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2021 Organized Symposia
These organized symposia will be offered as part of the technical program at the annual conference. An Organized Symposium is a series of integrated presentations that address aspects of a single topic or theme.
SYMPOSIUM 1: Changing the Agricultural Landscape with Cover Crops
Contact: Alixandra Godar, PhD Student, Kansas State University/U.S. Geological Survey Kansas Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit

Co-Organizers: David Haukos, U.S. Geological Survey Kansas Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, dhaukos@ksu.edu

Overview: Conflicts between agricultural producers and wildlife are spreading and intensifying. Traditional wildlife spaces are decreasing, forcing wildlife into less traditional areas, including farmland. Wildlife decrease farm profits by consuming crops and interfering with farming practices. Many species co-existing with farmers are suffering long-term population declines. Though fields can provide cover and forage when active, they offer minimal cover when fallow. As a result, farm fields fragment the landscape, creating small isolated populations. In addition, pesticide and herbicide use impact forage availability and may have long-term impacts on local species. Recent agricultural intensification removed weedy edges and limits waste grain that benefited wildlife in the past. Cover crops may help mitigate some of negative impacts of agriculture on local wildlife while providing benefits to the farmers. By planting cover crops, farmers can limit wind erosion, add nutrients to the soil, decrease weed growth, decrease bulk density and increase soil moisture. Wildlife may benefit from increased forage, both plant and insect, additional cover and increased connectivity. Wildlife managers and researchers have been working diligently to determine how to manipulate cover crops to benefit different species and document the influence of cover crops on different species. Cover crop research incorporates a wide range of professionals. This symposium is for people to share their findings about management strategies to encourage cover crops across the landscape and research on the interactions between cover crops and wildlife. Part of the session will be dedicated to managers and their efforts to work with local farmers and observed influences of cover crops on local wildlife. Then, there will be time for researchers to their findings. Part of the time will be dedicated to potential benefits of cover crops for the farmer and part of the time will be dedicated to potential influences of cover crops on local wildlife.

Theme: Agriculture, Management
SYMPOSIUM 2: Coregoinds in the Great Lakes Region: Resiliency, Rehabilitation, and Range Reduction
Contact: Donald Schreiner, Fisheries Specialist, Minnesota Sea Grant

Co-Organizers: Randy Eshenroder - Great Lakes Fishery Commission (randye@glfc.org); Peter Jacobson - Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (Retired) (pejacobs58@gmail.com); Owen Gorman - U.S. Geological Survey, Lake Superior Biological Station (otgorman@usgs.gov)

Overview: The theme of this symposium is focused on the coregonid fishes in the Great Lakes region. Potential topics include the resiliency of Lake Whitefish in the Great Lakes, rehabilitation plans for coregonids in the lower Great Lakes, how climate change effects inland Cisco populations and what effects changes in Cisco populations may be on the overall fish community. The symposium will highlight recent declines in Lake Whitefish recruitment and harvest in the lower Great Lakes, how changes in the lower food-web may be affecting coregonid recruitment in the Great Lakes, new techniques for coregonid management, and causes/predictions for potential range reduction of coregonids in inland lakes. Presentations are invited on coregonid genetics, stock assessment, food-web dynamics, habitat use, management, and human dimensions.

Theme: Resiliency of Lake Whitefish and restoration of Cisco in the Great Lakes; Affects of climate change on coregonids in inland lakes. Keywords: Coregonid, Great Lakes, Lake Whitefish, Cisco, climate change
SYMPOSIUM 3: Effects of System Change on North American Percid Populations
Contact: Dale Logsdon, Fisheries Research Scientist, Minnesota DNR

Co-Organizers: Walleye Technical Committee (WTC) - North Central Division of the American Fisheries Society; Contacts: BLawrence Eslinger (WTC Chair), (715) 356-5211 ext. 209, lawrence.eslinger@wisconsin.gov; Dale Logsdon (WTC Minnesota Rep.), (507) 497-1832, dale.logsdon@state.mn.us

Overview: The proposed symposium seeks to discuss the effects of climate change, invasive species, water quality changes, habitat alterations and other stressors on Walleye, Sauger, and Yellow perch populations across the continent and subsequent management actions and information needs.

Theme: Percids, system change
SYMPOSIUM 4: Forestry and Wildlife Intertwined
Contact: Melissa Starking, PhD Candidate, Michigan State University

Co-Organizers: Dr. Gary Roloff, Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, Michigan State University

Overview: The focus of this symposium is to bring together the latest research on forestry and wildlife interactions throughout the Midwest with forest management as a means to wildlife conservation. Wildlifers should be working with foresters not against them. Forestry is often viewed as enemy rather than an ally. Understanding that forest management has the capacity to implement broad-scale habitat manipulation over time that can pay for itself and that conservation of wildlife often struggles to raise the funds or obtain the acreage across broad scales, we seek to highlight research that brings these together. Protected areas are critical to some wildlife, but forest management done with conservation of wildlife habitat in mind is crucial moving forward. Some questions answered by this research may be as follows; Are the current silviculture techniques foresters use effective in regenerating desired forests species in the face of pressures from herbivory or granivory? How do silviculture methods affect space use, feeding patterns, and life history strategies of common and/or rare species? Considering how forests and wildlife are intertwined, we explore the latest findings centered on this relationship. Keeping up to date with this research is imperative to improve our understanding and management of forest wildlife systems as we see increases in habitat fragmentation, invasive species, disease, and impacts from climate change.

Theme: Forest management done with conservation of wildlife habitat.
SYMPOSIUM 5: Local Government Engagement around Public Land Ownership
Contact: Jennifer Olson, Initial Development Coordinator, Minnesota DNR - Division of Fish & Wildlife

Co-Organizers: Dave Trauba - Regional Wildlife Manager, MN DNR ; Annalee Garletz – Government Relations Unit Supervisor, MN DNR

Overview: Public lands are vitally important to local and state economies and provide quality of life for Minnesotans and visitors. Public land is managed at the federal, state, county, township and municipal level. Land management goals vary at different scales but they often have overlapping intentions such as targeted conservation of important habitat such as prairies, wetlands, aquatic corridors, lake shores, protecting significant natural resources (e.g., groundwater resources, rare species, unique features), along with providing outdoor recreation opportunities, improving access, and consolidating to create contiguous blocks of public land. One of most remarkable conservation stories in the last 20 years in the United States is the fact that communities in all parts of the country have approved millions of dollars of public funding to invest into conservation and recreation. This investment relies on communication and engagement between local and state or federal governments. Many states must get approval from county and/or township governments before closing on new acquisitions. Challenging fiscal and political conditions can put successful public land transactions on hold. Differing values about local land use (farming, residential, private, public, recreation, conservation, etc.) and local revenue (property taxes vs PILT) can raise tension. These difficult discussions have made government agencies focus on strategic land acquisitions. We are interested in hearing from each state representing the Midwest Fish & Wildlife Conference (IA, IL, IN, KS, MI, MN, NE, OH, WI) on their land acquisition programs and local government engagement. We will also invite a panel of County Commissioners and DNR speakers from Minnesota for their perspectives. We will then open it up to specific case studies from the Midwest states. What types of public land acquisitions are successful? Which ones are not successful? Where is compromise happening? What helps address fiscal concerns? How can local government engagement improve?

Theme: Local government engagement
SYMPOSIUM 6: Modelling, Spatial Prioritization, and Decision Support Tools for Coldwater Fish Management in the Midwest
Contact: Lisa Elliott, Postdoctoral Associate, University of Minnesota

Co-Organizers: Patrick Landisch, University of Minnesota, land0397@umn.edu, 414-418-8345; William Severud, University of Minnesota, seve0135@umn.edu, 763-213-2185; Mark Nelson, U.S. Forest Service, mark.d.nelson@usda.gov, 651-649-5104

Overview: Spatial prioritization and decision support tools are an important way to ensure maximization of returns on the limited budgets for conservation, restoration, and management. Systematic prioritizations for freshwater conservation have recently gained momentum, though considerable research is still required to improve the implementation of conservation plans, their scientific rigor, and their utility for practitioners. A number of decision support tools have been developed to support conservation and management for various coldwater fish species in the Midwest, as well as tools to account for biotic, abiotic, and anthropogenic ecosystem components that may shape patterns of population occurrence and persistence. These fish species and their coldwater habitats face a multitude of threats, in particular climate change, water quality degradation, and invasive species. Barrier removal, stream and riparian corridor restoration, and other management efforts will be critical moving forward to conserve these species and protect their coldwater habitats. This symposium looks to leverage existing expertise, identify potential synergies between tools, and provide a venue for discussions regarding shared shortcomings, limitations of existing datasets, and opportunities for future collaborations.

Theme: Coldwater Fish, Decision Support Tools, Prioritization
SYMPOSIUM 7: Neonicotinoid Insecticides: Evaluating Impacts to Non-target Taxa and Management Practices to Limit Effects
Contact: Elisabeth Webb, Research Ecologist, USGS Missouri Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit

Co-Organizers: Charlotte Roy, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, charlotte.roy@state.mn.us

Overview: Neonicotinoids are a class of insecticide widely adopted for agricultural use throughout North America, in large part because they are selectively more toxic to insects than vertebrates. Neonicotinoids are highly water soluble and have reported half-lives of greater than 1000 days. The combination of these characteristics in concurrence with their widespread use suggests horizontal movement of neonicotinoids via runoff into surrounding terrestrial habitats, as well as various surface waters such as streams and wetlands. However, neonicotinoids continue to receive increased scrutiny due to their implication in pollinator declines and as potential aquatic toxicants. The continued growth of seed coatings on important agricultural crops like corn, soybean and wheat has increased concern over neonicotinoid fate and effects on wildlife. In particular, the extent of effects (both direct and indirect) of the parent compound and their metabolites to a wide range of non-target organisms and ecosystems remains unclear. Due to the widespread use of neonicotinoids in agricultural regions of the midwestern United States and Canada, as well as recent concern over the effects on non-target taxa, we propose a session highlighting current research on associated impacts to native pollinators, aquatic invertebrates and vertebrate wildlife. This session will present an overview on neonicotinoid insecticides and emphasize results on field studies in the following areas: 1) occurrence in the environment and organisms (e.g., water, soil, plants, biota); 2) direct and indirect effects on non-target organisms (e.g., aquatic insects, native pollinators, amphibians, birds, mammals); 3) and management practices that can reduce or mitigate the effects of neonicotinoids. We will conclude the session with a synthesis on potential for neonicotinoids to impact non-target taxa in aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems and facilitate a discussion on actions natural resource managers and agencies can take to reduce these effects.

Theme: Agricultural pesticides, pollinators, wildlife
SYMPOSIUM 8: The Future of Aquaculture in the Midwest Region: Barriers and Opportunities
Contact: Amy Schrank, Assistant Extension Professor - Fisheries and Aquaculture Extension Educator, University of Minnesota Sea Grant

Co-Organizers: Don Schreiner

Overview: We envision this symposium will be of interest to all professional fisheries managers and biologists in the Midwest. Interest in aquaculture is expanding as worldwide catch of wild-caught fish continues to decline while global fish consumption is expected to increase (Kobayahsi et al. 2015). In 2012, worldwide farmed fish and seafood production surpassed that of wild caught and this trend is expected to continue. Socially and environmentally responsible commercial aquaculture in the United States overall and in the Midwest in particular has the potential to help fill a growing demand for meat protein, provide a local food source, and enhance food security while protecting over-fished wild stocks.

Historically, producing baitfish and providing fish for stocking have been the two major fish-rearing activities in the upper Midwest. More recently, interest in both food-fish aquaculture and aquaponics (i.e., combining aquaculture with hydroponics) have expanded the focus of the aquaculture industry in the region. In this symposium we invite presentations that examine the budding food-fish industry, and advance both the rearing of bait fish and fish for stocking. We also encourage presentations on sustainable production systems, preferred species, and public acceptance of aquaculture in the Midwest. Presentations describing potential threats to wild fish stocks from aquaculture and how to minimize risks are of special interest. Finally, presentations from state agencies that operate hatcheries and regulate the aquaculture industry are specifically invited. Throughout this symposium we plan to provide resources to fisheries professionals in the Midwest that can be passed on to stakeholders interested in aquaculture.

Reference: Kobayashi, M., Msangi, S., Batka, M., Vannuccini, S., Dey, M., and Anderson, J.L. 2015. Fish to 2030: The Role and Opportunity for Aquaculture, Aquaculture Economics & Management, 19:3, 282-300 https://doi.org/10.1080/13657305.2015.994240

Theme: envioronmentally sustainable Midwest aquaculture, public perception of aquaculture, risks and benefits of aquaculture
SYMPOSIUM 9: Upper Mississippi River Bottomland Forests: Birds and Habitats
Contact: Tara Hohman, Conservation Science Associate, Audubon Upper Mississippi River

Co-Organizers: Andrew Beebe, Forester, Audubon Upper Mississippi River (andrew.beebe@audubon.org); Nicole Michel, Quantitative Ecologist, Audubon (nicole.michel@audubon.org)

Overview: Bottomland forests undergo extreme environmental and anthropogenic pressures. With some of the biggest threats impacting Upper Mississippi River (UMR) bottomland forests including fragmentation, habitat loss, invasive species, and altered hydrological regimes. Natural resource specialists within the UMR are tasked with combating these stressors while coexisting with the expansive Mississippi River floodplain. Extreme flood events within this ecosystem can influence the impact and timing of conservation and management actions and appear to be doing so on a more increasing basis. Resulting in many natural resources agencies and partners along the UMR to continue to study and analyze factors that influence the condition of bottomland forest plant and bird communities amongst other wildlife and habitat components. The Upper Mississippi River Bottomland Forest: Birds and Habitats symposium focuses around the conservation efforts, management techniques and research done by the professionals who work throughout this unique and dynamic system focusing around forestry and birds. This space allows the opportunity for professionals to not only share their research and best practices but foster a collaborative and cohesive communitive effort for the management of the UMR system.

Theme: bottomland forests, birds, hydrology
SYMPOSIUM 10: Urban and Community Fishing Programs: Working to Create Opportunities Close to Home
Contact: Tyler Stubbs, Community Fishing Biologist, Iowa Department of Natural Resources

Overview: Urban fishing programs are becoming more prevalent across the nation as states focus on residents living in urban or suburban areas. As focus shifts to densely populated areas, agencies are devoting more resources in those areas. These resources include a combination of tactics such as fisheries management regulations, pond construction, special stockings, educational programming, fishing events, and targeted marketing. Urban fisheries provide a variety of challenges to resource managers with large urbanized watersheds that sometimes provide excessive amounts of nutrients and sediments, abundant vegetation, and stockings of unwanted fish species. Through a variety of partnerships, urban biologists are finding ways to overcome many of these challenges and are providing quality fishing opportunities to large numbers of people. This symposium provides an opportunity for the exchange of ideas to address challenges in urban areas and promotes collaboration that results in the enhancement of not only the state urban programs, but also the opportunities that exist for our urban anglers.

Theme: Urban/Community Fishing Programs, Urban Anglers, Urban Fish Populations
SYMPOSIUM 11: Using Section 10 of the Endangered Species Act to Conserve Species and Avoid Future Listings
Contact: Rebecca Sloan, Senior Conservation Biologist, ICF

Overview: The possible uplisting of the Northern long-eared bat, the recent listing of the rusty-patched bumble bee, and the possible listing of the monarch butterfly creates constraints and uncertainty for Midwestern state and regional governments, industry, and municipalities that either own and manage large tracts of land or regulate development. These listings or possible listings also create an opportunity to use large-scale habitat conservation plans and other tools under Section 10 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) to provide take coverage and regulatory certainty, provide efficient large-scale conservation, and possibly prevent future listings or uplistings which will further constrain project or resource development. Section 10 of the Endangered Species Act provides for take coverage of proposed, candidate, threatened, and endangered species as well as those at-risk species with potential for listing. There are several mechanisms under Section 10 through which non-federal project proponents can receive take coverage or assurances in the event a species is listed or uplisted while, ideally, minimizing or eliminating the need for the very same listing or uplisting: Habitat Conservation Plans (HCP), Candidate Conservation Agreements with Assurances (CCAAs), and Safe Harbor Agreements (SHAs). Substantial federal grant funding is available through Section 6 of the ESA to help develop and implement these plans.

In this session we will provide examples of Section 10 plans and agreements that are currently being developed or implemented in the Midwest. We will discuss how HCPs are being used by Midwestern state foresters to manage habitat for listed and potentially future-listed bats. We will also discuss how the nation-wide monarch butterfly CCAA is taking proactive measures to conserve the species and, ideally, eliminate the need for listing. And finally, we will discuss examples of SHAs that are being used to implement recovery programs on private lands.

Theme: conservation planing ESA
SYMPOSIUM 12: Wildlife Conservation in the Decade on Ecosystem Restoration
Contact: John Vanek, Postdoctoral Fellow, Northern Illinois University

Co-Organizers: Erin Rowland, PhD Student, Northern Illinois University; Tony Del Valle, MS Student, Northern Illinois University

Overview: Across the globe, habitat loss and fragmentation is occurring at a rapid pace, leading to the decline of wildlife populations, alterations of ecological processes, and degradation of ecosystem services. In an attempt to find lasting solutions to this “wicked problem”, the United Nations General Assembly declared 2021–2030 as the “Decade on Ecosystem Restoration”. Fortunately, restoration of degraded habitats and ecosystems is receiving increased attention, and many agencies and organizations are actively working to restore ecosystem functionality, increase connectivity, and conserve biodiversity. However, the science of restoration ecology is still in its infancy, and evidence-based solutions are imperative to reach the laudable but ambitious goals of UN. For example, much of the current research on restoration ecology has focused on plant communities, and to a lesser extent, rare or endangered wildlife. In the Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, wildlife biologists and managers will need to develop robust evidence on how ecosystem restoration impacts not just habitats and plant communities, but also wildlife populations, including both common and rare species, game and nongame species, and understudied taxa such as reptiles and amphibians. Without an understanding of how ecosystem restoration affects wildlife populations, restoration cannot be considered complete.

In this symposium, we will bring together researchers, policy-makers, and managers to share and discuss evidence-based solutions to wildlife conservation in the Decade on Ecosystem Restoration. Topics will highlight a wide variety of species, ecoregions, and restoration types. We will recruit diverse speakers working in direct collaboration with practitioners, and aim to publish the proceedings in a special feature of the newly launched journal, Ecological Solutions and Evidence. We hope this symposium will set the stage for the upcoming decade and result in lasting ideas and partnerships to the betterment of wildlife populations in the Midwest and across the world.

Theme: restoration ecology, habitat management, wildlife conservation
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