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General Contributed Oral Presentations
Presentation abstracts in the General Contributed tracks (Fisheries, Wildlife, and Human Dimensions) are available here to read in advance. All of these presentations will be available “On Demand” as 15-minute pre-recorded presentations for registered conference attendees to watch once the virtual event website is live. Select a track from the list below to jump to the abstracts within that category.
General Fisheries: Aquatic Invasive Species
A Size-based Stock Assessment Model for Monitoring Invasive Blue Catfish in a Chesapeake Bay Subestuary
Track: General Fisheries: Aquatic Invasive Species
Authors: Corbin D. Hilling, Virginia Tech (Present Address: University of Toledo); Yan Jiao, Virginia Tech;, Mary C. Fabrizio, Virginia Institute of Marine Science; Paul L. Angermeier, USGS Virginia Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit; Aaron J. Bunch, Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources (Present Address: Clemson University); Robert S. Greenlee, Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources; Donald J. Orth, Virginia Tech
Student or Professional: Professional
Abstract: Invasive fishes present a threat to native aquatic biodiversity. However, data limitations often impede population dynamic assessments to inform management of invasive fishes. Stock assessment modeling approaches have been developed for a wide range of data availabilities and may provide a useful means to estimate the population dynamics of invasive fishes. Blue Catfish (Ictalurus furcatus) were introduced into the Chesapeake Bay watershed in the 1970s and 1980s and now exist in dense and expanding populations. We developed a statistical catch-at-length model to assess how Blue Catfish abundances have changed over time (1994–2016) in the James River subestuary. The model was fitted based on three indices of relative abundance, two length frequency datasets, and commercial harvest information. A Bayesian approach was used to estimate parameters and their uncertainty. The model appeared to fit data reasonably well and indicated a slow, gradual increase in population size until 2002, when population size increased more rapidly. The population fluctuated during the rapid increase phase, including an estimated large recruitment event in 2011, followed by a slight population decline. Population sizes were estimated to be on the scale of millions to tens of millions of fish, with the peak abundance estimated to occur in 2011. Instantaneous fishing mortality rates increased over the modeled time period. This work provides the first estimates of population size over an extended time frame for Blue Catfish in a Chesapeake Bay subestuary, providing crucial information to better understand the response of the population to fishery removals and environmental variation. Further, our modeling approach can be applied to other species with relative abundance, size, and harvest data, either from fisheries or removal programs.
Tags: Exotic/Invasive Species, Modeling, Population Dynamics
Comparing Factors Affecting Bigheaded Carp Reproduction in Illinois and Wabash River Tributaries
Track: General Fisheries: Aquatic Invasive Species
Authors: David Yff, Eastern Illinois University; Eden Effert-Fanta, Eastern Illinois University; Cassi Moody-Carpenter, Eastern Illinois University; Robert E. Colombo, Eastern Illinois University
Student or Professional: Student-Graduate
Abstract: Understanding larval bigheaded carp (Hypopthyalmichthys sp.) production provides key insight into predictions of their invasive spread throughout the United States.  Reproduction has been well documented on larger order rivers, such as the Mississippi and Illinois, with tributaries being an overlooked source of recruitment.  These tributaries tend to experience greater fluctuations in discharge than their mainstem rivers, so they have the potential to show reproduction at different times.  Our research focuses on abiotic factors of Illinois and Wabash River tributaries that could facilitate Asian carp reproduction.  Past research has shown temperature, discharge, and turbidity to be associated with Asian carp reproduction.    We narrowed down parameters of interest using a Principle Component Analysis (PCA) of abiotic data such as temperature, discharge, dissolved oxygen, secchi, and conductivity.  Next, we used parameters of interest from the PCA to test against the presence or absence of larval Asian carp.  We predicted discharge, temperature, and turbidity to correlate to Asian carp presence.  The PCA of abiotic data revealed separation of tributaries by discharge, temperature, secchi, and dissolved oxygen.  Multiple logistic regressions showed that Asian carp presence in Illinois tributaries were significantly correlated to temperature (p=0.006) and discharge (p=0.02) and significantly correlated to discharge (p=0.005) and dissolved oxygen (0.01) in Wabash tributaries.   Results indicate that the Little Wabash, Sangamon, and Embarras rivers are the largest contributors of larval Asian carp among tributaries sampled and tended to have the lowest dissolved oxygen and highest discharge and temperature.  Peak larval CPUE followed spikes in discharge at water temperatures of 17-30°C supporting previous research on Asian carp spawning.  This information together with the extensive large river research will provide a comprehensive management plan targeting critical areas to prevent the spread of these invasive species.
Tags: Exotic/Invasive Species, River/Stream
Do You Hear What I Hear: The Hearing Sensitivity of Native Freshwater Fishes of the Upper Mississippi River in Comparison to Invasive Bigheaded Carp
Track: General Fisheries: Aquatic Invasive Species
Authors: Rosalyn Putland, University of Minnesota Duluth; Marybeth Brey, U.S Geological Survey, Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center; Allen Mensinger, University of Minnesota Duluth
Student or Professional: Professional
Abstract: Silver (Hypophthalmichthys molitrix) and bighead (H. nobilis) carp (collectively referred to as bigheaded carp) are invasive fish that threaten aquatic ecosystems in the upper Midwest United States and the Laurentian Great Lakes. Acoustic deterrents have shown promise in preventing the upstream movement of bigheaded carp. However, there is limited information of the hearing of freshwater fishes and therefore the effect of acoustic deterrents on non-target native fishes remains unknown. In this study, the hearing thresholds of five freshwater fish species native to the Upper Mississippi River were measured using the auditory evoked potential technique and compared to bigheaded carp. Lake sturgeon (Acipenser fulvescens), walleye (Sander vitreus) and largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides) had significantly lower auditory sensitivity in terms of both sound pressure and particle acceleration compared to bigmouth buffalo (Ictiobus cypinellus) and northern hogsucker (Hypentelium nigricans), and all native species were less sensitive to sound than invasive bigheaded carp. Additionally, all native species were most sensitive at frequencies ≀ 500 Hz and auditory sensitivity decreased with increasing frequency. This study adds to the library of auditory thresholds for freshwater fishes and owing to consistent experimental design and methodology, sound pressure and particle acceleration thresholds could be compared between species. Importantly, this study also highlighted that some native freshwater fishes have limited to no auditory sensitivity at frequencies > 2500 Hz, suggesting higher frequencies or lower decibel levels at frequencies
Tags: Exotic/Invasive Species, Freshwater Fish-Other, Management
Effectiveness of Electric Barriers in Preventing Spread of Invasive Invertebrates Apocorophium lacustre and Procambarus clarkii
Track: General Fisheries: Aquatic Invasive Species
Authors: Zalia Cook, Rachel Egly, Jonathon Staunton, Harrison Moy, Robert Polak - Loyola University Chicago Department of Physics; Reuben Keller, Loyola University Chicago School of Environmental Sustainability
Student or Professional: Student-Undergrad
Abstract: The Chicago Area Waterway System (CAWS) connects the Mississippi River and Great Lakes Basins. An electric barrier system in the CAWS aims to deter the spread of bighead and silver carp from the Mississippi River Basin into the Great Lakes. The barrier is not designed, nor has it been tested, for other invasive species including the amphipod Apocorophium lacustre (scud) and the crayfish Procambarus clarkii (red swamp crayfish). We studied the effects of the electric field on scud and red swamp crayfish to investigate the efficacy of the barrier in deterring these species. We built a lab-scale electric barrier to mimic the barrier in the CAWS and conducted experiments to determine how it affects behavior and mobility. Organisms were introduced to a tank and exposed to a range of voltages (25%-400% of the existing electric barrier’s electric field strength) and monitored for changes in behavior and orientation to the electric field. At lower barrier strengths orientation to the electric field provided a method of recording individual response when there were minimal behavioral changes. For juvenile crayfish, individuals exhibited altered movement and rigidity at 100% of the existing barrier strength but maintained equilibrium. At 200% of the existing barrier strength, individuals consistently experienced loss of equilibrium. For amphipods, individuals exhibited altered movement at 100% of the existing barrier strength, but most maintained equilibrium at up to 400%. Individuals of both species could move around at the existing barrier’s electric field strength, suggesting that the barrier may not prevent their spread. While efforts to prevent the invasion of bighead silver carp are necessary, our work shows that other potential invaders are minimally affected by current management and may still pose a large risk of moving through the CAWS.
Tags: Exotic/Invasive Species, Invertebrate, River/Stream
Effects of Bigheaded Carps on the Clupeid Abundances of the Tennessee River
Track: General Fisheries: Aquatic Invasive Species
Authors: Spencer VanderBloemen, Mississippi State University; Leandro Miranda, Mississippi Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit; Michael Colvin, Mississippi State University; Greg Sass, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
Student or Professional: Student-Graduate
Abstract: The cascade of reservoirs along the Tennessee River are home to some of the most diverse assemblages of fishes in the world. This unique system is being threatened by the ongoing invasion of Silver Carp (Hypophthalmichthys molitrix) and Bighead Carp (H. nobilis) commonly referred to as the bigheaded carps. One of the most important groups of fishes in the Tennessee River is the Clupeids, including principally Gizzard Shad (Dorosoma cepedianum), Threadfin Shad (D. petenense), and Skipjack Herring (Alosa chrysochloris). Bigheaded carps directly compete for food resources with these native species, and the potential interaction could have important ecological and even economic consequences. Large abundances of Clupeids are crucial to the Tennessee River fisheries due to their importance as a forage base for the carnivorous species of this system. Clupeids also serve an important role as indicator species for the condition of water quality within this system. We used an extensive dataset of annual gillnetting data between 1990 and 2017 to assess how Clupeid abundances might have changed in the Tennessee River reservoirs since the invasion of bigheaded carps began. We used a BACI design to test the changes in overall Clupeid abundance before and after the arrival of bigheaded carps using a PERMANOVA. Change-point analyses were applied to test for potential pivotal changes in individual clupeid species abundances before and after the arrival of bigheaded carps. We report shifts in abundances of key species since the invasion of bigheaded carps, but more research is needed to connect these changes to bigheaded carps directly.
Tags: Ecology, Exotic/Invasive Species, Inland Lake/Reservoir, Population Dynamics, River/Stream
Impacts of Zebra Mussels (Dreissena polymorpha) on Niche Size and Niche Overlap Among Fish Species in a Mesotrophic Lake
Track: General Fisheries: Aquatic Invasive Species
Authors: Alexandra L. Morrison, Environmental Science Program, University of St Thomas; Mary A. Thelen, Environmental Science Program, University of St Thomas; Sarah E. Howe, Environmental Science Program, University of St Thomas; Kyle D. Zimmer, Biology Department, University of St Thomas; Brian R. Herwig, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Fisheries Research; David F. Staples; Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Fisheries Research; Margaret C. McEachran, Department of Fisheries, Wildlife and Conservation Biology, University of Minnesota.
Student or Professional: Student-Undergrad
Abstract: Zebra mussels (Dreissena polymorpha) filter-feed phytoplankton and reduce available pelagic energy, potentially forcing fish to use littoral sources of energy in lakes. However, changes in food webs and energy flow in complex fish communities before to after zebra mussel establishment are poorly known. We assessed impacts of zebra mussels on fish littoral carbon (C) use and trophic position, as well as niche size and niche overlap among individual fish species using ÎŽ13C and ÎŽ15N data collected before (2014) and after (2019) zebra mussel establishment in Lake Ida near Alexandria, Minnesota. Isotope data were collected from 11 species of fish, and from zooplankton and littoral invertebrates to estimate baseline isotope values. Mixing models were subsequently used to convert fish ÎŽ13C and ÎŽ15N values to estimates of littoral C use and trophic position, respectively. We then tested whether trophic position and littoral C use changed from 2014 to 2019 for each species of fish, and whether isotopic niche size and niche overlap changed during the same time period. We found few effects on fish trophic position, but 10 out of 11 fish species increased littoral C use after zebra mussel establishment, with mean littoral C increasing from 43% before to 67% after establishment. Isotopic niche size of individual species also decreased significantly (30%) post zebra mussels, while pairwise-niche overlap between species increased significantly (15%) at the same time. These results indicate zebra mussels increase littoral energy dependence of whole fish communities, resulting in niches for individual species that are smaller and overlap more with niches of other species. These effects may increase interspecific competition among fish species and could ultimately result in extirpation of species less able to utilize littoral energy sources.
Tags: Ecology, Exotic/Invasive Species, Freshwater Fish-Other
Isotopic Niche Overlap Between Bigheaded Carps and Native Filter-feeding Fishes in the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers
Track: General Fisheries: Aquatic Invasive Species
Authors: Brandon Harris, Illinois Natural History Survey; Jason DeBoer, Illinois Natural History Survey, Jim Lamer, Illinois Natural History Survey
Student or Professional: Professional
Abstract: The widespread introduction of non-native fishes has contributed to freshwater ecosystems being considered among the most altered across the globe.  Of particular concern are invasive planktivorous fishes (e.g., silver carp Hypophthalmichthys molitrix and bighead carp H. nobilis, collectively known as bigheaded carp [BHC]) that have the potential to modify the basal structure of the food web and compete for planktonic resources with native filter-feeders and young-of-year fishes.  Bigheaded carp have rapidly proliferated throughout the Mississippi River basin, creating an outsized potential for diet overlap, and thus resource competition, with native fishes.  The few available stable isotope studies show that niche overlap between BHC and native filter-feeders varies substantially among rivers, however, niche overlap has not been assessed for BHC density extremes within a river.  The goal of this study was to compare isotopic niches in the Illinois and Mississippi rivers to determine whether 1) BHC share a similar isotopic niche with four native filter-feeding fishes with known or suspected niche overlap, and 2) if that association varies ecologically (i.e., between low- and high-density BHC populations) and spatially between rivers.  In general, our results show high niche overlap of BHC with native fishes and that niche overlap was higher under low-density BHC populations compared to high-density populations.  Trophic differentiation varied by river and across BHC densities, but despite this variability, consumer niche space in low-density BHC populations was generally less diverse in d13C and enriched in d15N, relative to higher BHC densities.  Native fishes and BHC typically exhibited asymmetrical patterns of trophic reorganization when comparing across BHC densities.  These results indicate that intense resource competition among species and potential limiting resources occurring because of high-density BHC populations are driving trophic reorganization, and that native fishes are differentially impacted based on their physiological ability to adapt their foraging strategy.
Tags: Ecology, Exotic/Invasive Species
Use of Depth-Sensitive Transmitters and Fish Translocation to Study Asian Carp Behavior at a Mississippi River High-head Dam
Track: General Fisheries: Aquatic Invasive Species
Authors: Andrea Fritts, USGS; Brent Knights, USGS; Amanda Milde, USGS; Jessica Stanton, USGS; Marybeth Brey, USGS; Doug Appel, USGS; Sara Tripp, Missouri Department of Conservation; Mark Fritts, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service; James Lamer, Illinois Natural History Survey
Student or Professional: Professional
Abstract: Asian carp populations continue to expand their range in North America, necessitating efforts to limit the spread and establishment of reproducing populations. Potential control measures include the installation of deterrents (e.g., electric, acoustic) and targeted harvest to limit propagule pressure. Mississippi River Lock and Dam 19 (LD19) is a high-head dam that serves as a population ‘pinch-point’ because the main channel spillway gates are impassable and passage through the lock chamber is the only means by which fish can complete upstream migrations. As such, LD19 represents a location that could be a pivotal control point for minimizing the spread of invasive carps in the Upper Mississippi River. Our objectives were to use acoustic telemetry arrays to study Asian carp behavior at LD19 and to identify factors or conditions that facilitate upstream passage through the lock chamber. We deployed depth-sensor transmitters in Asian carps to obtain information about the behavior and occupancy within different depths in the downstream lock approach, lock chamber, and upstream lock approach.  We also translocated Asian carps that we captured upstream of LD19, tagged, and released downstream into Pool 20. These translocated fish have demonstrated a higher rate of upstream passage relative to Asian carps collected and tagged in Pool 20 and are providing insight on how fish passages relate to lock operation and river traffic. These data are being used to guide the design and installation of an experimental underwater Acoustic Deterrent System at LD19.
Tags: Exotic/Invasive Species, Freshwater Fish-Other, River/Stream
Why the Stall? Understanding the Lack of Upstream Movement in Bigheaded Carp in the Illinois River
Track: General Fisheries: Aquatic Invasive Species
Authors: Jocelyn Curtis-Quick, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Jim Duncker, USGS; John. F Bieber, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Lucas Li, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Alexander V. Ulanov, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Cory D. Suski, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Student or Professional: Professional
Abstract: Bigheaded Carps have spread throughout the Mississippi River basin since the 1970s. Little has stopped the spread as carp have the ability to pass through locks and dams, and they are currently approaching the Great Lakes. However, the location of the leading edge in the Illinois River has stalled for over a decade, even though there is no barrier preventing further advancement towards the Great Lakes. Defining why carp are not moving towards the Great Lakes is important for predicting why they might advance in the future. The aim of this study was to test the hypothesis that anthropogenic contaminants in the Illinois River may be playing a role in preventing further upstream movement of Bigheaded Carp. For this, 93 livers were collected from carp at several locations between May and November of 2018, including individuals at the leading edge of the population. Liver samples were analyzed using targeted (gas chromatography-mass spectrometry) and non-targeted metabolomics (liquid chromatography). Livers from carp at the leading edge had differences that were consistent across time both in terms of elevated energy use and the suppression of protective mechanisms relative to downstream fish. Results are discussed in the context of aquatic contaminants and the role they may be having on the upstream movement of Bigheaded Carp.
Tags: Exotic/Invasive Species, Freshwater Fish-Other, River/Stream
 
General Fisheries: Fish Biology
Carbon-nitrogen Ratios, Lipid Content, and the Allometric Stoichiometry of Body Composition in Fish
Track: General Fisheries: Fish Biology
Authors: James Breck, School of Environment and Sustainability, University of Michigan
Student or Professional: Professional
Abstract: There are very strong patterns in the proximate body composition of fish, especially in the mass ratios of water to protein and ash. These ratios change slightly but significantly with body size, and ash varies among taxa, so that there is an allometric stoichiometry in the mass ratios of water, protein, and ash in the lipid-free mass. This also means that mass of lipid can be estimated from body mass and percent water. Protein is composed of amino acids, which are composed of elements C, N, O, S, and H. I compared published results for relative proportions of the 20 amino acids in eleven fish species. The average proportion of each amino acid in fish protein is quite similar among fish species. So, using the chemical formula and molecular weight of each amino acid together with its average proportion in fish protein, I calculate the following proportions of elements in fish protein, as mean grams of each element per gram protein: C: 0.5190; N: 0.1662; O: 0.2342; S: 0.0122; and H: 0.0683. Although the fatty acid profile can vary widely among fish species, populations, and individuals, the average C, H, O content is quite similar per gram of fatty acid, and, including glyceride, per gram of triacylglyceride: C: 0.7785; H: 0.1131; O: 0.1084. This allometric stoichiometry approach predicts how the C:N mass ratio will increase with lipid content and decrease with percent water for a given wet weight, and can help account for variation in C:N and other elements among individuals, populations, and species of fish.
Tags: Freshwater Fish-Other, Modeling, Physiology
Comparing Native and Invasive Predator Avoidance Behaviors Under Varied Light and Predatory Conditions
Track: General Fisheries: Fish Biology
Authors: Noland O. Michels, University of Minnesota Duluth; Thomas R. Hrabik, University of Minnesota Duluth; Allen F. Mensinger, University of Minnesota Duluth
Student or Professional: Student-Graduate
Abstract: The quantity and quality of information during predator-prey interactions is influenced by a variety of environmental factors, as well as sensory and locomotory abilities of the pair. However, few studies have tested prey reactions under multiple predatory conditions, and it appears that avoidance strategies differ between predators. This has a considerable impact on survival probability which may aid range expansion of invasive species. Round Gobies (Neogobius melanostomus) invaded the Laurentian Great Lakes in 1990 and have severely impacted native prey species like the Mottled Sculpin via competition for food and habitat. Our goal is to determine if one prey species has an advantage avoiding predators and if this advantage is light and/or predator dependent. The effects of predation and light level on prey behavior were examined using two piscivores, Burbot and/or Smallmouth Bass in a crossed design (2 Burbot, 2 Bass, and 1 of each) which preyed on Round Gobies or Mottled Sculpins. Trials were performed under natural light intensities and wavelength of downwelling light. The probability of detection for each prey species for either predator was not significantly different. Only 7% of the detected Gobies were captured and 72% were retained. Comparatively, 23% of detected Mottled Sculpins were captured with 93% being retained. Almost double the number of Mottled Sculpin were consumed than Round Gobies within the same period. Both prey species alternate between fleeing or remaining immobile. Fleeing appears to benefit Round Gobies via reducing predator detection, but also helps avoid pursuing and attacking predators. Mottled Sculpin often remain immobile, but initiate flight responses when predators are in close proximity which greatly increases the chances of predator detections, pursuits, and attacks. Few studies have tested prey reactions under multiple predatory conditions, and it appears that avoidance strategies differ between predators and have a considerable impact on survival probability.
Tags: Behavior, Exotic/Invasive Species, Freshwater Fish-Other
Creek Chub (Semotilus atromaculatus) Distribution, Abundance, and Age Structure in an Urban Missouri Stream
Track: General Fisheries: Fish Biology
Authors: Mark S. Mills, Missouri Western State University; Anthony Rademann, Missouri Western State University; Daniel Simmons, Missouri Western State University
Student or Professional: Professional
Abstract: Urban runoff from parking lots and roads is usually diverted into nearby streams and ponds. This water may contain contaminants ranging from road salt to petroleum products that can negatively affect aquatic ecosystems. One such stream is Otoe Creek, a first- and second-order tributary of the 102 River in St. Joseph, MO.  Otoe Creek begins beneath a shopping mall, crosses Interstate 29, and flows across the Missouri Western State University campus before eventually joining the 102 River east of campus.  We conducted a survey using minnow traps and a backpack electrofisher in 2011 and 2012 to determine the distribution and abundance of fishes in this stream. Approximately 95% of our sample consisted of Creek Chubs (Semotilus atromaculatus), which were especially abundant in the more upstream reaches.  Here we report on a follow-up study, conducted in 2019 and 2020, which focused on the size and age-structure of the Creek Chub populations.  We surveyed additional tributary sites and used mark-recapture to estimate population size and to document movement patterns within a 348-m section of Otoe Creek consisting of seven sites that were 39-65 m apart.  The majority (51%) of Creek Chubs in Otoe Creek were < 1 year old ( < 75 mm standard length).  We marked 167 Creek Chubs and recaptured nine fish out of 262 captures.  Based on these results, we estimated approximately 1600 Creek Chubs in this 348-meter segment of Otoe Creek, or about 4.6 fish/meter of stream.
Tags: Fishing/Field Surveys, Freshwater Fish-Other, Urban Wildlife
Diel Migrations of Burbot During Winter Spawning Periods
Track: General Fisheries: Fish Biology
Authors: Tyler Robinson, Bemidji State University; Andrew Hafs, Bemidji State University; Shannon Fisher, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources; Jeffrey Ueland, Bemidji State University
Student or Professional: Student-Graduate
Abstract: Applications of acoustic telemetry aid in analyzing behaviors and migrations of fish throughout a system. More specifically, acoustic telemetry helps fisheries biologists understand spawning behaviors, distribution, and habitat preferences of fishes. Diel migration (DM) of organisms typically is credited to feeding or avoidance from predators. The objectives of this study were to 1) assess diel migrations of Burbot across the spawning window, 2) identify both fish and water-quality parameters that assist in predicting Burbot movements, 3) classify the diel migrations as vertical or bank associated. A total of sixty-six Burbot between the lengths of 366-845mm were tagged with VEMCO V9 combination pressure and temperature transmitters during the months of March-May in 2019. Fish were tracked with a stationary acoustic array consisting of 38 VEMCO VR2Tx and VR2W receivers dispersed through the lake. Additionally, lake temperature and dissolved oxygen loggers were placed throughout the lake, with additional dissolved oxygen and light profiles conducted every other week. Overall, this study will provide insight into how depths preferences of Burbot change throughout their spawning season.
Tags: Other - Acoustic Telemetry/Movement Analysis
Differences in Growth and Bioenergetics Between Centrarchid Fishes in a Midwestern Power Plant Lake
Track: General Fisheries: Fish Biology
Authors: Kyle Rempe, Eastern Illinois University; Cassi Moody-Carpenter, Eastern Illinois University; Eden Effert-Fanta, Eastern Illinois University; Robert E. Colombo, Eastern Illinois University; Eloy Martinez, Eastern Illinois University
Student or Professional: Student-Graduate
Abstract: Black crappie (Pomoxis nigromaculatus) and bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus) are popular sport fishes that co-occur in similar bodies of water throughout most of the Central and Eastern United States, but have thermal physiologies that are strikingly distinct. The power plant on Coffeen Lake shut down hot water discharge in October 2019, so current age and growth data for the two species are being compared to past values from 2010-2012. Pulsed-DC electrofishing and modified-fyke netting were used to obtain sagittal otolith samples and gather specimens for lab work. Previous data showed that black crappie inhabited the less thermally-impacted areas of the lake, whereas bluegill were most broadly distributed across the lake. It was hypothesized that more thermosensitive species (e.g. black crappie) will also reflect a narrow thermal window of tolerance in mitochondrial efficiency, which should be indicated by how much oxygen and carbon substrates are coupled to cellular energy production (i.e. Adenosine triphosphate (ATP)). Fall 2019 runs at 30˚C showed coupling ratios of ATP production divided by the Electron Transport System (ETS) capacity (P/E) of 0.96 for black crappie, compared to 0.84 for bluegill (two-way ANOVA, p=0.001). These results suggest that the Oxidative Phosphorylation System (OXPHOS) of black crappie is more limited by the ETS than in bluegill, which may account for the low occurrence of black crappie in previously warmed sectors of the reservoir.
Tags: Freshwater Fish-Other, Inland Lake/Reservoir, Physiology
Effects of Boat Motor Sound on Bluegill Sunfish (Lepomis macrochirus) Nesting Behavior
Track: General Fisheries: Fish Biology
Authors: Lily Hall, University of Minnesota-Duluth; Allen Mensinger, University of Minnesota-Duluth
Student or Professional: Student-Undergrad
Abstract: Although anthropogenic activity and sound levels have been increasing in freshwater ecosystems, their effect on freshwater species is relatively unexplored. Boat motor sound is a prominent stimulus that the recreational use of lakes adds to the freshwater soundscape. Bluegill sunfish Lepomis macrochirus are a common target of anglers and therefore can experience frequent anthropogenic sound. To examine the effects boat motor sound has on nesting bluegills, the soundscape and fish were monitored near established nests using an underwater array equipped with a hydrophone, video camera, and underwater speaker in a lake in Makinen, MN. Nest rim circling is a prominent behavior of nesting bluegills and functions to aerate the eggs and increase vigilance. This behavior was monitored before, during, and after each sound trial. Individual nests were exposed to either shorter, frequent playbacks of boat motor sound (6 x 30 sec playback with 5 min intersound intervals) or longer duration, less frequent playback (3 x 5 min playback with 30 min intersound intervals). Preliminary results indicate rim circling behavior decreases during boat motor playback but that nesting bluegills do not orient towards the speaker. Any reduction in rim circling in the presence of boat motor sound could decrease reproductive fitness by compromising egg aeration and the ability of the fish to defend against intruders. Examining these behavioral responses will help investigate if sound from recreational boat use disrupts bluegill nesting behavior and may lead to boating restrictions during nesting season.
Tags: Behavior, Fishing/Field Surveys, Freshwater Fish-Other
Effects of Climate-Induced Shifts in Hatch Timing on Early Life History of Largemouth Bass in Wisconsin
Track: General Fisheries: Fish Biology
Authors: Giancarlo Coppola, Wisconsin Cooperative Fishery Research Unit; Craig Kelling, Wisconsin Cooperative Fishery Research Unit; Daniel Dembkowski, Wisconsin Cooperative Fishery Research Unit; Daniel Isermann, USGS-Wisconsin Cooperative Fishery Research Unit
Student or Professional: Professional
Abstract: Largemouth bass abundance has increased in many lakes in the upper Midwest and this likely reflects trends in bass recruitment related to climate trends. Earlier hatching should translate to age-0 largemouth bass reaching larger sizes earlier, a greater occurrence of piscivory, and a higher probability of overwinter survival. Information on the early life history of largemouth bass in northern lakes is lacking and a better understanding of the mechanisms regulating bass recruitment is needed to determine how future climate trends may influence bass populations. We used total length (TL), hatch date, and diet information collected from age-0 largemouth bass cohorts in multiple Wisconsin lakes to predict how climate-induced shifts in hatch timing might influence pre-winter TL distributions of age-0 bass, prevalence of piscivory, and overwinter survival. Our results suggest that shifts in hatch timing of one week or more can influence the pre-winter length distribution of age-0 bass and that earlier hatching could result in more fish that are of TLs conducive to winter survival. However, the effects of temporal shifts in hatch timing varied among lakes within different regions of the state (south vs. north), with fewer bass in northern lakes attaining TLs conducive to overwinter survival.
Tags: Climate, Ecology, Freshwater Fish-Bass
Embryonic Environmental Cues Alter Behavioral Responsiveness but Not Performance in Larval Fathead Minnow (Pimephales promelas)
Track: General Fisheries: Fish Biology
Authors: Christopher Crowder, Jessica Ward - Ball State University
Student or Professional: Student-Graduate
Abstract: Environmental factors can link life stages through behavioral, morphological, and life-history carry-over effects. Such linkages are important because the experiences at one life stage may promote variation among individuals at a later life stage, with fitness consequences. Most studies conducted to date have focused on the transition between the juvenile and adult life stages. However, environmental cues during the egg stage also have potential to affect morphology and behavior later in life. Here, we examined whether fathead minnow embryos, Pimephales promelas, adjust their behavior in response to a predator cue during the egg stage, and how information learned as embryos contributes to behavioral variation in larvae. Newly- laid embryos were kept for 5 days in aged water (control; C), or in water containing olfactory cues of a piscivorous predator alone (predator treatment; P), or paired with minnow alarm cue (predator + alarm cue treatment; P+AC). Embryonic behavior (i.e., activity level) was measured on day 5, before hatching. Larvae were then reared until day 21 under control conditions and tested in factorial antipredator behavioral performance and responsiveness assays [3 embryonic rearing conditions x 3 test conditions (C, P, P+AC)]. Embryos reared in a perceived ‘high predation risk’ environment (P+AC) exhibited reduced activity compared to the other treatments. In addition, larvae differed in their responsiveness to predatory stimuli at 21 days of age. However, we did not detect an effect of the embryonic environment on the performance of antipredator evasive behavior. These findings indicate that embryonic learning may improve the ability of individuals to respond appropriately to changes in environmental context, without a corresponding change in the expression of specific behaviors.
Tags: Behavior
Investigating the Changes in Fish Behavior in Response to Anthropogenic Sound
Track: General Fisheries: Fish Biology
Authors: Emily Fleissner, University of Minnesota Duluth; Dr. Rosalyn Putland, University of Minnesota Duluth; Dr. Allen Mensinger, University of Minnesota Duluth
Student or Professional: Student-Graduate
Abstract: Freshwater lake soundscapes yield crucial information regarding biological, geological, and anthropogenic activity, yet is a relatively unexplored area of study. These soundscapes are particularly important to aquatic life that may use sound to navigate, find food, avoid predators and communicate. Recent studies on 15 small lakes in northern MN have shown the soundscapes are impacted by motorized watercraft in the summer and ice fishing activities in the winter. The anthropogenic contributions increased background sound levels and overlapped with the frequency range of biological sound (300-1000 Hz). Further research is required to understand how aquatic species, such as native fishes, are impacted by increased anthropogenic interference. Numerous lakes restrict use of motorized boats and equipment therefore providing an opportunity to compare fish behavior to anthropogenic sound in recreational and wilderness settings. Underwater videos and passive acoustic monitoring were used to monitor fish behavior in response to anthropogenic sound in John Lake (nonmotorized, Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wildnerness, MN), Rush Lake (nonmotorized, Huron Mountain Club, MI) and Caribou Lake (motorized, Duluth, MN). Underwater video trials were conducted in 60 minute increments that included 25 minutes of intermittent short and long sound exposure. Fish density decreased in preliminary analysis by 41.9%, 45.9% and 45.8% in response to sound in John, Rush and Caribou lakes, respectively. Mean residence time, or the duration the fish was in the field of view, decreased following sound by 1.5 and 3.2 seconds in John and Caribou lakes, but increased by 5.3 seconds in Rush lake. Fish density and residence time increased in John and Rush lakes while fish density continued to decrease in Caribou lake during the 20 minute post sound period.  
Tags: Other - Sound
Investigation of the Northern Madtom (Noturus stigmosus) in the St. Clair River
Track: General Fisheries: Fish Biology
Authors: Brad Utrup, Michigan Department of Natural Resources; Jan-Michael Hessenauer, Michigan Department of Natural Resources; Andrew Briggs, Michigan Department of Natural Resources; Todd Wills, Michigan Department of Natural Resources
Student or Professional: Professional
Abstract: Northern Madtom (Noturus stigmosus; NOM) are a state-endangered catfish in Michigan.  Found in small to large rivers, NOM distribution is limited and abundance is uncertain in Michigan.  Due to its cryptic nature and habitat preference, sampling NOM is difficult.  Mean annual catch in the St. Clair River from 2010-2015 was 11 NOM per year in baited minnow traps.  After a bait change, mean catch increased to 142 per year from 2016-2019.  A total of 425 individuals were marked with visual implant elastomer tags from 2016-2017 and two were recaptured, suggesting a robust population in our sampling area.  Increased catch after changing bait allowed us to expand research efforts and investigate age and growth, mortality, diet, and fecundity.  Age estimates ranged from 2-6 years using otoliths and dorsal spines.  Aquatic invertebrates were the exclusive diet item, with Trichopterans being most prevalent.  Mean fecundity was 179 per female (range 115-228).  No spent females were observed, and gravid females were common at the end of our sampling, suggesting spawning in the St. Clair River takes place at water temperature greater than 13 °C.  This work provides a better understanding of NOM life history and habits and can inform future sampling and restoration work. 
Tags: Great Lakes, River/Stream, Threatened and Endangered Species
Nearshore Food Web Dynamics of the Lake Erie Central Basin
Track: General Fisheries: Fish Biology
Authors: Joshua Tellier, Purdue University; Dr. Tomas Höök, Purdue University; Dr. Richard Kraus, U.S. Geological Survey, Lake Erie Biological Station; Dr. Paris Collingsworth, Purdue University
Student or Professional: Student-Graduate
Abstract: The Lake Erie watershed has been considerably altered from its natural state by changes in land use and long-term precipitation patterns. However, the magnitudes of these changes are not equivalent across the entire lake. The unique physiographic and hydrodynamic characteristics of the northern and southern shorelines create the potential for differences in aquatic nutrient cycling within these two major nearshore areas. The southern shoreline is dotted with numerous large rivers that discharge phosphorous and other biologically relevant compounds into the southern nearshore areas of Lake Erie. Conversely, the northern shoreline is subject to intense longshore currents and upwelling events that draw benthic nutrients up into the photic zone. The central basin of Lake Erie is also subject to late summer hypoxia which pushes some organisms out of the deeper offshore waters and into these divergent nearshore habitats. Thus, the food webs of these two nearshore systems may differ in their basal carbon source and various trophic pathways. We collected several ecologically important fish species (Rainbow Smelt, Round Goby, Yellow Perch, White Perch) and lower trophic organisms from the northern and southern nearshore areas of central Lake Erie in 2017 and 2019 to examine the trophic relationships of common Lake Erie fish species using stable isotope analysis of white muscle tissue. We quantified differences in trophic positioning, organic carbon source, and condition between the two nearshore populations for each species. Preliminary findings indicate that some species are exposed to significantly different organic carbon sources within each nearshore area. Our results also reflect the regime-shift caused by the pelagic-benthic pathway coupling of Dreissenid mussels.
Tags: Other - Food Web Analysis
Predicting Contaminant Transfer Following Re-establishment of Controlled Connectivity in the Boardman River
Track: General Fisheries: Fish Biology
Authors: R.A. Gay, Department of Biology, Northern Michigan University; G. Paterson, Deptartment of Biological Sciences, Michigan Technological University; B.S. Gerig, Department of Biology, Northern Michigan University
Student or Professional: Student-Graduate
Abstract: The Great Lakes (GL) have suffered anthropogenic alteration through large scale discharges of contaminants including mercury (Hg), PCBs, DDT, and organochlorine pesticides.  Migratory fish accumulate and magnify contaminants within their tissues and can transport them across ecosystem boundaries where they are deposited as waste, gametes, and/or carcasses. This can strongly impact resident fish bioaccumulation through the consumption of fish tissues.  Fish tissues such as eggs are a preferred food item during times of peak availability and may represent the main vector of contaminant transfer to stream resident fish.  Re-established connectivity in the form of dam removal has the potential allow contaminant laden migrants to gain access to ecosystems previously inaccessible.  The biotransport of contaminants by introduced salmon species in the Great Lakes is well documented but little is known of the potential of other Great Lakes migrants to act as biotransporters.  Here, we assess the contaminant burden of a subset of introduced and native GL migrants.  Whole body and gametic tissues of migratory fish were analyzed for mercury, PCBs, DDT, and organochlorines.  Contaminant burden was related to individual fish variables including stable isotope ratios of nitrogen (Ύ15N) and carbon (Ύ13C), and species specific traits to identify factors that increase the likelihood of contaminant transfer.  We observed a positive relationship between Ύ15N and whole body mercury load for all species indicating trophic position as a predictor for mercury contaminant burden.  Regardless of migrant species we found that gametes (eggs) contained much lower levels of mercury compared to whole body tissues, likely due to the affinity of mercury for muscle over lipid rich tissues.  Contaminant data will be used to inform fish passage decisions in relation to dam removals and a selective fish passage barrier on the Boardman River in Traverse City, MI.
Tags: Great Lakes, Modeling, River/Stream
Quantification and Comparison of Muskellunge and Other Piscivore Diets
Track: General Fisheries: Fish Biology
Authors: Kamden Glade, Bemidji State University; Brian Herwig, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources; Tyler Ahrenstorff, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources; Jeff Reed, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources; Dr. Andrew Hafs, Bemidji State University
Student or Professional: Student-Graduate
Abstract: Muskellunge Esox masquinongy are the largest members of the family Esocidae found in Minnesota and are managed for trophy angling opportunities with large minimum size requirements and limited harvest. New introductions intended to disperse angling pressure throughout the state have been controversial, with anglers, lakeshore residents, and biologists expressing concern regarding how introduced Muskellunge might impact resident fish communities. While Muskellunge impacts at the community level appear minimal based on available literature, relatively little is known about Muskellunge diets, particularly in Minnesota. In 2019, we began a 3 year study to quantify Muskellunge diet overlap with Northern Pike E. lucius, Walleye Sander vitreus, and Largemouth Bass Micropterus salmoides in a set of Minnesota lakes with varying prey fish assemblages and lake morphology. Our experimental design focuses on how the presence or absence of Cisco Coregonus artedi impacts potential diet overlap. Lakes without Muskellunge will also be sampled to compare diets of other piscivores in the presence and absence of Muskellunge. We quantified foraging patterns of all four piscivores and estimated dietary overlap. Yellow Perch Perca flavescens and various Centrarchid species were important prey items across all lakes for Muskellunge, Northern Pike, and Walleye, while crayfish (Orconectes spp.) were critical for Largemouth Bass. Muskellunge overlap with the other three species was low, while Northern Pike and Walleye had the highest overlap among all lakes. Additionally, overlap was generally lower in lakes where Cisco were present. We will present results from the 2019 and 2020 field seasons.
Tags: Freshwater Fish-Muskie, Freshwater Fish-Walleye, Freshwater Fish-Bass
Trophic Overlap and Growth of Lean and Siscowet Lake Trout Morphotypes Across Their Trophic Ontogeny: Does Overlap Matter?
Track: General Fisheries: Fish Biology
Authors: Will Otte, Northern Michigan University; Shawn Sitar, Michigan DNR; Dan Yule, USGS; Charles Bronte, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service; Heidi Swanson, University of Waterloo; Brandon Gerig, Northern Michigan University
Student or Professional: Student-Graduate
Abstract: Here we investigate the diet similarity and isotopic niche overlap of juvenile Lean and Siscowet Lake Trout (Salvelinus namaycush) across six ecoregions of Lake Superior. In 2019, 1001 juvenile Lake Trout were collected between June and September 2019 across three depth strata (80m). Diet composition was be established through the combined results of gut content and stable isotope analyses of muscle and liver to provide a more holistic view of Lake Trout diets at multiple time scales. Stable isotopes of nitrogen , carbon , & sulfur   were be used to ascertain food web positon and estimate the degree of niche overlap between the two morphs. Somatic growth, as a factor of density dependence, will characterized by fitting the typical parameterization of the Von Bertelannfy Growth function and comparing among morphotypes and across ecoregions to determine the degree of impact any perceived “overlap” is having on the fish. Results of the preliminary diet analysis show Siscowet have boarder diet composition relative to Leans, however, stable isotopes depict little discernable difference in base of production and suggest a high degree of the Lean niche falls within that of Siscowet, particularly at small sizes. In some ecoregions, Siscowet undergo a shift in 𝛿15𝑁 at 300mm which reflects increased consumption of benthic or profundal prey at greater depths. In these same ecoregions, Leans have greater estimates of the L∞ parameter. This suggests the observed “overlap” in these regions may not matter as Siscowet appear to be feeding on similar prey items at greater depths. Our stable isotope analysis and extensive spatial sampling could be used to inform ongoing ecosystem modeling efforts of predator consumption in prey limited systems.
Tags: Ecology, Fisheries Techniques, Freshwater Fish-Other, Great Lakes, Modeling
Zooplankton Community Dynamics in the Central Basin of Lake Erie
Track: General Fisheries: Fish Biology
Authors: Lauren Eaton, University of Toledo; Robin DeBruyne, University of Toledo; Richard Kraus, USGS; Edward Roseman, USGS; William Edwards, USGS
Student or Professional: Professional
Abstract: The Lower Trophic Level Assessment program was established in 1999 by the Forage Task Group to monitor and assess factors influencing Lake Erie fisheries.  Zooplankton community changes can impact larval and planktivorous fish because both rely on zooplankton as a primary food source.  Zooplankton samples have been collected every two weeks from May to September at 18 stations across Lake Erie, and our dataset includes samples from 1999-2011.  This project focuses on zooplankton community trends from two sites in the central basin at 5m and 14m deep.  Preliminary results from 2007 to 2011 show that total zooplankton biomass decreased from 405 mg/m3 in 2007 to 328 mg/m3 2009, then increased in 2010 to 515 mg/m3, before declining to 289 mg/m3 in 2011.  Cladocerans made up the bulk of the total biomass and secondary production in all years except 2009, and Daphnia spp. was the dominant cladoceran most years, except in 2009 (Diaphanosoma spp. dominated) and in 2010 (Eubosmina coregoni dominated).  Calanoids dominated the biomass and secondary production in 2009, and the dominant species was Leptodiaptomus siciloides.  Total crustacean secondary productivity increased from 40 ”g/L/day in 2007 to 64 ”g/L/day in 2008, but then decreased to 34 ”g/L/day in 2011.  Dreissenid veliger biomass decreased from 115 mg/m3 2007 to 47 mg/m3 in 2009, peaked to 226 mg/m3 in 2010, but then decreased to 101 mg/m3 in 2011.  Rotifer biomass showed an overall decreasing trend from 112 mg/m3 in 2007 to 35 mg/m3 2011.  Seasonally, total zooplankton biomass increased from 235 mg/m3 to 434 mg/m3 in the summer, before decreasing in the fall to 312 mg/m3, with little differences found between sites.  Analyzing the full time series for these important prey species will give further insights into zooplankton community dynamics and help to further understand lower food web dynamics. 
Tags: Ecology, Great Lakes, Invertebrate
 
General Fisheries: Fisheries Habitat
Coarse Woody Habitat Effects on Sport Fish Behavior
Track: General Fisheries: Fisheries Habitat
Authors: Quinnlan Smith, University of Minnesota Duluth; Thomas Hrabik, University of Minnesota Duluth; Gregory Sass, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
Student or Professional: Student-Graduate
Abstract: Coarse woody habitat (CWH) additions have increased in popularity in Midwestern United States lakes, however many of these recent additions have not been treated as deliberate experiments to examine long-term fisheries responses. Past CWH removal studies have shown reduction in fish growth rates, declines in forage fish abundance, and behavioral changes, while short term CWH addition studies have shown improved reproductive output of certain fish species, increased availability and diversity of fish prey, and changes in behavior and habitat use. A long term CWH addition on the undeveloped Sanford Lake in northern Wisconsin began in 2017, with the first results of the experiment aimed at exploring CWH effects on muskellunge (Esox masquinongy), walleye (Sander vitreus), and smallmouth bass (Micropterus dolomieu) behavioral changes. Radio telemetry data from pre-manipulation 2017, and post-manipulation 2018/2019 was used to construct a yearly bounded kernel density home range estimate for each species as well as a multi-state lake exchange model to estimate yearly movement changes within the lake. Over the course of the three years, average home ranges significantly increased. Further analysis revealed that season, year, and individual fish species all contributed to the significant home range differences. The multi-state lake model exchange rates between the CWH shoreline, non-CWH shoreline, and offshore zone differed from 2017 to 2018/2019. Fish were modeled to remain in the offshore region of the lake more often during the 2018/2019 seasons, as well as having lower exchange rates from the offshore region to the CWH shoreline in 2018/2019. Results from the first part of this study highlight the importance of considerations with CWH additions to undeveloped systems and potential effects on sportfish behavior with regards to areas where CWH was added.
Tags: Freshwater Fish-Walleye, Management, Modeling
Egg Mat Efficiency in Simulated River Conditions
Track: General Fisheries: Fisheries Habitat
Authors: Madeline Tomczak, USGS; Brian Schmidt, Ohio Department of Natural Resources; Robin DeBruyne, The University of Toledo; Edward Roseman, USGS; Dustin Bowser, USGS; Jason Fischer, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service; Greg Kennedy, USGS; Nicole King, The University of Toledo; Christine Mayer, The University of Toledo
Student or Professional: Professional
Abstract: Egg mats can provide an index of spawning efforts of lithophilic species and assess the spatial and temporal extent of spawning. Despite the wide use of egg mats, little is known about their collection efficiency and bias. To investigate sampling characteristics of egg mats, we conducted flume experiments under controlled conditions and field collections to quantify relationships between egg collection and retention with drift, flow velocity, and exposure time. Retention rates and efficiency were assessed in the lab, with fertilized and unfertilized Walleye (Sander vitreus) and fertilized Lake Whitefish (Coregonus clupeaformis) eggs seeded directly or hand dispersed in a flume to simulate spawning over egg mats. Simulated-spawning trials were also run with reef rocks present to understand interstitial movement of spawned eggs. In the seeded mat trials, as average velocity increased, Lake Whitefish egg retention decreased. However, with Walleye eggs, the only factor that significantly decreased egg retention was if the egg was unfertilized. In the simulated-spawning trials, the distance from the egg release site was negatively related to collection of Walleye eggs on mats. When rocks were present in simulated-spawning trials, Lake Whitefish eggs were less likely to attach to the egg mats. During field collections, more Lake Whitefish eggs were collected in D-Frame drift nets set upstream and downstream of a spawning reef compared to egg mats set on the reef; whereas the opposite was observed for Walleye eggs. Field observations and lab trials indicate that Lake Whitefish eggs drifted more compared to Walleye eggs that attach to mats. Therefore, egg mats are an informative tool for evaluating Walleye egg deposition, but may underestimate Lake Whitefish egg deposition. Our study indicates egg mats are an informative gear for assessing egg deposition by lithophilic spawning fishes, but that the efficiency and bias of this gear may vary between species.
Tags: Fisheries Techniques, Great Lakes, River/Stream
Fish Community Changes Following Fall Drawdown in a Canal and Its Tributary Stream
Track: General Fisheries: Fisheries Habitat
Authors: Melissa R. Wuellner, University of Nebraska at Kearney; Keith Koupal, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission
Student or Professional: Professional
Abstract: The influence of water management on fish communities within irrigation canals and those of the tributary streams to which those canals connect has received minimal attention in Nebraska to date. Stream fish communities may change in response to natural temporal changes in precipitation, but the management of water in irrigation canals may cue fish to from canals or entering and exiting tributary streams to seek refuge.  Alternatively, dewatering of canals may strand fish in standing pools. The objectives of this study were to: 1) compare fish community differences longitudinally in one irrigation canal following drawdown in the fall; and 2) compare fish community changes in a tributary stream of the same canal before and after fall drawdown. Our study area included the Kearney Canal (a diversion of the Platte River) and Turkey Creek, a second-order stream that flows into the canal. Backpack electrofishing was used to sample an upper, middle, and lower reach were sampled in the Kearney Canal in November 2018 and 2019 and September 2020 and three, 100-m reaches Turkey Creek in October (before drawdown) and November (after drawdown) 2018 and 2019. Overall, species richness and diversity was higher in the Kearney Canal in 2019 compared to 2018 and 2020.  Species richness increased between the pre-drawdown period and the post-drawdown period in Turkey Creek in 2018, but richness remained equal between both sampling periods in 2019.  Temporal differences between and within the Kearney Canal and Turkey Creek may be due to intra-annual changes in canal operation (i.e., pre- and post-shutdown) and flooding that occurred in 2019 but not 2018 or 2020.  In all, results from this study highlight the interconnected nature of canals and their stream tributaries that may need to be considered when managing water in irrigation canals. 
Tags: Freshwater Fish-Other, River/Stream
Location and Timing of Spawning Brook Trout in the Little Plover River, WI
Track: General Fisheries: Fisheries Habitat
Authors: Natalie Coash, UWSP undergrad; Zach Mohr, Wisconsin DNR; Ben Schleppenbach, WDNR; Joshua Raabe UWSP College of Natural Resources.
Student or Professional: Student-Undergrad
Abstract: Brook Trout Salvenius fontanalis are a native salmonid species within Wisconsin that require cold, high quality, flowing water. Brook Trout naturally reproduce in the Little Plover River, a groundwater dominated stream in central Wisconsin, but experienced mortalities during low flows and dry reaches from 2005-2009 caused by drought and groundwater pumping. Recent efforts to improve watershed health and river flows include groundwater pumping changes, wetland restoration, and riparian and channel modifications. Understanding Brook Trout spawning locations (i.e., redds) and timing would aid in identifying important locations and time periods for restoration and protection. Therefore, we conducted weekly redd surveys in Autumn 2017-2020 by walking the main passage of the river and GPS marking observed redd locations consisting of at least two actively staging or spawning fish over a designated redd. We mapped redds in GIS and compared locations to estimated groundwater inflow data. Brook Trout spawned throughout most of the stream but redd locations varied by week and annually. In 2017, redds were more dense in areas with higher groundwater inflows whereas in 2018 more redds were located upstream and at differing groundwater inflows. Varying redd locations could be due to differences in river flow, with much higher flows in 2018 and 2019 potentially influencing groundwater inflow or Brook Trout movement behaviors. Peak redd numbers occurred during the second and third weeks of November during all three years. As water levels continue to rise over the time period of study, we look into how habitat availability may play a role in spawning location.  This research provides valuable information on Brook Trout spawning behaviors and can be used to help ensure maximum benefits of restoration efforts and is part of an ongoing evaluation of the Brook Trout population and watershed restoration efforts of the Little Plover River.
Tags: Freshwater Fish-Other, Restoration/Enhancement, River/Stream
Mapping Forest Height Structure in Minnesota and Michigan with Lidar to Support Coldwater Fish Distribution Modeling
Track: General Fisheries: Fisheries Habitat
Authors: Patrick Landisch, University of Minnesota; Lisa Elliott, University of Minnesota; Mark Nelson, US Forest Service; William Severud, University of Minnesota; Jody Vogeler, Colorado State University; Joseph Knight, University of Minnesota
Student or Professional: Professional
Abstract: Fish and wildlife distributions are influenced by the composition of landscape characteristics. Landscape characteristics, such as forest cover and structure within riparian buffers, provide many benefits including terrestrial wildlife habitat, water quality and quantity improvements, and shading to maintain aquatic thermal habitat. Accurate and consistent information on the forest structure can be obtained with lidar remote sensing technology. Lidar data can characterize the physical structure of forest ecosystems such as tree height and canopy cover at high spatial resolutions and vertical accuracies. The vertical and horizontal information derived from lidar data quantifies forests’ structural characteristics and composition inside and outside of riparian buffers. We used variable-width riparian buffers, delineated using the Riparian Buffer Delineation Model. In Minnesota and Michigan, comparable lidar data are available at the state-wide level with mean pulse densities of 1.5 and 0.7 points per square meter, respectively. Canopy height and canopy density at height strata were derived from lidar point clouds and LAStools for the arrowhead region of MN and the Huron-Manistee National Forest in MI. We previously assessed other landscape characteristics (e.g. land cover, land use, and forest disturbance) within and outside riparian buffers, and applied a random forest analysis of brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) occurrence at the watershed level. We refine this analysis by incorporating the lidar-derived canopy height and canopy density at height strata data into the models of brook trout distribution. We present a comparison between Minnesota and Michigan’s lidar products within and outside riparian buffers, updates to our analysis of brook trout occurrence, and next steps for incorporating forest structure into distribution modeling of other fish and wildlife.
Tags: Forest, Freshwater Fish-Other, Great Lakes, Modeling, River/Stream, Technology/Geographic Information Systems
Side-scan Sonar and Underwater Video Observations of Potential Lake Trout Spawning Substrate at Two Previously Un-described Offshore Reefs in Southwest Lake Michigan
Track: General Fisheries: Fisheries Habitat
Authors: William Stacy-Duffy, Illinois Natural History Survey; Charles Roswell, Illinois Natural History Survey; Rebecca Redman, Illinois Department of Natural Resources; Steven Robillard, Illinois Department of Natural Resources; Daniel Makauskas, Illinois Department of Natural Resources; Vic Santucci, Illinois Department of Natural Resources; Sergiusz Czesny, Illinois Natural History Survey
Student or Professional: Professional
Abstract: Substantial numbers of naturally reproduced lake trout have been collected in fall gillnet surveys in Illinois waters since 2012, after decades of rehabilitation efforts. The results of these surveys, which occurred at known historical spawning locations (Julian’s and Waukegan Reefs), prompted interest in a more thorough accounting of lake trout spawning habitat in southwest Lake Michigan. Using information from historical reports and anglers, bathymetric maps were created for a series of offshore reefs from 2017-2019 to aid future gillnetting surveys. Fall gillnet surveys at Lake Bluff 10-Mile Reef in 2019 produced substantial numbers of lake trout, 55% of which were wild fish. Thus, Lake Bluff 10-Mile Reef and Gumby Reef (located near Julian’s Reef) were singled out for more in-depth surveys in 2020. Using a combination of underwater video and side-scan sonar, we sought to characterize the substrate available at these two reefs to understand their suitability as spawning habitat and compare the characterized spawning habitat with previous surveys done at Julian’s and Waukegan Reefs. We observed a variety of substrate types at these two reefs, including large cobble with significant interstitial spaces, massive bedrock outcrops and cliffs, and areas of sand and clay with scattered cobble. Video survey showed nearly all hard surfaces were encrusted with a layer of quagga mussels and both lake trout and lake whitefish present over harder substrates during the spawning season. The results of this research contribute to our knowledge of potential spawning habitat for lake trout and key habitats to study for egg and fry survival in the Illinois waters of Lake Michigan.
Tags: Freshwater Fish-Other, Great Lakes, Habitat
 
General Fisheries: Fisheries Management - Strategies and Techniques
A Management Plan for Lake Sturgeon in Yellow Lake, WI
Track: General Fisheries: Fisheries Management - Strategies and Techniques
Authors: Craig M. Roberts, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources; Gene Hatzenbeler, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources; Mark Luehring, Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission; S. Ben Michaels, Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission; Adam Ray; Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission
Student or Professional: Professional
Abstract: Yellow Lake, in Burnett County, WI is home to one of a few lake sturgeon fisheries in the Midwestern US that supports both a recreational angling and tribal fishery. However, this unique resource was being managed using an outdated population estimate from 1986. To address this concern, we utilized a Breeding return-time Jolly-Seber model to more accurately reflect the status of the current lake sturgeon population and to update the harvest quotas in the Yellow Lake system. This model utilized data collected during the spawning seasons of 2011 to 2019 from spawning lake sturgeon captured in the Yellow Lake system. In addition, we calculated total annual mortality, length frequency, and growth parameters. Average length of female and male lake sturgeon was 63.4” and 51.2”, respectively. Total annual mortality of adult sturgeon was calculated at 6.3%. The von Bertalanffy growth function (K) was 0.11 for female sturgeon and 0.17 from male sturgeon. The current population estimate was 861 adult lake sturgeon or approximately 0.4 fish/acre. This estimate resulted in an updated harvest quota of 32 fish and was split evenly between the recreational angling and tribal fishery. Further data collection will allow this model to become more precise and be adjusted on a yearly basis.
Tags: Fisheries Techniques, Freshwater Fish-Other, Population Dynamics
Assessing the Dispersal and Contribution of Stocked Walleye Fry in a Northern Minnesota Chain of Lakes
Track: General Fisheries: Fisheries Management - Strategies and Techniques
Authors: Joseph W. Amundson, Bemidji State University; Andrew W. Hafs, Bemidji State University; Anthony J. Kennedy, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
Student or Professional: Student-Graduate
Abstract: As part of Minnesota’s Walleye Sander vitreus egg take practice, 10% of eggs taken for hatchery purposes are stocked back into the donor lake. For Lake Andrusia, part of the Cass Lake Chain of Lakes (Chain), this practice can result in elevated fry densities (mean: 7,000 fry/littoral acre). However, if fry are able to disperse throughout the Chain, fry densities would be intermediate to typical stocking densities for Minnesota lakes (500-1,000 fry/littoral acre).  In 2016-2018, 3-3.5 million fry were mass-marked by immersion in oxytetracycline (OTC) prior to stocking into Lake Andrusia to allow differentiation between these fish and those originating from natural reproduction or stocking in other connected waters. Age-0 Walleyes were sampled throughout the chain each fall (2016-2018) primarily by boat electrofishing. Each year, age-0 fish were widely distributed by late August. Marking rates in each lake of the chain ranged from 0 to 99% (median = 73%). The ability of stocked fish to disperse throughout the chain helped suppress density dependent effects, although, total length (mm) increased as catch-per-unit-effort (CPUE) decreased with distance form stocking site. In 2019, a chain-wide gill net assessment resulted in cohort (2016-2018) marking rates at ages 1 to 3 similar to their age-0 marking rates. The chain was previously thought to be largely self-sustaining with put-back stocking considered a social aspect of management rather than contributory to the Walleye population, but our results suggest that this stocking is substantially contributing to the population.
Tags: Fisheries Techniques, Freshwater Fish-Walleye
Assessment of Catfish Population Dynamics in Four Illinois Power Plant Lakes
Track: General Fisheries: Fisheries Management - Strategies and Techniques
Authors: Tyler J. Murray, Eastern Illinois University; Cassi J. Moody-Carpenter, Eastern Illinois University; Eden L. Effert-Fanta, Eastern Illinois University; Blake Bushman, Illinois Department of Natural Resources; David Wyffels, Illinois Department of Natural Resources; Mike Garthaus, Illinois Department of Natural Resources; Tad Locher, Illinois Department of Natural Resources; Robert E. Colombo, Eastern Illinois University
Student or Professional: Student-Graduate
Abstract: Catfishes (Ictaluridae) are an integral component of commercial and recreational fisheries across the country. Our research is being conducted in Clinton, Springfield, Powerton, and LaSalle Lakes, which are all used as cooling reservoirs for coal or nuclear power plants. There is evidence in the state of Illinois that the condition of Channel Catfish populations is declining in several of these lakes, while Blue Catfish are thriving. This study explores interactions between Blue and Channel Catfish, and the elevated temperatures in these lakes, using metrics such as recruitment, growth, mortality, condition, density, and age. Each lake was sampled with low pulse DC electrofishing in fall. Each catfish collected was identified, measured, weighed, Floy tagged, and a spine removed for aging purposes. A subsection of the catfish had otoliths removed to address any discrepancies between ages of spines and otoliths. Results of this study will ultimately be used by state biologists to inform updates to the catfish stocking regimes and fishing regulations in the power plant lakes throughout the state. Many of these power plant lakes will begin to be decommissioned in the next decade and beyond, therefore understanding the current systems is critically important for managing these impending changes.
Tags: Freshwater Fish-Other, Inland Lake/Reservoir, Population Dynamics
Developing a Coordinated Long-term Fisheries Monitoring Program in the St. Clair-Detroit River System: How Well Do Existing Surveys Track Management Objectives?
Track: General Fisheries: Fisheries Management - Strategies and Techniques
Authors: Corbin D. Hilling, University of Toledo; Edward F. Roseman, USGS Great Lakes Science Center; James C. Boase, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service; Justin A. Chiotti, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service; Robin L. DeBruyne, University of Toledo/USGS Great Lakes Science Center; Christine M. Mayer, University of Toledo; Jeff T. Tyson, Great Lakes Fishery Commission; Todd C. Wills, Michigan Department of Natural Resources
Student or Professional: Professional
Abstract: The St. Clair-Detroit River System (SCDRS) forms the connecting channel between Lake Huron and Lake Erie and is an important navigational and recreational resource for both Canada and the United States. Portions of the SCDRS are designated as Great Lakes Areas of Concern due to loss and degradation of fish and wildlife habitat, which is a Beneficial Use Impairment (BUI). Efforts to remove fish and wildlife habitat BUIs have focused on restoring habitat for native fishes. Considerable research effort has focused on sites where restoration has occurred and numerous long-term agency surveys are conducted annually. However, the question remains whether habitat enhancements will produce population-level benefits for target species. Therefore, an assessment of current post-restoration monitoring is needed to determine if monitoring is sufficient to detect possible population-level responses, particularly in species targeted by management agency objectives. To that end, we inventoried fish monitoring surveys and management objectives in the SCDRS through a literature search and communication with stakeholders, management, and science agencies. We compared monitoring surveys to management objectives to determine if existing monitoring adequately addresses whether population and community objectives are being met for the SCDRS and Lakes Huron and Erie. Existing monitoring programs survey the fish community using a variety of sampling gears that target fishes at various trophic levels, habitats, and life stages. However, linking management objectives to appropriate surveys was not always feasible as objectives were sometimes lacking or not specific enough to determine appropriate performance measures. Although existing fisheries surveys are fairly comprehensive, there are opportunities to develop specific interjurisdictional fisheries objectives that better match assessments to existing management objectives. Continued efforts to improve coordination among cooperators will reduce duplication of efforts and improve measurements of progress toward management goals.
Tags: Freshwater Fish-Other, Great Lakes, Restoration/Enhancement
Electrofishing Boat Cathodes: Clean or Dirty Does It Make a Difference?
Track: General Fisheries: Fisheries Management - Strategies and Techniques
Authors: Lewis J. Bruce, Iowa Department of Natural Resources
Student or Professional: Professional
Abstract: Standardization of fisheries sampling gear and protocol is a necessary step to allow for accurate comparisons of results to be made across space or time. Gaps in these standard protocols could unknowingly cause biases in data. Boat electrofishing is one of the sampling gears used by fisheries managers to collect a wide range of fishes in both lentic and lotic systems. The Iowa DNR, like most state fisheries management agencies, has a standard sampling program for lentic systems to allow for statewide comparison of fisheries data. This study was designed to documented changes in the electrical fields and system resistance for 4 boat electrofishing setups post-cathode cleaning. Similar too many other Midwestern states boat hulls are used as Iowa’s standard cathode. Material builds up on the hull during electrofishing surveys, i.e. more pedal time equals increased buildup of positively charged ions on the cathode. Voltage gradients were measured at 88 locations and two depth planes using a fabricated sampling grid. System resistance was measured using an oscilloscope and peak metering on the electrofishing control box. All four boats were surveyed pre-, 25%, 50%, and 100% cleaned hull. Cleaning 100% of the boat hulls reduced total system resistance in 3 of the 4 boats and increased voltage at the 1.37m depth plane.
Tags: Fisheries Techniques, Fishing/Field Surveys, Survey Methods
Environmental Influences on Walleye (Sander vitreus) and Muskellunge (Esox masquinongy) Trip Success and Total Catch on Escanaba Lake, Wisconsin 2003 – 2015
Track: General Fisheries: Fisheries Management - Strategies and Techniques
Authors: Stephanie Shaw, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Office of Applied Science; Kathryn Renik, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Office of Applied Science; Greg Sass, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Office of Applied Science
Student or Professional: Professional
Abstract: Angler experience has suggested that environmental factors (season, lunar phase, wind direction) effect trip success and catch rates. Most studies have focused on whether lunar cycles effect catch rates, with limited information on the effects of other environmental factors. Our objective was to test for the influence of multiple environmental factors on angler trip success and total catch of walleye Sander vitreus and muskellunge Esox masquinongy using information from the compulsory creel dataset available at Escanaba Lake, Wisconsin during 2003 – 2015. Angler and species specific variables included effort (hours/trip), bait type (live or artificial), guide status (guided or not), target species, and adult fish density (walleye or muskellunge). Daily environmental factors included barometric pressure change, change in water temperature, peak wind direction, mean solar radiation and lunar phase. Trip specific variables (recorded hourly) included mean air temperature, mean wind speed, diel period (dawn, day, dusk), and lunar position (overhead, underfoot, neither). Hurdle models were used to test whether environmental factors influenced trip success or total catch. We evaluated all angling trips combined (incorporating incidental catch) and trips that were targeting only the species of interest. Trip success and total catch for both species were most strongly influenced by angler specific variables (effort, guide status, bait type, target species). Walleye trip success was also influenced by diel period, lunar phase, mean solar intensity, and wind direction. Walleye total catch was influenced by diel period, mean air temperature, mean solar intensity, wind speed and wind direction. Muskellunge trip success was primarily influenced by angler specific variables but also solar intensity. Muskellunge total catch was influenced by diel period, mean wind speed, mean solar radiation, and lunar position. Angler trip success and total catch influence angler satisfaction thus, understanding variables that influence these factors is an important objective of recreational fisheries management.
Tags: Fishing/Field Surveys, Freshwater Fish-Muskie, Freshwater Fish-Walleye, Inland Lake/Reservoir, Management
Estimating Mortality of Lake Sturgeon in the Lake Winnebago System Using Traditional Age-Based Approaches and Capture-Recapture Models
Track: General Fisheries: Fisheries Management - Strategies and Techniques
Authors: Jeremiah Shrovnal, Wisconsin Cooperative Fishery Research Unit, Fisheries Analysis Center, College of Natural Resources, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point; Daniel Dembkowski, Wisconsin Cooperative Fishery Research Unit, Fisheries Analysis Center, College of Natural Resources, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point; Ryan Koenigs, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources; Joshua Raabe, College of Natural Resources, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point; Daniel Isermann, U.S. Geological Survey, Wisconsin Cooperative Fishery Research Unit, Fisheries Analysis Center, College of Natural Resources, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point
Student or Professional: Student-Graduate
Abstract: The lake sturgeon population in the Lake Winnebago System (LWS) supports a culturally and economically important spear fishery. Harvest from the spear fishery is closely monitored and managed by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) through use of a safe harvest cap system that limits exploitation to 5% or lower. Harvest caps for males and adult females are based on mark-recapture estimates of population abundance that are adjusted for natural mortality rate. The current estimate of instantaneous natural mortality rate (M = 0.055) was estimated using a statistical catch at age (SCAA) model formulated using corrected ages estimated from fin rays. Correction is required because fin ray age estimates are not accurate for older fish. Mark-recapture methods can also be used to estimate mortality rates and the WDNR marks Lake Winnebago lake sturgeon captured in annual assessments with passive integrated transponders (PITs). Recapture of fish tagged with PITs provides information that can be used to estimate apparent survival and mortality rates using capture-recapture models. The primary objectives of our research are to determine if: 1) total and natural mortality rates are similar among estimation methods that rely on corrected fin ray ages or mark-recapture methods and 2) potential differences in mortality rate estimates would affect safe harvest caps for the spear fishery. Preliminary results indicate variation in mortality estimates between fin ray age correction methods and among models used to estimate mortality. This research will provide WDNR biologists with suggestions on estimating mortality rates of lake sturgeon to improve management of this important fishery.
Tags: Management, Modeling, Population Dynamics
Evaluation of Statistical Methods for Generating Estimates in Non-surveyed Creel Sites
Track: General Fisheries: Fisheries Management - Strategies and Techniques
Authors: Zhenming Su, Institute for Fisheries Research; Tracy Claramunt, Michigan DNR Fisheries Division
Student or Professional: Professional
Abstract: Since 1985, the Fisheries Division of Michigan DNR has been conducting creel surveys regularly on many of the most popular fishing sites on Michigan waters of the Great Lakes. Despite this extensive survey effort, creel surveys can not be conducted for all potential fishing sites annually due to cost constraints. This has led to wider and more irregular data gaps in many areas. However, to support management of the fisheries, it is necessary to generate estimates of harvest and effort for those sites in years without survey data so as to provide a holistic picture of harvest and effort. A statistical method of cross-validation was used to evaluate the accuracy of methods or algorithms for imputing missing survey information.
Tags: Great Lakes, Human Dimensions, Management, Modeling, Statistics, Survey Methods
Post-release Movement of Hatchery Reared Lake Trout in Lake Michigan
Track: General Fisheries: Fisheries Management - Strategies and Techniques
Authors: Matthew S. Kornis, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service; Theodore J. Treska, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service; Charles R. Bronte, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Student or Professional: Professional
Abstract: Movement among interconnected regions is important for understanding and assessing fish stocks and their exploitation.  In Lake Michigan, lake trout Salvelinus namaycush have been the focus of rehabilitation efforts since the 1960s through stocking and controls on mortality.   Lake trout are harvested by sport fishers lakewide and by tribal commercial fishers in 1836 Treaty Ceded waters.  Updated movement data are needed to inform stock assessment models that estimate standing stock and partition mortality, and to identify and explain the genetic origins of wild lake trout recruits.  Since 2010, all hatchery lake trout released in Lakes Michigan and Huron have received a coded-wire tag that denotes their year class, genetic strain, and stocking location. We analyzed returns of coded-wire tagged lake trout from the 2010-2016 year classes to coordinated spring gill-net assessments and the sport fishery to evaluate movement.  Although lake trout occasionally moved long distances, most fish were recovered within 100 km of their stocking location.  Lake trout stocked on the east and west shorelines of the lake were rarely recaptured on the opposite shoreline. Dispersal was similar among genetic strains of lean lake trout, but was substantially lower for a humper strain ecomorphotype from Lake Superior.  Fish stocked at offshore locations, including the Southern Refuge, Northern Refuge, and Julian’s Reef, dispersed widely and to both shorelines when they moved, although 36 – 56% of fish remained in the two refuges where they are protected from exploitation.  Nonetheless, fish from offshore locations comprised most (66%) of hatchery lake trout harvested by anglers, owing to greater returns per unit stocked than fish stocked nearshore. Evaluation of coded-wire tagged lake trout from the 1990s and early 2000s suggest dispersal may increase with age, and thus a re-evaluation of movement is planned for 2025 when these fully tagged cohorts will be older.
Tags: Fisheries Techniques, Great Lakes, Population Dynamics
Preliminary Results of a Project Evaluating the Survival and Dispersal of Stocked Striped Bass in Bull Shoals Lake
Track: General Fisheries: Fisheries Management - Strategies and Techniques
Authors: Hadley Boehm, Missouri Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, School of Natural Resources, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO; Andy Turner, Missouri Department of Conservation, Science Branch, Ozark Regional Office, West Plains, MO; Craig Paukert, Missouri Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, School of Natural Resources, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO & U.S. Geological Survey
Student or Professional: Student-Graduate
Abstract: In 2013, the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) began experimental stocking of Striped Bass in Bull Shoals Lake in southern Missouri to create a low density, trophy Striped Bass fishery in the reservoir. This project focuses on estimating stocking success and providing information on population dynamics that will help inform future management of the Striped Bass fishery. Our objectives include assessing survival and post-stocking dispersal of a subset of stocked Striped Bass. In fall 2019, 100 age-0 (mean TL = 195 mm) and 38 adult (mean TL = 407 mm) Striped Bass were surgically implanted with acoustic transmitters and stocked into Bull Shoals Lake. We used a combination of manual tracking by boat and a passive array of 36 acoustic receivers deployed throughout the lake to monitor tagged fish survival and dispersal. Preliminary results indicate all tagged adults survived 30 days post-stocking, and at least 24 (63%) remain at large as of late summer 2020. Just over 40 tagged age-0 Striped Bass survived 30 days post-stocking, and of these 33 individuals overwintered and were detected during summer 2020.  Most age-0 Striped Bass swam a maximum of 15 km from stocking location within 30 days post stocking, and 17 km by July 2020 (230 days post-stocking). Within a month of stocking tagged adults were detected within 36 km of the stocking location. The majority of adult detections through late summer 2020 remained within this distance from stocking location. These preliminary findings suggest that adult stocked Striped Bass have much higher survival than age-0s, and that adults are capable of quickly dispersing from stocking location compared to age-0s. These findings can be used to inform MDC’s future management of the Bull Shoals Striped Bass fishery.
Tags: Freshwater Fish-Other, Inland Lake/Reservoir, Management
 
General Wildlife: Avian Conservation & Ecology - Gamebirds
Effect of Black Flies on Wild Turkey Nest Success
Track: General Wildlife: Avian Conservation & Ecology - Gamebirds
Authors: Morgan Meador, Illinois Natural History Survey, Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences, University of Illinois; Christine Parker, Illinois Natural History Survey, Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences, University of Illinois; Luke Garver, Illinois Department of Natural Resources; Jeffrey P. Hoover, Illinois Natural History Survey, Prairie Research Institute
Student or Professional: Student-Graduate
Abstract: Nesting birds often cope with harassment from biting insects; however, it is difficult to determine how biting insects affect reproductive success and subsequent population growth of wild birds.  Black flies (Diptera: Simuliidae) are hematophagous (blood-feeding) insects and many depend on the blood of birds for reproduction. In Illinois, black flies typically emerge between May - June which overlaps the nesting period of many avian species. Vast quantities of black flies have the potential to increase the rate of nest abandonment, compromise the reproductive success of breeding pairs, and cause nestling mortality.  For a recreationally and economically important species, such as the eastern wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo silvestris), identifying factors that could influence reproductive success and population dynamics is important. Our main objective was to determine if black fly abundance influenced reproductive parameters (e.g., nesting rate, nest success, and nest survival) of wild turkeys in two regions of Illinois with differing abundances of flies (western region – high abundance; south-central region – low abundance).  We captured female turkeys in January – March 2017 – 2019 and fitted each hen with a ”GPS unit. We viewed GPS data to determine the initiation and termination of nests, and surveyed nest sites to determine nest fate. Both regions had similar nest initiation dates for initial and renesting attempts. Overall apparent reproductive success was comparable between regions (10% in the western region and 14% in the south-central region).  We found that nest predators were responsible for >40% of nest failures. Even with the disparity in black fly numbers between regions, there was no evidence that black flies affected nest fate (ß = 0.11±0.11 SE; P = 0.29).
Tags: Avian
Greater Prairie-Chicken Habitat Selection in Response to Fire and Anthropogenic Structures on Fort Riley Military Reservation
Track: General Wildlife: Avian Conservation & Ecology - Gamebirds
Authors: Jacquelyn M. Gehrt, Kansas State Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit; Derek A. Moon, Fort Riley Environmental Division; David A. Haukos, U.S. Geological Survey
Student or Professional: Student-Graduate
Abstract: Greater Prairie-chickens (Tympanuchus cupido) face large-scale disturbances in the form of habitat loss and conversion of tall- and mixed-grass prairies in which they reside. Even in large tracts of remaining grasslands, such as the Flint Hills ecoregion in Kansas and Oklahoma, these birds may still face disturbances due to contemporary land management practices. Greater than 90% of the land in the Flint Hills is grazed by cattle, and some ranching practices implement annual burning or intensive grazing regimes that decreases the amount of high-quality habitat available for Greater Prairie-chickens. Fort Riley Military Reservation in Riley and Geary counties, Kansas, may prove to be a refuge for Greater Prairie-chickens as grazing is not allowed on the land and burn regimes on the reservation are characterized as a mosaic style, leaving a heterogeneous matrix of vegetation on the landscape. Despite these habitat characteristics, Fort Riley is also fragmented by anthropogenic structures such as telephone lines, roads, and buildings for training activities. To understand how Greater Prairie-chickens react to these features, we assessed habitat use by Greater Prairie-chickens relative to fire return interval and distance to anthropogenic structures. During the breeding seasons (April-August) of 2019 and 2020, we monitored 38 females by tracking their movements and resource utilization on the landscape. We found that in both the lekking and nesting stages, females selected for frequently burned areas (every 1 to 2 years). Contrary to many studies examining bird habitat selection relative to anthropogenic structures, birds on Fort Riley were not deterred by these structures in their habitat selection.  Our results will aid in the development of specific management recommendations for the conservation of Greater Prairie-chickens on Fort Riley Military Reservation.  
Tags: Avian, Ecology, Habitat
Habitat Space Use of Translocated Lesser Prairie-Chickens to the Sand Sagebrush Prairie Ecoregion
Track: General Wildlife: Avian Conservation & Ecology - Gamebirds
Authors: Elisabeth Teige, Kansas Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Kansas State University; Liam Berigan, Kansas Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Kansas State University; Carly Aulicky, Kansas Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Kansas State University; David Haukos, Kansas Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, U.S. Geological Survey; Kent Fricke, Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism; Liza Rossi, Colorado Parks and Wildlife; Kraig Schultz, Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism; Jonathan Reitz, Colorado Parks and Wildlife
Student or Professional: Student-Graduate
Abstract: The lesser prairie-chicken (Tympanuchus pallidicinctus) has experienced severe population declines over the last century. The current lesser prairie-chicken range is limited to four ecoregions including Short-Grass Prairie/CRP, Mixed-Grass Prairie, Sand Shinnery Oak Prairie, and Sand Sagebrush Prairie. Although >60% of the current population occurs on Mixed-Grass Prairie and Short-Grass Prairie/CRP, the Sand Sagebrush Prairie of southwestern Kansas and southeastern Colorado historically supported the largest density, with estimates as high as 86,000 birds in the 1970s. However by 2016, populations decreased 98% across the ecoregion, with only 4 known leks remaining with ~20 active birds. In an effort to supplement this population, 411 lesser prairie-chickens (204 males and 207 females) were translocated during 2016-2019, from the Shortgrass/CRP Ecoregion of northwestern Kansas to the Cimarron and Comanche National Grasslands in Kansas and Colorado, respectfully, which provide ~224,000 ha of Sand Sagebrush Prairie habitat. A total of 115 SAT-PTT transmitters and 279 VHF collars were deployed on translocated lesser prairie-chickens from 2016-2019. Preliminary results indicate that translocated birds use CRP (Conservation Reserve Program) land more than what is available on the landscape. Nesting occurred more often and was more successful in CRP than other landcover types. National Grassland use overall was low as most birds dispersed following release; however, Comanche was used more than Cimarron. Homerange size varied between male and females. This project provides the unique opportunity to study the home range development and space use of a translocated population and provide insight into the possible space use differences between resident and translocated lesser prairie-chickens and ultimately conclude if translocation of lesser prairie-chickens is a successful conservation method for the Sand Sagebrush Prairie Ecoregion.
Tags: Avian, Conservation Biology
Is Grassland Always Grassland? Spatiotemporal Variation in Grassland Patch Selection by Lesser Prairie-chickens
Track: General Wildlife: Avian Conservation & Ecology - Gamebirds
Authors: Bram H. F. Verheijen*, Chris K. J. Gulick, John D. Kraft, Jonathan D. Lautenbach, Joseph M. Lautenbach, Reid T. Plumb, Samantha G. Robinson, Daniel S. Sullins - Kansas Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Kansas State University; David A. Haukos, U.S. Geological Survey, Kansas Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Kansas State University
Student or Professional: Professional
Abstract: United States grasslands have experienced large-scale declines since European settlement, which have led to habitat loss and fragmentation for many wildlife species. Lesser Prairie-chickens (Tympanuchus pallidicinctus) have been especially affected, as their occupied range and population abundance have declined by ~90%. Informing management strategies to ensure the long-term persistence of Lesser Prairie-chickens requires unbiased estimates of resource selection. Lesser Prairie-chickens generally select for grasslands, but vegetation cover and structure of grassland patches depend on many factors, including grazing and burning regime, soil type and elevation. Moreover, grasslands experience large spatiotemporal variation in precipitation and temperature. The structure and composition of available grassland patches will therefore likely vary throughout the Lesser Prairie-chicken range and from year to year. We assessed spatiotemporal variation in breeding season resource selection by Lesser Prairie-chickens at 4 sites in Kansas and Colorado, representing 3 of the 4 currently occupied ecoregions. During 2013–2018, we equipped Lesser Prairie-chickens with VHF or GPS transmitters and used selection ratios to test within-home-range selection of grassland patches. We found that Lesser Prairie-chickens selected ungrazed rangeland, CRP fields, and grasslands containing >10% shrub cover at sites in eastern Colorado and northwestern Kansas, where annual precipitation and resulting vegetation height were low. In contrast, Lesser Prairie-chickens at more eastern sites in south-central Kansas selected for forb-rich grasslands and against shrubby grasslands in most years. Large differences in resource selection among populations and years complicates the conservation of Lesser Prairie-chickens. In response to annual variation in selection patterns, managers might need to implement a range of management strategies that result in heterogenous and diverse grasslands to make sure the right microhabitat is present on the landscape every year. Our estimates of resource selection could help to find suitable management strategies for local grasslands for current populations to persist.
Tags: Avian, Conservation Biology, Grassland
Lek Attendance and Disturbance at Viewing Blinds in a Small, Declining Sharp-tailed Grouse Population
Track: General Wildlife: Avian Conservation & Ecology - Gamebirds
Authors: Charlotte Roy, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources; Pamela Coy, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
Student or Professional: Professional
Abstract: Conservation agencies use viewing blinds at prairie grouse leks as an outreach tool to engage the public. However, in declining populations, disturbance at viewing blinds associated with observer arrivals and departures may exacerbate inconsistencies in lek attendance. We studied observer arrival and departures at public viewing blinds placed at Sharp-tailed Grouse (Tympanuchus phasianellus) leks using trail cameras. We also conducted an experiment to simulate observers arriving late or leaving early from viewing blinds and compared Sharp-tailed Grouse attendance at these treatment leks to attendance at the same leks when observers arrived in the dark and left late in the morning as a control. Observers at public blinds arrived later and left earlier than manager-recommended guidelines for utilizing blinds. In experiments, birds were absent from lekking areas longer later in the morning than during similar periods at control leks or early in the morning for all reasons. However, when humans caused disturbance, the average return time of birds was similar at leks disturbed early, late, and at controls, although fewer birds returned to leks disturbed later in the morning compared to those disturbed early. Return time after human disturbance was more than twice as long as after raptor disturbance. We did not observe mating or male-female pairs leaving leks together during disturbance treatments, but we did at similar times during control observations, despite almost half the time spent at controls. We suggest that disturbances early, when females are more likely to be in attendance, are more likely to disrupt mating and have detrimental effects on lek attendance than disturbances that occur later, despite fewer males returning to leks disturbed later in the morning. We suggest that managers consider the impacts of human disturbance at viewing blinds in declining populations, and potential mating losses that might occur at leks with inconsistent attendance.
Tags: Avian, Behavior, Conservation Biology
Lesser Prairie-Chicken Habitat Use and Selection Following a Megafire in the Mixed-Grass Prairie
Track: General Wildlife: Avian Conservation & Ecology - Gamebirds
Authors: Nicholas Parker, Horticulture and Natural Resources, Kansas State University; Daniel Sullins, Horticulture and Natural Resources, Kansas State University; David Haukos, U.S. Geological Survey, Kansas Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Kansas State University; Kent Fricke, Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism; Christian Hagen, Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, Oregon State University
Student or Professional: Student-Graduate
Abstract: Megafires (wildfires >40,000 ha) have increased worldwide in recent years causing extensive social and economic impacts, but their ecological effects on grasslands and wildlife are more difficult to quantify. Grassland-dependent wildlife, including the lesser prairie-chicken (Tympanuchus pallidicinctus), can depend on fire to maintain large expanses of herbaceous cover and could benefit from megafires. Alternatively, intensively burning large areas of already fragmented grassland could temporarily destroy large amounts of vital habitat. Due to fire suppression and changing land management practices, megafires are unprecedented in modern history and lesser prairie-chicken response to such stochastic events is unknown. In 2017, the largest fire in Kansas history burned 252,000 ha in Kansas and Oklahoma, encompassing key parts of the lesser prairie-chicken range. We compared lesser prairie-chicken habitat use and selection before (2014-2016) and after (2018-2020) this megafire. Prior to the fire, marked lesser prairie-chickens used areas that later burned 69% of the time and for 96% of their nests. In the first year after the fire only 22% of nests were in burned areas and lesser prairie-chickens used burned areas just 30% of the time. Use of burned areas increased two years after the fire, with 48% of locations and 73% of nests in burned areas, indicating habitat may be recovering. Individuals were 1.69 times more likely to select for Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) fields in 2018 relative to before the fire, suggesting CRP/cropland landscapes with disjoint fuel can provide refuge during extreme events. Avoidance of burned areas indicates the negative influence of megafire on lesser prairie-chickens in the short term, but their ability to find refuge and populate the site several years post-fire demonstrates potential population resilience to intense disturbance.
Tags: Avian, Grassland
Quantifying Population Drivers Using Historical Prairie Grouse Monitoring Data
Track: General Wildlife: Avian Conservation & Ecology - Gamebirds
Authors: Danielle Berger, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Utah State University; John Carroll, University of Nebraska-Lincoln; Jeffrey Lusk, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission; Larkin Powell, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Student or Professional: Student-Graduate
Abstract: Population monitoring data collected by state and federal agencies provide a long-term record of abundance trends, but protocols are not explicitly designed to quantify drivers of those trends. Knowledge of population drivers is critical to the mechanistic understanding of population dynamics that underpins vital rate-driven conservation and management practices. However, longitudinal studies designed with a focus on population drivers are rare. Historical monitoring data, although it was collected for a different purpose, could potentially be leveraged to provide information on population drivers if combined with long term data sets that describe environmental covariates at similar spatial and temporal scales. Greater prairie-chickens (Tympanuchus cupido pinnatus) and sharp-tailed grouse (Tympanuchus phasianellus jamesi) are both species of conservation concern in Nebraska because of drastic population declines throughout their respective ranges due to habitat loss and degradation. Using sixty-four years or prairie grouse breeding ground survey data collected in the Sandhills of Nebraska combined with indices describing predation pressure, land use change and climate, I attempted to quantify drivers of species-specific population growth rates. I used a Ricker population process model in a Bayesian state-space framework to explore the relationship between species-specific breeding ground count data and environmental covariates with a one-year time lag. I incorporated indicator variable selection into the model to determine which covariates most strongly influence population trends. The top models for prairie-chickens and sharp-tailed grouse included different environmental covariates, suggesting that prairie grouse are subject to species-specific population drivers. Management strategies in shared range must address species-specific resource needs to ensure the persistence of both greater prairie-chickens and sharp-tailed grouse. My study provides a framework for wildlife managers to use existing count-based monitoring records and free, publicly-available environmental data to explore population drivers in addition to abundance trends.
Tags: Avian, Landscape Ecology, Population Dynamics
Translocated Lesser Prairie-Chicken Lek Dynamics and Female Space Use
Track: General Wildlife: Avian Conservation & Ecology - Gamebirds
Authors: Carly Aulicky, Kansas Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Kansas State University; David Haukos, U.S. Geological Survey, Kansas Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Kansas State University; Kent Fricke, Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism; Liza Rossi, Colorado Parks and Wildlife; Jonathan Reitz, Colorado Parks and Wildlife; Kraig Schultz, Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism
Student or Professional: Professional
Abstract: Translocation of lek-breeding prairie grouse offers unique challenges and considerations. Lek presence matters in retention of prairie grouse, but the focus on translocating males first to bolster or form leks is based on untested assumptions about how lek breeding species disperse and navigate new landscapes. This approach assumes males are the dispersing sex, despite increasing evidence of long-distance movement by females. Female-driven dispersal implies that males form leks following female space use and habitat constraints in accordance with the hotspot hypothesis. We tested the hotspot hypothesis in shaping lek formation and stability of translocated lesser prairie-chickens (Tympanuchus pallidicinctus) in the Sand Sagebrush Prairie Ecoregion using the spatial movements of 32 GPS and 24 VHF equipped females. Significant clusters of female locations were determined and compared to where translocated males formed leks. We found the spatial use of female lesser prairie-chickens drove the dynamics of leks as expected under the hotspot hypothesis. Our work shows that translocated males formed leks in clusters of female locations. We found the number of nesting attempts by females within a 5 to 2 km distance had the greatest influence on the persistence of formed leks into a subsequent year. Based on our findings, future translocation efforts should focus on creating nesting habitat to sustain long-term nest site selection prior to releasing birds. Because nesting habitat constraints and female space use drive placement and stability of leks, methodology focused on creating or bolstering leks without accounting for female behavior will not retain released birds.
Tags: Avian, Behavior, Grassland
 
General Wildlife: Avian Conservation & Ecology - Non-Gamebirds
Conservation of Golden-winged Warblers in the Western Great Lakes Region Based on Regionally Derived Information
Track: General Wildlife: Avian Conservation & Ecology - Non-Gamebirds
Authors: Gunnar R Kramer, University of Toledo; Sean M Peterson, University of California-Berkeley; Henry M Streby, University of Toledo; David E Andersen, U.S. Geological Survey, Minnesota Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit
Student or Professional: Student-Graduate
Abstract: From 1966-2010, golden-winged warblers declined by an estimated 66% (~2.5%/yr) across their breeding distribution, prompting research to identify and mitigate factors driving population declines. These declines were driven by a loss of individuals from the Appalachian portion of the breeding distribution whereas golden-winged warbler populations in the western Great Lakes region (i.e., Minnesota, Wisconsin, Manitoba, and western Ontario) remained numerically stable or increased. Over the past decade, research on golden-winged warblers in the western Great Lakes region has provided extensive information relevant to this population’s conservation. Research on breeding ecology, factors influencing productivity, responses to cover-type management, habitat use and movements of fledglings, and the nonbreeding dispersion of golden-winged warblers in the western Great Lakes region has amounted to a nearly unrivaled body of management-relevant information compared to other migratory, non-game bird species. However, information from geographically and ecologically disparate portions of the golden-winged warbler breeding distribution are still used to inform ongoing management efforts in the western Great Lakes region. We reviewed and synthesized recent research related to the ecology and conservation of golden-winged warblers breeding in the western Great Lakes region to improve ongoing conservation efforts and identify remaining information gaps. We propose that sufficient research exists to develop locally relevant conservation strategies for golden-winged warblers in the western Great Lakes region and that these strategies likely differ from those currently being implemented. Furthermore, remaining knowledge gaps that may improve conservation of golden-winged warblers in the western Great Lakes region are largely associated with the ecology, behavior, and survival of individuals outside of the breeding period. We posit that current conservation efforts based on information from different portions of the species’ distribution may be insufficient or counterproductive to stated conservation goals and should be updated with locally relevant, available information.
Tags: Avian, Conservation Biology, Management
Differential Timing of Migrating Northern Saw-Whet Owls (Aegolius acadicus) Based on Age Categories
Track: General Wildlife: Avian Conservation & Ecology - Non-Gamebirds
Authors: Michaela Meehl, Carter Freymiller, Madison Fell, Cole Suckow, Aiden Gehrke, Jason Riddle; University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point
Student or Professional: Student-Undergrad
Abstract: The Northern saw-whet owl (Aegolius acadicus) (NSWO) is a mesopredator within upland ecosystems. NSWO’s migrate in fall from September until December, peaking around mid-October, and this species is relatively abundant in central Wisconsin during this time. Previous studies have found that juvenile diurnal birds of prey migrated significantly earlier than adults. This is due to adults attempting to remain on breeding territories for as long as possible, therefore delaying fall migration. We are interested in whether this trend also applies to nocturnal birds of prey, and we hypothesized that we would see hatch-year birds migrate earlier in the season than adults. This project is conducted in the fall, with mist nets, at Sandhill Wildlife Area, Wood Co., WI. We used all viable data from the duration of the project and performed 2-sample independent t-tests comparing the mean day of migration of each of the age groups. We found a significant difference between the hatch-year (HY) birds and after hatch-year birds (AHY), demonstrating that adult birds are likely to migrate 0.37-2.70 days earlier than hatch-year birds (p=0.01). We also observed the same trend of adult birds migrating 0.99-3.68 days earlier than juvenile birds in the subset of female birds only (p=0.001). The trend for AHY birds migrating earlier in the season may be the result of AHY birds gaining previous migration experience from former years.
Tags: Avian, Behavior
Intrinsic and Extrinsic Mechanisms of Golden-Cheeked Warbler Reproductive Success
Track: General Wildlife: Avian Conservation & Ecology - Non-Gamebirds
Authors: Gabriella L. Jukkala, University of Illinois-UC; Jinelle H. Sperry, US Army ERDC-CERL / University of Illinois-UC; Michael P. Ward, University of Illinois-UC
Student or Professional: Student-Graduate
Abstract: It has been widely documented that younger birds often have lower nest survival and productivity than older birds, with the greatest difference typically occurring between the first and second breeding seasons in short-lived species. This age-specific reproductive success is most often attributed to younger, first-time breeders being less developed and competitive in the qualities necessary to successfully reproduce. Age classes could differ intrinsically in traits and skills that may influence breeding success, including pairing success, clutch initiation, fecundity, and provisioning behavior, or extrinsically in the types and quality of habitats they settle in. The qualities that improve with age may also be interrelated and the relative importance of each to reproductive performance is likely to vary among species, making it necessary to mechanistically identify the proximate drivers of age-specific reproductive success for individual species. We are investigating the intrinsic and extrinsic mechanisms driving nest survival and productivity in an endangered species, the golden-cheeked warbler (Setophaga chrysoparia), at Fort Hood Military Installation, TX. We are using demographic, provisioning, and habitat data collected in 2019-2020 and a long-term demographic dataset to understand how warblers may intrinsically and extrinsically change with age and the overall role individual and pair age plays in determining reproductive success. We will compare pairing success, clutch initiation dates, clutch sizes, provisioning behavior, and habitat characteristics between age classes and determine if age-related variation may cause differential nest survival and productivity. Initial results suggest that habitat is an important determinant of reproductive success regardless of bird age, and that younger birds are more likely to settle in lower quality habitats.  Our study will help fill species knowledge gaps, provide age-specific reproductive estimates to inform population models, and help identify key factors affecting reproductive success that may benefit from management action, thereby aiding the recovery of this endangered songbird.
Tags: Avian, Habitat, Threatened and Endangered Species
Reproductive Success of Greater Sandhill Cranes in Horicon Marsh, WI
Track: General Wildlife: Avian Conservation & Ecology - Non-Gamebirds
Authors: Sabine Berzins, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point; Jason Riddle, UW-Stevens Point; Shelli Dubay, UW-Stevens Point; Anne Lacy, International Crane Foundation; Sadie O'Dell, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service; Ben Sedinger, UW-Stevens Point
Student or Professional: Student-Graduate
Abstract: Greater sandhill cranes (Grus canadensis tabida) and whooping cranes (G. americana) share many life history traits; understanding productivity of sandhill cranes in certain locations could therefore be an indicator of future whooping crane breeding success.  Since 2011, captive-reared whooping cranes have been released at Horicon Marsh in Dodge County, Wisconsin, adding to the reintroduced Eastern Migratory Population.  However, reproductive success of this population has remained low, and the nest density, nest success, and colt survival of sandhill cranes at Horicon Marsh are unknown.  To reevaluate Horicon Marsh as a release area for whooping cranes, we studied the reproductive success of 44 sandhill crane pairs in 2018-20.  If nest success is the limiting factor to reproductive success, management actions may be taken to facilitate the survival of nests.  However, if colt survival is limiting, it would raise questions about the potential for reproductive success for cranes of either species at Horicon Marsh.
Tags: Avian, Conservation Biology, Ecology
Tracking the Movements of a Declining Facultative Migrant Through GPS and Geolocator Technology
Track: General Wildlife: Avian Conservation & Ecology - Non-Gamebirds
Authors: Elena West, University of Minnesota, Department of Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology, Minnesota Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit; Kyle Pagel, California Department of Fish and Wildlife; Henry Streby, Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Toledo; David Andersen, University of Minnesota, Department of Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology, Minnesota Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit
Student or Professional: Professional
Abstract: Red-headed Woodpeckers (Melanerpes erythrocephalus) are facultative migrants experiencing drastic population declines throughout their Midwest range. Migratory movements of facultative migrants are poorly understood due to their irregular and often unpredictable occurrence. Further, a lack of detailed information on the nonbreeding distributions, migration routes, or timing of migration in this species has hampered our ability to identify population processes outside the breeding period. Recent advances in animal tracking technologies now allows for tracking and monitoring most migrant bird species throughout the annual cycle with finer spatial and temporal resolution than previously attainable. We used light-level geolocators affixed to pinpoint GPS tags to track autumn and winter movements of red-headed woodpeckers to better understand migration cues, timing, and routes for birds breeding in managed oak savannas in the North American Great Lakes region. GPS tags also served to calibrate movement data from geolocators, as the use of these devices for monitoring migration has been limited to non-cavity roosting species because light transitions for cavity-roosting species are obscured. We hypothesized that migration would vary between study sites, whether in the proportion of individuals migrating, the distance or duration of the migration itself, or the timing of migratory movements. Preliminary data indicate that the proportions of individuals migrating differed between sites. We also identified considerable variation in movement distance and direction between individuals. Cover types occupied during migration and wintering were almost exclusively small patches of closed-canopy hardwood forest within agricultural matrices. Our findings highlight the use of recent technological advances in tracking devices and the importance of monitoring declining species throughout the annual cycle to understand and better inform conservation strategies.
Tags: Avian, Behavior, Wildlife Techniques
 
General Wildlife: Avian Conservation & Ecology - Waterfowl
A Range-Wide Assessment of Interior Population Trumpeter Swan Migration Patterns
Track: General Wildlife: Avian Conservation & Ecology - Waterfowl
Authors: David Wolfson, Minnesota Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, University of Minnesota; Randall Knapik, Michigan Department of Natural Resources; John Fieberg, University of Minnesota; David Andersen, U.S. Geological Survey, Minnesota Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit
Student or Professional: Student-Graduate
Abstract: Interior Population (IP) trumpeter swans (Cygnus buccinator) were extirpated from their breeding range in the greater Midwest during the 19th century but have increased dramatically in both abundance and distribution following multiple reintroduction efforts starting in the 1960s. However, beyond rough estimates of population trends and distributions from surveys conducted every 5 years, there is insufficient information about their seasonal geographic distributions and migration patterns, hindering conservation decision-making. We fitted trumpeter swans with GPS-GSM collars to evaluate annual movements, migration pathways and habitat-selection patterns. We also collected blood samples from all captured swans to quantify lead concentrations and assess potential sub-lethal effects of lead exposure across the IP breeding range. We GPS-collared 19 trumpeter swans during a pilot season in summer 2019 and an additional 77 trumpeter swans in 2020 across most of the breeding range, including in Manitoba, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Michigan and Ohio. We intend to mark an additional 17 trumpeter swans in 2021. Swans captured in Minnesota (n=7) and Michigan (n=12) in 2019 exhibited a variety of winter movement patterns. Most swans captured in Minnesota moved >200 km south, presumably to find open water and available food, whereas swans in Michigan mostly stayed within 50 km of their summer territory. Additional telemetry data collected this fall and winter will allow us to better evaluate whether there is an association between 1) migratory behavior and breeding latitude, and 2) movement patterns and lead concentration levels.
Tags: Avian, Ecology
Efficacy of Predator Removal to Boost Diving Duck Nest Survival in Southwestern Manitoba
Track: General Wildlife: Avian Conservation & Ecology - Waterfowl
Authors: Trenton Rohrer, South Dakota USGS Cooperative Research Unit; Dr. Joshua Stafford, South Dakota USGS Cooperative Research Unit; Dr. Frank Rohwer, Delta Waterfowl; Dr. Chris Nicolai, Delta Waterfowl; Robert Lonsinger, South Dakota State University
Student or Professional: Student-Graduate
Abstract: Nest survival of upland nesting waterfowl (e.g., mallard [Anas platyrhynchos], blue-winged teal [Anas discors]) has been studied extensively in the Prairie Pothole Region (PPR) of North America. Conversely, nest survival of over-water nesting diving ducks (e.g., canvasbacks [Aythya valisineria], redheads [Aythya americana]) is poorly understood, likely because overwater nests are more difficult to find, may be less concentrated, and searching for these nests is physically demanding. Nest depredation is considered a leading cause of duck nest failure and is also considered a limiting factor on upland nesting waterfowl production in the PPR. It has generally been surmised that similar factors that limit upland nesting duck production may also limit productivity of over-water nesting ducks, but studies of this nature are lacking. To address these issues, we evaluated the efficacy of predator trapping and removal on survival of overwater duck nests of 5 focal species of diving ducks (canvasbacks, redheads, lesser scaup [Aythya affinis], ring-necked ducks [Aythya collaris], ruddy ducks [Oxyura jamaicensis]) in Southwestern Manitoba during the 2019 and 2020 breeding seasons. Estimated nest survival for treatment (i.e., trapped sites with predator removal) sites during this time was 20.9% (CI 16.1%–26.6%) and 11.9% (CI 8.0%–17.0%) and control (i.e., non-trapped sites). Although mean nest survival was greater on trapped sites, confidence interval estimates indicated that the effect was equivocal.  Thus, trapping predators has a modest positive influence, at best, on survival of over-water duck nests, and in general does not appear to be an effective way to increase nest survival for these 5 focal species.
Tags: Avian, Ecology, Management, Wetland
Evaluating the Physiological Response of Sub-lethal Infections of Sphaeridiotrema spp. and Cyathocotyle bushiensis trematodes in Captive Lesser Scaup (Aythya affinis)
Track: General Wildlife: Avian Conservation & Ecology - Waterfowl
Authors: Cheyenne R. Beach, Western Illinois University; Rebecca A. Cole, U.S. Geological Survey; Joseph D. Lancaster, Gulf Coast Joint Venture, Ducks Unlimited; Aaron P. Yetter, Illinois Natural History Survey; Heath M. Hagy, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service; Christopher N. Jacques, Western Illinois University; Auriel M.V. Fournier, Illinois Natural History Survey
Student or Professional: Student-Graduate
Abstract: Since 2000, thousands of lesser scaup (Aythya affinis) die annually during migration through the Upper Midwest, USA from Cyathocotyle bushiensis (Cb) and Sphaeridiotrema spp. (Ss) intestinal infections after consuming infected exotic faucet snails (Bithynia tentaculata). Faucet snails have since reached Pool 13 of the Mississippi River raising concern of further spread to Pool 19, a critical mid-latitude stopover area for lesser scaup. Although not all trematodiasis infections result in mortality, we hypothesize that sub-lethal infection may affect subsequent migration and fitness through decreased body condition, indexed by a wide range of blood metabolites (e.g., triglycerides, glucose, albumin), white blood cells (WBCs), and total body measures (e.g., weight and temperature). We experimentally tested these physiological parameters in captivity with wild-caught and captive-reared lesser scaup. In July 2019, 21 wild-caught females received a single sub-lethal dose (xŻ = 96 Ss and xŻ = 169 Cb) of metacercariae while 16 individuals served as controls. In December 2019, 16 male and female captive-reared lesser scaup received a single sub-lethal dose (xŻ = 293 Ss and xŻ = 124 Cb) of metacercariae while 8 individuals served as controls. We collected blood, feces, body temperature, and weight from all individuals prior to dosing (i.e., day 0), on day 5, and on day 10 when all birds were euthanized and necropsied. Preliminary results suggest that infected individuals had decreased blood biochemical concentrations of triglycerides, blood urea nitrogen, bilirubin, albumin, PCV, and overall decreased body condition, but increased concentrations of non-esterified fatty acids, eosinophils, basophils, and WBCs as well as elevated body temperature. We witnessed mixed results between trials in ß-hydroxybutyrate and glucose concentrations. Infected individuals experienced a predicted physiological reaction to the treatment, but those in better body condition (i.e., captive-reared birds) experienced a less severe reaction.
Tags: Avian, Diseases/Parasites, Management, Physiology, Wetland
Postbreeding Ecology of Wood Ducks in the Illinois River Valley
Track: General Wildlife: Avian Conservation & Ecology - Waterfowl
Authors: Andrew D. Gilbert, Illinois Natural History Survey; Auriel M. V. Fournier, Illinois Natural History Survey; Aaron P. Yetter, Illinois Natural History Survey; Christopher S. Hine, Illinois Natural History Survey; Joshua M. Osborn, Illinois Natural History Survey; Joseph D. Lancaster, Gulf Coast Joint Venture; Cheyenne R. Beach, Illinois Natural History Survey
Student or Professional: Professional
Abstract: The wood duck (Aix sponsa) is the most abundant nesting duck species in Illinois and consistently rank second only to mallards (Anas platyrhynchos) in both Illinois and the Mississippi Flyway duck harvest.  Much research on wood ducks has involved their breeding ecology.  However, despite the consistent and maintained harvest of this species, relatively few studies have investigated the postbreeding ecology of the species, especially in Illinois.  We captured and radiomarked female and male wood ducks during the postbreeding period in late July and August as part of a three year study.  Capture locations were within the La Grange Pool of the Illinois River extending from near Pekin, IL (River Mile 157.7), IL, to the La Grange Lock and Dam (River Mile 80.2) near Meredosia, IL.  We used standard radio-telemetry techniques to track wood ducks to determine diurnal and nocturnal habitat use, daily movements, survival rates, stopover duration, and proportional use of refuge and non-refuge sites.  We documented 8,235 locations of radiomarked wood ducks.  Preliminary analyses indicate that locations of wood ducks were primarily in forested (44%), emergent vegetation (35%), and aquatic bed (14%) wetland habitats.  We documented 3,810 movements from diurnal to nocturnal locations and preliminary analyses indicate wood ducks moved 2,781 m (45 SE) between daytime habitats and night roosts. 
Tags: Avian, Ecology, Wetland
Using Climate Data to Understand Shifts in the Autumn Migration Phenology of Dabbling and Diving Ducks in the Illinois River Valley
Track: General Wildlife: Avian Conservation & Ecology - Waterfowl
Authors: Chelsea S. Kross, Illinois Natural History Survey Forbes Biological Station; Cheyenne Beach, Western Illinois University; Andrew Gilbert, Illinois Natural History Survey Forbes Biological Station; Joshua Osborn, Illinois Natural History Survey Forbes Biological Station; Matthew Williams, Western Illinois University; Aaron Yetter, Illinois Natural History Survey Forbes Biological Station; Auriel Fournier, Illinois Natural History Survey Forbes Biological Station;
Student or Professional: Professional
Abstract: Climate change has significantly affected the migration phenologies of bird species throughout the world. Many species are migrating later in the fall season, which can create a mismatch between arrival and resource availability, reduce the accuracy of population monitoring initiatives, and alter regional social and economic opportunities. Additionally, identifying changes in migration phenologies and connecting those changes to climate requires long-term monitoring data that are often difficult to collect. The objectives of this study were to determine the effect of climate and weather on arrival and departures dates of waterfowl in the Illinois River Valley. We tested for changes in autumn migration timing for seven waterfowl species: Mallard, Northern Pintail, Blue-winged Teal, American Green-winged Teal, Gadwall, Lesser Scaup, and Canvasback. Using data collected during aerial surveys from 1981-2019, we applied generalized linear mixed models to test for effects of year, drought, climate, and weather covariates. Specifically, we included Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI), El Nińo Southern Oscillation (ENSO), and Weather Severity Index (WSI) impacts on the peak migration Julian Date, which we predict will result in delayed migration, with potential interactions between local weather and continental climate on an annual basis. Providing a framework and integrating a variety of data for understanding how climate and weather interact to affect migration will be a useful tool for wildlife managers to inform management decisions and regulations.
Tags: Avian, Climate, Management, Modeling, Wetland
 
General Wildlife: Disease - Mammals
Examining the Immunocompetence Handicap Hypothesis Through Southern Flying Squirrels
Track: General Wildlife: Disease - Mammals
Authors: Katherine Rexroad, Western Illinois University - Department of Biological Sciences; Shelli Dubay,University of Stevens Point Wisconsin- College of Natural Resources; Seán Jenkins, Western Illinois University - Department of Biological Sciences; Christopher Jacques, Western Illinois University - Department of Biological Sciences
Student or Professional: Student-Graduate
Abstract: Male biased parasitism is frequently attributed to larger body size and greater home range size of males. Alternatively, the immunocompetence handicap hypothesis (ICHH) proposes a tradeoff between testosterone and immune system response resulting in higher parasite intensity and prevalence in males.  Few mammalian wildlife studies isolate the effects of testosterone on parasite load, Southern flying squirrels (Glaucomys volans; SFS) are non-hibernating mammals that occur in low densities across fragmented landscapes, communally nest during the non-mating season, display female-biased size dimorphism, and exhibit marked intersexual differences in breeding behaviors and seasonal territoriality. Thus, they are ideal organisms to evaluate several hypotheses related to host-parasite relations across Midwestern landscapes. Body size and space use hypotheses are largely unsupported by previous research across the Midwest, which has suggested similar spatial requirements between male and female SFS. Testing the ICHH on SFS may provide insight into the relationships between hormones and immunity in wildlife. Thus, we evaluated the immunosuppressive effects of testosterone on parasite loads in SFS. During May-July 2019 and 2020, we captured and collected fecal samples from 66 SFS in western Illinois. We quantified testosterone for males (n = 25) using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Testosterone levels ranged from 30 ng/g to 6522 ng/g. Parasites were counted and identified coccidia, pinworm, and Strongyloides robustus using a fecal sedimentation technique and microscopy. Total oocyst counts ranged from 0 to 593 per individual. We found a significant (p = 6.02E-05) positive correlation (R2 = 0.5) between testosterone and total endoparasite load. We also observed a possible relationship (R2 = 0.74) between testosterone and coccidian oocysts (p = 3.92E-08). Significance observed was largely influenced by the SFS with the highest testosterone level (6522 ng/g) and endoparasite count (593) recorded.
Tags: Diseases/Parasites
Movement Dynamics of Wild White-tailed Deer in Southeastern Minnesota and Potential Spread of Chronic Wasting Disease
Track: General Wildlife: Disease - Mammals
Authors: Christopher S. Jennelle, MN Department of Natural Resources; Joanne Crawford, MN Department of Natural Resources; Michelle Carstensen, MN Department of Natural Resources
Student or Professional: Professional
Abstract: Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is a fatal infectious disease first characterized in the late 1960’s in Colorado that affects elk (Cervus canadensis), mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus), white-tailed deer (O. virginianus), reindeer (Rangifer tarandus) and moose (Alces alces). It has been detected in wild and captive cervids in 26 states and three Canadian provinces in North America, as well as Finland, Norway, South Korea, and Sweden. After detecting CWD in wild white-tailed deer in southeastern Minnesota during fall 2016, we sought to better understand long-distance movements of wild deer and how they may facilitate natural CWD spread on the landscape. Since March 2018, we captured and fitted GPS collars to 226 wild deer in a study area covering approximately 5,180 km2 in southeastern Minnesota. As of October 15 2020, we continue to monitor 61 animals. We found that 26% of females (n=16/61) and 43% of males (n=23/54) dispersed between their natal and adult home range, and surprisingly 15% of females (n=9/61) and 6% of males (n=3/54) underwent seasonal migration between summer and winter ranges. The average dispersal distance for females and males was 20.0 km and 22.8 km, respectively, while the distance traveled for migratory females and males was 12.8 km and 17.7 km, respectively. We also observed extreme dispersal distances of 116 km and 97 km, respectively, for a female and male. Both sexes tended to disperse westward, although a pattern was unclear for migratory animals. Deer were more likely to avoid agricultural landscape during dispersal and migration, although we did not observe consistent habitat characteristics along movement paths. The southwest to northwest trajectory of dispersal movements underscores increased risk of CWD spread to the Minnesota interior. This information will be vital for prioritizing and guiding CWD management efforts in and around southeastern Minnesota.
Tags: Other - Long-distance movements, dispersal, migration
Removal of Mycoplasma ovipneumoniae Carriers Increases Lamb Recruitment in Rapid City, SD Bighorn Sheep Herd
Track: General Wildlife: Disease - Mammals
Authors: Amanda N. Ensrud, Department of Natural Resource Management, South Dakota State University, Brookings, SD; Jonathan A. Jenks, Department of Natural Resource Management, South Dakota State University, Brookings, SD; Chadwick P. Lehman, South Dakota Department of Game, Fish, and Parks, Custer, SD; Daniel P. Walsh, U.S. Geological Survey, National Wildlife Health Center, Madison, WI; E. Frances Cassirer, Idaho Department of Fish and Game, Lewiston, ID; Thomas E. Besser, Department of Veterinary Microbiology and Pathology, Washington State University, Pullman, WA
Student or Professional: Student-Graduate
Abstract: Pneumonia is a major factor affecting populations of free-ranging bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis)  across western North America. Pneumonia can occur in large-scale epizootics during which about half of the population typically dies. Subsequent to these epizootics, surviving ewes continue to conceive and bear lambs, but lamb recruitment may remain low due to periodic or annual pneumonia outbreaks causing high rates of lamb mortality, sometimes greater than 90%. Identifying and removing individuals that chronically carry the putative primary pneumonia pathogen, (Mycoplasma ovipneumoniae [Movi]) and transmit it to lambs was the core objective of this study.  A previous study that treated the Custer State Park, South Dakota, bighorn sheep herd from 2016 to 2017 with the same techniques proved successful at eliminating chronic Movi carriers, resulting in increased lamb recruitment.  In this study, in Rapid City, South Dakota, we treated 2 sub-herds: Spring Creek and Rapid Creek, from January 2019 to May 2020. Individual bighorn sheep were tested for Movi upper respiratory infections by nasal swab PCR and antibodies to Movi by cELISA. If individual sheep tested positive for an Movi upper respiratory infection twice consecutively, they were removed from the herd. Over the study, five chronic Movi carriers were removed and based on subsequent field testing, all known carriers were removed from sub-herds. Percent lamb survival increased from 50% (n=6) in 2019 to 80% (n=8) in 2020. Although documented prior to treatment in 59% of adult mortalities (n=10) and 44% of lamb mortalities (n=8) from 2016 to 2017, no pneumonia related deaths were documented in either sub-herd post-treatment, supporting previous conclusions that carrier removal can reduce or eliminate lamb pneumonia.
Tags: Diseases/Parasites, Mammal, Wildlife Techniques
The Efficacy of Mobile PCR to Detect Mycoplasma ovipneumoniae in Bighorn Sheep
Track: General Wildlife: Disease - Mammals
Authors: Katelin E. Frerichs, South Dakota State University Department of Natural Resource Management; Daniel P. Walsh, U.S. Geological Survey; E. Frances Cassirer, Idaho Department of Fish and Game; Thomas E. Besser, Washington State University Department of Veterinary Microbiology and Pathology; Jonathan A. Jenks, South Dakota State University Department of Natural Resource Management
Student or Professional: Student-Graduate
Abstract: The pneumonia pathogen, Mycoplasma ovipneumoniae (Movi), is a major limiting factor in bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis) relative to herd health and recruitment. Due to the gregarious nature of bighorn sheep, this bacterial pathogen is readily spread between individuals. As such, it is imperative for management to identify and remove chronic individuals to prevent transmission of the disease. Standard methods of testing can take a day or more to produce results, meaning either animals are held in captivity during that period or released, resulting in the potential for continued transmission and the need for recapture. Biomeme Inc. has developed the Franklin real-time PCR thermocycler with the ability to detect Movi in the field, producing results in approximately 1 hour. The primary focus of our study was to determine the ability of this device to produce accurate results when identifying Movi positive individuals in field settings, with an emphasis on assessing its sensitivity. For this study, we tested paired nasal swab samples for Movi using Biomeme’s thermocycler and then validated the results by comparing them to those obtained from an accredited diagnostic lab. Initial results indicated that inhibition may be impacting results with sensitivity for the platform being estimated at 66.04%. To address this, we compared the ability of dilution, Biomeme’s inhibition reducing mix, and bovine serum albumin (BSA) to reduce inhibition using 33 samples. Preliminary results indicated that with the addition of inhibition reducers, sensitivity may be improved: dilution had 82.35% estimated sensitivity, Biomeme’s mix had 81.82% estimated sensitivity, and the addition of BSA results in 69.70% sensitivity. Current research is aimed at further characterizing the effects of these treatments on the performance of the Biomeme platform and developing standard operating procedures to optimize its use for detecting Movi in bighorn sheep.
Tags: Diseases/Parasites, Management
 
General Wildlife: Human Dimensions - Citizen Science
Connecting Citizen Scientists to Their Data: How Snapshot Wisconsin Uses R and Shiny to Present Trail Camera Metadata in a Visual, Interactive, and Accessible Manner
Track: General Wildlife: Human Dimensions - Citizen Science
Authors: Ryan Bemowski, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
Student or Professional: Professional
Abstract: Presenting massive amounts of data to a volunteer citizen scientist audience in a meaningful way is challenging, both to design and to execute. Connecting citizen scientists to their data in a meaningful way can have numerous benefits for a project, such as improving volunteer recruitment, retention, satisfaction, and trust. Snapshot Wisconsin, a Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources partnership which uses trail cameras hosted by volunteer citizen scientists to monitor wildlife year-round, has a massive amount of meaningful photo and camera metadata which had previously been ignored. However, much of this metadata is now highly accessible through an interactive and visual presentation called the Snapshot Wisconsin Data Dashboard. The Data Dashboard is an evolutionary web based interactive presentation written in the R language, leveraging the Shiny package. This presentation will cover the motivations for creating the Data Dashboard, the iterative process used in development of the Data Dashboard, and the future planned products similar to the Data Dashboard.
Tags: Human Dimensions, Management, Outreach/Communication, Technology/Geographic Information Systems
Creating Public GIS Web Applications for Wildlife Data Collection and Reporting in Minnesota
Track: General Wildlife: Human Dimensions - Citizen Science
Authors: Bruce Anderson, Minnesota IT Services Partnering with Department of Natural Resources, Division of Fish and Wildlife, Section of Wildlife
Student or Professional: Professional
Abstract: Where are the bears? How many deer have been harvested? Where have CWD positive deer been found? This presentation will showcase three examples of public GIS web applications, created with ESRITM Enterprise GIS software, for Minnesota DNR’s Division of Fish and Wildlife, Section of Wildlife. The Bear Survey app allows any member of the public to drop a point on a map for a bear sighting outside its typical range in the state. That information can then be used by Wildlife Research staff to answer questions on the current bear range. The Deer Harvest application maps and graphs current deer harvest numbers based on hunter registered deer during the deer season. The CWD-Positive wild deer map provides information to the public on where CWD has been detected in the state. This presentation will walk through how these three applications are setup and will highlight some of the out of the box features of the ESRITM Enterprise GIS software they are built upon.
Tags: Outreach/Communication, Technology/Geographic Information Systems
Hunter Diary During 2019 and 2020 Deer Seasons
Track: General Wildlife: Human Dimensions - Citizen Science
Authors: Meghan Pluemer, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources; Robert Holsman, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources; Ben Beardmore, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
Student or Professional: Professional
Abstract: Evaluating deer populations through the use of harvest data or hunter success rates requires an understanding of hunter behavior to put those metrics in context. For example, the sex-age-kill (SAK) formula is used to estimate the white-tailed deer population and accounts for the age structure of the deer herd and the harvest rate of bucks. This formula makes assumptions about the rate at which younger bucks may be harvested, and anecdotal evidence suggests that more hunters are passing up younger bucks than hunters did a generation ago. To better evaluate hunter effort and selectivity, we administered a pilot diary study during the 2019 nine-day firearm season. We recruited hunters residing in two Wisconsin counties to be able to evaluate potential differences between the northern forest and the southern farmland deer management zones. Additionally, we split our sample to administer a full nine-day diary to half of our sample.  The other half of the sample received daily access to an online survey form which included an additional question about overall, daily hunting satisfaction.  We found that many hunters did pass up the harvest of both does and bucks and the majority who passed on a buck cited the buck’s size and/or age as the reason. During the 2020 deer hunting seasons, we have expanded the study to hunters statewide and to hunters participating in the bow season. In expanding the study using an online method, we can look at potential differences between the different deer hunting seasons and among the different deer management zones in the state. In this expansion of the study, we estimate that about 1 in every 5 deer hunters in the state were contacted to participate in the online deer hunter diary.
Tags: Behavior, Human Dimensions, Hunting, Mammal, Survey Methods
Untrapped Potential: Do Bear Hunter Cameras Accurately Index Non-target Species at Bait?
Track: General Wildlife: Human Dimensions - Citizen Science
Authors: Ellen M. Candler, University of Minnesota; William J. Severud, University of Minnesota; Dean Beyer, Michigan Department of Natural Resources; Brian Frawley, Michigan Department of Natural Resources; Joseph K. Bump, University of Minnesota
Student or Professional: Student-Graduate
Abstract: Harvest reports are a commonly used index to monitor game species fluctuations. Hunter adoption of remote cameras opens possibilities for managers to collect citizen-derived data for multiple species using hunter-surveys, but the effectiveness of this approach is largely untested.  To examine whether hunter observations using remote cameras at black bear (Ursus americanus) bait sites and reported via hunter-surveys are an effective method to record non-target species at bear bait sites, we compared experimental data to hunter observations from the same study area in the Upper Peninsula (UP), Michigan. We also quantified observations reported on hunter-surveys as an index of density of gray wolves (Canis lupus), white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) and mustelid species (Mustelidae). We used Fisher’s exact test (a = 0.05) to test for differences in proportion of species observed and reported by hunters versus species observed at experimental bait for 2016–2018. We compared the camera-derived index to wolf survey results, and white-tailed deer hunter and mustelid trapper indices using Pearson’s correlation coefficients. We also fit linear models to each comparative relationship to assess the variation in estimated density among counties that can be explained by the camera index. We detected no difference in hunter reported observations and experimental observations for 4 species, but hunters were over nine times more likely to report photographing wolves and nearly one third as likely to report photographing mustelids. We found significant correlations between camera index and deer hunter and mustelid trapper indices, but not for the wolf survey. Additionally, linear models accounted for variation in mustelid density, but not for deer or wolves. The widespread use of remote cameras by hunters, low-cost opportunity to expand hunter-surveys, and potential to collect accurate community composition, relative indices, and monitoring data is strong evidence for the value of adding questions to hunter surveys regarding multiple species.
Tags: Hunting, Population Dynamics, Survey Methods
 
General Wildlife: Human Dimensions - CWD
Assessing Deer Carcass Transportation, Processing, and Disposal Habits Among Minnesota Hunters Statewide and Within Disease Management Areas
Track: General Wildlife: Human Dimensions - CWD
Authors: Kyle Smith, Minnesota Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, University of Minnesota; Adam Landon, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, University of Minnesota; Sue Schroeder, Minnesota Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, University of Minnesota; David Fulton, U.S. Geological Survey, Minnesota Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit; Leslie McInenly, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
Student or Professional: Student-Graduate
Abstract: Chronic wasting disease (CWD) has been identified as a high-priority wildlife disease due to the profound threat it presents to wild cervid populations and the sustainability of recreational hunting. Previous research has highlighted the movement, processing, and disposal of deer carcasses by hunters as a potential vector for CWD spread to novel areas. In Minnesota, hunters harvest, process and dispose of approximately 190,000 deer annually, making recreational hunting a potential vector for CWD spread to novel areas. In order to combat the spread of the disease, many managing agencies have implemented strict regulations pertaining to the movement and processing of deer carcasses harvested in CWD management areas. However, the temporal lag associated with the introduction of CWD within cervid populations and the onset of clinical symptoms could lead to spread of the disease in areas where disease management has not been implemented. In this study we described the processing, transportation, and carcass disposal habits of hunters both statewide and within a current disease management zone (DPA 604). Data were drawn from a survey of Minnesota hunters conducted during the winter and spring of 2020. A random sample was collected of individuals that hunt the CWD management zone (N=1,500) and statewide (N=3,500). Surveys were sent to these samples through two postal mail solicitations and an online solicitation through Qualtrics, which was substituted for the planned 3rd mail solicitation due to the complications related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Response rates for the statewide sample and the CWD management area were 32.7% and 33% respectively. Results revealed high variation in the transportation, processing, and carcass disposal habits both statewide and in the CWD management area. These findings have implications for vector tracing for future CWD outbreaks and highlight the need to understand constituent habits and regulation compliance in the context of disease management.
Tags: Diseases/Parasites, Human Dimensions, Mammal, Management, Policy/Law
Deer Hunter Ambivalence Toward CWD
Track: General Wildlife: Human Dimensions - CWD
Authors: Robert H. Holsman, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources; Lauren Bradshaw, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Ben Beardmore, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources; Meghan Pluemer, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
Student or Professional: Professional
Abstract: In 2002, Wisconsin became the first state east of the Mississippi River to confirm chronic wasting disease (CWD) in wild white-tailed deer. The disease now occurs in wild deer in at least 29 of Wisconsin’s 72 counties. Early management attempts to control the spread of the disease failed as a result of a lack of public support for deer herd reduction measures. In the subsequent years, prevalence rates in the area surrounding the epicenter of the original detection have increased substantially, approaching fifty percent among older adult bucks. Research has indicated the disease is now having negative impacts on deer population trends in the endemic area. Data from a 2020 statewide deer hunter survey suggest that while many hunters express a generalized concern about CWD, most have approached their hunting activity in a “business as usual” fashion even in areas with the highest prevalence rates in the state. For example, participation in testing remains low. Despite advice from the World Health Organization, and the CDC, some deer hunters remain dismissive of personal risks of consuming venison, owing partially to a belief in their own ability to mitigate risks through deer processing and cooking. Approximately, one-quarter of deer hunters whose deer tested positive for CWD consumed the venison anyway, some sharing it others. These results have implications for efforts to communicate health advisories to deer hunters.
Tags: Human Dimensions, Hunting
 
General Wildlife: Human Dimensions - General
An Assessment of the New Employee Experience for Permanent USFWS Employees Hired Through a Diversity Recruitment Program
Track: General Wildlife: Human Dimensions - General
Authors: Veronica Reed, Cal Poly Department of Biological Sciences, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service; Maureen Gallagher, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Student or Professional: Student-Graduate
Abstract: Recruitment and retention of a diverse workforce is a high priority for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). To assess the employee experience among individuals hired through diversity recruitment programs, specifically the Directorate Resource Assistant Fellows Program (DFP), we interviewed and surveyed DFP alumni currently employed by USFWS (ninterview = 24, nsurvey = 58), along with leadership personnel that have and have not directly supervised DFP employees (ninterview = 22, nsurvey = 63). Our objective was to identify potential pitfalls and areas for improvement to the employee experience for individuals navigating their first years of permanent USFWS employment. Interview and survey questions spanned topics including diversity and inclusion, supervisor/team interpersonal relationships, career training and development, hiring and onboarding, and DFP perceptions among leadership. Here we present an overview of our key findings, recommendations for future research and program improvement, and a summary of current and future USFWS efforts intended to address specific items uncovered through our research. As USFWS works to recruit a diverse workforce representative of the public they serve, it is critical that the agency works to foster an inclusive culture, in which new employees and their supervisors are provided a solid foundation for individual employee success.
Tags: Other - Diversity & Inclusion
Attitudes Towards Uses of Wildlife by Conservation Professionals
Track: General Wildlife: Human Dimensions - General
Authors: Rachel Menale, Michigan State University; Shawn Riley, Michigan State University
Student or Professional: Student-Graduate
Abstract: Human population growth, urbanization, modernization, hyper-rapid social media, and other large-scale sociological changes are affecting the way people interact with and value wildlife. Commensurate with these geographical and demographical changes,  beliefs, and attitudes of stakeholders towards wildlife and uses of wildlife are also shifting. Trends in North America appear to be bending toward mutualistic and protectionist orientations and away from utilitarian and consumptive uses of wildlife.  Changes in societal attitudes towards wildlife could create an alignment issue between wildlife professionals and society.  Our objective was to assess and compare change-over-time in beliefs and attitudes of members of The Wildlife Society (TWS) and the North American Wildlife Enforcement Officers Association (NAWEOA), as a proxy for practicing wildlife professionals, towards wildlife, uses of wildlife, and wildlife management practices. We present results from a winter 2020 web-based survey (n= 3,247) that closely approximates TWS membership demographically and geographically. Wildlife professionals in every type of wildlife conservation agency within every U.S. state and most Canadian Provinces/Territories, as well as 13 additional countries throughout the world, participated. In addition, 879 NAWEOA members responded.  We compare these data to findings from a nearly identical 1998 mail-back survey of both organizations.  Our results indicate wildlife conservation professionals currently express as broad of a spectrum of beliefs about consumptive uses of wildlife much as they did 2 decades ago. Change is modest but directional toward more mutualistic and protectionist beliefs and attitudes, especially among younger generational professionals. Nonetheless, similar high and comparable proportions (i90+% f respondents) expressed acceptance of regulated hunting and trapping.  Factors affecting acceptance are discussed as is a full comparison of TWS member beliefs past and present relative to what is known about changes in value orientations of stakeholders in wildlife conservation. 
Tags: Human Dimensions, Hunting, Management, Outreach/Communication, Survey Methods
How to Measure the ROI of Your Marketing Strategies
Track: General Wildlife: Human Dimensions - General
Authors: Peter Ross, Co-Founder, 829 Studios
Student or Professional: Professional
Abstract: There are a myriad of different ways to market your business and all of them require time and money. In this session, we will review data from dozens of companies to determine where exactly you should be aligning your resources. Using these successful organizations as our guide, we’ll analyze their approach to marketing online and identify a few of the most effective marketing strategies. Perhaps most importantly, we’ll have this discussion within the context of a marketing plan so you’ll be able to take home a comprehensive framework for use with your business. Session Takeaways: 1)A framework you can use to evaluate traditional and digital marketing; 2) Metrics to track and analyze the success of your business’ performance; 3) Online marketing strategies generally have the best ROI
Tags: Management, Outreach/Communication
Motivations and Support for Turkey Hunting Regulations in Illinois
Track: General Wildlife: Human Dimensions - General
Authors: Eric M Walberg, Illinois Natural History Survey; Craig A Miller, Illinois Natural History Survey
Student or Professional: Professional
Abstract: Hunters have diverse motivations for pursing the eastern wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) in Illinois. Understanding experience preferences among hunters may assist wildlife managers in making management decisions that improve hunter satisfaction and participation. Our objectives were: 1) develop a typology of turkey hunters in Illinois based on turkey hunting motivations; 2) determine satisfaction with the spring turkey season; and 3) identify demographic differences between turkey hunter groups. In 2019, we mailed a self-administered questionnaire to a random sample of 5,000 turkey hunters in Illinois. We received 2,601 usable questionnaires for a 54% response rate. Respondents indicated the importance of 15-items across three motivational dimensions for hunting (affiliation with family or friends; appreciation of nature; and achievement of turkey hunting goals). We used cluster analysis to group hunters into four types using motivation items. Variance was largest among affiliation and achievement items. One-third of respondents (34%) were motivated primarily by affiliation motivations with achievement motivations being moderately important. The second largest group (29%) indicated affiliation and achievement motivations were equally important, had the least hunting experience during the spring turkey season in Illinois (x = 11 years), and were most likely to be a member of the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) (23%). A third group (19%) found affiliation motivations important and achievement motivations slightly important, while being older (x = 54 years old) and experienced turkey hunters (x = 14 years). The fourth group (18%) were the most experienced turkey hunters (x = 14 years) and oldest (x = 56 years old), though each motivation was moderately important overall. Overall satisfaction was not significantly different between groups, though satisfaction with turkey behavior and harvest was significantly different between groups. Our research suggests that overall satisfaction was similar between groups, though there are significant differences in satisfaction and demographics.
Tags: Human Dimensions, Hunting
Perceptions vs. Reality: Assisting the Decision-Making Process for an Urban Archery Hunting Program
Track: General Wildlife: Human Dimensions - General
Authors: Laura Graber, ODNR- Ohio Division of Wildlife; Geoffrey Westerfield, ODNR- Ohio Division of Wildlife
Student or Professional: Professional
Abstract: Urban areas throughout Ohio have seen a steady increase in the population of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) over the last several decades.  This is due to city ordinances that are set in place which do not allow hunting to occur within city limits and deer adaptability.  When deer herds are not managed in urban areas, their populations can increase beyond the biological and social carrying capacity.  As a result, Lyme disease, deer-vehicle accidents, and damage to landscape plantings are concerns that are shared by communities with urban deer herds (Connelly et. Al 1987, Kilpatrick et al. 1996).  As more damage occurs, tolerance levels by residents are exceeded and they are more likely to accept lethal population control of deer.  Many city leaders across Ohio have been reluctant to allow any kind of deer management to occur in their cities mainly due to safety concerns, but many are now realizing the need for a deer management program.  Often city leaders will reach out to the Ohio Division of Wildlife to seek input on how to reduce deer in their municipal limits.  In the fall of 2019, the Ohio Division of Wildlife sent out a survey to multiple cities across the state to better understand and help quantify some of the safety-related perceptions of an urban deer archery program.  Some cities in our state have had programs for nearly 30 years which helped us to gather long term data on negative incidents that have occurred.  Results from the survey were collated to quantify the perceptions and some basic analysis was conducted.  The results of the survey will help us to better assist other municipalities who are interested in starting an archery program within their municipality and help city leaders make better informed decisions using quantifiable data. 
Tags: Human Dimensions, Hunting, Management, Urban Wildlife
Support for Conservation Among Nature-based Recreationists in Michigan
Track: General Wildlife: Human Dimensions - General
Authors: Chris Henderson, Michigan State University; Shawn J. Riley, Michigan State University; Emily Pomeranz, Michigan Department of Natural Resources
Student or Professional: Student-Graduate
Abstract: Although recreational activities such as hunting and fishing are declining, other nature-based activities remain popular or have even grown in Michigan. Each year brings increasing numbers of hikers, kayakers, canoers, mountain bikers, wildlife watchers, and others to the state’s public lands for recreation and other uses. We assessed support for wildlife conservation efforts among key demographic segments of nature-based outdoor recreationists in Michigan using in-depth interviews (n=30) and an online questionnaire (n=19,143). In-depth interviews with birdwatchers and mountain bikers suggest diverse motivations for seeking out recreational experiences, differences in their perspectives on management, varying levels of engagement in stewardship or conservation-oriented behaviors, and higher-order meanings associated with the recreation experience. Interview data informed development of the online survey instrument. Support for conservation was measured using engagement in stewardship behaviors and willingness to support policies or strategies to increase funding for wildlife conservation. We found that wildlife-associated recreationists (e.g. birdwatchers, anglers, hunters, wildlife viewers) and older generations of survey respondents (e.g. Baby Boomers) were more likely to participate in stewardship behaviors such as volunteering for habitat improvement projects, attending meetings, donating money to organizations, and contacting government officials about wildlife conservation issues. Younger respondents (e.g. Millennials) generally supported hypothetical scenarios to reallocate funds to wildlife conservation from state sales taxes, lottery proceeds, or extractive industry revenue. All age classes regardless of geographic location opposed increased use of access fees, permits, or licenses, with the least support expressed for a hypothetical “backpack tax” on general outdoor gear. Our findings provide insights to help achieve wildlife conservation goals in the face of declining traditional revenue sources and adapt strategies to meet the needs of an increasingly diverse community of nature-based recreationists.
Tags: Human Dimensions, Management, Policy/Law
 
General Wildlife: Human Dimensions - COVID Impacts
2020: A Banner Year for First-time Fishing License Sales in Wisconsin
Track: General Wildlife: Human Dimensions - COVID Impacts
Authors: Ben Beardmore, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
Student or Professional: Professional
Abstract: Wisconsin offers a first-time buyer (FTB) angling license that allows individuals who have not purchased a fishing license within the last ten years to buy an annual fishing license at the discounted rate of $5.00. In the first three months of the 2020 license year, Wisconsin experienced a significant increase in FTB license sales, nearly doubling the five-year average sales volume for the same period. Sales were particularly strong among individuals under 30 years of age, a demographic that showed an increase of 170% over the five-year average. This year provides a unique opportunity to investigate the importance of constraints during a time in which, for many individuals, they appear to have been lifted. The unprecedented FTB sales volume correlated with the onset of the state’s safer-at-home order in response to the coronavirus pandemic. To investigate the role the pandemic played in increased fishing participation, as well as some potential proximate causes, such as increased availability of time due to work or school closures, loss of other preferred leisure opportunities, etc., we surveyed FTB license buyers in Fall 2020. Developing an understanding of these factors can help inform retention efforts. This presentation will overview Wisconsin’s 2020 fishing license sales trends and highlight select survey results to provide insights into the drivers of fishing participation for new anglers.
Tags: Human Dimensions
Examining Shifts in Wildlife Activity During the COVID-19 Pandemic Using Wisconsin Trail Camera Data
Track: General Wildlife: Human Dimensions - COVID Impacts
Authors: Christine Anhalt-Depies, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources; Jennifer Stenglein, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
Student or Professional: Professional
Abstract: Wildlife distribution and activity patterns are influenced by fragmentation, road density, and other factors related to human activity on the landscape.  During the COVID-19 global pandemic, human activity patterns saw significant changes with widespread “safer-at-home” quarantine orders.  This natural experiment provides an opportunity to examine the plasticity of wildlife activity as it relates to human activity levels. In this study, we ask whether there are differences in 1) overall wildlife detection and 2) the time of day during which wildlife is detected before and during Wisconsin’s 2020 Safer-At-Home Order (Emergency Order #12). We leverage data from Snapshot Wisconsin, a statewide network of > 2200 citizen monitored trail cameras. Using an interrupted time series approach, we tested for an effect of the Order on three species commonly detected on the trail camera network: white-tailed deer, turkey, and raccoon. To account for seasonal shifts in detection, we adjusted data using a control series—three previous years data from the network.  We found mixed evidence that wildlife detections changed. Overall shifts in detection occurred for all three species, while time of day shifts occurred for white-tailed deer and raccoon. These shifts were more pronounced when we accounted for whether the camera location was close to an urban area. This work demonstrates that wildlife are sensitive to shifts in human activity patterns and respond quickly to changes in human activity.  Further, we show the value in long-term ecological research that integrates citizen volunteers; studies like this are not possible without the enormous amount of data provided by a statewide trail camera network relying on citizen science.
Tags: Other - Study looks at wildlife activity in response to changes in human activity during a novel pandemic
Influence of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Hunter Perceptions About the Nebraska Spring Turkey Season
Track: General Wildlife: Human Dimensions - COVID Impacts
Authors: Matthew P. Gruntorad, University of Nebraska-Lincoln; Jeffery J. Lusk, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission; Christopher J. Chizinski, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Student or Professional: Professional
Abstract: Our recent study of Nebraska turkey hunters has demonstrated that seeing turkeys and having opportunities to shoot turkeys were consistently two of the most important attributes to hunters during the spring turkey season prior to the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. The rapid rise of COVID-19 and the governmental response to slow the spread of the pandemic occurred prior to the opening of the Nebraska 2020 spring turkey hunting season. The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission (NGPC) suspended the sale of non-resident, spring turkey hunting permits on 30 March 2020 in a proactive effort minimize the spread of COVID-19. In this study, we evaluated the extent that the COVID-19 pandemic affected the perceptions held by hunters about the spring turkey hunting season. We combined responses from spring turkey hunting surveys from the 2018 and 2019 season (pre-pandemic) and from the 2020 (during the pandemic) survey. Hunters reported that seeing turkeys ( = 6.50, P = 0.01) and having opportunities to shoot turkeys ( = 4.76, P = 0.03) were less important during the 2020 season than pre-pandemic seasons. These findings, combined with the fact more resident turkey permits were sold during the 2020 season than average number of permits sold during the pre-covid seasons, are evidence that turkey hunters may hold greater value for the very act of hunting than the outcomes of their hunt, particularly if hunters are concerned that their hunting opportunity may be compromised (such as with the suspended sale of non-resident permits). Wildlife agencies may want to consider the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak in future hunting seasons to understand not only which attributes become less important to hunters, but also which attributes emerge to become more important to hunters in a period of fear, alienation, frustration, and insecurity.
Tags: Human Dimensions, Hunting
More Beer Cans and Less Gear: How Kansas Anglers Were Impacted by the COVID-19 Pandemic
Track: General Wildlife: Human Dimensions - COVID Impacts
Authors: Susan Steffen, Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks & Tourism
Student or Professional: Professional
Abstract: The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks & Tourism (KDWPT) planned to conduct a licensed angler survey in 2020 as a part of routine efforts to collect information from anglers. We proceeded with the survey in 2020 despite the COVID-19 pandemic; furthermore, we adapted the survey to include questions to understand the potential impacts on anglers' fishing participation due to the pandemic. From June through October 2020, we conducted the survey using a combination of internet and mail surveys. We sought to understand impacts to participation by asking questions related to frequency of participation, levels of crowding, social groups fished with, and distances traveled to fish. Finally, we asked survey participants "How else has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted your fishing?" in an open-ended response format so they could elaborate on other impacts we had not thought to consider. Preliminary data results indicate the majority of anglers' participation was not impacted by the pandemic, expressed as "unchanged, about the same level." Other survey results will be discussed as the data is not fully analyzed at this time. From open-ended comments, respondents did experience other impacts due to the pandemic: observing more trash in their fishing spots, shortages of fishing gear and live bait in stores, and being displaced from their usual fishing spots due to non-anglers occupying the area. Some of these impacts were confirmed by agency staff as well. We intend to use the survey results to determine actions KDWPT can take to ameliorate the negative impacts anglers experienced.
Tags: Fishing/Field Surveys, Human Dimensions, Management
 
General Wildlife: Mammal Conservation & Ecology - Furbearers
Efficacy and Decay of Lures for Increasing Detections of Carnivores at Camera Traps
Track: General Wildlife: Mammal Conservation & Ecology - Furbearers
Authors: Alexandra C. Avrin, Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences, University of Illinois; Charles Pekins, Fort Hood Natural Resources Management Branch, US Army Garrison; Maximillian L. Allen Illinois Natural History Survey and Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences, University of Illinois
Student or Professional: Student-Graduate
Abstract: Accurate estimates of abundance and occupancy are crucial for effective management and conservation but are often hampered by low detections, especially for cryptic species like carnivores. While low detections can be accounted for during statistical analysis, improving detections in the field is the best way to reduce uncertainty. Camera traps are an effective, noninvasive method of monitoring wildlife, but often do not detect every animal present. Using attractants (i.e., bait or lure) with camera traps can increase the likelihood of capturing an animal (specifically a carnivore) that is present. Carnivores react differently to attractants based on their hunting style and more work is needed to tailor attractants to specific species. We tested two scent lures: sardines and fatty acid tablets, against a control of no lure to determine if either lure increased detections of five common carnivore species, bobcat (Lynx rufus), coyote (Canis latrans), gray fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus), raccoon (Procyon lotor), and striped skunk (Memphitis memphitis). We randomly distributed lures over 257 camera trap sites for 10,145 trap nights over two years. We further tested if detections of carnivores decreased as the lure decayed over time by modeling detections against lure age. Detections of gray foxes and raccoons increased with both sardines and fatty acid tablets while bobcats, coyotes, and striped skunks did not respond significantly to either lure. We expect lures to become less effective as their smell becomes weaker and aim to find the optimal length of deployment for each lure. Our analysis highlights the importance of designing a study to fit a focal species and optimize the timing of attractant deployment. We hope our results decrease the level of effort while increasing the efficacy of future research.
Tags: Ecology, Mammal, Survey Methods
Influence of Habitat on Potential Presence of Striped Skunks in Southern Illinois
Track: General Wildlife: Mammal Conservation & Ecology - Furbearers
Authors: Katelyn Amspacher, Southern Illinois University Carbondale; Agustin Jimenez, Southern Illinois University Carbondale; Clayton Nielsen, Southern Illinois University Carbondale
Student or Professional: Student-Graduate
Abstract: Striped skunks (Mephitis mephitis) are generalist mesocarnivores widely distributed throughout most of North America. Although striped skunks have been studied extensively at small scales, knowledge of habitat influences on striped skunks at large scales is lacking. We developed a species distribution model (SDM) to examine potential striped skunk presence in a 16,058-km2 portion of southern Illinois. We used SDM Toolbox, version 2.4, and MaxEnt, version 3.4.1, to build models based on 234 occurrence locations collected via camera traps during 2007-2010 and 108 occurrence locations collected via radiotelemetry during 2018-2020, 1-km2 land cover data from the National Land Cover Database, and an index of human modification of the landscape. We tested various regularization multipliers and feature class types and evaluated model fit. Our final model (OER = 0.346, AUC = 0.700) included a 1.5 regularization multiplier with a hinge feature class. Land cover and human modification explained 93.8% and 6.2% of variation in the model, respectively. Highest presence of striped skunks existed in areas with forest cover and developed open space with moderate human modification. Striped skunk presence was lowest in areas with cultivated crops and woody wetlands with either low or high human modification. Forest cover provides natural food and shelter resources for striped skunks, but resources are likely augmented by human activity in developed open space. Cultivated crops only provide seasonal resources, and inundation limits denning in wooded wetlands. Our model indicated striped skunks are a synanthropic species that regularly inhabits both natural and anthropogenic habitats over a large scale.
Tags: Habitat, Mammal, Modeling
Landscape-scale Resource Selection and Occupancy Modeling for American Badgers (Taxidea taxus) in the Midwest, USA
Track: General Wildlife: Mammal Conservation & Ecology - Furbearers
Authors: Dan Kaminski, Iowa Department of Natural Resources; Tyler Harms, Iowa Department of Natural Resources; Jennifer Swanson, Iowa Department of Natural Resources; Vince Evelsizer, Iowa Department of Natural Resources
Student or Professional: Professional
Abstract: The American badger is a large semifossorial mustelid that ranges central and western North America and is listed as a species of greatest conservation need (SGCN) throughout much the Midwest, USA. Populations in the Midwest exist within an agricultural-dominated landscape and are threatened by habitat loss and fragmentation and anthropogenic mortality. Badgers remain vulnerable to landscape modifications and their low reproductive capacity and abundance may limit population growth. To evaluate resource selection and occupancy trends in the Midwest, we used two long-term statewide wildlife surveys in Iowa. We estimated a resource selection function (RSF) using a bootstrap methodology and annual spring spotlight survey observations for badgers (2006–2020). Next, we estimated county-level occupancy within a Bayesian framework using annual archery deer hunter observations for badgers (2004–2019). Overall, our RSF model had high fit with withheld spotlight observations in Iowa and low fit with independent observations in Indiana, Missouri, Ohio, and Wisconsin, indicating a lack of broad-scale habitat in the region. Seventy-nine percent of habitat was predicted in the Plains states (North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, and Oklahoma) and western Iowa (38% of the area), whereas 21% was predicted in Illinois, Indiana, eastern Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, and Wisconsin (3% of the area). The distribution of habitat was consistent with the status of the species, where badgers were classified as a game species in the Plains states and SGCN in Indiana, Minnesota, Missouri, and Ohio. Occupancy estimates for badgers declined by more than half during our study, indicating that populations face continued threats in row crop-dominated landscapes. In 2025, revised State Wildlife Action Plans will be finalized for the subsequent 10-year period; our results provide empirical evidence for the occurrence and distribution of habitat at the population level critical for evaluating the conservation status of badgers in the Midwest.
Tags: Conservation Biology, Habitat, Mammal
Spatiotemporal Shifts in the Age of Primiparity of American Black Bears in Minnesota Over 6 Decades: Effects of Food but Not Density
Track: General Wildlife: Mammal Conservation & Ecology - Furbearers
Authors: Andrew N. Tri, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources; David L. Garshelis, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources; Pam L. Coy, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources; Carolin A. Humpal, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources; Karen V. Noyce, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources-retired
Student or Professional: Professional
Abstract: Female American black bears (Ursus americanus) begin to reproduce at 3–10 years old. When food availability is low, young bears grow more slowly and their age of primiparity (AOP) is delayed. The MN DNR collected teeth (1st premolar) from bears shot by hunters during 1975–2019, from which we ascertained age at death and AOP by examining cementum annuli. We could backdate AOP for up to 2 decades before the bear was killed, expanding the temporal breadth of the sample to the 1960s. This represents the largest sample of AOP (n = 14,692) for bears that we are aware of, enabling us to test 2 hypotheses: (1) AOP varied through time, commensurate with changes in bear density, and (2) AOP varied spatially across Minnesota, related to consistent differences in availability of foods. We calculated an unbiased, mean age of primiparity using a Kaplan-Meier estimator for each decade from 1960s–2010s in each of Minnesota’s 13 bear management units (BMU). We found no support for our hypothesis that AOP was affected by bear density. Reproductive age remained remarkably stable over nearly 6 decades, despite a doubling of the bear population, followed by a 50% decline. This lack of temporal pattern was reflected at the finer BMU scale as well. However, we found strong support for our second hypothesis: AOP was youngest in BMUs along the periphery of bear range and increased northward to Minnesota’s northern border (1.3 year AOP span). This pattern corresponds with the gradient of bear foods — hard mast and agricultural crops are most abundant along the periphery of Minnesota’s bear range, whereas crops and most mast-producing species decline northward. This kind of dataset, available to all agencies managing a hunted bear population, not only aids in management, but provides great insights into the population ecology of bears. 
Tags: Ecology, Mammal, Population Dynamics
 
General Wildlife: Mammal Conservation & Ecology - General
Hydrogeomorphology Influences Swamp Rabbit Habitat Selection in Bottomland Hardwood Forests
Track: General Wildlife: Mammal Conservation & Ecology - General
Authors: Elizabeth M. Hillard, Cooperative Wildlife Research Laboratory and Department of Forestry, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale; Joanne C. Crawford, Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, Michigan State University; Clayton K. Nielsen, Cooperative Wildlife Research Laboratory and Department of Forestry, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale; John W. Groninger, Department of Forestry, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale; Eric M. Schauber, Illinois Natural History Survey, Prairie Research Institute, University of Illinois
Student or Professional: Professional
Abstract: In the last century, bottomland hardwood (BLH) forests throughout the Lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley in the United States declined >80% and have been degraded because of habitat loss, fragmentation, and altered hydrology. To better understand how current conditions in BLH forest systems influence wildlife and to better manage land use and vegetation, we characterized winter (Dec–Mar) multi-scale habitat selection of 75 radio-marked swamp rabbits (Sylvilagus aquaticus) based on 850 locations in southern Illinois, USA, during 2010–2016. We investigated habitat selection by fitting resource selection functions with generalized linear mixed models based on Euclidean distances (km) to 8 cover types that described hydrogeomorphic conditions. At the second-order scale of selection (home range selection), swamp rabbits were closer to deciduous forest and low-elevation BLH and farther from agriculture, permanent water, shallow BLH, and woody wetland. At the third-order scale of selection (habitat selection within the home range), swamp rabbits selected areas closer to deciduous forest, low BLH, and shallow BLH, and farther from woody wetlands. For the swamp rabbit in Illinois, a BLH specialist at the northern extent of their range, habitat selection is limited to available terrestrial habitat that provides vegetation for food and hiding cover within linear and flood-prone BLH corridors surrounded by agricultural cover types that are largely unsuitable as habitat. Because hydrologic conditions are spatially and temporally dynamic, wildlife managers should focus on providing diverse habitat conditions across elevations that ensure the continuous availability of terrestrial habitat regardless of water level and flooding extent across the BLH landscape. Further reforestation efforts in BLH ecosystems should target current agricultural land on higher elevations adjacent to characteristically flood-prone forest remnants that escaped agricultural clearing due to frequent flooding.
Tags: Forest, Habitat, Mammal, Wetland
Spatio-temporal Interactions of Wildcats with Cattle, Feral Pigs and Mushroom Hunters
Track: General Wildlife: Mammal Conservation & Ecology - General
Authors: Stefano Anile, Cooperative Wildlife Research Laboratory, Southern Illinois University; Clayton Nielsen, Cooperative Wildlife Research Laboratory, Southern Illinois University; Mario Lo Valvo, Laboratorio di Zoologia applicata, Dipartimento STEBICEF, University of Palermo, Italy
Student or Professional: Professional
Abstract: Human expansion can cause disturbance and intrusion of invasive species, which are often detrimental to small carnivores. We investigated how European wildcats (Felis silvestris) responded to disturbance from humans (i.e., mushroom collectors), cattle (Bos taurus), and invasive species (i.e., feral pigs [Sus scrofa]) in Sicily, Italy. We used detections from 76 cameras over 2 surveys (2015-2016 and 2018; camera days = 1,985) to run occupancy and co-occurrence models and estimate overlap in activity patterns between species-pairs. During 2015-16, wildcats were detected together with cattle, mushroom hunters, and feral pigs at 14.4%, 26.3% and 17.1% of cameras, respectively. During 2018, wildcats were detected together with cattle, mushroom hunters, and feral pigs at 7.8%, 19.7% and 6.5% of cameras, respectively. Dominant species (A; cattle, mushroom hunters and feral pigs) did not affect occupancy of the subordinate species (B; wildcats) during 2015-16. However, in 2018, the effect of species A on wildcat occupancy was evident for cattle-wildcat and mushroom hunters-wildcat pairs (SIF
Tags: Behavior, Conservation Biology, Ecology, Human Dimensions, Mammal, Modeling, Statistics, Wildlife Techniques
The Benefits of Immigrants: Long-term Effects of a Population Augmentation
Track: General Wildlife: Mammal Conservation & Ecology - General
Authors: Tiffanie Atherton, Clay Nielsen, Ed Heist - Cooperative Wildlife Research Laboratory, Southern Illinois University Carbondale
Student or Professional: Student-Graduate
Abstract: Edge populations tend to be small and potentially isolated with little to no gene flow. Many have experienced inbreeding depression or fixation of deleterious alleles through genetic drift; both of which intensify extinction risk. Gene flow from migrants could restore adaptive genetic variation and increase the effective population size, thereby helping to compensate for the effects of genetic drift and inbreeding depression. However, for populations where immigrants are not available, a genetic rescue may be a beneficial alternative. Eastern woodrats (Neotoma floridana), which were once prevalent throughout southern Illinois, were added to the Illinois endangered species list in 1977 and by the 1980s, only 3 populations remained. Two of these populations (i.e., LaRue Pine Hills (LPH) and Fountain Bluff) were genetically augmented in 2004-05 by woodrats originating from Missouri and Arkansas (i.e., Ozarks). We used 12 microsatellite loci (nDNA), cytochrome b sequences (mtDNA), samples obtained prior to the augmentation in 2003-04, and samples collected in 2019 to assess the LPH population for genetic changes in population structure. Effective population size increased from 45.8 to 75.2. Using microsatellites and STRUCTURE, 97.3% of the remnant genes were retained in the 2019 population. Constructing a cytochrome b haplotype network tree, 76.5% of 2019 samples were derived from the remnant LPH haplotype. The increase in effective population size indicated that the population grew following the augmentation. A 97.3% retention of remnant nuclear genes indicated little admixture between LPH and Ozarks populations. While only 2.7% of the nDNA was associated with the Ozarks population, 23.5% of the mtDNA haplotypes were derived from the Ozarks. As mtDNA is maternally inherited, this is a good indicator that immigrant females may have had higher mating success than immigrant males. We suggest the augmentation was apparently successful and recommend further research to determine whether the augmentation decreased inbreeding.
Tags: Management, Population Dynamics, Threatened and Endangered Species
 
General Wildlife: Mammal Conservation & Ecology - Tools and Technology
Evaluation of Summer Roadside Surveys for Recruitment of White-tailed Deer in Wisconsin
Track: General Wildlife: Mammal Conservation & Ecology - Tools and Technology
Authors: Beth Wojcik, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources; Daniel Storm, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources; Jennifer Stenglein, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources; Brian Dhuey, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources; Timothy Van Deelen, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
Student or Professional: Professional
Abstract: Natural resource agencies monitor demographic components of animal populations to guide effective wildlife management. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources uses a summer roadside survey of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) to monitor recruitment annually. This convenience sampling effort has been used since the 1960s in Wisconsin and in 2018 a smartphone app was available for recording deer observations during surveys. Historically, limitations of this survey have included pronounced bias during July and low sample sizes. Our goal was to create a repeatable, standardized recruitment survey and understand sources of biases in deer recruitment surveys in Wisconsin. We developed routes and standardized protocols for evening roadside surveys to increase sample sizes, allow for precision estimates, and limit bias. We conducted standardized surveys of deer during August-September 2016-2017 in 12 counties of Wisconsin. We evaluated standardized surveys by comparing sample sizes of deer, coefficient of variation, and catch per unit effort (CPUE) to data from previous survey methods. We tested for differences between fawn and doe observation distances and times to examine potential biases between age classes. We found standardized evenings surveys resulted in more deer observations and increased CPUE but recruitment estimates were lower than expected and many did not meet precision thresholds for management use. Further, fawns were detected earlier in the evening and closer to the road than does. Examination of app data showed recruitment estimates varied throughout the day and were lower during evening than midday. This indicates that detection of fawns and does during roadside surveys had unknown influences that varied temporally. Therefore, the increase in sample sizes of deer observations gained with evening surveys was offset by biased recruitment estimates due to time-of-day differences in detection rates between does and fawns. 
Tags: Mammal, Management, Survey Methods
Modernizing Wisconsin’s Sex-Age-Kill Model to Improve Deer Population Estimates
Track: General Wildlife: Mammal Conservation & Ecology - Tools and Technology
Authors: Jennifer Stenglein, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources; Dan Storm, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources; Beth Wojcik, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
Student or Professional: Professional
Abstract: Management of harvested wildlife populations often relies on an annual process for estimating population size that initializes decisions for the rules and regulations of that year’s harvest. A primary tool for estimating the size of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) populations is the sex-age-kill (SAK) model which was first recorded and used by Michigan Department of Natural Resources in the 1950s. The SAK model is a population reconstruction technique that uses summer surveys and hunter-collected information on the sex and age composition of the harvest to estimate population size. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has used SAK as the primary method to estimate white-tailed deer population size for each Deer Management Unit (DMU) since the 1960s. These population estimates become a starting point for decision-makers in Wisconsin to set deer harvest quotas, permit levels and harvest season structure. However, SAK as used in Wisconsin has been found to be inaccurate in situations where a small population size is being estimated with sampling error and if there have been abrupt changes in harvest rates (Millspaugh et al. 2007, 2009). Here we address the shortcomings of Wisconsin’s previous use of SAK for deer population estimates and provide a modernized framework for modeling SAK in a more robust, repeatable and scientifically defensible way. To make better use of all available data, we used spatial smoothing models to estimate fawn-to-doe ratio and aging data input parameters for each DMU. By doing this in a Bayesian framework, we derived measures of uncertainty on these inputs, and by extension on the population estimates. Our implementation of spatial smoothing models on SAK inputs and producing estimates of uncertainty on pre-hunt and post-hunt population estimates are important modernizations to the continued use of SAK for deer monitoring in Wisconsin.
Tags: Mammal, Management, Modeling, Population Dynamics, Statistics, Survey Methods
 
General Wildlife: Tools and Technology - General
Assessing Collaborative Capacity in a State Wildlife Agency and Partners
Track: General Wildlife: Tools and Technology - General
Authors: Megan M. Cross, Michigan State University; Shawn J. Riley, Michigan State University
Student or Professional: Student-Graduate
Abstract: In an era of declining revenue, state wildlife agencies (SWAs) engage in an array of partnerships to fulfill public trust responsibilities, maintain relationships, and align activities with the broader community of stakeholders. We define partnership as the sharing of goals, risks, and responsibilities between 2 or more actors to achieve a mutual interest. Little has been done to comprehensively assess collaborative capacity of SWAs and their partners. Collaborative capacity in this context is a measure of the ability of collaborative groups to foster success. Accordingly, collaborative capacity requires building other capacities: member, relational, organizational, and programmatic. Our research measured the collaborative capacity of a SWA and its partners through interviews and surveys. The sample population included all employees in a SWA (n = 146, response rate = 89%) and partners identified through a snowball sample via agency stakeholder engagement efforts (n = 171, response rate = 40.6%). Employees of the SWA rated member capacity of their partnerships and collaborations highest relative to other dimensions. Employees reported their partnerships and collaborations could be improved by having members who are skilled at forming teams and developing formal procedures to monitor collaborations. Programmatic capacity is perceived to be the weakest dimension of collaborative capacity. Programmatic capacity relates to the design and implementation of activities that result from a collaboration. Partner perceptions of SWA employee member capacity are more positive than those of SWA employees; partners believe SWA employees are valuable members of partnerships and collaborations. We will report on structural equation modeling that examines factors affecting the 4 dimensions of collaborative capacity within a SWA.  Our findings have implications for how managers may improve effectiveness, efficiency, and quality of partnerships, as well as provide fisheries and wildlife professionals with knowledge and insights that sustain conservation efforts under declining revenue from traditional sources.
Tags: Human Dimensions, Management
Assessing the Potential of ArcGIS Field Maps Mobile Application for Aerial- and Ground-Based Surveys of Wildlife
Track: General Wildlife: Tools and Technology - General
Authors: Bob Wright, Minnesota IT Services@ Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
Student or Professional: Professional
Abstract: Since 2010, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MNDNR) Section of Wildlife has been using DNRSurvey, a customized version of ESRI’s ArcMap software to conduct both aerial- and ground-based surveys of wildlife. ArcMap is part of the ArcGIS desktop suite of GIS applications developed by the Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI), which is approaching the end of its supported life. In addition, the Section of Wildlife has reduced the number of aerial surveys it conducts due to budget constraints, yet certain aerial surveys are expected to continue and there is still a need for less expensive ground-based surveys. ESRI is consolidating several of its mobile applications into a single application called ArcGIS Field Maps. This consolidation of functionality running on a tablet computer holds promise as a cost-effective replacement of ArcMap running on a ruggedized laptop computer. In this presentation I will assess the potential of this new software/hardware combination for conducting aerial surveys of moose (Alces alces) in northeastern Minnesota.
Tags: Management, Technology/Geographic Information Systems, Wildlife Techniques
Assessing Use of Drones with Thermal Infrared to Locate and Capture White-tailed Deer Neonates
Track: General Wildlife: Tools and Technology - General
Authors: Tyler R. Obermoller, Farmland Wildlife Populations and Research Group, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources; Andrew S. Norton, South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks; Eric S. Michel, Farmland Wildlife Populations and Research Group, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources; Brian S. Haroldson, Farmland Wildlife Populations and Research Group, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
Student or Professional: Student-Graduate
Abstract: Drones are growing in popularity and are used to locate individual animals, estimate ungulate populations, and monitor endangered species. However, previous research has not used drones to locate individual wildlife with the intent of capture. Capturing wildlife can be dangerous, expensive, and time consuming. Our goal was to assess the efficacy of using drones to locate and capture neonatal white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus). During May–June 2019 and June 2020, we used a drone equipped with thermal-infrared (TIR) and conventional multispectral red-green-blue (RGB) cameras to locate and confirm fawn thermal signatures in Minnesota’s southern farmland region. We identified 43 and 122 fawn thermal signatures in 2019 and 2020, respectively. We also captured 13 fawns to validate the methodology (detection and identification) of using drones for capture in 2019. We flew the drone for 47.3 hours covering 792 hectares (17 hectares per hour) in 2019 and flew for 41.1 hours and covered 1640 hectares (40 hectares per hour) in 2020. We worked 201.5 person-hours with a mean crew size of 4 people that required 4.7 person-hours to locate each fawn in 2019, whereas we worked 170.3 person-hours with a mean crew size of 4 people that required 70% less effort and resulted in 1.4 person-hours to locate each fawn in 2020. Flight efficiency was highest at 60 m above ground level (AGL) with a speed of 9 m/s; however, diurnal use of drones made identifying fawn thermal signatures difficult as thermal loading to the environment quickly reduced the temperature differential between vegetation and fawn thermal signatures. We found TIR-equipped drones to be an efficient method to locate and subsequently capture fawns in open habitats in comparison to other capture methods, but recommend flying overnight or in cloudy conditions to avoid false positives.
Tags: Habitat, Management, Wildlife Techniques
Bumble Bee Species Detection and Occupancy in Northern Illinois: Recommendations for Bumble Bee Monitoring Efforts
Track: General Wildlife: Tools and Technology - General
Authors: Alma C. Schrage, Illinois Natural History Survey; Michael J. Dreslik, Illinois Natural History Survey; Jason Robinson, Illinois Natural History Survey
Student or Professional: Student-Graduate
Abstract: Community monitoring of multiple bumble bee species makes it possible to determine if there are specific bumble bee assemblages associated with specific habitats or landscapes (e.g. urban, suburban, agricultural, natural), if declining species are associated with specific assemblages or experiencing niche replacement with a more common species, and helps parse pollinator-plant relationships and pollinator competition. Bumble bee species interact with one another as potential disease vectors, competitors for limited nesting habitat, and likely as competitors for limited floral resources, so multi-species monitoring efforts are logical for conservation purposes. Of the eleven bumble bee species known to occur in Illinois, Bombus affinis, B. fraternus, B. pensylvanicus, B. terricola, and B. vagans are thought to be declining throughout their range in eastern North America, with B. affinis being Federally protected. Insufficient survey effort can lead to inflated false-negative rates (present but not detected) for rare species. Thus it is crucial to understand how detection probabilities vary among bumble bee species based on survey-level covariates. We present the factors driving detection and occupancy for multiple bumble bee species based on multi-species occupancy models developed from data collected during 2019 surveys. We conducted surveys according to USFWS survey protocols for Endangered Species Act (ESA) implementation for B. affinis in northern Illinois at Glacial Park and Volo Bog. Our results provide recommendations for how to best allocate survey effort efficiently in terms of spatial and temporal replication for community monitoring when resources are limited. We also contribute to the current understanding of sufficient survey effort for ESA implementation connected to B. affinis.
Tags: Conservation Biology, Invertebrate, Threatened and Endangered Species
Examining the Valuation of Federal Metal Bird Bands Among Waterfowl Hunters: Implications and Challenges for Waterfowl Data Management
Track: General Wildlife: Tools and Technology - General
Authors: Olivia Wolford, University of Maryland Department of Anthropology
Student or Professional: Student-Graduate
Abstract: This project investigates the significance that metal bird bands have taken on within the waterfowl hunting community, and how this has impacted the way that sold and purchased bands might be reported to the U.S Geological Survey Bird Banding Laboratory (BBL). The BBL has been tracking migratory birds through the use of metal bird bands for a hundred years. Everyday people who encounter the bands can report the serial numbers online, contributing to a rich data set of thousands of sightings every year. With waterfowl hunters comprising the vast majority of bird band reports, metal bands have become a prized trophy among many waterfowl hunters. This has led to the proliferation of both genuine and fake metal bird bands on e-marketplaces such as Ebay, which can potentially complicate the integrity of the data reported to the BBL. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with BBL staff members, waterfowl hunters, and bird band sellers to gain deeper insight into this emerging challenge to waterfowl data management. An online survey also allowed for those who have previously reported a bird band to the BBL to discuss their engagement with bands and wildlife conservation. Utilizing an anthropological perspective, data was analyzed qualitatively to draw out common themes among participants. This included observations about the role of social media and hunting media in potentially shifting the priorities of hunting culture towards a higher valuation of bands; motivating factors for those who buy and sell bands for collections vs for display; and perceptions of how bands reflect the role of hunters in wildlife conservation in the U.S more broadly. Through continued analysis, this project seeks to provide data-based recommendations for continued data management at the Bird Banding Laboratory. 
Tags: Avian, Conservation Biology, Human Dimensions, Hunting, Outreach/Communication
Going “All Digital” for Chronic Wasting Disease Sampling Efforts in Minnesota
Track: General Wildlife: Tools and Technology - General
Authors: Bob Wright, Minnesota IT Services(MNIT)@Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MNDNR); Erik Hildebrand, MDNR Wildlife Health Program; Julie Hines, MNIT@MNDNR
Student or Professional: Professional
Abstract: The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MNDNR) has been actively monitoring for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) since it was first detected in the state in 2002. From 2002 through 2018 sample data collected from hunters were recorded on data cards, with digital transcription evolving from spreadsheets to on-line forms. While efficiencies have been gained, incorrect harvest location entries and transcription errors have persisted, and as surveillance efforts have increased, addressing these issues has become a significant drain on staff time. Advances in mobile information and device technologies have provided an opportunity to address both of these issues simultaneously, and we took advantage of it in 2019 to go “all digital” for the fall white-tailed deer firearms season. In this presentation we demonstrate how the Minnesota IT Services Wildlife GIS/IT team worked with the MNDNR Wildlife Health Program to make this important transition successfully.
Tags: Diseases/Parasites, Technology/Geographic Information Systems, Wildlife Techniques
Making Career Development More Inclusive Through Course-Based Undergraduate Research Experiences (CUREs)
Track: General Wildlife: Tools and Technology - General
Authors: Elizabeth A. Flaherty, Purdue University; Hayley C. Lanier, University of Oklahoma; Johanna Varner, Colorado Mesa University; Patrice K. Connors, Colorado Mesa University; Laurie Dizney, University of Portland; Jennifer M. Duggan, California State University, Monterey Bay; Liesl P. Erb, Warren Wilson College; Christopher J. Yahnke, University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point; John D. Hansen, Biodiversity Research and Education
Student or Professional: Professional
Abstract: Undergraduate research experiences not only allow students to gain critical and relevant skills for their future careers, but they also provide them with other benefits including developing their identity as a natural resource professional, introducing them to important professional social networks, and providing experiences to evaluate career decisions. However, financial or time limitations, lack of awareness of opportunities, or lack of resources limit extra-curricular research experience involvement for many students, particularly those from groups historically underrepresented in the sciences. Course-based Undergraduate Research Experiences (CUREs) are a way to engage all undergraduates in authentic research, to teach core concepts, and to develop skills using inquiry-based activities. As an example, we present an overview of Squirrel-Net, a network supporting ecology-focused field-based CUREs, that engages undergraduates in authentic, course-based research focused on the ecology of squirrels. Because squirrels occur across most university/college campuses, are abundant, and are easily observed, they are an ideal system to teach field data collection methods and to allow students to ask questions and then collect their own data that they can contribute to national datasets. Furthermore, because the modules involve outdoor research, most without specialized equipment, they have been successfully transitioned to online or hybrid-design courses during the COVID-19 pandemic. We also will provide examples of how Squirrel-Net instructors implemented the modules during fall 2020, provide an overview of student outcomes from participation in these CUREs, and discuss ideas for how CUREs, in general, can be used during both in-person and remote instruction.
Tags: Other - Education/Teaching
The Phragmites Adaptive Management Framework: Invasive Species Management Through Collective Learning
Track: General Wildlife: Tools and Technology - General
Authors: Taaja R. Tucker, U.S. Geological Survey; Samantha Tank, Great Lakes Commission; Erika Jensen, Great Lakes Commission; Christine Dumoulin, University of Georgia; Patrick Canniff, Great Lakes Commission; Clinton T. Moore, U.S. Geological Survey & University of Georgia; Kurt P. Kowalski, U.S. Geological Survey
Student or Professional: Professional
Abstract: The non-native strain of Phragmites australis has become established across more than 60,000 acres within the Great Lakes basin, outcompeting native plants and degrading natural habitats. Phragmites is managed using a variety of resource-intensive techniques, including herbicides, cutting/crushing, flooding, and burning, yet effectiveness of treatment may vary due to infestation level, application methods, environmental conditions, or other factors. With the goal to reduce uncertainty in treatment outcomes, the Great Lakes Phragmites Collaborative formed the Phragmites Adaptive Management Framework (PAMF), an adaptive management and collective learning program. PAMF partners with managers who collect Phragmites monitoring and treatment data on a yearly basis to inform the PAMF predictive model, which in turn provides managers with data-driven, site-specific management guidance for the following year. In addition to providing annual management guidance and summary reports for participants, PAMF acts as central repository for Phragmites management data. Now in its fourth year, 201 patches of Phragmites ( >650 acres) across all eight Great Lakes states and Ontario are currently enrolled in PAMF. We highlight the benefits of a collective learning approach, the lessons learned in implementing and running the program, and summarize the program’s accomplishments and findings thus far. We also detail the steps taken to engage current and potential participants and collect high-quality data during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tags: Exotic/Invasive Species, Management, Outreach/Communication
Using Citizen Science Data to Validate Habitat Suitability Assumptions in Waterfowl Conservation Planning
Track: General Wildlife: Tools and Technology - General
Authors: Drew N. Fowler, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Office of Applied Sciences, Madison, WI; Jessica A. Jaworski, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Office of Applied Sciences, Rhinelander, WI
Student or Professional: Professional
Abstract: Determining the spatial distribution and density of a species is an important component of conservation planning. Further, understanding the landscape habitat characteristics that influence species occurrence and density aide in more informative modeling to guide planners.   In the case where empirical species occurrence data are lacking, distribution models are based on assumptions of site occupancy provided that certain habitat features are available at a location.  In these cases, the accuracy of spatial distribution is dependent on the ability of pre-specified habitat features to correctly predict species occupancy.   For species that are seasonally present in a landscape, like migratory waterfowl, predicting spatially explicit occupancy using habitat features has historically been challenging because of limited spatial extent of available data.  Our goal was to use citizen science collected data (eBird) to model Ring-necked duck (Aythya collaris) spatial distribution and occupancy in Wisconsin during spring migration and the summer breeding period to validate existing assumptions of habitat suitability characteristics established by the Upper Mississippi River / Great Lakes Joint Venture (UMRGL JV).  We followed established best practices for using eBird data and filtered observations from complete checklists across Wisconsin from March through April (spring) and May through August 15th (summer) of 2009-2019.  We established a 2.5 km by 2.5 km buffer around each unique checklist location and calculated the proportion of the landscape of each distinct land cover type using National Wetland Inventory polygons and a state specific landcover database (WISCLAND 2). We used landscape covariates as well as variables to describe observer effort to model encounter rate and site occupancy during the two distinct seasons.   Lastly, we compare our models to distribution and abundance models of Ring-necked ducks recently derived in the Wisconsin Waterfowl Habitat Conservation Strategy that relied on habitat suitability assumptions established by conservation planners.
Tags: Avian, Habitat, Wetland
Video Behavior Analysis of Two Wintering Populations of Whooping Crane
Track: General Wildlife: Tools and Technology - General
Authors: Virginia van Vianen, University of Wisconsin-Madison; Anne Lacy, International Crane Foundation; Elizabeth Smith, International Crane Foundation; Timothy Van Deelen, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Student or Professional: Student-Graduate
Abstract: The Aransas Wood Buffalo (AWBP) and reintroduced Eastern Migratory (EMP) Populations of whooping cranes (Grus americana) use very different habitats during non-breeding seasons. Though whooping cranes in the EMP initially migrated to Florida, now, most EMP birds winter further north in Illinois, Indiana, and Alabama in landscapes very different from AWBP birds wintering on the Texas coast. Knowing what distinct behavioral and habitat use differences between the two migratory populations helps managers make better informed decisions. We analyzed 20-minute videos of groups of whooping cranes wintering in and around Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, Texas, Goose Pond Fish and Wildlife Area, Indiana, and Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge, Alabama, collected by International Crane Foundation staff and volunteers (2018 - 2020). We prepared time budgets for each population using Program BORIS to determine differences in behaviors and habitat use. Summarized behaviors from six categories (foraging, locomotion, alert, comfort, social, or resting) indicated differences between wintering locations, social groups, and habitats. This information will aid whooping crane recovery by restructuring previously held assumptions regarding winter habitat use.
Tags: Avian, Behavior, Habitat
 
General Wildlife: Wetland Ecology - Avian Conservation & Ecology
Energetic Carrying Capacity of Submersed Aquatic Vegetation in Semi-permanent Wetlands Important to Waterfowl in the Upper Midwest
Track: General Wildlife: Wetland Ecology - Avian Conservation & Ecology
Authors: Margaret Gross, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources - Shallow Lakes Program; Joseph D. Lancaster, Gulf Coast Joint Venture; John W. Simpson, Winous Point Marsh Conservancy; Brendan T. Shirkey, Winous Point Marsh Conservancy; Sarah E. McClain, Illinois Natural History Survey - Bellrose Waterfowl Research Center and Forbes Biological Station; Christopher N. Jacques, Western Illinois University - Department of Biological Sciences; J. Brian Davis, Mississippi State University - Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Aquaculture; Sean E. Jenkins, Western Illinois University - Department of Biological Sciences; Heath M. Hagy, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service; Aaron P. Yetter, Illinois Natural History Survey - Bellrose Waterfowl Research Center and Forbes Biological Station
Student or Professional: Professional
Abstract: Intensification of land use practices and climate change has resulted in extensive wetland loss and declines of native submersed aquatic vegetation (SAV) from wetlands across North America. Although SAV is an important diet component of many species of waterfowl (e.g., gadwall [Mareca strepera]) and other waterbirds (e.g., American coot [Fulica americana]), it has been dismissed as an important contributor to energetic carrying capacity due to assumed low density and assimilable energy. Moreover, conservation planners currently are unable to accurately account for the energetic contribution of SAV in bioenergetics models because of a lack of biomass and energy estimates for semi-permanent wetlands. Following recent advancements in assimable energy estimates for many common SAV species, we estimated energetic carrying capacity of 21 semi-permanent wetlands containing SAV identified as important stopover locations for migrating waterfowl and other waterbirds in the Midwest, USA. Energy density of SAV (x = 813 ± 257 EUD/ha) was generally less than managed wetland types, varied by National Wetland Inventory class, and had a great degree of annual (± 984,873 EUD/ha) and spatial variation (± 87,970 EUD/ha). Energetic carrying capacity was greatest for isolated wetlands (1,507,584 585,219 EUD), followed by wetlands connected to rivers (840,286 549,395 EUD) and lakes (205,516 59,903 EUD). We attempted to develop a visual rapid assessment index that would allow wetland managers or researchers to quickly estimate energy density from SAV, but correspondence was moderate (R2m = 0.43). Energetic carrying capacity estimates of wetlands containing SAV will allow conservation planners to more precisely estimate energy supply on the landscape for waterfowl and wetland managers to evaluate trade-offs among alternative management strategies. We suggest future research estimate energy density among randomly selected wetlands across the Midwest and collect additional information on the below-ground biomass of SAV and associated assimilable energy.
Tags: Avian, Habitat, Wetland
Evaluating Assumptions of the North American Marsh Bird Monitoring Protocol
Track: General Wildlife: Wetland Ecology - Avian Conservation & Ecology
Authors: Auriel M.V. Fournier, Illinois Natural History Survey; Therin Bradshaw, Western Illinois University; Heath Hagy, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service; Brendan Shirkey, Winous Point Marsh Conservancy
Student or Professional: Professional
Abstract: The standardized North American Marsh Bird Monitoring Program has been used over the past decade to increase detection probability of secretive marsh birds across North America. This survey has greatly improved researchers understanding of secretive marsh bird habitat use and the impact of wetland management on these important species. This survey is frequently done across 3 survey periods, defined roughly by latitude, which are supposed to encapsulate the end of migration and pre-nesting period. A pattern observed across many studies using these methods is a decline in detections from the first to the last survey period, which begs the question of why this pattern is observed, and what influence it may have on our inference and understanding of existing marsh bird survey data. We examined several possible explanations for this decline using data simulation, and several existing datasets, as well as data specifically collected to better quantify the detection process.
Tags: Avian, Behavior, Modeling, Survey Methods
Evaluating Dynamics of Food Availability for Lesser Scaup at Pools 13 and 19 of the Mississippi River
Track: General Wildlife: Wetland Ecology - Avian Conservation & Ecology
Authors: Lauren D. Larson, Western Illinois University; Michael J. Anteau, US Geological Survey - Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center; Heath M. Hagy, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service; Joseph D. Lancaster, Gulf Coast Joint Venture; Aaron P. Yetter, Illinois Natural History Survey - Forbes Biological Station; Christopher N. Jacques, Western Illinois University
Student or Professional: Student-Graduate
Abstract: The lesser scaup (Aythya affinis; hereafter, scaup) is an omnivorous diving duck that is a species of conservation concern in the Midwest.  Since the 1970s, the continental scaup population has declined, with numbers well below the 6.3 million goal set by the North American Waterfowl Management Plan.  Several factors have been implicated in the scaup decline, including decreased food availability at migratory stopover sites in the upper Midwest.  Navigational Pools 13 and 19 of the Upper Mississippi River System (UMRS) are crucial refueling sites for migratory waterfowl, especially diving ducks, prior to reaching higher latitudes where food shortages have been documented.  Unlike other navigational pools of the UMRS, few aquatic invertebrate and vegetation evaluations have been conducted on Pool 19.  Our ongoing research seeks to create a spatiotemporal habitat assessment of Pools 13 and 19.  We evaluated potential foraging biomass and habitat conditions at 50 stratified random sites on each Pool in 2019 and 2020.  While beds of submersed aquatic vegetation were abundant on Pool 13, few were found on Pool 19.  Mean scaup food biomass from 2019 samples was largely dependent on the presence of gastropods and bivalves (Pool 19 Summer  = 388.1 kg/ha ± 104.5 [SE]; Pool 19 Fall = 398.9 kg/ha ± 107.8 [SE]; Pool 13  = 1,133.8 kg/ha ± 284.8 [SE] ).  Scaup food found on Pool 19 did not differ seasonally in 2019 (p = 0.714), and biomass from seeds was minimal in both study areas.
Tags: Avian, Conservation Biology, Management, Population Dynamics, River/Stream
Interrelated Impacts of Climate and Land-use Change on a Widespread Waterbird
Track: General Wildlife: Wetland Ecology - Avian Conservation & Ecology
Authors: Sarah Saunders, National Audubon Society; Walter Piper, Chapman University; Matthew Farr, Michigan State University; Brooke Bateman, National Audubon Society; Nicole Michel, National Audubon Society; Henrik Westerkam, National Audubon Society; Chad Wilsey, National Audubon Society
Student or Professional: Professional
Abstract: Together climate and land-use change play a crucial role in determining species distribution and abundance, but measuring the simultaneous impacts of these processes on current and future population trajectories is challenging due to time lags, interactive effects, and data limitations. We leveraged three long-term datasets to develop a coupled integrated population model-Bayesian population viability analysis (IPM-BPVA) to project future survival and reproductive success for common loons (Gavia immer) in northern Wisconsin, USA, by explicitly linking vital rates to changes in climate and land use. The winter North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), a broad-scale climate index, immediately preceding the breeding season and annual changes in developed land cover within breeding areas both had negative influences on adult survival, a parameter which was strongly correlated with population change. Local summer rainfall was negatively related to fecundity, though this relationship was mediated by a lagged interaction with the winter NAO, suggesting a compensatory population-level response to climate variability. We compared population viability under 12 future scenarios of annual land-use change, precipitation, and NAO conditions. Under all scenarios, the loon population was expected to decline, yet the steepest declines were projected under positive NAO trends, as anticipated with ongoing climate change. Thus, loons breeding in the northern United States are likely to remain affected by climatic processes occurring thousands of miles away in the North Atlantic during the non-breeding period of the annual cycle. Our results reveal that climate and land-use changes are differentially contributing to loon population declines along the southern edge of their breeding range, and will continue to do so despite natural compensatory responses. Our modelling approach can be used to project demographic responses of populations to varying environmental conditions while accounting for multiple sources of uncertainty, an increasingly pressing need in the face of unprecedented global change.
Tags: Avian, Climate, Population Dynamics
 
General Wildlife: Wetland Ecology - General
Analyzing the Impact of Environmental Variables on Breeding Pond Occupancy of Ambystoma Salamanders
Track: General Wildlife: Wetland Ecology - General
Authors: Meghan Ward, Trent University; Thomas Hossie, Trent University
Student or Professional: Student-Graduate
Abstract: One of the greatest threats to amphibian biodiversity is habitat loss. Many amphibians have biphasic life histories which require the use of both aquatic and terrestrial habitats. Aquatic habitat in Ontario has declined significantly in the past 150 years. To combat the loss of amphibian habitat, stewardship wetlands have been created to replace natural wetlands. Because of the widespread wetland destruction in Southern Ontario, the Nature Conservancy of Canada has created over 20 constructed ponds on Pelee Island with the goal of increasing the number of breeding sites for Ambystoma salamanders; a pond breeding amphibian. Pelee Island therefore serves as an excellent study site, as both natural and stewardship ponds are available. The aim of this study is to answer three prominent questions. The first: what environmental variables influence occupancy of potential breeding sites by Ambystoma salamanders on Pelee Island? The second: what environmental variables predict relative abundance of Ambystoma larvae? We used generalized linear models with up to two predictive variables to answer question one and two. Canopy cover and crayfish presence had the most predictive power for occupancy. Temperature and substrate had the most predictive power for relative abundance. The third: do existing stewardship ponds adequately mimic the environmental requirements for Ambystoma breeding and larval habitat as observed in natural ponds? A Principle Component Analysis was run; the PC variables that explained > 10% variation were used in a MANOVA and followed by a univariate ANOVA to determine in what ways natural and stewardship ponds differ.
Tags: Amphibian/Reptile, Conservation Biology, Ecology, Habitat, Restoration/Enhancement
Developing Climate Change Adaptation Thinking Strategies with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in the Midwest
Track: General Wildlife: Wetland Ecology - General
Authors: John Delaney, Biologist, USGS, Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center; Kristen Bouska, Ecologist, USGS, Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center; Josh Eash, Regional Refuge Hydrologist, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Student or Professional: Professional
Abstract: Climate change likely will present new and ongoing challenges to land management agencies.  We engaged managers and biologists from several Midwestern U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) refuges to understand recent and future climate change impacts and vulnerabilities, identify adaptation barriers and opportunities, and pilot an approach for integrating adaptation thinking into management planning efforts. We first developed a climate change vulnerability assessment to identify vulnerable watersheds in the Midwest, and to frame discussions with USFWS managers working at both regional and local levels. These discussions helped to inform our understanding of how managers are dealing with recent extreme weather impacts, the strategies they are implementing to cope, and what information they need in order to enhance their climate change adaptation efforts. We used the insights we gained over the course of the project to develop a multi-day virtual workshop geared toward identifying potential adaptation strategies for managed wetlands. First, we assessed which climate change effects and vulnerabilities were most important to managed wetlands and how they impact management. We used scenario planning to incorporate multiple potential future conditions into our planning and identified adaptation strategies that could be considered for one or more scenarios. Finally, we discussed how the piloted approach might be adapted to ensure climate considerations are integrated into existing management planning processes.  
Tags: Climate, Management, Wetland
Deviations from Philopatry and Fidelity in Spatially and Temporally Heterogeneous Environments
Track: General Wildlife: Wetland Ecology - General
Authors: Nathan W. Byer, University of Nevada - Reno; Brendan N. Reid, Rutgers University
Student or Professional: Professional
Abstract: Repeatability in habitat use - often termed site fidelity - is widespread and ubiquitous. In some cases, used habitat areas may also be inherited by offspring in a phenomenon called natal philopatry, suggesting the potential for intergenerational repeatability in habitat preferences. Site fidelity and philopatry may both represent strategies that can be used to optimize fitness in spatially and temporally heterogeneous environments, particularly if organisms can use proximate or direct cues for reproductive success and adult survival when selecting habitat. While turtles (Order Testudines) exhibit both fidelity and natal philopatry when selecting nesting areas, emerging evidence suggests that nest choice may be more plastic than previously thought. However, no studies to date have attempted to document the behavioral choices that may produce deviations from nest site fidelity and philopatry. We constructed a spatially-explicit individual-based model (SEIBM) to explore factors that may produce deviations from nest site fidelity and philopatry, and parameterized this model with empirical behavioral and genetic data for the Blanding's Turtle (Emydoidea blandingii) in central Wisconsin. Our model recreated empirical deviations from nest site fidelity and philopatry, with reduced philopatry with increasing error rates in habitat discrimination and reduced site fidelity with decreasing risk tolerance. Unpredictable spatial distributions of risk increased natal philopatry for initial breeding events but decreased site fidelity overall, suggesting that strong natal imprinting may sometimes be associated with rapid shifts in habitat preferences in unpredictable environments. Associating risk exposure with increased adult or nest mortality led to increased nest site fidelity in both cases, but with relatively weak effects on natal philopatry. Our model is readily generalizable to other landscapes and species, and holds promise for more detailed exploration of the ecological and evolutionary factors that may give rise to fidelity and philopatry.
Tags: Amphibian/Reptile, Behavior, Modeling
Effects of Lake Erie Harmful Algal Blooms on Stress Levels and Immune Functioning in Wetland-associated Songbirds and Reptiles
Track: General Wildlife: Wetland Ecology - General
Authors: Jeanine Refsnider, University of Toledo; Jessica Garcia, University of Toledo; Henry Streby, University of Toledo; Ashley Nunez, Ursinus College; Austin Hulbert, University of Toledo; Brittany Holliker, University of Toledo
Student or Professional: Professional
Abstract: Harmful algal blooms (HABs), caused by nutrient input from agricultural runoff, are a threat to freshwater systems worldwide, and are further predicted to increase in size, frequency, and intensity due to climate change.  HABs occur annually in the Western Basin of Lake Erie, and these blooms become toxic when dominated by cyanobacteria that produce the liver toxin microcystin.  Although we are making substantial inroads toward understanding how microcystin affects human health, almost nothing is known about effects of microcystin on aquatic wildlife exposed to HABs.  We sampled wetland-associated songbirds (barn swallows and red-winged blackbirds) and reptiles (painted turtles and Northern watersnakes) from wetlands exposed to chronically high microcystin levels due to a prolonged HAB event, and from control, unexposed wetlands.  We compared physiological stress levels (heterophil:lymphocyte ratio) and immune functioning (bactericidal capacity and natural antibody agglutination titers) between the HAB-exposed and control populations.  We found that physiological stress levels were higher in HAB-exposed barn swallows, red-winged blackbirds, and Northern watersnakes than in control populations, but painted turtles did not differ in physiological stress levels between populations.  Neither barn swallows nor red-winged blackbirds differed in immune functioning between populations, but HAB-exposed watersnakes had higher bactericidal capacity than control snakes, and HAB-exposed painted turtles had lower bactericidal capacity than control turtles.  Our results demonstrate that even when HABs do not cause direct mortality of exposed wildlife, they can act as a physiological stressor across several different taxa, which may lead to other sublethal effects such as depressed immune functioning in some groups.
Tags: Amphibian/Reptile, Great Lakes, Physiology
Trends in Western Minnesota's Wetland Conditions and Implications for Freshwater Amphipods
Track: General Wildlife: Wetland Ecology - General
Authors: Breanna Keith, Bemidji State University; Danelle Larson, U.S. Geological Survey; Carl Isaacson, Bemidji State University; Michael Anteau, U.S. Geological Survey; Megan Fitzpatrick, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources; Jake Carleen, Bemidji State University
Student or Professional: Student-Graduate
Abstract: Amphipods (Gammarus lacustris and Hyalella azteca) are important components of North America’s prairie lake and wetland food webs. Declining amphipod abundance at spring stopover habitat for birds prompts a need to understand characteristics of extant amphipod-rich aquatic systems. We surveyed 65 shallow lakes and wetlands throughout western Minnesota to examine how water chemistry and adjacent landscape characteristics influence amphipod and aquatic plant abundance. Due to the scarcity of amphipod-rich wetlands, half of our basins were randomly selected and the rest were selected for known amphipod abundance; altogether, densities ranged from 0 to 7,000 amphipods per m3. We found that 70 percent of shallow lakes and wetlands contained total phosphorus exceeding 50 ”g/L, but the majority still existed in a clear-water state with abundant submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV). Regression models revealed few distinct relationships between water chemistry and amphipods, but SAV abundance was negatively correlated with water depth and turbidity. Landscape-level analyses indicated that both H. azteca and G. lacustris can persist and occasionally thrive across a gradient of agricultural intensity. Even so, H. azteca density, SAV abundance, and SAV species richness was positively correlated with riparian buffer, supporting the consideration of how upland management strategies impact aquatic systems in modified landscapes. We’ll continue studying direct and indirect effects of abiotic conditions on amphipods and are investigating insecticide contamination to better quantify impacts of anthropogenic stressors.
Tags: Ecology, Invertebrate, Wetland
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