Poster Session III

ROOM: HCCC, Ballroom C

1 Assessing the Occurrence of Microplastic Uptake By Freshwater Mussels, a Mesocosom Study.
Bryan Rego; Sara Laux
An emerging concern in aquatic environments is the accumulation of plastic debris, specifically microplastic. Microplastics are defined as any fragment, fiber, bead, or foam smaller than 5 mm and are of special concern because they can be ingested throughout the food web more readily than larger particles. Little is known about the potential harmful effects of microplastics on freshwater mussels. This study aims to document the uptake of microplastics by freshwater mussels. Freshwater mussels (Anodonta sp.) were purchased and placed in two, 25-gallon mesocosms (N = 6/treatment/trial) of either clean water or water containing known concentrations of microplastic debris proportional to the composition of microplastics in the tributaries to the Great Lakes (71% fibers, 1% beads, 9% foams, 3% films, and 16% fragments). We aimed for 3 trials, 5 replicates, consisting of high (10 pieces plastic/gal), medium (6 pieces plastic/gal), and actual microplastic concentrations representative of documented concentrations in the tributaries of the Great Lakes (2 pieces plastic/gal). Each replicate lasted two weeks, at which time, mussels were collected and dissected. Each component of the digestive tract (excurrent and incurrent siphon, stomach, and intestines) and the gills were removed and dissected separately. A wet peroxide oxidation (4N KOH and 30% H2O2 ) method was used to dissolve organic material leaving behind any non-organic plastic debris. Observations were also made for any microplastics on the gills, digestive tract, and in the shell prior to dissections. Preliminary analysis suggests the mussels are indeed up-taking microplastic debris from their environment. After initial trials, it was found that 16% of mussels ingested microplastics. Microplastics were found in both the digestive tract and the gills, and consisted of fragments, fibers and foams. Further research will help contribute to a better understanding of how microplastic pollution is impacting Great Lakes Ecosystems.
2 Assessment of Flora Diversity in Awba Dam Tourism Centre, Ibadan, Nigeria.
Kolawole Felix Farinloye
Awba Dam Tourism Centre (ADTC) located within the University of Ibadan, lies in the transition zone between equatorial rain forest and the savanna. Flora species within the site were perceived to be potentially important in ecotourism; hence an assessment of flora diversity was carried out. The study was carried out over a period of two consecutive wet and dry seasons. Study area was divided into 4 subdivisions: Reservoir Area (RA), Forest Area (FA), Cultivated Area (CA), and Built-Up Area (BA) using line transects. Complete enumeration of trees, saplings, and small trees growing within 50m radius of the Awba dam was carried out. The percentage canopy cover of tree species (to the nearest 5%) was estimated by observing through the small lens of a pair of binoculars. The percentage ground cover was determined by ocular estimation (to the nearest 5%). Number of lianas or woody climbers were counted manually while grass height (<0.5 m tall, 0.5-1.0 m tall, and > 1 m tall) was measured using polythene measuring tape. Data was analysed using descriptive statistics and ANOVA at α0.05. Total of (194) trees were enumerated with 24 species. Melina arborea had the highest frequency representing (7.2%) while Chrysophyllum albidum had the lowest of (2.1%) respectively. Trees, shrubs and herbs in RA were 14.0±0.15, 26.2±0.34 and 49.9±0.22, FA: 122.0±0.20, 9.2±0.12 and 13.8±0.46, CA: 30.0±0.18, 37.2±0.70 and 31.0±0.31 and BA: 28.0±0.16, 12.4±0.29 and 18.0±0.81, respectively. Dominant climbers and lianas were Combretum spp (2.2) and Dioscorea spp (0.8), while under-storey of small shrubs such as Chassalia kolly, Mallotus oppositifolius and Sphenocentrum jollyanum were 1.6, 1.9, and 2.3, respectively. The site is rich in flora diversity; a potential for ecotourism development; suggesting need for effective management and conservation of the flora resources as well as the touristic capacity of Awba dam tourism centre.
3 Changes in %Ept Through Wintering Conditions in Urban and Nonurban Streams in Monongalia County, West Virginia
Macey J. Rowan
Percentage of indicator macroinvertebrate orders such as Ephemeraptera, Plecoptera, and Trichoptera, or %EPT, is great way to look at water quality. These species inhabit many streams in North America, and are commonly found in both urban and nonurban streams in Monongalia County, West Virginia. We aim to see the effects of temperature and pH change through winter conditions on the macroinvertebrate orders in urban and nonurban streams. Our study is to see how urbanization is affecting streams in close proximity to highly populated areas versus streams that are further from populated areas but are not agricultural areas, thus the terms ‘urban’ and ‘nonurban’. We hypothesize that the percent Ephemeraptera, Plecoptera, and Trichoptera will be higher in our two nonurban streams, Lick Run and Little Laurel Run (both located in the West Virginia University Research Forest), than in our two urban streams, Decker’s Creek and Cobun Creek. We believe that the nonurban streams will contain more EPT than the urban because they will not have all of the runoff from heavily populated areas such as pesticides. We also hypothesize that %EPT will drastically change in all streams as the temperature drops. We began our data collection, by using a kicknet in a randomized location along our stream and then moving 50 meters upstream and 50 meters downstream for a total of 3 samples per stream per month. We also used a Yellow Springs Instrument to record water quality measurements such as pH, and temperature. Once collecting our data we performed a T-Test in excel to show the differences between urban and nonurban streams. We also performed a linear regression to show the association between pH, temperature and %EPT. We plan to continue to collect data to see changes across multiple seasons and multiple years.
4 Combining Cutting-Edge Technologies to Inform Winter Habitat Management Prescriptions for White-Tailed Deer in Northcentral and Northeastern Minnesota
Bradley D. Smith; Glenn D. DelGiudice; William J. Severud
Advances in technology enhance our ability to understand wildlife-habitat relationships. Based on recommendations from the Office of the Legislative Auditor, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is developing a statewide white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) management plan to enhance its ability to maintain regional deer numbers near population goals. Habitat management is a key component of this plan. Because winter is the nutritional bottleneck for northern deer, has the greatest impact on their natural survival rates, and may have a pronounced impact on spring fawning, wildlife managers focus most of their efforts on improving winter habitat as a means of positively influencing population performance. Informed habitat management prescriptions, based on an improved understanding of optimal size, shape, and arrangement of forest stands and foraging sites, and edge relationships will contribute to a more successful integration of long-term forest and deer habitat management strategies. The objectives of this study are to use cutting-edge Global Positioning Systems (GPS) collar, remote sensing, and Geographic Information System technologies to 1) inventory available habitat on deer winter ranges and 2) facilitate fine-scale measurements of use of cover types at the stand level. During winter 2017-2018, 20 adult female deer were captured and fitted with GPS collars on 2 study areas in northcentral and northeastern Minnesota. An additional 40 collars (20/site) will be deployed during winter 2018-2019. To better understand deer use of cover types, we will measure aspects of stand use at each location-fix, and characterize cover type structure (forest stands only), area, shape, juxtaposition and arrangements of conifer cover and forage openings. The use of cutting-edge technologies is essential to a more thorough understanding of seasonal habitat requirements of deer. This increased knowledge will aid in the crafting of more effective habitat management prescriptions.
5 Documenting Microplastic Pollution along a Suburban-Urban Gradient in Northeast Ohio
Thomas Butler; Sara Laux
It has been estimated that 10% of all of the plastic that has ever been produced has ended up in the ocean. A contributor of this plastic pollution originates from the freshwater tributaries of the Great Lakes Watersheds. Identifying the source of microplastic pollution along these tributaries is the first step in finding solutions to reduce microplastic pollution in both freshwater and marine ecosystems. The objective of this research is to document the presence of microplastic (plastic fragments and fibers < 5mm) pollution across a rural-urban gradient within the Rocky River Watershed entering Lake Erie. The Rocky River Watershed encompasses a 294 square-mile network of neighborhoods, farms, forests, parks, roads and streams, including all or part of 32 municipalities and townships. Three collection sites along the watershed will be identified, each in areas representative of: 1) Rural landscapes, 2) suburban landscapes (low population density) and 3) urban landscapes (high population density). Water samples will be collected using a 300 µm stationary neuston net at each study site (N=3 per landscape type). All collected material will undergo wet peroxide oxidation to remove any organic material, leaving behind non-organic debris. The remaining filtrate will be filtered using a Büchner funnel lined with a glass microfiber filter with a pore size of 0.7µm. A timed scan of each filter paper will be performed under a dissecting scope. Any potential microplastics will be removed for identification. A density float test (6 mol/L NaCl) and a hot needle test will be performed to confirm the specimen is of plastic origin. We expect to find an increased density of microplastics in areas along more densely populated suburban/urban landscapes. Once preliminary analysis of the watershed is complete, a landscape level assessment of the watershed will be conducted to identify any potential point sources of microplastic pollution.
6 Optimizing Restoration of Thornscrub Habitat for the Endangered Ocelot in South Texas
Jake A. Rector; Sandra Rideout-Hanzak; David B. Wester; David E. Ruppert; Michael Tewes
Species of conservation concern are subject to a wide variety of threats. With the exception of climate change, human population growth and urbanization are likely the most widespread of these threats. The critically endangered ocelot (Leopardus pardalis) is no exception. Currently, only two populations of ocelots remain in the United States with a combined population of fewer than 80 individuals. Both populations are located within the Lower Rio Grande Valley (LRGV) of South Texas. As a habitat specialist, the ocelot requires dense vegetative communities that provide substantial cover and visual obstruction. In the LRGV, the dense Tamaulipan thornscrub communities used by ocelots have been subject to substantial degradation, fragmentation, and loss. As it stands, Tamaulipan thornscrub represents <1% of the LRGV, severely limiting growth and connectivity of ocelot populations. Previous studies have identified ways in which thornscrub restoration might be facilitated. However, they have also encountered substantial challenges. These challenges have often resulted in slow development of thornscrub communities that does not achieve optimal levels of vegetative density for ideal ocelot habitat requirements. It is therefore necessary to further assess new restoration techniques that may be used in conjunction with, or instead of, previous strategies to create high-quality habitat for ocelots. Our objective is to examine techniques such as removal of above-ground growth, protective mulching, and herbivore exclusion. We are conducting a two-phase study involving application of treatments to both established and newly-planted seedlings. Progress will be measured based on growth metrics, including canopy area and number of basal stems, which we predict will correspond to development of ideal ocelot habitat.
7 Planet Rehab Endangered Species Project: A Transformational Opportunity to Preserve, Protect, and Strengthen Endangered Species in Panama
Ginger Jackson; Aubrey Valentine; Darlene Randby-Dugan; Patricia Garcia; Dr. Kelly Reiss; Dr. Joseph Maddox
Both animals and plants are becoming endangered everyday due to hunting, pet trade, and loss of habitat and insufficient food sources. is not isolated from this fact. Although there are some protected ainforests in Panama, wildlife need specific types of plant communities that provide food and shelter in order for them to thrive. The Planet Rehab Endangered Species Project can provide a safe and protected place for animals to thrive. The project seeks to create a breeding program and animal sanctuary to help wild populations at risk of extinction. Once established, the Rambala, Panama, site will create a sanctuary to care for and better understand the area’s unique biodiversity. By creating a self-sustaining wildlife preserve, the project can strengthen the ecological communities and specific target species (both flora and fauna) found in and around Rambala. When successful, the project breeding program can support scarlet macaws (Ara macao), Baird’s tapirs (Tapirus bairdii), Geoffroy’s tamarins (Saguinus geoffroyi), green-and-gold tanagers (Tangara schrankii), red-fronted parrotlet (Touit costaricensis), and green iguanas (Iguana iguana). Owing to its strategic location and established mission, this project offers research opportunities and educational programing through strategic partnerships that will help the public understand the value of protecting native species. In cooperation with Planet Rehab Director Gary C. Mitchell, members of the American Public University (APU) student chapter of The Wildlife Society (TWS) have been working to better understand the steps in establishing an international conservation effort including funding and international policy. This poster will specifically share the progress to date on the project and future project directions.
8 Soil Chemistry and Interspecific Competition Influence Understory Forest Composition in Central Pennsylvania: Implications for Wildlife
Danielle R. Begley-Miller; Duane R. Diefenbach; Marc E. McDill; Christopher S. Rosenberry; Emily Just
Eastern deciduous forest understories represent mosaics of food and cover for wildlife, supporting a diversity of insects, small mammals, birds, and large herbivores like white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus). Despite the focus on charismatic fauna, all wildlife populations rely either directly or indirectly on plant communities for food and shelter. Understanding the factors that shape plant diversity and understory composition are crucial for better managing wildlife habitat, especially in the context of food availability. In conjunction with full vegetation inventories, we collected data on abiotic conditions including soil chemistry, topography, and light across 24 permanent sites in central Pennsylvania from May to August 2014. Using Generalized Joint Attribute Modeling (GJAM), we assessed the effects of these abiotic conditions on plant abundance and compared correlations between taxa to assess competitive interactions. Ericaceous vegetation (huckleberry (Gaylussacia spp.), mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia), and blueberry (Vaccinium spp.)) was positively associated with lower pH values (β < -14.58) and low levels of extractable potassium (β < -10.69), while high quality food taxa (Indian cucumber-root (Medeola virginiana), greenbrier (Smilax rotundifolia), and brambles (Rubus spp.)) were sensitive to horizon extractable manganese (β < -3.33). Indian cucumber-root and greenbrier were positively associated with ericaceous taxa (r > 0.15), and there were no negative relationships between ericaceous taxa and any seedling species. These results indicate that soil chemistry plays a role in shaping plant community composition, but that the presence of dominant ericaceous vegetation (high cover) does not limit the abundance of some valuable food resources for wildlife.
9 The Effects of Landscape Heterogeneity on Insect Pollinators in a Swaziland Savanna Ecosystem
Emily N. Runnion; Robert A. McCleery; Robert J. Fletcher; Cebisile N. Magagula; James D. Austin; Samantha M. Wisely
The landscape heterogeneity hypothesis centers on the idea that an increase in the variability of landscapes, will increase species diversity. There is support from the literature that an increase in biodiversity leads to a healthier ecosystem. But the hypothesis is ambiguous, in that it does not measure the value of each landscape type as suitable habitat. With an ever-increasing agricultural sector, land-use around the world is becoming a mosaic of natural and developed areas. It is therefore important to understand the effects of landscape heterogeneity upon ecosystems, within the context of landscape composition, configuration, and habitat fragmentation. One of the most effective ways to quantify ecosystem health is by analyzing the output of its ecosystem services. Insect pollination is an especially important ecosystem service, contributing billions to the global economy, and supporting most human crops. My objective is to determine the effects of landscape heterogeneity on the ecosystem services provided by insect pollinators, within the context of composition, configuration, and habitat fragmentation. I will do this by studying the biodiversity and visitation rates of bee species, and other arthropod taxa, to the winter succulent Aloe marlothii. The insect pollinators of this plant are understudied, and it is possible my work will provide an index of frequent pollinator species. I will complete this study from June to August 2018, in the Lowveld region of Swaziland, within the Maputaland-Pondoland-Albany biodiversity hotspot. This area is predominantly savanna, and is experiencing increased agricultural cropland, and cattle grazing. I expect that pollinator diversity and visitation rates will be highest in areas of increased heterogeneity, but only if the composition, configuration, and connectivity of these areas are favorable. I anticipate study sites with higher connectivity between natural landscape patches, and shorter distances between agriculture and natural landscape, will have increased arthropod biodiversity and visitation rates.
10 A High Resolution Investigation Into the Factors That Influence Salamander Ecology in Northeast Georgia
Jasmine Williamson; Kayla Allen; Todd Bennett; Cory Duckworth; Katelyn Shook; David Patterson; Jessica Patterson
Amphibians are an essential group of organisms for understanding ecological dynamics due to their acute sensitivity to temperature, precipitation, and other environmental variables. Northeast Georgia in particular is ideal for studying amphibians due to the elevated diversity of plethodontid salamanders in the southern Appalachian Mountains. The purpose of this study is to investigate the effects of biotic and abiotic factors on salamander diversity and ecology. This study utilized drift fence arrays with pitfall traps to survey local salamander populations daily for a 90-day period in two forest sites (Sites A and B) in Lumpkin County, Georgia. A third site (Site C), considered ideal for local salamander populations, has been established with a drift fence array and pitfall traps for further sampling over another 90-day period between May-August in conjunction with Sites A and B. Abiotic variables, including ambient temperature, soil temperature, air humidity, light intensity and soil pH, were measured daily at both sites. A point quarter tree survey method was implemented to quantitatively assess differences in vegetation cover at all three sites; Site A is predominately planted loblolly pines, Site B is heterogeneous hardwoods adjacent to Site A, and Site C is predominately older growth hardwoods with minimal disturbance. After the first sampling period, our findings show that Sites A and B differ in salamander community composition but are similar in terms of most abiotic variables measured. There were significant differences in both soil moisture and soil pH, p values of 0.00137 and 0.0153 respectively. These data show that extremely localized biotic and abiotic variables influence salamander distribution in northeast Georgia. The addition of Site C will likely further solidify our findings and exemplify the ideal habitat for local salamander populations, contributing to the overall understanding of salamander ecology, diversity, and abundance for conservation efforts in northeast Georgia.
11 Amphibians as Bioindicators of Habitat Quality in Central and Southeastern Ohio
Christine S. Anderson; Brandyn F. Shipley
Overall biodiversity and the presence of particular species can provide biological assessments of habitat quality. Monitoring the amphibian communities of aquatic and terrestrial sites can be an effective way to estimate their ecological health. The goal of this study was to survey frogs and salamanders to estimate the quality of habitats at Blacklick Woods Metro Park in urban Reynoldsburg, OH in central Ohio, and at Capital University’s Primmer Outdoor Learning Center in the Hocking Hills region of southeastern Ohio. Field work was conducted 2015-2017 and included surveys for salamanders by turning over rocks and logs, searching vernal pools, and hand catching in the banks of springs. Frogs and tadpoles were captured using minnow and turtle live-traps at both sites. Small tissue samples (<2mm) were collected for DNA sequencing and barcoding of tadpole samples. Additionally, individuals were swabbed to test for the chytrid fungal disease Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis using real time and conventional PCR. Results included finding tolerant northern green frogs (Lithobates clamitans) and American bullfrogs (L. catesbeiana), mid-range sensitive northern leopard frogs (L. pipiens), gray treefrogs (Hyla versicolor), northern dusky salamanders, (Desmognathus fuscus), and southern two-lined salamanders (Eurycea cirrigera), and sensitive pickerel frogs (L. palustris), at the Primmer Outdoor Learning Center. Northern green frogs and bullfrogs were found at Blacklick Woods Metro Park, along with spotted salamanders (Ambystoma maculatum) and a pickerel frog, which are both classified as sensitive species. Unfortunately, positive chytrid samples have been detected at both parks. Future work includes surveys for spring and summer 2018, additional lab testing, and calculating an AmphIBI score for each field site. The implications of this work are that it can promote citizen science and aid in public awareness of threats to biodiversity at urban and rural sites, and inform conservation and mitigation efforts at these parks.
12 An Island of Misfit Tortoises: Health and Survival of Waif Gopher Tortoises Following Translocation
Rebecca K. McKee; Kurt A. Buhlmann; James W. Dillman; James B. Kesler; Clinton T. Moore; Nicole I. Stacy; Tracey D. Tuberville
Due to many anthropogenic threats, the gopher tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus) is declining throughout its range and is a candidate for federal legal protection. Although habitat management plays an important role in the species’ conservation, alone it may be insufficient to recover severely depleted populations. As a result, population augmentation through translocation—the movement of animals from one location to another—has become a valuable conservation tool. While there are risks associated with any translocation, waif tortoises—animals that have been collected illegally, been injured and rehabilitated, or have unknown origins—are generally excluded from translocations due to heightened concerns of introducing disease or altering the genetics of the recipient population. If these risks could be managed, waif tortoises could provide the needed numbers and genetic diversity to stabilize populations and prevent extirpations. In the early 1990s, a small population of gopher tortoises (n<=10) was discovered near Aiken, South Carolina. This discovery expanded the species’ known range and resulted in the creation of the Aiken Gopher Tortoise Heritage Preserve (AGTHP). Due to the preserve’s dire need for augmentation, the state’s lack of suitable donor populations, and the site’s isolation from other tortoise populations, the AGTHP provided the rare opportunity to study the effect of waif tortoise translocation without jeopardizing a viable population. Since 2006, over 280 waifs have been introduced to the preserve. We present results from a recapture effort of free-ranging waifs conducted more than a decade after initial release. We assessed post-release survivorship and site fidelity of waifs, documented evidence of reproductive success by surveying for nests and successfully recruited juveniles, and evaluated health through physical examination and testing for common pathogens. Our results have important implications for using waifs in gopher tortoise population recovery efforts.
13 Around the Watering Hole: Terrestrial Ecology of the Endangered Sonoran Tiger Salamander
Colin W. Brocka; John L. Koprowski
Knowledge of ecological and behavioral processes are essential for the conservation of species at risk of extinction. Approximately one third of all amphibian species are threatened or endangered, and those with limited distribution or population size are particularly vulnerable. To develop effective conservation strategies for at-risk amphibians, managers need to understand their ecological requirements. The Sonoran tiger salamander (STS; Ambystoma mavortium stebbinsi) is a federally endangered subspecies found only in the San Rafael Valley of southeastern Arizona and northern Sonora, Mexico. The STS was listed as endangered in 1997 due to highly restricted distribution, dependence on human-constructed environments, invasive species, genetic swamping by non-native salamanders, and disease. Cattle tanks created by ranchers to hold water have replaced natural springs, and are now primary breeding sites for STS. The terrestrial life stage is the only means of responding to pond drying or die-offs and thus is critical to the maintenance of metapopulation dynamics. However, the ecology of metamorphosed salamanders outside of breeding tanks is virtually unknown. We are using radio-telemetry to assess STS terrestrial movement patterns, habitat preferences, and life history traits. Spatial information is important for wildlife managers to develop effective management strategies to conserve the Sonoran tiger salamander and other isolated amphibians.
14 Assessing Riparian Land-Use of Salamanders Following Fire
Philip Gould
Plethodontid salamanders account for more biomass than any other group of vertebrate species, however we know relatively little about their responses to fire. It is particularly important when we consider fires in riparian forests, as this habitat is critical for aquatic, semi-aquatic, and terrestrial salamanders alike. In the fall of 2016, the Nantahala National Forest, along with many other forested regions in the southern United States, experienced fire across large portions of the Wayah region. The objective of this study was to identify if salamanders were more restricted to stream or near-stream habitat in burned forests, due to decreased moisture and humidity in burned forests. We hypothesized that salamanders would be closer to streams in burned forests and the effect of burns would be less severe at higher elevation. We evaluated these hypotheses by surveying 10 streams, 5 burned and 5 controls, assessing distance away from stream along a 75-m linear transect, perpendicular to streams. We surveyed each stream 3 times in year 1 and 2. We identified the species, life stage, and distance from stream. Additionally, we quantified severity of fire and canopy cover for each site, and measured temperature, humidity and time of survey for each replicate visit. We incorporated landscape variables (elevation, aspect, slope), site variables, and visit variables into a mixed effects model using STAN in R. Results indicate that more aquatic taxa are found closer to stream habitats in burn forests, regardless of elevation. Riparian forests at higher elevations also seemed to be buffered from the strong negative effects of fire, with salamanders being found at slightly further distances from streams. We conclude that riparian fire may restrict terrestrial habitat use of semi-aquatic and aquatic salamanders, potentially driving greater competition for near-stream resources and limiting exchange of upland resources between forest and headwater ecosystems.
15 Changing Precipitation and Environmentally Responsive Movement Behavior in an Amphibian System Affect Dispersal
Evan M. Bredeweg; Nathan H. Schumaker; Anita T. Morzillo; Tiffany S. Garcia
Amphibian species exhibit metapopulation qualities as they have diverse lifetime habitat needs that are segregated throughout a landscape. Factors that influence dispersal between these isolated habitats are of conservation concern, particularly as climate change may influence precipitation and, therefore, availability of aquatic habitat components. Our objective was to build a spatially explicit individual-based model using the HexSim simulator to investigate the impact of varying precipitation on the dispersal of recently metamorphosed amphibians. We used a generic amphibian species from the Pacific Northwest to develop the life history and biology parameters for this simulation. Movement behaviors in response to environmental conditions were parameterized from results of a project with Rana aurora in wet and dry experimental enclosures. Random landscapes were built within each simulation run. Daily rainfall amounts were used from downscaled MACA climate models during the late summer and early fall (July-Nov) when most juvenile amphibians metamorphose and transition to terrestrial habitats. Simulated amphibians that were available to disperse assessed current conditions to make choices on when and how to disperse. Our model also compared functional connectivity of scenarios in two treatment groups of precipitation: current conditions and future projected conditions (years 2070-2099, downscaled global model from CMIP5 using RCP 8.5 emissions scenario). Model runs were repeated 500 times for each precipitation treatment. In the projected future precipitation, functional connectivity was higher for landscapes with lower average patch distance. The timing of dispersal was also delayed in the future climate treatment. When we combine our results with other studies of amphibian population connectivity, the importance of compensatory movement in low-suitability habitats become increasing important for amphibian dispersal. These results have important implications for the balancing of metapopulation dynamics of amphibian species and impact the priorities of future amphibian conservation planning.
17 Dietary Resource Utilization Among Three Sympatric Watersnakes Revealed By Stable Isotope Analysis
Micah W. Perkins
The coexistence of similar wildlife species may be facilitated by differences in dietary resource utilization among species, but many studies do not consider the effects of intraspecific factors. Sex and age class can affect individual diet and trophic niche ecology, potentially reducing interspecific competition and enabling similar species to coexist. Our study focused on the sympatric diamondback (Nerodia rhombifer), northern (N. sipedon), and plain-bellied (N. erythrogaster) watersnakes, which inhabit similar wetland habitats and appear to have considerable dietary overlap. According to gut content analyses, which provide information only on short-term diet, all three species feed on fishes and amphibians. Stable isotope analyses, in contrast, provide long-term dietary information that may better elucidate more complex dietary relationships that may exist within and among species. Accordingly, we used stable isotope techniques to determine trophic resource position, trophic niche width, and trophic niche overlap for snake species, sexes, and body sizes. Overall, diamondback watersnakes fed at higher trophic levels (δ15N, F20,312 = 18.93, P <0.0001), and plain-bellied watersnakes fed more on terrestrial prey (δ13C, F20,312 = 15.98, P <0.0001). As both plain-bellied and diamondback watersnakes increased in size, δ13C variance decreased, suggesting that juveniles were more generalist predators but adults of each species specialized on its respective prey, i.e., terrestrial anurans for plain-bellied and fishes for diamondback watersnakes. The northern watersnake had an intermediate diet affected by both ontogeny and sex. Snake species, sex and size had varying effects on trophic niche overlap, width and position, resulting in complex trophic patterns that likely reduce interspecific competition and enable these closely related species to live in sympatry.
18 Eat Or Be Eaten: the Importance of Aquatic Invertebrates as Predators and Food Sources of Pool-Breeding Amphibians
Renna Wittum; Michael Graziano; Stephen Matthews
Amphibians are a critical component of many ecosystems and serve as vital links between terrestrial and aquatic environments. Understanding how amphibians respond to changing food base and forest condition is important for conservation and management of healthy forests and these sensitive populations. The objective of this study is to document the impact of invertebrate populations on amphibian productivity while also accounting for the environmental effects. The study conducted at Vinton Furnace State Experimental Forest, in Ohio, consisted of fourteen pools, seven with oak dominated midstories and seven with maple dominated midstories. Previous work showed a clear relationship between environmental factors and the colonization of twelve species of amphibian at these sites. We aimed to explore the influence of invertebrate presence on amphibian reproductive success, specifically larval development and survival. A total of twelve invertebrate families were identified at these pools with eight families present in both oak sites and maple sites. There were nine families present in the maple sites and eleven families present in the oak sites. For both the oak and maple tree sites, the most abundant family was Chironomidae of the order Diptera or “true flies”, an important food source for amphibians. The second most abundant family in maple sites was the caddisfly family Odontoceridae, which are a predator of amphibian eggs. The second most abundant family in oak sites was Odonata Gomphidae, or clubtail dragonflies. Aquatic dragonfly larvae are another predator of amphibians. Both larvae and adults of the predaceous diving beetles (family Dytiscidae) are predators of amphibian larvae and were present in all but one site and showed similar abundance across treatment. Therefore, by combining finer scale identifications of aquatic invertebrates with concurrent data on the amphibian larval community, we can further analyze the predator-prey interactions between these two groups that dominate isolated wetlands.
19 Effects of Harmful Algal Blooms on Health of Turtles
Jessica Garcia; Jeanine Refsnider
Lake Erie regularly experiences annual harmful algal blooms (HABs) that have known toxic and potentially lethal effects on humans if consumed; however, effects of HABs on wildlife are largely unknown. Algal blooms become harmful when dominated by a cyanobacteria genus, Microcystis, which produce the liver toxin microcystin. The purpose of this study is to quantify physiological stress and immune function in two populations of painted turtles (Chrysemys picta) differing in microcystin exposure. Fyke nets and basking traps were used to capture turtles from cites differing in natural microcystin exposure. I collected blood plasma from each individual and conducted two assays to quantify immune function. The bacteria-killing assay measured the individual’s bactericidal capacity of blood plasma to kill E. coli. This test is a measure of their innate immune response; whereas the phytohemagglutinin (PHA) test measured the individual’s adaptive immune response based on the amount of swelling that occurred post-irritation. Male and female painted turtles did not differ in their bactericidal capacity, or in their peak swelling response to PHA. Across all turtles, bactericidal capacity and peak swelling were not correlated. In summer 2018, I will sample turtles from a site that experiences chronic HABs to compare to turtles from the unexposed site sampled previously. This study is the first to examine effects of sub-lethal, acute exposure of microcystin on turtles. Although microcystin may not be killing them directly, this toxin may still affect their overall health. It is critical to investigate these sub-lethal effects because turtles, and many other aquatic species, are often unable to escape the HABs infiltrating their aquatic habitats. Managers should consider immune health of wildlife populations in assessments of habitat quality because sub-lethal effects of habitat degradation can manifest as increased physiological stress and depressed immune function, which can lead to population declines.
20 Effects of Imidacloprid Treatment of Hemlocks on Aquatic Systems
Sara M. Crayton
The insecticide imidacloprid is widely used to mitigate hemlock (Tsuga spp.) mortality resulting from the invasive Hemlock Woolly Adelgid (HWA; Adelges tsugae), but evidence suggests that imidacloprid can have negative impacts on adjacent stream systems. Field studies have demonstrated that imidacloprid can negatively impact macroinvertebrate assemblages, and laboratory studies have shown the pesticide can negatively impact survival of anurans. However, no studies have assessed the effects of imidacloprid on salamanders. In 2017, we sampled salamander and benthic macroinvertebrate communities at 12 streams treated with imidacloprid and 12 control streams in the New River Gorge area of West Virginia. Benthic invertebrates were sampled with D-nets and identified to genus or morphospecies. Using standard sampling protocols, salamanders were captured by flipping cover objects and searching through leaf litter. Detected individuals were identified, weighed, and measured to estimate body condition. We also measured several site and sampling variables, such as water temperature, pH, and number of cover objects. We used redundancy analysis (RDA) to determine the habitat variables most associated with larva and adult/subadult abundances of salamander species, and t-tests to determine if body condition of adults/subadults differed between treatment and control sites. The final larva and adult/subadult RDA models contained 9 and 11 environmental predictors, and explained 57% and 51% of the variation in abundances, respectively. However, the species triplots indicated that imidacloprid treatment was not a strong explanatory variable for either model. Body condition did not significantly differ between treated and control sites for 5 salamander species. Additional analyses will assess relationships between imidacloprid treatment and macroinvertebrate abundance and diversity. In 2018, we will survey 12 additional control and treatment sites, and will quantify the concentrations of imidacloprid present in water and sediment samples at all 48 sites. This will provide higher resolution data for assessing potential non-target effects of imidacloprid.
21 Effects of Nitrogen Loading in Hudson River Estuaries as Demonstrated By Diamondback Terrapins
Sarah Kudman; Alexandra Kanonik; Russell L. Burke
Urban wildlife are generally understudied, and thus we lack critical information relevant to their management. In contrast, the population of diamondback terrapins (Malaclemys terrapin) in heavily urbanized Jamaica Bay (JB), NY, has been studied since 1998, and we know there has been a 50% decline in both population size and the number of nests laid/year. Simultaneously, diet studies via fecal analysis of this population reveals a diet mostly consisting of the macroalgae U. rigida, as opposed to the standard Malaclemys diet of invertebrates seen elsewhere. I hypothesized that this lower caloric intake is contributing to the decline, as JB terrapins may have less energy to commit to reproduction. Fecal analysis and stable isotope analysis (SIA) are being used to compare JB terrapin diets with two other local populations, one in similarly urbanized Hackensack Meadowlands, NJ, (HM), and one in less-urbanized Flax Pond, NY. Blood, fecal, and prey species samples were collected from all sites 2016-17. Blood samples were collected from terrapins using heparinized needles, while fecal samples were obtained by placing terrapins in buckets filled with enough water to induce defecation. Prey collection was done by visiting sites along recognized terrapin habitat and gathering known diet items. Sample processing and analyses are underway; preliminary results show that JB and HM terrapins eat a considerable amount of algae, Macoma, and incidental items (i.e., sand and leaves), and while crabs are important prey species for HM, for terrapins in JB Macoma and hard-shelled clams are more important.
22 Effects of Urbanization on Red-Backed Salamander Population Abundance and Diversity
Andrew J. Wilk; Kate C. Donlon; William E. Peterman
Amphibians have become one of the most imperiled taxa on the planet due to their relative sensitivity to environmental disturbance. A major cause of disturbance and fragmentation is urban sprawl. Due to an increasing human population and a more quickly rising urban population, historic forest patches are becoming more reduced and fragmented. Although it has been shown that habitat fragmentation and reduction have adverse effects upon various species, their effects on salamander populations have been understudied. In a previous study examining urban, terrestrial red-backed salamander populations (Plethodon cinereus), we found no correlation between population density and habitat patch size. Rather, abundance depended more on microhabitat conditions such as leaf litter depth, canopy cover, and slope aspect. In this study, we reexamined these same populations to investigate potential links between habitat patch size or abundance and population genetics. Population genetic theory predicts that population genetic parameters, such as allelic richness, heterozygosity, and inbreeding will be related to population size. Therefore, we hypothesized that heterozygosity and allelic richness would be reduced in small habitat patches and in low abundance populations, while levels of inbreeding would be increased. These parameters were analyzed through the use of eleven diverse microsatellite loci. Contrary to our predictions, analyses suggest that red-backed salamanders are resistant to reductions in population and habitat patch size.
24 Factors Influencing the Home Range and Movements of Painted Turtles, Snapping Turtles, and Spiny Softshell Turtles in an Urban Minnesota Lake
Kirsten D. Hunt; Alaini C. Schneider; John J. Moriarty; Timothy L. Lewis; Jennifer T. McGuire; Bradley J. Swanson
We studied the home range and movements of painted turtles (Chrysemys picta), snapping turtles (Chelydra serpentina), and spiny softshell turtles (Apalone spinifera) in an urban lake in Plymouth, Minnesota. These species utilize both aquatic and terrestrial habitats making them susceptible to development occurring on the lakeshore transition between habitats, and changes to these habitats in response to urbanization can impact the quality of already diminished habitat. The objective of our study was to determine the influence of urban shoreline development on the spatial ecology of three freshwater turtle species. From May 2016-October 2017, we captured and radio-tagged 75 total painted, snapping, and spiny softshell turtles (n=25 of each species; 20 females, 5 males). We estimated home range sizes using asymptote analysis and the minimum convex polygon method, and we used correspondence analysis to determine major patterns between shoreline development and turtle species occupancy within five meters of the lakeshore. We found significant differences in mean estimated home range size amongst species and between sexes (F=58.0, p<0.001) with female spiny softshell turtles having the largest mean home range size (175.3±72.8 SD). Lakeshore land use and radio-tagged turtle species occupancy were significantly associated (X2=54.6, d.f.=14, p<0.001). Our results indicate that commercial development and undeveloped non-wetland habitats contributed most to determining turtle species occupancy across a gradient of shoreline development. Our results suggest that painted and snapping turtles utilize similar areas of the lakeshore associated with undeveloped non-wetland areas; however, spiny softshell turtle occupancy was associated with commercial development. All three species avoided the area within five meters of a boat access. An understanding of the influence of urbanization on the spatial ecology of a diverse turtle assemblage in an urban habitat can help facilitate effective turtle conservation and lakeshore management strategies.
25 Habitat Modeling of Spotted Turtles and Blanding’s Turtles in Indiana
Jessica Hinson; Mark Jordan; Bruce Kingsbury
Many turtle populations are in decline across the United States due to a variety of factors, including habitat loss, urban development, poaching, and road mortality. Population occurrence and habitat extent are critical elements of understanding distributional trends, and thus it is important to approach sampling using effective methods. We conducted visual encounter surveys (VES) and trapping for two state-endangered species of turtles in Indiana, the Spotted Turtle (Clemmys guttata) and the Blanding’s Turtle (Emydoidea blandingii). This data, along with relevant habitat variables, were used to model the distribution of both species in Indiana using a maximum entropy modeling program, MaxEnt. Recent element occurrences (EOs) and other records, as well as observations from our surveys and trapping efforts, were used for presence data. Environmental variables were chosen based on the ecology of both species (e.g. soils, wetlands) and the relationship of habitat with urban development (e.g. roads). We evaluated final models using area under the curve (AUC) and corrected Akaike information criterion (AICc). The best models were successful in identifying known localities from presence data for both species. Blanding’s Turtle models were able to predict suitable habitat that reflects its geographic distribution, while Spotted Turtle models were more limited. The Blanding’s Turtle models were able to be used for looking at other potential localities or potential sites for focused management or repatriation. Spotted Turtle model performance reflected the need for more samples, but also the likelihood of fewer numbers due to declining habitat availability. Both Blanding’s Turtle and Spotted Turtle models argue for the need of more intense survey efforts based on historical occurrences, as well as restoration efforts across the state. Through our modeling efforts, we are able to provide information on habitat distribution and connectivity for enhancing conservation and management strategies for both of these state-endangered species of turtles.
26 Impacts of Landscape-Scale Urbanization on Common Species of Snakes
David F. Parisi; Thilina Surasinghe
Urban development is α μαφορ ϕορχε οϕ ηαβιτατ αλτερατιον τηατ ιμπεριλσ ηαβιτατ σπεχιαλιστσ ανδ ραρε ενδεμιχσ. Υρβανιζατιον ισ αλσο κνοων το ηαϖε λανδσχαπε-σχαλε ραμιϕιχατιονσ, τηυσ, μαψ αλτερ εχολογιχαλ προχεσσεσ ατ α γρεατερ σπατιαλ σχαλε. Αλτηουγη ινϕλυενχεσ οϕ υρβανιζατιον ον synanthropic species is well known, how broadly-distributed common species of reptiles are affected by urbanization is not explored in detail. In this study, we investigated the impacts of urbanization on two sympatric semi-aquatic snake species distributed across much of North America- the Northern water snake (NWS) and Common garter snake (CGS). We surveyed 12 habitats in rural (5) and urban (7) landscapes for both NWS and CGS, conducted from April to November (3 visits per each location) for 2 successive years (2016-2017). For each captured snakes, we recorded species identity, age class (adults or juveniles), and also measured several environmental variables at the site of capture. We found no significant effect of either the landscape type or habitat on species composition. The abundance of NWS differed significantly among different habitat types regardless of the extent of urbanization at landscape-scale. In contrast, abundance of CGS differed significantly between urban and rural landscapes although no such differences were observed among different habitat types. Microhabitat selection of the two focal species appeared to be independent from each other, which remained consistent across variable landscape contexts and habitat types, which suggests niche segregation between the two species regardless of the extents of land-use and land-cover types across the landscapes. Lower abundance of CGS in urban landscapes can be a result of increased incidental mortality. Being a highly-mobile species with seasonal foraging movements, CGS can be substantially affected by urbanization. The comparable abundance of NWS in rural and urban landscapes is noteworthy as persisting NWS populations may account for functional insurance of species-depauperate urban habitats.
27 Multiple Environmental Gradients Influence the Distribution and Abundance of a Key Forest-Health Indicator Species in the Southern Appalachian Mountains
Meaghan Gade; William Peterman
The effects of global climate change are threatening worldwide biodiversity, with particular concern for amphibians, whose survival often depends on specific abiotic conditions. To predict how future climate change will affect populations, it is first necessary to understand how patterns of distribution and abundance are shaped by environmental conditions at both local and regional scales. Plethodontid salamander are a group of particularly vulnerable amphibians because they are lungless ectotherms that require cool and moist habitats to survive. These salamanders are indicators of forest ecosystem condition and as such, understanding their responses and resilience to decline is critical. The Southern Appalachian Mountains host the greatest diversity and endemism of plethodontid salamanders. While broad distribution and abundance patterns are well understood across elevations, other pertinent abiotic gradients exist within montane systems that are likely contributing to fine-scale spatial abundance patterns, which have received less attention. Herein, we assess the spatial distribution and abundance of Plethodon shermani across two environmental gradients: temperature and moisture. Using a binomial mixture model, we found heterogeneous abundance patterns across these two gradients whereby warmer low elevations contain the greatest abundance near stream sides, where conditions are cooler and wetter than the regional landscape. At cooler higher elevations, salamanders are distributed more uniformly across the broader landscape, likely as a result of the suitable regional climate. We found that the fine-scale habitat associations of P. shermani are driven by temperature and moisture, and the spatial patterns of suitable microhabitats drive the regional scale spatial patterns. Such information is important for understanding the potential for persistence in the face of climate change, and can help inform conservation and management strategies into the future.
28 Repatriating Species Where Threats Still Exist
Nicole F. Angeli; Lee A. Fitzgerald
A complex conservation challenge is how to repatriate extirpated species when persistent threats still exist in historic ranges. Even when threats persist at broad scales, reconfigured landscapes, such as when forests have regenerated, often contain patches of habitat for threatened biodiversity with relatively low levels of threats. On St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, the St. Croix ground lizards (Pholidoscelis polops) was extirpated from the main island. The small Indian mongoose (Herpestes auropunctatus) caused the extirpation, probably in synergy with conversion of habitat to agriculture. Today, forest and anthropogenic land cover types re-emerged. We predicted sufficient habitat for St. Croix ground lizards exists for repatriation to St. Croix based on a spatially explicit binomial mixture model. We explored the potential for mongoose control in protected areas and stakeholder investment. We ranked sites in a prioritization schema and make recommendations for the repatriation of the species. This case demonstrates the importance of landscape transitions in changing the spatial configuration of threats to species and creating opportunities for repatriation and rewilding. Presuming that areas may never again be habitable may be overlooking how landscapes have reset the stage for recovery of species. We suggest there is great potential for repatriation of native species when the current landscape of threats is considered.
29 Reproductive Niche Partitioning and Embryonic Mortality in Sympatric Treefrogs in a Tropical Wetland
Kerry L. Griffis-Kyle; Andres Vega; Kate LeVering; Christian A. Perez; Arijana Barun; Gad Perry
Agalychnis callidryas and A. spurrelli are nocturnal treefrogs that overlap in Costa Rican, Panamanian, and Columbian rainforests and humid lowlands. Both species breed during rains and oviposit egg masses on leaves above wetlands and other water bodies. Eggs then hatch and tadpoles fall into the water to complete larval development. We assessed reproductive niche segregation and its effect on hatching success between these congeners by evaluating aspects of egg masses, embryo development, and oviposition sites. We sampled 57 A. callidryas and 53 A. spurrelli egg masses. Both species selected similar sites to oviposit, but A. spurrelli laid clutches twice the volume and with three times the number of embryos as A. callidryas. We modeled short-term survival of embryos in egg masses and documented mortality from snakes, ants, wasps, and spiders. Survival between detection and the start of hatching was higher for A. spurrelli (~80%) than for A. callidryas (~60%). Approximately 35% of the egg masses for both species had eggs that never developed. An average of 2% of A. callidryas eggs per mass and 0.5% of A. spurrelli eggs did not develop, likely never having been fertilized. Approximately 14% of A. callidryas and 10% of A. spurrelli masses contained diseased eggs. Abundance of similar but unoccupied sites suggests that oviposition sites are not limiting the species, at least in this location and season. Agalychnis spurrelli’s strategy of larger clutch sizes appears to be successful at allowing more hatchlings to survive to the next phase of development.
31 Satellite Telemetry Analysis of Green Sea Turtle Movements in the Gulf of Guinea
Emily K. Mettler; Shaya Honarvar; Frank V. Paladino
Understanding both the inshore and pelagic spatial use of green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas) is imperative to the successful protection of this endangered species and the accurate identification of their vulnerabilities. Human activity in the Gulf of Guinea is high and increasing. Identifying long-distance migration routes and locating foraging grounds of turtles in this area is critical for the development of effective conservation strategies to mitigate the effects anthropogenic pressure on green turtles and aide sea turtle conservation efforts throughout the region. Information on spatial use of this turtle species is lacking, inhibiting conservation-focused development of resource management plans for marine areas, including development of oil infrastructure, and regulation of fishing and shipping channels. This study is the first to provide insight into the exact post-nesting movements and foraging habitat use of green sea turtles that nest on Bioko Island, Equatorial Guinea, which has been classified as one of the most important nesting areas for green turtles within the Gulf of Guinea, by using satellite telemetry to track movements of six turtles after one nesting season. The objectives of this study were to investigate (1) in which direction green turtles migrate after nesting on Bioko, (2) if migration routes are open-ocean, coastal, or both (3) the locations of foraging grounds, (4) if green turtles maintain distinct home ranges once they reach foraging grounds, and (5) if multiple foraging grounds are visited, and if so, how much time is spent at each. The results of this study will help local communities by informing plans for coastal management and responsible economic development in the Gulf of Guinea, including sustainable fishing and oil and gas development. These findings help provide a deeper understanding of marine areas critical to sea turtle nesting, foraging, migration, and conservation.
32 Strip Mines and Salamanders, Investigating the Genetic Impact of Extreme Habitat Disturbance on Populations
Kate C. Donlon
A leading contributor to the global decline of amphibians is habitat loss and alteration. While it is clear habitat alteration can negatively impact the persistence of an organism on the landscape, many studies do not offer insight into population-level implications. Disturbed systems provide the opportunity to investigate the response of populations to habitat alteration post-disturbance. Industrial surface mining, also known as strip mining, is an example of extreme anthropogenic disturbance. The initial disturbance from surface mining can cause direct wildlife mortality and the displacement of species capable of moving away from the impacted area. Long-term effects are associated with changes to the vegetation and contour of the landscape. Prior to the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 restoration requirements were minimal and infrequently enforced. Historically, strip mined land was often abandoned or only partially restored through the planting of trees on soil banks. Despite the extensive habitat destruction caused by the removal of layers of soil and rock to expose seams of coal for extraction, plethodontid salamanders have been found occupying reforested mine land that was abandoned prior to 1977 in Ohio. These populations provide an opportunity to study the long-term response of terrestrial salamanders to extreme anthropogenic disturbance. The goal of this project is to study the population genetics of terrestrial Northern Ravine salamander, Plethodon electropmorphus, across a heterogeneous landscape disturbed by strip mining. Comparisons between mined and un-mined sites will be made to infer the long-term impact strip mining has had on sensitive species’ ability to recover from habitat disturbance. Population genetic parameters will be generated from microsatellite data from individuals sampled on mined and undisturbed reference sites in Tuscarawas County, Ohio. Population genetic parameters will provide insight into population level implications of extreme habitat disturbance.
33 Temporal Variation in the Skin-Associated Microbiome of a Rocky Mountain Salamander
Kenen Goodwin; Jaren Hutchinson; Zachariah Gompert
Host-associated microbiomes play important roles in host health and pathogen defense. In amphibians, the skin-associated microbiome serves as an innate immune defense and has the potential to reduce disease mortality through probiotic bioaugmentation, which involves inoculating amphibian skin with antifungal bacteria. Selecting effective bacteria for probiotic bioaugmentation requires knowledge of the interactions between amphibians, their skin-associated microbiomes, and the local microbiota. The amphibian skin-associated microbiome varies spatially, is species-specific, and has microbial community structure distinct from environmental microbiomes. Few studies have examined temporal variation in the amphibian skin-associated microbiome, and the interactions between bacteria and microeukaryotes in the amphibian skin-associated microbiome remain poorly understood. Our study aims to 1) characterize temporal variation in the amphibian skin-associated microbiome with regards to both bacteria and microeukaryotes between sites and across life history stages, 2) test for correlations between amphibian skin-associated microbiomes, environmental microbiomes, and abiotic water quality parameters, and 3) examine whether temporal variation in the amphibian skin-associated microbiome influences antifungal function using the Western Tiger Salamander (Ambystoma mavortium) as a model amphibian. We will collect skin-associated microbiome samples from Western Tiger Salamanders through time at two Rocky Mountain high alpine lakes and use next-generation Illumina sequencing of the 16S rRNA and 18S rRNA genes to determine the relative abundances of bacterial and microeukaryotic operational taxonomic units. This study will provide an early look into temporal variation and the interactions between bacteria and microeukaryotes in the amphibian skin-associated microbiome.
35 The Impact of Decoys on Capture Rates of Spotted Turtles in an Ohio Fen
Katrina M. Rosing; Rachel A. Wallenhorst; Kyle E. Van Dyne; Scott D. Sholar; Michelle Comer; Richard S. Phillips
Spotted turtles have been the subject of much study given concerns over declining population numbers. As part of an ongoing effort to evaluate spotted turtles populations at an Ohio fen, we present data on capture rates associated with sex of spotted turtle decoys as lures in hoop-style minnow nets. During 2017, 2,520 trapnights were distributed among 73 calendar nights from March to October, resulting in a total of 51 captures of 12 different turtles (approximately 2 turtles/100 trap-nights overall). Capture rates differed across month with March and April yield the highest captures rates (4.6 and 5.4 turtles/100 trapnights, respectively. Turtles ranged in weight from 16 to 124 grams with 7 females and 5 males documented. Although across all seasons captured rates did not differ between traps with male and female decoys, a seasonal effect was anecdotally noted and is currently under investigation.
36 Timber Rattlesnake Home Range Estimates and Habitat Use on Forestry Lands in Ohio
Andrew S. Hoffman; Annalee M. Tutterow; William E. Peterman
Timber Rattlesnakes (Crotalus horridus) have declined dramatically throughout the northern periphery of their range, particularly in the Midwest. Here, remaining populations are concentrated on scattered Federal and State Forestry lands. Concerns regarding the potential for conflict between current forestry practices and resident timber rattlesnake populations prompted us to investigate rattlesnake home range size and habitat use using VHF telemetry on State Forestry lands in southeastern Ohio. From June 2016-August 2018, we located telemetered rattlesnakes 2-3 times per week. We assessed multi-scale habitat use at the individual and population level in relation to timber harvest and prescribed fire history. Our home range estimates were similar to those presented in previous studies from other states, but varied substantially within and among sex and age classes. We also observed substantial individual variation in habitat selection, though age class and sex strongly influenced selection among different management units. We found little evidence that snakes at our study site avoid previously burned or cut patches and observed some indication that snakes select for these disturbed habitats. Future studies will seek to link specific resource needs to different management approaches in order to determine why snakes are selecting for certain management units disproportionately.
37 Trend Assessment for a Wood Turtle Population in Northeastern Minnesota
Donald J. Brown; Madaline M. Cochrane; Maria Berkeland; Ron A. Moen
The wood turtle (Glyptemys insculpta) is a semi-aquatic freshwater turtle species endemic to northeastern North America. Several major population declines have occurred across the species’ distribution, resulting in wood turtles being designated as Endangered by the IUCN, and currently being reviewed for federal protection in the United States. We have been intensively monitoring a wood turtle population in northeastern Minnesota annually since 2015, and less intensive monitoring data exists for the study area as far back as 1990. The purpose of this study was to use these historical and recent monitoring data to perform a population trend assessment. We conducted 4 analyses for this study: (1) a snapshot comparison of population structure and relative abundance in 1990 and 2015 using survey data at 12 sites; (2) estimated population growth rate from 1997-2014 based on low-intensity monitoring at 6 sites; (3) abundance changes from 2016-2018 based on high-intensity monitoring at 8 sites; and (4) a population reconstruction to estimate the minimum number of wood turtles alive each year from 1990-2017. The snapshot comparison indicated that relative abundance and population structure did not differ between 1990 and 2015. Mean population growth rate from 1997-2014 was 1.016, indicating the population was stable over that period. However, high-intensity monitoring indicated a substantial decrease in abundance between 2016 and 2017, and the population reconstruction estimated a mean growth rate of 1.007 and 0.970 from 1990-2005 and 2006-2017, respectively. Thus, we obtained equivocal results from the independent data set analyses. Overall, it appears our focal wood turtle population was stable from 1990 until ca. 2005, but has been declining in recent years.
38 Trophic Niche and Diet Assessment in Costa Rican Sea Turtles
CHELSEA E. CLYDE-BROCKWAY; Frank V. Paladino; Elizabeth A. Flaherty
Foraging habitats are of special interest in the conservation and recovery of sea turtles worldwide as they provide the bases for turtle resource acquisition and subsequent ability to reproduce. In this study we captured three populations of turtles in a newly discovered location in Costa Rica and used stable isotope analysis of two tissues of different turnover rates (whole blood and skin) to determine food preference and niche space overlap of three populations of spatially co-occurring sea turtles. We collected data on 89 turtles in 2017, of which 19% were hawksbill turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata) and most were juveniles. The green turtles (Chelonia mydas) present in the area come in two morphs, the black East Pacific (EP) green turtles (turtles that only nest in the EP), and the yellow morph Indo-Pacific (IP) green turtle (turtles that nest in the rest of the Pacific, and are similar to those found globally). The EP green turtle made up a majority of the C. mydas found in this study (76%). Of the EP green turtles, 42% were juveniles, compared to the 82% of IP green turtles that were juveniles. Our MixSIAR stable isotope mixing model analyses are ongoing.
39 A Camera Trap Assessment of Terrestrial Vertebrate Biodiversity in Tropical Dry Forest & Mangrove Estuary Ecosystems in Pacific Costa Rica
Frank V. Paladino; Adam Yaney-Keller; Pilar Santidrián Tomillo
Northwestern Costa Rica contains many biodiverse ecosystems that are becoming increasingly fragmented by human encroachment. There is an unprotected area ten kilometers south of Santa Rosa National Park that contains tracts of two of the world’s most endangered habitats, tropical dry forests and mangrove estuaries. Little information is known about the biodiversity in this remote and sparsely inhabited area. We used automatic camera traps to determine the terrestrial vertebrate species assemblage of this region from September 2017 to March 2018 using over 1,500 trap nights. More than 50 species from over 30 families and 20 orders were detected, including several vulnerable and near threatened species such as great curassow (Crax rubra), American crocodile (Crocodylus acutus) and jaguar (Panthera onca). We also examined differences in species detection between the dry and wet season, as well as how species assemblages changed based on distance to mangrove estuaries. Overall, these results indicate a need for further study and protection of both the animals and habitats that make up the region. Studies exploring how connected these imperiled ecosystems are to the larger area of Santa Rosa National Park would also be very valuable.
40 Amplification of Sockeye Salmon Coi Gene From Pit Tag Trocars as a Potential New Field Analysis Technique
Kelsey N. Stoneberg
Salmon are an important species to the ecosystem in the Pacific Northwest. Many salmon species are declining in number because of man-made dams and salmon ladders that block their migration. Whooshh Innovations™ has designed a fish transport system that assists fish over dams and salmon ladders, potentially reducing energy expenditure and allowing the fish to travel further upstream to spawning grounds. Several studies are ongoing to determine whether the Whooshh™ system is a better alternative to ladders. The general design of these studies is: fish are trapped, PIT tagged (passive integrative transponder), and a tail punch taken for species identification. The PIT tag allows Whooshh™ to track the fish as they travel upstream through PIT tag arrays. Studies have indicated that tail punching may be detrimental to the fish as they travel upstream. PIT tagging leaves an empty trocar that potentially contains tissue from the tagged fish. The purpose of this project was to determine whether enough tissue remains in the used trocar for DNA extraction and sequencing for species identification. This would allow for the elimination of the tail punch. Primers were designed for amplification of the COI gene. DNA was extracted from fresh frozen samples of Sockeye Salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka). The COI gene was amplified by PCR followed by sequencing and bioinformatics. Used PIT tag trocars were analyzed for the presence of tissue. Mock PIT tagging determined that enough tissue remains in the used trocars for DNA extraction. A timepoint analysis determined that there is approximately a ten-fold reduction in DNA every 24 hours. Therefore, used trocars should be immediately immersed in lysis buffer in the field for later DNA extraction and analysis.
41 Genetic Tagging in the Anthropocene: Scaling Ecology from Alleles to Ecosystems
Clayton T. Lamb; Adam T. Ford; Michael F. Proctor; Andrew Royle; Garth Mowat; Stan Boutin
The Anthropocene is an era of marked human impact on the world. Quantifying these impacts has become central to understanding the dynamics of coupled human-natural systems, resource-dependent livelihoods, and biodiversity conservation. Ecologists are facing growing pressure to quantify the size, distribution, and trajectory of wild populations in a cost-effective and socially-acceptable manner. Genetic tagging, combined with modern computational and genetic analyses, is an under-utilized tool to meet this demand. Genetic tagging studies are now revealing unprecedented insight into the mechanisms that control the density, trajectory, connectivity, and surveillance of populations over vast spatial scales. Here we outline the application of, and ecological inferences from, new analytical techniques applied to genetically-tagged individuals, contrast this approach with conventional methods, and describe how genetic tagging can be better applied to address outstanding question in ecology. We provide example analyses using a long-term genetic tagging dataset of grizzly bears in the Canadian Rockies. The genetic tagging toolbox is a powerful and overlooked ensemble that ecologists and conservation biologists need to meet the challenges of the Anthropocene.
42 Cannabis: the West’s Newest Frontier
Phoebe Parker-Shames; Justin Brashares; Van Butsic
Cannabis cultivation is a multi billion dollar industry in the US, and a rapidly expanding form of agricultural land use change. Because cannabis is grown in rural, often biodiverse regions at the interface between people and wildlife, there are large concerns for its potential impacts on wildlife via habitat modification or fragmentation, behavioral avoidance, and direct mortality from toxin use. The recent legalizations of cannabis in Oregon and California provide a timely opportunity to study the ways in which policy can influence rapid land use patterns at multiple scales, and the ultimate impact on wildlife. The first step in this process is to quantify extent and configuration of cannabis land use. My initial results include preliminary maps of cannabis production densities in Josephine County, Oregon, compared to Humboldt County, California, and I propose camera and acoustic-trap monitoring for medium to large mammals and songbirds, and track plates for small mammals on cannabis grow sites. I will present preliminary results on overlap between cannabis production and habitat of focal carnivore species. Ultimately this work will inform policy and regulation of cannabis agriculture to minimize potential impacts of grows on wildlife.
43 Co-Located Sampling for Efficient Broad-Scale Conservation Monitoring
James P. Ward; Peter Dratch; Lee O’Brien
Effective natural resource conservation requires reliable information and its use by decision makers. The ability to generate reliable conclusions is increasingly influenced by cost and the ability to gather enough quality data, analyze and get those data in a meaningful media to be useful to conservation decision makers. Though amount of data is often related to cost, quality and scope of inference can be efficiently increased by sampling design and through the choice of resource attributes to measure at selected sampling locations. Here we use an example of monitoring for pollinators at sites chosen for monitoring a flagship species, the monarch butterfly, and its habitat to demonstrate how co-location of monitoring multiple species or resources can increase information quality relative to cost. A generalized random tessellation systematic (GRTS) sampling algorithm was used by our US Geological Survey partners to select and order sites to monitor monarch butterflies from a Continental US sampling frame. Costs for monitoring monarchs were based on pilot sampling from this broad-scaled frame and costs for monitoring other pollinators (primarily bee species) were developed from a protocol framework designed to guide inventory and monitoring of bees in the National Wildlife Refuge System, and from a worldwide network of researchers who have investigated the techniques and methods for capturing bees and tracking their population changes. Our results suggests that future broad-scale conservation may benefit by advance consideration of tag-teaming monitoring or research data collection for multiple focal species at the same sites selected under a common sampling design that can support similar objectives.
44 Estimating Wildlife Species Richness and Diversity in the Texas Hill Country Using Non-Invasive Sampling Technology
Harun Khan; Melissa Karlin
Texas is composed of approximately 170 million acres of mostly rural land, about 97% of which is privately owned and managed. The objectives of this research project were to measure wildlife species richness, diversity and evenness across 13 private properties spanning approximately 200 km in south/south-Central Texas, in order to offer land management recommendations to the landowners in order to improve wildlife populations. Properties ranged in size from 26 to 400 acres. We hypothesized a positive correlation between species richness and diversity relative to property size. DLC Covert infrared flash trail cameras were placed throughout the properties at approximately 1 camera per 25 acres. Pictures were analyzed in 30-90 day windows and total number of individual species was calculated based on Trap Events. A total of 19 unique wildlife species were documented across the 13 properties during each of the 3-month periods over a 1 year monitoring period. White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) were the most abundant species, making up approximately 42% of all trap events. Each other species represented 14% or less of total trap events. Results suggested that there was no significant correlation between property size and average species richness (p = 0.193), Simpsons diversity index (p = 0.405), or Simpsons evenness index (p = 0.617). Our study did not identify increasing species diversity or richness at sites in increasingly rural areas, or at sites that had a greater area of contiguous available natural habitat as proximity from city-centers increased. This may indicate opportunities for habitat alterations or improvements on these private lands to increase species diversity, such as prescribed fires, or a need to increase habitat connectivity between these properties and other nearby natural areas to support higher levels of wildlife species diversity.
45 Spatial Analysis of White-Footed Mice Movement Patterns Responsing to Baited Tick Control Treatment in Suburban Maryland Parks
Grace F. Hummell
Rates of Lyme disease (Burrelia burgdorferi) have steadily increased in the United States for the past 10 years. As a major public health concern, it is important for integrated pest management strategies to start targeting host species to help reduce the risk of tick borne diseases. White-footed mice (Peromyscus leucopus), the main reservoir host for the Lyme disease bacterium in the Northeast, is one species that can be managed to decrease tick populations. Evaluating the home range size, foraging behavior, and dispersal movement of white-footed mice can give a better understanding of white-footed mice ecology, tick load per mouse, and effectiveness of baited tick treatments. Radio telemetry and mark/recapture methods are being used to track mice movements and infection status over time. Mice are collared with small VHF collars at each park and tracked for 6 weeks. This study is being performed in Maryland suburban parks. During the initial, smaller pilot study, mice were found to have a wide range of behavior in each park in terms of movement patterns. This could be caused by variability in resource availability, predator abundance, and existing mice population density. The full-scale study will further analyze movements of mice, and changes in mouse movement’s after a baited tick treatment is placed in the field. Improvements to the study design were based of pilot study findings and methodology. The overall goal for this study is to improve knowledge on white footed mice ecology and improve tick treatments used on mice.
46 Spatial Analysis of White-Tailed Deer Movements in Conjunction with Integrated Pest Management Treatments in a Suburban Landscape
Patrick Roden-Reynolds; Jennifer L. Murrow
Regions of the United States continue to experience an increase in zoonotic diseases, most notably tick-borne diseases such as Lyme. White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) are a keystone host for adult ticks. Deer may have the most influence on maintaining tick populations and implicated the emergence of several zoonotic tick-borne diseases. Concurrently urbanization and habitat fragmentation has elicited a dramatic increase in white-tailed deer. This change in land use has facilitated deer population explosions and may have caused an increase in tick populations and other deer-human conflict. My research supports an integrated pest management (IPM) project testing the efficacy of host-targeted tick treatment devices in suburban communities in Howard County, Maryland. My project specifically will evaluate the implementation of 4-poster feeders in combination with other IPM treatments. This information could lead to better strategies to reduce the risk of Lyme to people and animals on public and private land. As such, my objectives are to: 1) Evaluate spatial and temporal movement patterns of white-tailed deer in a suburban landscape 2) Determine best location and timing of placement for 4-posters 3) Determine impact of deer management on deer activity to help county officials better plan deer management (managed hunts, sharpshooting, IPM treatments). 48 White-tail deer were trapped and collared in five county parks during the winter of 2017 and 2018 using drop nets and clover traps. 15 bucks and 33 doe were fitted with GPS radio collars. Collars will begin to drop off in Spring 2019. 4-poster tick treatment stations have been deployed at four parks and will be maintained every two weeks. Once recovered, GPS and activity data will be analyzed in ArcGIS to determine relationships between spatial data attributes (sex, age, date, time) and landscape features (habitat types, fragmentation, urbanization, 4-poster devices).
47 The Effect of Pasture Fencing and Anti-Predator Approaches on Small Mammal Communities in Hopland, Ca.
Amy Van Scoyoc; Kendall Calhoun
Fences are one of the most ubiquitous human modifications to landscape integrity (Fahrig 2003). Though normally intended for agriculture, herding, and separating livestock from potential predators, rangeland fences may also have unintended consequences for the ecological communities that share these spaces. Small mammals play important roles in ecological communities, including as a key food source to meso-carnivores that may otherwise predate on human livestock in rangeland habitats (Prugh et al. 2008; Stoddart et al. 2001). Here we investigate whether fencing and guard dogs uniquely shield small mammal populations by separating them from potential predators, and altering their abundance near fenced areas. The UC Hopland Research Extension Center in Mendocino, CA, is a 5,300-acre reserve providing a useful opportunity to characterize the influence of habitat type, livestock-grazing intensity, fencing, and guard dog presence on small mammal communities. Using live-capture techniques (sherman and tomahawk traps) and track plates, we will assess the diversity, abundance, and distribution of small mammal species (i.e. Rodentia, Lagomorpha) in various habitats, and record weight, size, sex, ecto-parasite quantity, ear tag ID, and GPS location. To assess movement of small mammals at each site type, we will dust a non-toxic, fluorescent dye on a subset of captured individuals before release. Post-release, these dyes are tracked by night using a black light to typify movement patterns. Our trapping efforts are supported by existing multi-carnivore occupancy models from camera grids at each site. This allows us to compare habitat usage for small mammals, livestock, and predators in various pasture types. Quantifying small mammal abundance in various habitat regimes may help to discern whether prey sinks can form in response to anti-predator techniques further affecting livestock depredation. The small mammal data collected will be integral to predicting community responses to fences and human-altered landscapes in a multi-trophic system.
48 The Status of the Kisatchie Painted Crayfish in Louisiana
Jade McCarley; John Placyk; Kate Hertweck; Josh Banta; Marsha Williams; Lance Williams
The Kisatchie Painted Crayfish (Orconectes maletae) is an endemic species located within Louisiana and Texas. It is listed as data deficient by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. A petition for listing it under the Endangered Species Act was filed in 2010. The species has yet to be listed due to the lack of data. After sampling four historical sites in Louisiana, the species was rare, suggesting an increasing absence in these sites. The Texas portion was found to be absent in 60% of its historical range by prior research. This included results for population status, distribution, habitat requirements, and threats to the species. The goals of this experiment are: 1) determine occupancy in historical localities, 2) create a MAXENT ecological niche model for the Louisiana population and compare it to the Texas model, 3) determine population dynamic estimates (reproduction information, sex ratio, and abundance) by performing field sampling, 4) perform mark and recapture using Visible Implant Elastomer Tags, 5) perform Restriction Site Associated DNA Sequencing to investigate population genetic variation across the species range and assemble an entire species genome. These data will allow for the Unites States Fish and Wildlife Service to complete the species assessment.
50 Using Stable Isotopes to Evaluate the Vertebrate Carrion Resources Used By the American Burying Beetle.
Brandon M. Quinby; Elizabeth A. Flaherty; J. Curtis Creighton
The American burying beetle, Nicrophorus americanus, (ABB), a large-bodied carrion beetle that requires vertebrate carcasses (primarily small mammals and birds) for breeding, was once widely distributed across North America. Recently the ABB experienced a dramatic decline in abundance and geographic range. In 1989, the ABB was listed as federally endangered. The last recorded naturally occurring ABB on Nantucket Island, Massachusetts was in 1926. In 1994, efforts began to reestablish ABBs on Nantucket using lab-reared offspring of wild-caught individuals from Block Island, Rhode Island; the only naturally extant ABB population east of the Mississippi River. Initially, reintroduction was successful, however, the population shows little evidence of recruitment and likely requires human assistance for long-term success. Despite over 30 years of research, we know little about the preferred carrion base necessary to support a healthy ABB population. We investigated available vertebrate carrion using stable isotope analysis (δ13C and δ15N) conducted on whole blood and muscle tissue samples from locally available small mammals and birds on Nantucket Island and Block Island. Additionally, we collected small elytral clips from N. americanus and co-occurring burying beetles that were collected from live-captured specimens. Because burying beetles build adult body tissues using nutrients from the carcass they were raised on, stable isotope ratios of δ13C and δ15N in adult burying beetles reflect their larval diet, indicating the carrion their parents used as a reproductive resource. Preliminary results suggest differences in carrion used for reproduction between the extant and reintroduced populations. An understanding of the small mammals and birds used by N. americanus for reproduction will provide critical conservation recommendations to local managers.
51 Wildlife Behavior Changes during a Solar Eclipse
Nate bickford; Robert Ritson; Dustin H. Ranglack
A total solar eclipse is a rare occurrence that has inspired scientific curiosity for centuries. Research opportunities provided by this unique event are not limited to astronomy, but wildlife behavior as well. Strange wildlife behaviors in response to these events have been documented intermittently for centuries. However, the infrequency of these events make quantifying behaviors difficult. The solar eclipse over North America on August 21, 2017 offered a novel opportunity to connect movements of celestial bodies to that of wildlife. Numerous institutions have contributed GPS data for a variety of wildlife species spanning two weeks before and after the eclipse, resulting in a dataset of 476 individuals of 22 different species. Patterns of movement, speed, and distance were compared to identify differences in behavior during a solar eclipse for each species. We found significant differences in species such as bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus), ferruginous hawk (Buteo regalis), turkey vulture (Cathartes aura), brown pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis), and feral horses (Equus caballus). This study will provide a baseline for future behavior studies of animals during solar eclipse and inform particular species or behaviors to focus on in the future.
52 Diversity and Inclusion in the Wildlife Profession Support Success in Wildlife Conservation
Claire Crow
Recruitment and retention of employees from underrepresented groups increases the diversity of perspectives in the workplace, which has been shown to increase productivity and creativity in problem solving. Managing wildlife involves highly complex problems requiring innovative solutions which are often a delicate balance of compromises among competing uses and values of the available resources, and financial and political pressures. In order to understand how managers and coworkers can better support members of underrepresented groups, I interviewed wildlife professionals employed by federal or state agencies. Interviewees included people of color, members of the LGBT* community and women, and ranged in career trajectory from early career to near retirement. Interview questions focused on experiences that helped the interviewee, and what they suggest might help others, to feel welcome and supported in their workplace and in their profession. Each underrepresented group had issues specific to the group, and there were overlapping issues among the groups. Some interviewees were members of more than one group. Here, I share some of the suggested actions which apply broadly across underrepresented groups, and which take little time and effort to implement. Understanding the needs of members of underrepresented groups facilitates a workplace culture of dignity and respect, which in turn supports the retention and contribution of wildlife professionals across the spectrum of human diversity throughout their careers.
53 Benefits and Lessons Learned By Engaging Citizen Scientists in Camera Trap Research and Monitoring
Steven M. Hammerich; Michelle Halbur; Lisa Micheli; Tosha Comendant; Susan E. Townsend
We compiled the contribution of volunteers to Pepperwood’s long term wildlife camera monitoring program over 5 years. The study area covered two 20 sq km areas on two preserves in Sonoma County, California. We concluded that the benefits of involving “supervised” citizen scientists (volunteers) in a landscape-level long term wildlife monitoring project included reduced staff salary costs, increased capacity for data processing and analysis, flexibility to increase project scale, and meaningful volunteer engagement in on-the-ground scientific research. Pepperwood staff and volunteers have maintained two camera trap arrays in the Mayacamas Mountains of California’s Coast Ranges, each with 20 cameras spaced over a 1-kilometer grid. These cameras generate approximately 750,000 photographs a year that need to be catalogued as the first phase of analysis. Volunteers, interns, and staff catalog photos by assessing images and identifying the genus, species, and number of individuals captured within the picture. Camera trapping is a cost effective and non-invasive way of monitoring wildlife in their natural habitat and can provide a unique opportunity to engage citizen scientists in long-term data collection. In 2012, Pepperwood established the first Wildlife Picture Index camera grid in North America and in 2013, the second array was erected with volunteer assistance; all following explicit, established protocols. Across these projects, citizen scientists have contributed over 3360 hours to camera maintenance and cataloguing of photographs. Pepperwood’s approach included staff-only data management, substantial oversight and training along with on-going quality control and assurance; it is important to recognize the substantial investments in training, supervision, mentoring, and quality assurance required, but this still resulted in net benefit. Based on our experience and feedback from partners who have adopted our methodology, we recommend utilizing citizen scientists in medium to large scale camera projects with adequate budget to facilitate training, supervision, and community engagement.


Location: Huntington Convention Center of Cleveland Date: October 10, 2018 Time: 9:00 am - 5:00 pm