Wildlife Community Ecology II

Contributed Paper
ROOM: HCCC, Room 19

3:20PM Madagascar Is Going to the Dogs, Cats, and Toads: A Decade of Research on How Invasive Vertebrates Have Impacted Native Carnivores and Lemurs.
Zach J. Farris; Brian D. Gerber; Sarah Zohdy; Asia Murphy; Fidisoa Rasambainarivo; Zoavina Randrianana; Marcella J. Kelly
Madagascar, with exceptionally high levels of biodiversity and endemism coupled with wide-ranging anthropogenic threats, represents one of the world’s top biodiversity hotspots. This diversity includes five lemur families, which are considered to be the world’s most imperiled group of vertebrates with at least 94% of 101 species identified as threatened by the IUCN. Additionally, carnivores of the family Eupleridae are endemic to Madagascar and are labeled as one of the most threatened and least studied carnivore communities in the world. Threats to this island-country’s vertebrate taxa include forest loss, fragmentation, unsustainable bushmeat hunting, and exotic or invasive species. Here, we present our research findings over the last 10 years across 12 protected areas along Madagascar’s eastern rainforest ecosystem that highlights the numerous community, behavioral, and disease ecology threats posed by invasive and exotic vertebrates. In particular, we demonstrate how free-ranging dogs and cats contribute to transmission of numerous pathogens, multi-year population declines, and alteration of spatial and temporal activities of endemic carnivore and lemur populations. Using a combination of temporal, spatial, and disease modeling approaches we identify numerous health-threats to native wildlife, including cat populations with >80% seroprevalence for Toxoplasma, as well as the first transmission of dog heartworm (Dirofilaria immitis) to a wild primate (mouse lemur, Microcebus rufus). Additionally, we highlight the recent invasion event, estimated expansion, and potential threat to Madagascar’s carnivores posed by the toxic, invasive Asia common toad (Duttaphrynus melanostictus) across the Toamasina province. Finally, we highlight efforts to address these conservation threats across Madagascar’s protected areas, including expansive spay-neuter and vaccination clinics combined with population and disease ecology modeling to develop targeted management plans for Madagascar’s threatened carnivores and lemurs.
3:40PM The Behavioral Impact of Lion Predation Risk on Cattle in the Maasai Steppe, Tanzania
Jacalyn M. Beck; Robert A. Montgomery; Bernard Kissui
Conflict with wildlife is a rapidly expanding problem globally, but particularly so in the Maasai Steppe of Tanzania, where lion (Panthera leo) killing of livestock has dramatic consequences for human livelihood and lion conservation. Cattle are the most economically and culturally important livestock for local herders, but they are often stalked and attacked by lions while grazing on open rangelands. Affected herders retaliate by killing or maiming lions, leading to significant declines in local lion populations. Despite the severity of this conflict, little is known about the impacts of lion depredation risk on cattle or if these free-range cattle have retained any anti-predator behaviors from their wild ancestors. This information could lead to decreased negative interaction with lions, increased lion survival, and healthier cows through improved herding techniques that reduce stress. Thus, our study aimed to provide a deeper understanding of the indirect effects of lions on cattle. Using data on lion depredation events over the last 12 years, we determined two villages to be at high risk of attack and two villages to be at low risk. Among these four villages, we collected data on the vigilance, movement, habitat, and grouping behaviors of cattle from 18 different herds. We recorded a total of 139 hours of behavioral observations of 40 individual cows between June and August 2017. We found that cattle in villages of high risk altered their behavior within the riskiest micro-habitats. These cattle kept a significantly greater distance from vegetation where that vegetation was tall enough to conceal an approaching lion. Cattle at high risk also formed significantly larger subgroups within herds than cattle at low risk. This information will be used to make recommendations on safer herding strategies that could be applied in the Maasai Steppe and across East Africa.
4:00PM Effects of Forest Management on Vertebrate Communities: Synthesizing Two Decades of Results From a Long-Term Study
Kenneth F. Kellner; Christopher T. Rota
Over the past two decades, the Missouri Ozark Forest Ecosystem Project (MOFEP) has provided a scientifically rigorous framework for examining the effects of uneven- and even-aged forest management approaches on the forest ecosystem. Recent products of MOFEP include publications on the effects of forest management on birds, reptiles, amphibians, and small mammals. These studies have provided valuable insight on species ecology and short- and long-term impacts of different management regimes, but have primarily been focused on individual species or taxa. Synthesis and integration across wildlife taxa is also a primary goal of MOFEP, but to this point research has been qualitative, or focused on short-term responses to management. To address this goal, we synthesized two decades of data (spanning two harvest entries) on multiple vertebrate taxa at the MOFEP sites. We applied a recent advancement in biodiversity modeling (generalized joint-attribute modeling or ‘gjam’), allowing us to combine data from studies varying in spatial and temporal scale. We analyzed the effect of forest management at multiple scales: (1) the entire vertebrate community, (2) comparison among vertebrate taxa; and (3) comparison among individual species. We found vertebrate richness to be highest in areas managed with uneven-aged approaches, because these sites were also likely to have the greatest habitat heterogeneity. Furthermore, we found that vertebrate species with (1) specialized habitat requirements and (2) low dispersal ability to be most impacted by management. Synthesizing results across the vertebrate community at large spatial and temporal scales allows managers to better understand tradeoffs when making decisions that will affect wildlife in contrasting ways.
4:20PM Fukushima’s Wildlife: Camera Trap Analysis of a Shuttered Region
Phillip C. Lyons; Matthew T. Hamilton; Thomas G. Hinton; Kei Okuda; James C. Beasley
In recent decades, the interactions between humans, environmental contaminants, and wildlife have been extensively studied. However, there remains a paucity of data on the impacts of chronic radiation exposure on wildlife. The Fukushima nuclear accident, and the subsequent human exclusion zone, provides a unique opportunity to study wildlife populations across a gradient of radioactive contamination and human habitation. Through the use of remote cameras, this study aims to determine the distribution and relative abundance of wildlife in and around the Fukushima Exclusion Zone (FEZ). In 2016, we placed unbaited cameras along game trails or travel corridors at 120 sites equally distributed between upland and lowland habitats and along a gradient of human habitation for two 60-day periods. To produce single-species occupancy results, we utilized the R program unmarked. Our models indicated there may be a positive relationship between wild boar (Sus scrofa) occupancy and radioactive contamination. Additionally, occupancy of Japanese macaques (Macaca fuscata) and Japanese serow (Capricornis crispus) was higher in populated areas. By contrast, occupancy for other species, such as masked palm civets (Paguma larvata) and wild boar, was higher in less populated areas. Importantly, there appears to be no uniform response to either radioactive contamination or human habitation among the FEZ’s species. This data, in conjunction with ongoing abundance analyses and GPS collar data collection, will provide the most comprehensive information to date on the distribution and composition of the mammalian wildlife community in and around the FEZ.
4:40PM Roads Do Not Increase Carrion Use By a Vertebrate Scavenging Community
Jacob Hill; Travis DeVault; James Beasley; Olin Rhodes, Jr.; Jerrold Belant
Vehicle collisions with animals could introduce a considerable amount of carrion into the environment, but potential scavenger use of this resource has not been extensively investigated. Although reliable presence of carrion on roads may influence scavenger foraging behavior, animals may also use roads for other purposes such as travel corridors and encounter carrion opportunistically from this use. We examined scavenger use of carrion along linear features by placing 52 rabbit carcasses in each of three treatments in forested habitat in South Carolina, USA: roads, power line clearings (another linear feature but without carcasses from road kill), and forest interior. We used motion-activated cameras to compare arrival times and presence of vertebrate scavengers among treatments. Overall, carcasses along roads were not detected more quickly than other treatments and carcasses were equally likely to be scavenged across all treatments. There was no evidence that scavengers selected roads for foraging due to reliable carrion presence. Mean arrival time was not higher at roads than other treatments for any species, but some species differed in the proportion of carcasses scavenged among treatments. Turkey vultures (Cathartes aura) and coyotes (Canis latrans) scavenged equally across all three treatments. Virginia opossums (Didelphis virginiana) scavenged more frequently in the forest than along power lines, while gray foxes (Urocyon cinereoargenteus) scavenged at roads and power lines, but were not documented scavenging in forests. We suggest that use of carrion near roads by scavenger species is related to factors other than carrion availability. Our results indicate that gray foxes and coyotes, as well as species with similar ecological traits, could make substantial use of carrion on roads. This resource has the potential to alter scavenger diets and could be an additional mechanism by which human activities impact wildlife.


Contributed Paper
Location: Huntington Convention Center of Cleveland Date: October 11, 2018 Time: 3:20 pm - 5:00 pm