability during the specified time frame, number of treatments that overlapped a home range, and individual response characteristics. Although one fisher displayed a positive relationship to ongoing treatment effects, most animals (n=7) were either neutral or had a weak negative correlation when comparing distance to thinning treatments. Further analysis exploring different treatment types (i.e., thinning versus prescribed burning) and intensity of treatments (i.e., commercial versus non-commercial thinning) may yield conclusive results. The findings from our study will contribute additional knowledge for forestry professionals considering landscape modifications to enhance both fire resiliency and wildlife habitat.
48 Mating System and Social Structure of the Florida Bonneted Bat
James Austin; Jeffery Gore
Understanding aspects of a species’ behavioral ecology can provide valuable insight for management related decisions. For example, knowledge of mating systems including reproductive skew and mate choice, as well as dispersal, can be used to quantify the effects of habitat fragmentation and its effects on population persistence. Our ability to study the behavioral ecology of cryptic species is vastly improved by incorporating molecular genetic techniques, which can fill in data gaps, test hypotheses, and or in some instances provide baseline data when collecting observational data is impractical. Our objective was to apply molecular genetic techniques to elucidate the mating system and social structure of the Florida bonneted (Eumops floridanus). We have genotyped (21 microsatellite loci) bats sampled from 12 artificial roosts established to study population demographics and social structure. Samples from all occupied bat houses across 10 tri-annual periods (April 2014 – April 2017) have produced ~250 unique bats. Using relatedness estimates and spatial network analysis we have produced an initial estimate of spatial and temporal social organization in a population of this poorly studied endangered species. This new knowledge will be used to better understand abundance and distribution, connectivity, and other demographic variables that are key to conservation and management of this species.
49 Comparing Apples and Oranges? Capture-Recapture Versus Occupancy Modeling in Determining Abundance and Density of Bobcats in West Virginia
Thomas F. Rounsville; Rich E. Rogers; Amy B. Welsh; Christopher W. Ryan; James T. Anderson
Capture-recapture studies have long been held as the “gold standard” for enumerating populations of unknown size. However, recent advances in occupancy modeling have resulted in models that can estimate population size by modeling occupancy as a density index. While either of these approaches have been used on numerous species, few studies run both types of models on the same dataset to compare and contrast the advantages and disadvantages of each modeling framework. During the 2015 field season from March to August, non-invasive hair snare cubbies were deployed across West Virginia in 10km2 cells arrayed in 5×5 grids—with each cell containing one hair snare device. Each hair snare grid was deployed at the same location for a 4-week period before being moved to another location in the state. Using this method, a total of 30 unique 250km2 locations were sampled. The roughly 2,000 hair samples that were collected were processed for species of origin using a novel next-generation mitochondrial sequencing method. Samples positively identified as originating from bobcat were then genotyped at 9 microsatellite loci to establish individual identity. The individual identity and grid cell geolocation information were used to construct capture-recapture and occupancy models on the same dataset. Abundance and density estimates were directly compared between both modeling systems to determine the most cost-effective method used to generate census information from wild bobcat individuals. This research was completed as a portion of the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources Bobcat Project that seeks to collect population, health, and demographic information to update population models for sustainable management of bobcats.
50 Why Are Midden Attractive? Impacts of Red Squirrels on Biodiversity
Marina Morandini; John L. Koprowski
Ecosystem engineers are animals that exert strong, physical alteration to their environment, affecting resource availability and species distributions. Studying these engineer species allows us to understand factors that govern ecological processes, and to inform decisions on forest conservation management and restoration. One such ecosystem engineer is the red squirrel. Each red squirrel will collect and cache cones in the center of their territory, making a larder pile called a “midden”. Middens are a fundamental attribute of squirrel territory, and they also represent a shelter and resource attractant for other fauna. My research will focus on the endangered Mount Graham red squirrel (Tamiasciurus fremonti grahamensis), an endemic subspecies found only on Mt. Graham (Arizona, USA). Specifically, my research questions are focused on: understanding which factors influence the attraction of other squirrels and small mammals to a new midden; understanding how new midden formation impacts vertebrate biodiversity in the surrounding community; and assessing how age, sex, and behaviour of squirrel influence new midden settlement. To answer my questions, I will create 40 new, artificial middens, half of them will randomly include a cone cashe and half without. This tests if food resources are the main attraction for other animals. Middens will be randomly placed across various heterogeneous habitat gradients to test extrinsic factors such as habitat quality, elevation, and squirrel density. Each midden will be monitored with remote cameras to assess visiting biodiversity and how much time an animal spends exploring the area. I will use the capture-recapture method to quantify the abundance of small mammals at each artificial midden using a trapping-web design. This approach also assesses small mammal abundances fluctuations around new middens in correlation with squirrel settlement.
52 Ten New Locations of the Endangered New Mexico Meadow Jumping Mouse Detected on Tribal Lands in Southwestern Colorado
Jennifer L. Zahratka; Aran S. Johnson; Erin M. Lehmer; Steven D. Fenster; Steve L. Whiteman
Populations of New Mexico meadow jumping mice (Zapus hudsonius luteus) have been in decline since 2005; thereby warranting listing of the subspecies as federally endangered in June 2014. We recognized that southwestern Colorado hosted potential habitat for New Mexico meadow jumping mice and targeted surveys for the species had not yet occurred here. Therefore, we conducted live-trapping presence surveys for New Mexico meadow jumping mice in summers 2014 and 2015, and fall 2016. We focused our surveys in suitable habitat on the Southern Ute Indian Reservation in southwestern Colorado. As a result of these trapping efforts, we documented ten new localities along the Pine, Animas, Florida, Piedra, and San Juan Rivers or their associated tributaries within the Southern Ute Indian Reservation. Identification of these new populations is significant because this subspecies was previously known from only two locations in Colorado where the subspecies was inadvertently discovered during live-trapping surveys in 2007 and 2012. In 2014, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reported only 29 populations of New Mexico meadow jumping mice were known to occur within its distribution. These included the two Colorado populations, as well as 15 populations in New Mexico and 12 in Arizona. If we assume each of the 10 new locations we documented represents a population, our discoveries increase the known populations of New Mexico meadow jumping mice by 33%.
53 Using Aerial Surveys and Wildlife Cameras to Quantify Abundances of White-tailed Deer in Eastern Connecticut
Jennifer Kilburn; Tracy Rittenhouse; Andrew LaBonte; Howard Kilpatrick
The goal of this research is to estimate white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) abundance in Connecticut. I plan to use aerial surveys and the calibration of a sightability model, as well as, wildlife cameras and N-mixture models. Sightability model calibration for aerial surveys will use 25-35 GPS collared deer in north eastern Connecticut as the known population. Covariates for the model will include group size, animal behavior (active or inactive), habitat type and topographic aspect. I will create a priori models and use AIC values to determine the best sightability model for estimating deer abundance during aerial surveys. This model can then be used to estimate abundance of deer across CT’s deer management zones in future years. I am also collecting count data using wildlife cameras and plant to estimate abundance using N-mixture models. The study design includes a comparison of deer abundance between hunted and un-hunted properties. I am using 50 wildlife cameras; 25 cameras are located on property open to deer hunting and 25 are located and properties closed to deer hunting. These properties are spatially interspersed. Cameras are spaced at greater than 31ha, which is the average 50% Kernel home range of white-tailed deer in CT. Predicted results for the wildlife camera study are as follows; deer abundance is predicted to be higher on un-hunted lands as opposed to hunted lands overall, and deer abundance on hunted lands are predicted to be lower prior to and during the hunting season, as opposed to un-hunted lands. This information will inform management of this game species at a local level.
54 Utilizing Non-Invasive Techniques to Determine Genetic Variation and Demographics of Snowshoe Hare in Michigan
Genelle Uhrig; Eric Clark; Emily Latch
In traditional capture-mark-recapture (CMR) demographic studies, much effort is placed on trapping animals, marking, then releasing them for subsequent recapture. This approach has many challenges including coping with trap-induced animal behaviors and the amount of time and effort put into baiting and setting traps. To circumvent these challenges, non-invasive genetic techniques are often used in which the animal is never handled; instead, some part of the animal that is naturally shed in the environment (e.g. fecal matter, fur, or feathers) is collected and genetically analyzed to identify individuals for subsequent population analyses. In this study, we employ this method of non-invasive CMR using genetic data extracted from fecal pellets of Snowshoe hare (Lepus americanus) populations that are difficult to estimate population parameters for. Snowshoe hare play a vital role in boreal ecosystems as an herbivore, as prey for numerous predatory species, and as a subsistence economy for tribal hunters. Over the past decade however, snowshoe hare populations have been declining along the species southern range which is often attributed to climate change and the occurrence of environmental mismatch- pelage color changes that decrease camouflage and increase predation. We assess the demographic and genetic characteristics of snowshoe hare in the Hiawatha National Forest (Eastern portion) located in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Fecal pellets (n=271) were collected across 9 sites and genotyped at 10 dimorphic microsatellite markers. We present the initial findings of this study including abundance and density, genetic diversity, and patterns of genetic structure and variation among sites. This information is vital to inform the management and conservation of snowshoe hare populations in decline along the species’ southern range.
55 Deer Population Responses to a High-Severity Wildfire
Jennifer L. Brazeal; Ben Sacks
Understanding how wildlife populations respond to wildfire is necessary for effective population management. In September, 2014, a high-severity wildfire, the King Fire, burned an area approximately 400 km2 directly west of the migratory summer range of a mule deer population in Pollock Pines, CA. The burned area overlapped the migratory corridor for the deer, as well as a portion of their winter range. The timing and location of the King Fire presented a unique opportunity to study the effects of fire on mule deer through continuation of a fecal DNA capture-recapture study that began in the summer of 2013. We collected pre-fire samples from 24 transects during the initial study, and post-fire samples from 13 of the 24 transects in the month immediately following the fire and in the subsequent summer. We applied spatially explicit capture-recapture (SCR) to estimate density, scale of movement, and survival/emigration before and after the fire. Results shed light on immigration to areas adjacent to burns, permanence of such displacement, and changes in density the year following the fire. Our findings also demonstrate the utility of SCR and fecal DNA approaches to monitoring deer populations and their responses to environmental perturbations.
57 Follow the Bear: Expanding Understanding of Black Bear Ecology Across Variable Densities and Landscapes
Jennifer Smith; David Williams; Michael Wegan; Dwayne Etter; William Porter
The relationships and interactions between species’ space use and the environment they occupy directly impact species’ distributions, genetic diversity, the spread of disease, human-wildlife conflict, and therefore conservation and management planning. As a result, animal resource selection behavior and its drivers have been a focus of ecological research for decades. Yet many aspects of these patterns remain unclear, due in part to the dynamic nature of the behavioral processes driving this phenomenon. For instance, in the Lower Peninsula of Michigan, black bear (Ursus americanus) occurrence has increased in previously uninhabited southern regions. This southern region of the Lower Peninsula features significantly more agricultural and urban areas than are typical of the past distribution of bears in Michigan. It is unclear how bears will use and navigate such an abruptly altered and highly variable landscape. Thus, our objective was to quantify black bear resource selection patterns, with an emphasis on their relationship to agricultural lands and water sources, in the southern extent of their range in the Lower Peninsula. We applied step-selection analyses to a GPS dataset of 15 radio-collared bears to address our objective. Our results highlight the roles local bear density, temperature, and landscape configuration play in black bears’ use of heterogeneous landscapes. These insights expand our knowledge of these fundamental, yet complex, interactions between black bears and their environment. Such knowledge is crucial in order to effectively and adaptively manage large mammals.
58 Effects of Woody Encroachment on Anti-Predator Behavior and Communication in the Harris’ Antelope Ground Squirrel
Alexandra Burnett
Communication systems must adhere to environmental constraints that invoke signal degradation. Grassland ecosystems are receding worldwide as woody encroachment affects the balance of abiotic and biotic factors that maintain ecosystem stability. Shifting ecological conditions that favor taller, denser vegetation change environmental acoustics that may affect behaviors important to survival. Alarm calls of the Harris’ antelope ground squirrel, Ammospermophilus harrisii, are adapted to life in open desert habitat. Dense vegetation may impede long-distance propagation of alarm calls over the large home ranges of A. harrisii, increasing predation risk. We aim to understand how vegetation density affects call structure and degradation and whether the significant signal degradation affects conspecific response to calls. We will elicit alarm calls via predator simulation on territories of varying vegetative density. We will then use call playbacks to compare responses between calls of varying degradation. Finally, we will quantify sound degradation at each site by recording alarm call playbacks at increasing distances from the center of the territory. This will allow us to gauge how vegetation density affects overall sound propagation. Rapid, often irreversible habitat alterations could have cascading effects on predator-prey dynamics or hinder communication important to resource acquisition and defense. Understanding how anti-predatory behavior and communication are affected by woody encroachment is important to predict consequences and develop conservation strategies for threatened and endangered grassland species.
59 Eleven Years Weather Retrospective Study in Mule Deer Population Dynamics in Chihuahua
Michelle Lugo-Castro; Cuauhcihuatl Vital-Garcia; Fernando Rodriguez
The mule deer is classified as species threatened mainly by illegal hunting in Mexico so it is important to understand the population dynamics to teach the people how to have a better sustainable use for this animals. Our main goal for this study is to evaluate the relationship between Mule deer population density , weather factors while taking in consideration three different ecoregions in Chihuahua, Mexico. We present data collected in several game hunting ranches located in Aldama (n=3), Ascension (n=1), Camargo (n=1), Coyame (n=9) and Ahumada (n=1) municipalities found in the state of Chihuahua in northern Mexico. Data was collected through night census using a light source to identify individuals in a predetermine transect. Census data comprises a period of 11 years (2003 to 2015) collected by wildlife managers. Weather variables: average maximum, minimum, monthly and yearly average temperatures, as well as rainfall were recovered from CONAGUA database concurring to census years. We found an overall average mule deer density in Chihuahua (11 years, 15 ranches) of 5.93 (± 3.80 sd) deer per square kilometer. In retrospective, we can observe that population density is related to both climate variability and ecoregion, that is, we found that during the drought from 2007 to 2011 in the region, the mule deer density decreased significantly. Previous studies in Chihuahua found a 1.7 deer per square kilometer density we observe a significant difference in deer density , this difference might be attributed to the time that these studies were made, authors mentioned that the density at that time (1998) was increasing; just as in that year there was a great drought in the state. Overall we find that mule deer density in Chihuahua, Mexico are in healthy conditions, and this might be true specially for ranches where there is active wildlife management.
60 Conserving an Endangered Pollinator through Bat-Friendly Agave Management Programs in Northeast Mexico
Kristen Lear; Jeffrey Hepinstall-Cymerman; Elizabeth King; Laura German; Clint Moore; Meredith Welch-Devine; Jose Juan Flores Maldonado
In northeast Mexico, agaves (Agave spp.) are harvested from the wild and cultivated for market products and other cultural uses by rural communities. However, harvest of agaves may be contributing to declines of the endangered Mexican long-nosed bat (Leptonycteris nivalis), which relies on the nectar of agaves as a primary food source during annual long-distance migrations between central Mexico and the U.S. Southwest. “Bat-friendly” agave management, such as allowing some agaves to flower on a farm or replanting wild agaves, can potentially be encouraged within local communities to help conserve the species. This research integrates ecological and social science methods to understand where and how “bat-friendly” management practices could be implemented in northeast Mexico, home to two critical roosting caves for the species. The specific objectives are to: 1) use hierarchical statistical models and agent-based modeling of bat foraging at agaves to determine the agave and landscape characteristics that create high-quality forage resource areas; and 2) identify potential incentives and opportunities for promoting adoption of “bat-friendly” practices in local communities. In a pilot study, I monitored bat feeding activity at flowering agaves with infrared cameras, conducted agave surveys at monitoring sites, and completed key informant interviews with community leaders and agave harvesters to understand current management practices and rules governing agave harvest. Preliminary results from the foraging study suggest that bats prefer agave patches with higher densities of flowering agaves, supporting the clustering of flowering agaves in “bat-friendly” management programs. Preliminary results from the community work show that each community has differing social, political, and economic contexts and agave harvest and management systems, highlighting the need for locally-tailored approaches to promoting “bat-friendly” practices. Ultimately, the results of this research will inform the development and implementation of “bat-friendly” agave management programs to help conserve the endangered Mexican long-nosed bat.
61 Rangeland Suitability Model for the Texas State Bison Herd in Caprock Canyons State Park.
a’Lisa M. McAnally; Heather A. Mathewson; Thomas W. Schwertner; Jefferey B. Breeden; Donald Beard
Abstract: Saved by Charles Goodnight and his wife during the 1800s, the Texas State Bison herd in Caprock Canyons State Park, Briscoe County, TX, is the only remaining herd of southern plains bison (Bison bison bison). Research has found that this herd has three unique genetic markers not found in the DNA of other bison herds in North America. Texas Parks and Wildlife (TPWD) has been working on the stability and success of the herd; their work includes restoration of habitat for the bison and slowly increasing their semi-free range area. A rangeland suitability model will aid in understanding foraging availability of the state park. Our research will analyze slope, distance to water, woody coverage, and human disturbances as our key habitat variables. We will be monitoring the herd for the next year and a half using GPS collars taking fixes ever hour. Our model, in combination with movement observations, will help us determine the carrying capacity and forage availability of Caprock Canyons; the model will also take into account the seasonal and long-term changes of the included habitat variables. Our results will aid TPWD as they continue to restore the state park, and provide a model for future conservation herds in semi-free range areas such as state parks.
62 Assessing High Risk Habitats for White-tailed Deer in Virginia
Matt Lacey
This study addresses the Landscape of Fear ecological theory by determining where white-tailed deer are most vulnerable to predation. It is thought that prey view portions of the landscape as dangerous and thus modify their behavior (e.g. habitat selection behavior) in response to predation risk. To determine where deer are most vulnerable to predation we are using global positioning system (GPS) data from GPS collars placed on wild bobcats (Lynx rufus), black bears (Ursus americanus), and coyotes (Canis latrans) to conduct kill site investigations on carcasses found at GPS cluster locations. We perform necropsies to determine what predator species killed the deer and are collecting fine-scale habitat data such as habitat structure and canopy closure surrounding kills. We are combining GPS data with geographic information system (GIS) data to classify land cover types as open, edge, deciduous, coniferous, and mixed forests, meadow, urban, and other features like elevation, slope, aspect, and distance to cover, to determine what common features characterize kill sites. We are comparing broad and fine-scale habitat features at kill sites to random points on the landscape to identify hotspots of danger. While we are unable to determine whether deer change their behavior directly, this study represents the first step in quantifying predation risk across the landscape. We expect forest edge habitats to have the highest predation risk for white-tailed deer, as black bears, coyotes, and bobcats also frequently utilize this habitat type.
65 Carnivore Territoriality: Individual-Based Modeling of Economic Selection of Wolf Territories
Sarah N. Sells; Michael S. Mitchell; Angela D. Luis; Kevin M. Podruzny
We are developing individual-based models (IBMs) to understand how wolves (Canis lupus) select territories. IBMs are used to model individual behaviors, which provide predictions of population-level patterns. Our models are based on the expectation that animals are adapted to select territories efficiently based on spatially distributed resources. This means animals should select habitat that maximizes benefits acquired from resources (e.g., food) against costs of acquiring them (e.g., travel costs, competition, predation risk, etc.). We are using our models to predict how wolves select territories based on density and distribution of ungulates, while accounting for costs of travel, competition, or predation risk. Each model represents a competing hypothesis of what benefits and costs may most influence territorial behavior. Preliminary results suggest that territories are generally smaller and of higher quality where food resources are more clumped. This means, for example, that wolf territories should vary in size based on ungulate behavior, which varies by species and season. We are continuing to analyze competing models to provide more predictions of territorial behavior. In future steps, we will parameterize the models with data from real landscapes (e.g., terrain, vegetation, etc.). This will allow us to estimate size and location of actual wolf territories. We will compare these predictions to territories of GPS-collared wolves to identify the most accurate model. Using this model, biologists will be able to predict wolf pack locations and abundance in absence of extensive empirical data to help inform management decisions. Ultimately, our work will also provide a better understanding of territorial behavior of a large carnivore.
66 Characteristics of American Marten Habitat Use: A Resource Selection Function for Michigan’s Northern Lower Peninsula
Angela Kujawa; Paul Keenlance; Alexandra Locher; Robert Sanders; Joseph Jacquot
American marten (Martes americana) are small mustelids used as indicators of healthy forest ecosystems. Marten were extirpated from Michigan’s lower peninsula (LP) in 1911 followed by reintroduction efforts in 1985-86. Marten are known to occur near reintroduction sites, but the full extent of their range and habitat preferences in the LP are unknown. Our objective was to create a resource selection function-based model for marten in Michigan’s northern LP to determine and identify regions of high quality habitat. This will also provide insight on where marten may occur throughout the LP. Marten were fitted with VHF and GPS collars from 2011-2016 to collect data on habitat use. Kernel-based home-ranges were estimated using marten that had at least 30 known locations; which provided a sample size of 18 individuals with a total of 7352 locations. Characteristics commonly associated with marten habitat selection, including highway length, forest composition, canopy cover, stand age, basal area, and elevation, were measured within each home-range. We will compare habitat marten used to habitat that was available to them to determine what characteristics marten select. Characteristics deemed important to habitat selection will be used to create a resource selection function-based model. This model will be validated in the spring/summer of 2017 using non-invasive sampling methods within each category of habitat quality, (high, medium, and low) as predicted by the model. If the model accurately represents marten habitat, proportionally more areas judged to be high quality will detect martens than in areas judged as medium or low quality.
67 Diets of Kit-Rearing Female Martens in West Michigan: She Ate What?!
Cory Highway; Paul Keenlance
American martens (Martes americana) are mustelids that typically inhabit old growth forests throughout boreal North America. We focused our study on the marten populations in the Manistee National Forest in Michigan’s Northern Lower Peninsula. This region is comprised primarily of mixed deciduous and pine plantation forests. These forest types are not what martens have historically chosen as optimal habitat. The reintroduced marten population has not expanded since relocation efforts began in the 1980’s. We studied the diet of kit-rearing female American martens due to the fact that their high metabolic rate makes caloric intake their largest limiting factor. Prey remains and scat were collected at den sites and remotely triggered cameras were deployed to collect data on preferred prey items. With this data we are able to understand the dietary needs of a female marten who is hunting for herself and up to 5 kits. Martens selected prey items that were easy to capture while hunting for larger prey items, which provided the bulk of their caloric intake. Red-backed voles (Myodes gapperi) have been found to make up a significant portion of marten diets in other regions of the country but without an established population of Red-backed voles in Michigan, martens must select other prey species. Gray squirrels (Sciurus carolinensis) were found to provide the most calories in the martens’ diet but small mammals such as white-footed mice (Peromyscus leucopus) were found most frequently in the diet analysis. Martens were also recorded consuming eastern moles (Scalopus aquaticus), which have not been recorded in marten diets outside of the Manistee Nation Forest to our knowledge. Agencies including the United States Forest Service, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, and Little River Band of Ottawa Indians can use this research to implement better marten management practices.
68 A Novel Method for Individual Identification of Bobcats and Population Estimate Using Remote Sensor Cameras
Matthew T. Fountain; Micaela Szykman Gunther
ABSTRACT As concerns grow for managing fisher (Pekania pennanti) populations in the western United States, managers are concerned about intraguild predation of fishers by bobcats (Lynx rufus). In order to better understand this relationship, researchers in this study developed a new method for camera trapping and individual identification of bobcats in Northern California. Two paired remote sensor cameras, scent, and dangling lures were used at each of the 48 sites, which were spaced a quarter of the average bobcat home range apart (734 meters). We used a double observer method to analyze photos of bobcats and used their distinctive pelange patterns made up of spots and lines to distinguish individuals. A total of six individual bobcats were identified within the boundaries of Headwaters Forest Reserve in Humboldt County, CA. Five of these individuals were observed at multiple camera locations, and minimum convex polygons were established to estimate the approximate home ranges of these individuals (average size = 3.46 km2). One presumed male bobcat’s home range overlapped with three (presumed) female bobcats. Bobcats showed a preference for two scented lure types – O’Gormans Powder River Paste Bait and Fleming Traps Bobcat Urine – over Reuwsaat’s Deep Creek Cat Collector Lure. There was no significant preference for dangling lure type (feather, compact disk or reflective tape). This camera trapping method was an effective way of identifying individual bobcats, and inexpensive compared to other methods (trapping and genetic analyses) and can be used in the future to obtain population estimates in other locations.
69 Understanding the Terrestrial Carnivore Community Composition and Distribution in Southeastern Ohio
Mackenzie E. Rich; Cassandra M. Thompson; Viorel D. Popescu; Suzanne Prange
Understanding community composition and distribution of species is key for implementing sound management and conservation techniques. In particular, carnivores play vital roles in maintaining ecosystem integrity as top-down trophic pyramid regulators. Many regions in the US are witnessing a comeback of terrestrial carnivores after >100 years of absence, yet the trophic relations in these ecosystems and the carnivore community makeup have not been quantified. To address this problem, we used baited camera traps to investigate the carnivore community composition in Southeast Ohio, a forested area where species such as black bears, bobcats, fishers are currently expanding their ranges. We monitored 50 cameras for approximately 3,000 trap nights between May and July 2016 in an area ~300 sqkm. Using an occupancy modeling framework, we investigated local and landscape predictors of occurrence for red and gray foxes (Vulpes vulpes, Urocyon cinereoargenteus), bobcats (Lynx rufus), and coyotes (Canis latrans). Our results shed light on the carnivore community composition in SE Ohio and provide critical information state and federal wildlife management agencies.
70 The Influence of Anthropogenic Water on Puma Habitat Use and Prey Selection in Arid Ecosystems
Hunter Prude
Water is an essential resource for wildlife and is often the primary limiting factor in desert ecosystems. For decades, wildlife agencies have developed anthropogenic water sources in arid regions to benefit game species. Little is known about how, or if, water development effects predator-prey dynamics. Our objectives are to determine the influence of anthropogenic water sources (i.e., wildlife water catchments, livestock drinkers) on puma (Puma concolor) habitat and prey selection by: 1) analyzing spatial and diet data collected from satellite collared puma on the Armendaris Ranch and Sevilleta NWR; 2.) disentangling the reasons for puma use of anthropogenic water sources (i.e., prey or water) by placing trail cameras at two resources that concentrate large ungulates: water sources and salt sites; 3.) quantifying the relationship between the distribution of puma kill sites and their proximity to water sources to determine if puma are using man-made water sources to ambush prey. Research is ongoing, however data has currently been collected from 13 collared puma on the Armendaris (8 male, 5 female) and 5 collared puma on the Sevilleta (1 male, 4 female). Approximately 35,000 GPS locations have been accumulated from these animals to date. Diet data has been collected from more than 364 kill sites, with 404 total prey items. Diet composition is diverse, with more than 25 different prey species being utilized ranging from carp (Cyprinus carpio, n =36) to gemsbok (Oryx gazella, n = 5). Approximately 45% of the combined puma diet is comprised of small prey items (less than 15kg), however mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus, n = 102) are the most selected prey species at 25% of the combined diet.
71 Using Fine Resolution Vegetation Data from Lidar and Ground Based Sampling to Describe Pacific Marten Resting Habitat
Patrick J. Tweedy; Katie M. Moriarty; John D. Bailey; Clinton W. Epps; Brian Wing
Conservation of wildlife populations on managed landscapes requires planning at the appropriate spatial scale. Scale selection for covariates appears important when modeling marten (Martes americana, M. caurina) habitat relationships, as selected scales dramatically affect results and thus interpretation. We examined multi-scale habitat relationships at Pacific marten rest structures in Lassen National Forest using fine-resolution vegetation data (30m airborne LiDAR) and ground-tested metrics we selected because of their use in applied research and management (e.g., basal area, tree stem mapping by size class). We used a moving window framework to compare selection, optimizing 25 covariates at 12 spatial scales (30m-990m) centered on each rest structure. We hypothesized that the odds of a marten using a rest structure would be correlated with vegetation metrics, differing at the micro-site (4th order selection, e.g., resting structure), the site (3rd order selection, e.g., 180-450m from the rest structure), and the patch (3rd order selection, e.g., 540-990m). We monitored martens from 2009-2012 and 2015-2016 (n=252 resting structures, 40 martens), sampling plot level vegetation at all resting/denning structures and 192 random sites. Martens moved outside of the LiDAR boundary therefore our sample sizes differ between the structure/plot (252 structures, 40 martens) and multi-scale analysis (142 structures, 12 martens). Structures were strongly selected; martens used the largest available snags (x̅=95cm), live trees (x̅=92cm), stumps (x̅=88cm), and logs (x̅=81cm) (diameter at breast height). More canopy cover increased the odds of a marten using a structure at every scale (p < 0.05), with the highest selection value between 270–360m radius around the rest site. We speculate forest cover provides escape cover, increased locations to rest and forage, and increased thermal stability. Our research emphasizes benefits of considering spatial scale when designing management strategies, increasing the capacity to maintain or restore conditions associated with marten use and population stability.
74 Lambing Habitat and Juvenile Recruitment in Sierra Nevada Bighorn Sheep
Shannon Forshee
Populations of endangered species are highly susceptible to fluctuations in vital rates. To ensure species persistence, it is important to quantify the mechanisms contributing to low or unstable vital rates. Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis sierrae) populations have high adult survival and pregnancy rates, but recruitment rates (survival >52 weeks) are highly variable and often low. To assist the California Fish and Wildlife with species recovery of endangered Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep, we are evaluating how inbreeding depression (low genetic diversity) and habitat selection of maternal females influences neonatal survival (1-90 days). We hypothesize that females with relatively low genetic diversity will have a lower probability of having a lamb than those with higher genetic diversity. We also hypothesize that females who select habitat that expose neonates to high predation risk, and those that select habitat where forage quality is low will be less likely to rear a lamb that survives to recruitment. We are analyzing the relative heterozygosity of maternal females to understand how genetic diversity influences the probability of survival to recruitment. We are also using high fix-rate GPS collars and vaginal implant transmitters (VITs), to detect premature abortions, stillbirths and capture live neonatal lambs that we fit with radio-collars. From these data, we are developing a resource selection function (RSF) to evaluate how maternal females select lambing habitat during the neonatal period and the consequences of selection on neonatal survival. Implications from this study will be important for implementing and maintaining conservation strategies for endangered Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep. By assessing how genetic variation influences juvenile recruitment, we can evaluate the effectiveness of current genetic rescue management strategies. Our lambing RSF will increase our understanding of how maternal habitat selection influences neonatal survival and ultimately juvenile recruitment.
75 Assessing Revisitation and Structural Changes Over Time in Pacific Marten Rest Structures
Bryce Woodruff; Katie Moriarty
Pacific martens (Martes caurina) use rest structures (live trees, snags, logs, stumps) for avoiding predators and reducing thermal stress. Rest structure selection by Pacific martens has been well studied and suggests Pacific martens prefer large woody structures (i.e., >90cm in diameter). However, there is little information on persistence, and long-term Pacific marten reuse, of woody rest structures. Using novel techniques, we are finding Pacific martens often use rest structures more than once over shorter time periods and occasionally, single structures are used by multiple individuals. In December 2016 and January 2017, we revisited 44 woody rest structures initially identified between 2009 and 2012 in the Lassen National Forest, California. We determined whether the structure had changed (i.e., live tree to snag, snag to log) and compared current to initially observed structure decay class. We placed remote cameras at relocated structures to quantify Pacific marten reuse. Monitoring will continue for 3-6 months. We will assess proximity of Pacific martens to these structures by conducting snow tracking surveys, evaluate Pacific marten reuse 5-8 years after initial discovery, and quantify characteristics of structures with higher Pacific marten reuse rates. Large structures with cavities are relatively rare and, we suspect, will be used disproportionately to their availability. Our research may help to establish a baseline rate at which rest structures become unusable, and determine if suitable structures continue to be used by Pacific martens over longer time periods. We hope this information can be used to inform forest management strategies and restoration efforts. Note: All fieldwork will be finished by July of 2017 and the project will be completed well before October of 2017
76 Thriving in the Boreal: Identifying the Drivers of White-tailed Deer Seasonal Habitat Selection and Movement in Northern Alberta Canada
Siobhan Darlington; Jason T. Fisher; John P. Volpe
In recent decades Alberta’s northern boreal forests have been subject to expansive energy development and rising temperatures that have allowed certain species to expand their natural ranges. Normally limited by low quality forage in conifer stands and severe winter conditions, white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) are now one of the most pervasive ungulates in this ecosystem. Increases in deer populations are providing primary prey enrichment for gray wolves (Canis lupus) and indirectly contributing to further decline in endangered woodland caribou (Rangifer tarandus caribou) herds by apparent competition. Furthermore, industrial linear features such as roads and seismic lines have been shown to increase hunting efficiency in gray wolves. The role of industrial disturbance and predation risk in maintaining deer populations across seasons is not well understood. Avoidance of top predators and the exploitation of early successional forage in clear-cut areas may act as drivers of habitat selection. We use telemetry data collected for 39 female white-tailed deer and predator detections from a camera trap array from 2012-2014 with a suite of industrial features to develop seasonal integrated Step Selection Functions (iSSFs). This new approach to species distribution modelling integrates species movement with habitat selection. Here we use iSSFs to assess the rate of deer movement through habitat types and hypothesize that velocities will be greater through habitat associated with predation risk such as industrial linear features. Preliminary results in the winter models show selection of cut blocks, well sites, roads, and seismic lines and avoidance of 3D seismic lines by deer. In turn, deer are selecting habitat highly correlated with gray wolf relative abundance. Understanding how deer thrive in the boreal will provide insight into the causes and implications of deer expansion and inform both the Alberta Government and industry on best management practices for the recovery of woodland caribou.
77 Using Non-Invasive Hair Snares to Monitor American Marten 30 Years Post-Reintroduction
Jill C. Witt; Karen Ickes; Anjela Sullenger; Dominika Mazzola; Joseph Sucic; Jennifer Adams; Robert Sanders; Ari Cornman
American marten (Martes americana) were extirpated from the Lower Peninsula of Michigan by the early 1900s, due to loss of habitat and over-trapping. In the mid-1980s reintroduction efforts took place in the Manistee National Forest (MNF) and Pigeon River State Forest (PR), with 36 and 49 martens being reintroduced respectively. Previous studies monitoring genetic diversity have focused on marten found primarily in habitat proximate to reintroduction release sites. Consequently, little is known of marten dispersal and colonization to potential habitat throughout Lower Michigan. The objectives of our study were to determine if marten distribution in the MNF had expanded beyond original release sites and further inform and update indices of genetic diversity from a broader sample of the MNF population. During June – August 2016 we non-invasively sampled 2,068 km2 of potential marten habitat using baited hair snares made of corrugated drain pipe bisected by dowels wrapped with packing tape. Snares were deployed near the centroid of 7km2 grid cells (average female home range size for our population) containing >50% forest cover (deciduous/conifer/mixed), and we checked snares for hair at three-day maximum intervals for three weeks. We extracted DNA from hair samples, and marten were genotyped using 11 microsatellite loci. A total of 167 hair samples were collected from 144 locations. Marten were found to have colonized areas of all forested cover types contiguous to original release sites, but they failed to colonize areas of National Forest separated by a highly fragmented landscape. Marten allelic diversity and effective population size were small, similar to marten occupying habitat in the original release sites. Results of this study, and a similar survey of the PR population in 2017, will be used to inform future translocations and efforts to increase connectivity between MNF and PR marten populations.
79 Assessing Spatio-Temporal Patterns, of Human -Carnivore Conflict in and Around Pir Lasura National Park, Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Pakistan
Faraz Akrim; Tariq Mahmood
Aims. The aim of current study was to investigate spatio-temporal patterns of human-carnivores conflict in and around Pir Lasura National Park, Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Pakistan. Methods. We conducted questionnaire survey to collect data on human-carnivore conflict and respondents were selected using consecutive sampling method. Results. Results showed that 170 people lost 306 livestock, poultry, dogs, and pets to four different carnivore species. Common leopard was found responsible for majority of the attacks (88.5%), with minor contribution from Asiatic Jackal (5.2%), small Indian civet (3.2%) and the grey mongoose (2.9%). Leopard attacked mainly goats (82.2%) and dogs (9.2%), and the attacks were significantly higher during the daytime, rather than at evening and night. A majority of attacks occurred during summer season. A positive correlation was found between monthly leopard depredation on livestock and mean monthly temperature; however, there was no correlation between monthly leopard attacks and mean monthly rainfall. A significant effect of different strategies used for guarding livestock was found with least attacks occurring when livestock were guarded by both human and dogs. Leopard depredation was significantly higher in herd size greater than 20. Common leopard was responsible for majority of the financial loss which estimated approximately at US$ 98,703 for the current study period and it negatively affected local tolerance. As a result, local perception was hugely negative (86%) and included killing of fifteen leopards. Conclusion/Management implication. For mitigation of human-carnivore conflict more research studies should be conducted in the Park. Local communities should be educated about modern structures of pens/corals to reduce livestock depredation by common leopard. During grazing, livestock guarding by both, humans and dogs and increased guarding during May, June, July and December can help in reducing the livestock losses.
80 Understanding Mechanisms of Diet Selection in White-tailed Deer
Jacob Dykes; Marcus Lashley; Bronson Strickland; Steve Demarais; Dan Reynolds
Mechanisms driving diet selection are important to habitat management decisions for herbivores. However, relatively little is currently known about those mechanisms because most studies measure use without accounting for availability. Moreover, use is most commonly calculated by measuring the difference between forage biomass with and without herbivore access. Therefore, this method is likely flawed because plants have differing strategies to defend against herbivory (e.g., compensatory growth, secondary plant metabolites), making comparisons of herbivore selectivity across plant species invalid. To address these potential fallacies in previous experiments and improve understanding of mechanisms driving diet selection, we designed a cafeteria-style experiment with 15 cool-season forages where we protected forages from herbivory with electric fences until established. We then spatially and temporally repeated diet selection trials 8 times by allowing white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) access to two replicates in two week intervals once per month. We monitored deer foraging minutes spent in each forage (i.e., use) and measured forage biomass and forage macro- and micro-nutrients (i.e., availability) at the beginning of each trial to calculate selection. Because forages matured at different rates, each experiment effectively rearranged biomass and nutritional qualities of the same forages allowing us to determine if deer were selecting for plants or nutritional qualities during diet selection. Forage biomass was the strongest predictor of diet selection in the initial trial (R2=0.72). However, two forages were outliers, being used substantially more than expected based on availability. Initial analysis revealed fat and the collective concentrations of macro- and micronutrients were important in the forages used most frequently. Our data indicate forage abundance especially those high in fat and overall nutrient content may drive deer diet selection during winter months.
81 Application of the Bighorn Sheep Risk of Contact Tool and Best Available Science to a Domestic Sheep Allotment Analysis Process: the Fisher-Ivy/Goose Allotment, Rio Grande National Forest.
Randal Ghormley; Dale Gomez
The need to maintain effective separation between domestic sheep and bighorn sheep on free range conditions is widely recognized as the most prudent action that can be taken to reduce the potential for interspecies disease transmission. Current Forest Service direction to achieve these objectives is to utilize a risk assessment process where management objectives include maintenance or enhancement of bighorn sheep populations. Historical accounts suggest that Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep were common on the Rio Grande National Forest during early settlement period of the mid- to late 1800’s. As in many areas of the western United States, these herds were largely decimated by the early 1900s. Currently, 11 bighorn sheep herds containing an estimated 1,070 individuals occur or partially occur on the Forest with ample unoccupied habitat available. Domestic sheep grazing has also been an important local cultural and economic activity since the early settlement period. Domestic sheep numbers peaked at about 245,000 during the 1920’s, however the Forest still supports approximately 11,000 sheep on roughly 25 different allotments. Some of these allotments occur in proximity to or even overlap known or suspected bighorn sheep core herd range and/or summer source habitat. This poster presentation displays the steps involved in a recent quantitative analysis involving the Fisher-Ivy/Goose Allotment, including graphs and figures associated with our use of the recently produced Bighorn Sheep Risk of Contact Tool to help inform the Risk Analysis and Record of Decision. Our use of the Risk of Contact Tool is a first for the Forest Service Rocky Mountain Region, and we display why we suggest its use and application to be representative of the best available science in informing this issue on a landscape scale.
82 Trapping Protocol for Difficult to Detect Small Mammals
Douglas A. Keinath; Kristina Harkins; Merav Ben-David
Many species of small mammals are considered rare largely because they are difficult to detect on the landscape. Such species will therefore require specific survey methods to optimize their detection. Most studies of small mammals follow a similar protocol that includes trapping a relatively small area with Sherman live traps and using a peanut-butter-oat mix for bait. As part of a larger study focused on delineation of the distribution of rare pocket mice (Perognathus spp.) across Wyoming, we tested a new protocol designed to maximize the capture success of these small mammals. We also determined trap and bait preferences of different species. We used three trap types: Sherman, Havahart, and Longworth set at 25 m intervals along four transects of 20 stations each. We baited each station with one of three different bait types in an alternate fashion: peanut butter and oat mix, three-way horse feed with molasses, and roasted bird seed. We found that capture probability was highest in Havaharts for 22 species out of the 23 total species captured including all four Wyoming pocket mice (Perognathus spp. and Chaetodipus hispidus), Ord’s kangaroo rats (Dipodomys ordii), deer mice (Perognathus maniculatus), harvest mice (Reithrodontomys spp.), northern grasshopper mice (Onchomys leucogaster), least chipmunks (Tamias minimus), thirteen-lined ground squirrel (Ictidomys tridecemlineatus) and voles (Microtus spp. and Lemmiscus curtatus). The only exception was bushy-tailed woodrats (Neotoma cinerea) which were more readily caught in Sherman traps. Bait preference significantly varied by species with pocket mice exhibiting preference for bird seed. Pocket mouse capture success increased during this study through these methods. These results can be used to develop species-specific capture protocols for future studies.
83 Estimating Density of Sitatunga in the Mayanja River of Central Uganda Using Spatially Explicit Capture Recapture
Camille H. Warbington; Mark S. Boyce
Pressure on the natural world is increasing and conservation dollars are limited. A well-regulated hunt for selected species can be a viable option to provide funding for conservation, especially in areas seldom visited by tourists. However, sustainable harvest management requires knowledge about populations of hunted species. Sitatunga (Tragelaphus spekii) is a unique semi-aquatic African antelope that is prized by hunters, yet we know little about this spiral-horned species. Sitatunga are individually identifiable based upon coat markings and horn shape. In 2015, we began a photographic mark-resight study into a population of sitatunga in the Mayanja River of central Uganda, where trophy hunting is legal and ungulate populations appear to be stable. We observed sitatunga from May – August 2015 and 2016, and from February – August in 2017. In 2015, we identified 80 individual male sitatunga (bulls) and 39 female (ewe) and juvenile (lamb) sitatunga. We used this data to perform a preliminary spatially explicit capture-recapture (SECR) model of density, which estimates that the density of sitatunga in the Mayanja River is 10.6 sitatunga / km 2 (95% confidence interval 6.0 – 18.6). This research will improve harvest management on a local scale, specifically in Uganda, and provide baseline data for sitatunga management throughout its range in sub-Saharan Africa. Enhanced harvest management for sitatunga can motivate landowners to conserve wetlands and contribute to sustainable economies in rural Africa.
84 Mule Deer Habitat Preference in Chihuahua, Mexico
Martha Patricia Olivas; Cuauhcihuatl Vital García; Juan Pedro Flores Margez; Miroslava Quiñonez Martínez; Antonio De la Mora Covarrubias
There are some factors that determine the habitat selection by mule deer; among others, vegetation cover and the diet quality are critical. Our main aim was to evaluate factors that were affecting differences of deer distribution. We worked in a desert area of the Chihuahua state, for two summers in two localities: Old Net and the Pulpit. Variables measured were: deer abundance, vegetation cover, and diet quality as well as diet composition. To calculate deer abundance, we used linear transects and performed pellet counts. Differences in deer abundance occurred at the two localities: Old Net exhibited higher abundance (0.14 deer/ha) than the Pulpit (0.09 deer/ha) (t-test, n = 8, P<0.001). We used transects and step points to measure plant cover; the plants were categorized into three classes: tree-shrub, grass pasture-herbs and succulent. Vegetation was comprised primarily of grasses-herbs (65%), while Old Net showed more of both succulents (48%) and trees-shrubs 43% (χ 2, P<0.001). Diet composition was determined from collected feces using micro- analyses, and; results included 21 plant species. The Pulpit presented a high proportion of grasses and herbs (52%), while Old Net contained more trees and shrubs (77%). We assessed diet quality by measuring crude protein (CP). There was a significant difference in CP content between the two localities for both summers (ANOVA, n=49; P< 0.01). Our data suggest that mule deer habitat preference is influenced by vegetation cover where succulents and trees-shrubs plants are more abundant and have a higher CP content which contributes to diet quality. We considered that levels of CP content was enough for sustain deer populations. We suggest that is important to preserved areas with plants like Prosopis sp. (mezquite) for provide refuge and food quality to deer.
85 The Status of Scientific Knowledge on Sulawesi Mammals: A Review of the Empirical Literature and Recommendations for Future Studies
Bayu W. Broto; Alessio Mortelliti
Sulawesi is one of the most important islands in Indonesia for mammal conservation because of the high level of mammal endemism (98% endemism of non-flying mammals). However, habitat loss, habitat fragmentation, and habitat degradation threaten mammals on this island. Although many studies have been conducted focusing on Sulawesi mammals, no comprehensive review of the status of ecological knowledge of mammals is Sulawesi is available, which may hamper further advances in research and generate ineffective conservation strategies. The goals of this study are to identify the progress and knowledge gaps from ecological studies of mammals in Sulawesi and to propose priorities for future research. These proposed research priorities will increase understanding and enhance effective conservation strategies of Sulawesi mammals. To achieve these goals, a review of mammal research from available publications (in English and Indonesian) using a combination of eight key terms was conducted. Subsequently, an additional literature search was performed for each species, focusing on key authors and key references cited in the selected papers. Non-parametric Chi-square tests were used to examine the distribution of studies among different subject categories. Our preliminary results from this work in progress show that 1) there is a strong disproportion in the ecological knowledge of Sulawesi mammals among species (i.e. some species have been extensively studied whereas other species have never been studied apart from the species description paper), 2) taxonomy studies are widespread than ecological studies, and 3) studies focusing on population characteristics such as demography are more common than habitat studies. Based on our findings, we develop a roadmap for extending our knowledge on mammals in Sulawesi highlighting key knowledge gaps, poorly studied species and poorly studied areas of Sulawesi.
86 The American Black Bear and Baited Hair-Snares: A Quantitative Ethogram and Behavioral Analysis
Steven M. Gurney; Jennifer B. Smith; Dwayne R. Etter; David M. Williams
Studying cryptic or elusive wildlife can be difficult, especially when species occur at low densities or inhabit densely vegetated habitats. Non-invasive hair sampling techniques are often used to estimate population size and characteristics of such species. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources uses genetic analysis of collected hair samples to estimate abundance and density of black bears (Ursus americanus) in the northern Lower Peninsula. However, low detection rates of black bears at hair-snares may limit our ability to accurately and precisely estimate density. Our goal was to explore possible factors driving low bear detection by examining the behavioral ecology of bears from trail camera data. We deployed corral style hair-snares and trail cameras at 40 sites across the northern Lower Peninsula of Michigan. Using video data from the trail cameras, we developed an ethogram based on frequently occurring behaviors and quantified time budgets. We reviewed and quantified 1,161 occurrences of behavior for a total of 12,007 seconds of behavioral data. We found that the number of samples collected during a sampling occasion was positively correlated with the number of bear visits. There was a significant difference between the frequencies of visit locations (outside of snare, crossing wire, inside of snare) between snares with low amounts of samples (≤11) and snares with high amounts (≥18). Additionally, we did not find any difference in how bears cross the wires between occasions that produced low numbers of samples and high. We found no significant difference among bear behavior frequencies and study area, bait combination, or number of samples. By explicitly profiling bear behavior at snare sites, our results suggest homogeneity in bear behavior at barbed-wire corral hair traps. Our findings can be used by management to help improve snare design and ultimately increase detection probabilities.
87 Phylogeography of Black Bears in the Northeastern United States
Catherine C. Sun; Matthew P. Hare; Angela K. Fuller; Jeremy E. Hurst
American black bears (Ursus americanus) in the northeastern United States have been growing in population size and expanding in range since the mid-1950s. They have experienced a series of population bottlenecks and growth after expanding out of glacial refugia 1.8 million years ago. Understanding patterns of historical demography of black bears and the resulting geographical distributions of genetic lineages can aid management, especially as black bears are a game species in 8 of the 11 northeastern states. We conducted a phylogeography study of black bears in the northeastern US to estimate contemporary levels of genetic diversity, structure, and gene flow. We collected genetic samples (2011-2017) from n=298 harvested, nuisance, and research bears from Maine to West Virginia. We sequenced a ~450 base pair segment of mitochondrial DNA overlapping the control region and 15 nuclear microsatellite markers to characterize genetic diversity and structure. We identified mitochondrial diversity consistent with previous findings at coarser, continental-wide scales of investigation. Microsatellite analyses were used to test for non-equilibrium patterns of gene flow and range expansion. This study will provide targeted, high-resolution insight for the northeastern geographic range into factors that historically influenced bear movements and may still be reinforcing population structure. We discuss the implications of these findings for serving as a baseline for ongoing bear management and future assessments of population genetic structure in the northeastern United States.
88 Spotted Skunks among Us: A Tri-State Cooperative Project for Monitoring a Poorly Understood Carnivore in the Southern Appalachians
Robin Y. Eng; Joseph W. Butfiloski; Colleen Olfenbuttel; Nikole Castleberry; Katrina Morris; David S. Jachowski
Eastern spotted skunks (Spilogale putorius) are among the most poorly understood mammalian carnivore species in North America. To develop an understanding of the landscape scale habitat associations of this species, we developed a two-year, multi-agency non-invasive monitoring program for spotted skunks in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. Using baited camera traps, we surveyed 85 and 92 sites from January through April in 2016 and 2017 respectively. We used a generalized random stratified sampling design to select sites across five elevational strata between 250 and 1420 meters in the southern Appalachians, and baited sites with sardines in oil and two different scent lures to evaluate their impact on detection probability. Unfortunately, due to sensitivity issues with the Reconyx cameras used in NC, 57 out of 85 sites were omitted from analysis of the 2016 data. Our ongoing second season of monitoring using only Bushnell cameras at NC sites suggests that the Reconyx cameras used in 2016 were less proficient at detecting spotted skunks and other small mammals. Of the remaining 28 sites from 2016, 14 had at least one spotted skunk detection. Preliminary observations from this first season indicate that detectability may be negatively influenced by certain lure types and particular camera brands, but positively associated with the spotted skunk mating season in March. Detections were most common between 500-700 meters, suggesting occupancy may be higher in this elevation range. The complete data from this study will be used to develop estimates of detection and occupancy probabilities for spotted skunks across the Southern Appalachian region. Furthermore, it will provide new distributional information about spotted skunks, and recommendations for the most effective methods and equipment needed to investigate this historically overlooked and understudied mesocarnivore species.
89 Migration Choices and How They Effect Survival of a Large, Migratory Herbivore
Jerrod L. Merrell; Kelley M. Stewart; Shelly D. Blair
Mule Deer (Odocoileus hemionus) are a charismatic large mammal and an important game species in the western United States. By conserving deer habitat, open space for other species is also protected. Mule deer populations are in decline for a variety of reasons including: loss of habitat from development, recreational pressures on critical ranges, poaching, disease, and predation. Thus, understanding factors influencing population level performance will continue to be important in the near future. The Pacific Deer Herd (PDH) is a migratory herd found on the western slope of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California. The estimated population of this herd is approximately 2,600 individuals. The PDH occupies 914 km2 that includes national forest as well as private lands owned by Sierra Pacific Industry (timber) and Sacramento Municipal Utility District. We captured and attached radio collars to female mule deer during summer and autumn of 2015 (n=14) and 2016 (n=13). We documented 8 mortality events resulting from poaching (n=3), predation (n=4) and adenovirus (n=1). We used Program MARK to evaluate factors that best explained adult survival. We tested and hypothesized that climatic, habitat, individual, and migration choice covariates would influence demographic rates of this population. Our top model estimated yearly survival to be 0.70. This model was derived from a combination of allowing adult survival to vary by month, pelvic body condition score and the amount of days the King Fire burn area was used during autumn migration. Understanding what is influencing survival will enable managers to focus conservation efforts.
90 Mitigating Respiratory Disease Persistence and Transmission in Wild Bighorn Sheep Populations
Tyler Garwood; Chad Lehman; Frances Cassirer; Thomas Besser; Daniel Walsh; Jonathan Jenks
Bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis), a culturally and economically valuable game species in the west, are suffering from a respiratory disease that has decimated infected populations. Biologists recently theorized that this disease is induced by the bacterium Mycoplasma ovipneumoniae (Mo) and have hypothesized that the propagation of Mo outbreaks stems from a small number of adult bighorns that chronically shed the pathogen. This induces periodic epizootics in the herd, resulting in adult mortalities, poor lamb survival, and ultimately population decline. We test this hypothesis by radio-marking and testing presence of Mo in two infected herds of bighorn sheep in the Black Hills, South Dakota, where disease histories had been developed for individual bighorns. In our experimental herd we radio-marked and tested all individuals in the population (n = 21 adults, n = 9 lambs) and removed chronic shedders based on disease histories; subsequent testing indicates Mo no longer persists in this herd. Our control herd (n = 46 adults, n = 19 lambs) still exhibits the presence of Mo and experienced 26% lamb mortality and 13% adult mortality due to pneumonia. The experimental population experienced no mortalities attributable to pneumonia. Adult survival for our control (Ŝ = 0.68, SE = 0.01) did not significantly differ (Z = 1.13, P = 0.19) from our treatment (Ŝ = 0.83, SE = 0.02) but may be biologically relevant. Lamb survival for our control (Ŝ = 0.16, SE = 0.02) was significantly lower (Z = 4.73, P < 0.01) than our treatment (Ŝ = 0.87, SE = 0.04), which suggests that the selective removal of Mo-shedding bighorns reduces pneumonia incidence and mortality in wild populations. This study has implications for wildlife managers across the west, as testing and removing chronic shedders may be more tenable than eradicating entire populations.
91 Influence of Natural and Anthropogenic Disturbances on Multi-Scale Black Bear Habitat Selection
Susan M. Bard; James W. Cain III
The combined effects of long-term fire suppression, logging, and overgrazing have negatively impacted the condition of many southwestern forests, resulting in decreased habitat quality for wildlife and more frequent and severe wildfires. Degraded forest conditions have resulted in calls for restoration of the historic forest structure and fire regimes. Our research objectives included investigating local and landscape scale habitat selection of black bears (Ursus americanus) in the Jemez Mountains of north central New Mexico to assess the effects of landscape scale restoration and wildfires. We specifically aimed to 1) address changes in abundance of key forage species for black bears in response to forest restoration treatments and recent wildfires, 2) determine landscape-level habitat selection and space use patterns of black bears in relation to currently completed forest restoration treatments and wildfires occurring over the past 20 years, and 3) assess habitat characteristics at bed and den sites of black bears to determine whether wildfire and restoration treatments influenced selection on a microscale. From 2012-2016 we placed GPS radio-collars on 48 adult black bears. During 2015-2016 we documented 302 bed sites from 24 black bears, and 24 den sites for microhabitat analysis. Results indicated a positive trend between black bear habitat selection and low horizontal visibility, increased stand basal area, and increased hard mast cover.
92 Evaluation of Non-Invasive Fecal Sampling for Monitoring Bobcats and Ocelots in South Texas
Daniel R. Taylor; Randy W. DeYoung; Michael E. Tewes; Terry L. Blankenship; Tyler A. Campbell
Field research methods to monitor the endangered ocelot (Leopardus pardalis) in South Texas include live-trapping and remote camera stations. However, months of trapping efforts often result in the capture of only a few individuals, and camera stations cannot gather genetic information for population monitoring. Bobcats (Lynx rufus) and other carnivores are known to defecate along roads and trails within their home ranges. Thus, it may be possible to incorporate non-invasive scat sampling as an additional monitoring tool for ocelots, with added benefits such as the acquisition of DNA. We evaluated the feasibility of collecting felid scats along ranch roads adjacent to known ocelot habitat to determine abundance of ocelots and bobcats where the two species co-occur. We extracted DNA from 172 samples and confirmed species of origin through mitochondrial DNA sequencing. We were able to identify 70 bobcat samples and 0 ocelot samples with an 88.4% amplification success rate. Abundance estimates from closed mark-recapture estimates using microsatellite genotypes will be compared to data from a grid of 26 camera stations within the same study areas. Scat sampling is an efficient way to acquire genetic material from bobcats. However, the lack of ocelot detections suggests that ocelots do not prefer to use roads for moving and scat marking as other carnivores do, or that the event is rare and did not occur during our surveys.
93 Resource Selection and Home Range Analysis of the American Black Bear in the Ozark Mountains of East-Central Oklahoma
Elliot Lustig; W. Sue Fairbanks; Sara Lyda
Recolonizing black bears (Ursus americanus) in the Oklahoma Ozark Mountains region are expanding into anthropogenically-fragmented territory. This population may have potential to fill a sustainable niche, if management and conservation practices align. After trapping and collaring black bears in the Oklahoma Ozark region, we will study home range size and resource selection in ArcGIS 10.2 and Geospatial Modeling Environment to further assess the status of the population. From the estimated black bear population of 77 – 82, a total of 24 individuals collared between 2011 and 2016 collected sufficient data to be analyzed (10M:14F). Individuals included in the study had an average of 1015 ± 868.4 (SD) recorded locations. Home ranges in the fragmented region of the study area are expected to be larger than home ranges found in continuous habitat in other similar study areas. Female home ranges (74.2 km2) were found to be significantly smaller than male home ranges (195.0 km2, p = 0.002). Seasonal differences in home range size were also found to be statistically significant, for both males and females. Land cover use for some individuals may favor human development more than other studies due to the availability of high quality anthropogenic food sources such as corn feeders. Applicable findings will inform future management policies in the Oklahoma Ozark region.
94 Microsatellite Primer Redesign for Lion Genetic Analysis
Caitlin Curry; James Derr
Microsatellites are a popular molecular marker used in population and conservation genetics because of their codominant transmission, highly polymorphic and hypervariable nature, and the low cost of genotyping compared to other DNA sequence analysis methods. For the lion (Panthera leo), genetic research has heavily relied on genomic information originally derived from the domestic cat (Felis catus). Domestic cat microsatellites are the primary marker used for nuclear analysis in lions. However, non-specific matching from genomic differences between the lion and domestic cat (10.8MY divergence) can result in inconsistent amplification creating issues for downstream analysis. To increase specificity and reliability, particularly in the use of historical samples which may contain degraded DNA, I redesigned the primers of commonly used microsatellites using African lion DNA. Candidate microsatellites were chosen based on how many studies used the marker, level of heterozygosity, number of alleles, and allelic richness as determined by the previous studies. Using the primers designed for the domestic cat, fragments were found by Sanger sequencing polymerase chain reaction (PCR) product cloned by TOPO® TA Cloning® and by electronic polymerase chain reaction (ePCR) of an African Lion genome. Fragments found by both methods were compared and used to design primer pairs closer to the target region (80-200bp). Fourteen of seventeen domestic cat primer pairs resulted in microsatellites that were acceptable for primer redesign. The fourteen redesigned primer pairs were optimized for individual and multiplex PCR and genotyping. These redesigned and improved microsatellite primers and the methods developed for optimal performance will be available for population genetic analysis of both current and historic lions.


Location: Albuquerque Convention Center Date: September 27, 2017 Time: 9:00 am - 5:00 pm