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Poster Abstracts
Posters will be featured in a virtual “Poster Gallery” which will include a PDF as well as audio recording by the primary author. There will also be a designated Poster Session on Monday evening and each poster author will be available in their own Video Chat room for live interaction and Q&A.

Poster abstracts are available below to review in advance. Select a track from the list below to jump to the abstracts within that category.
General Fisheries
Diet Analysis of Lake St. Clair Yellow Perch
Track: General Fisheries
Authors: Travis Taylor, Central Michigan University; Tracy Galarowicz, Central Michigan University; Andrew Briggs, Lake St. Clair Fisheries Research Station
Student or Professional: Student-Graduate
Abstract: Yellow perch (Perca flavescens) are an extremely important sportfish in the Great Lakes region. To accurately support Yellow Perch populations, fisheries managers need to understand feeding, growth, and recruitment patterns. Over the past few decades, the length-at-age of Yellow Perch in Lake St. Clair has been decreasing, which could be the result of food web changes resulting from the introduction of invasive species like Dreissenid mussels. However, Yellow Perch in surrounding waters of the Great Lakes and affected by similar food web changes are not exhibiting the same reduced growth patterns.  Our goal was to quantify and understand the decrease in growth of Yellow Perch in Lake St. Clair. We evaluated Yellow Perch growth and diets among the sites in Lake St. Clair, Lake Erie, and Saginaw Bay, Lake Huron. In addition, we compared growth and diets of Lake St. Clair Yellow Perch to historical data collected in the early 1990’s, shortly after the invasion of Dreissenid mussels in the lake. There is a difference in diets between the three bodies of water. There are many cases of empty stomachs as well from Lake St. Clair perch. Future management of Yellow Perch in Lake St. Clair can build on the better understanding of Yellow Perch growth in the changing system.
Tags: Freshwater Fish-Other, Great Lakes
Emergence and Drift Strategies of Larval Fish in Vicinity of the St. Marys Rapids
Track: General Fisheries
Authors: Faith VanDrunen, Northern Michigan University; Brandon Gerig, Northern Michigan University; Ed Roseman, USGS Great Lakes Science Center; Robin DeBruyne, USGS Great Lakes Science Center; Chris Olds, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Student or Professional: Student-Graduate
Abstract: The St Marys River, which connects Lake Superior to Lake Huron, supports a diverse assemblage of ecologically and economically important fish species. However, little contemporary information is known about fish production in the St. Marys River Rapids, where anthropogenic activities including shipping, hydropower generation, and hydrologic regulation through compensating works. In this study, we examined the pattern of larval fish emergence and diel drift times of larval fish at 16 locations near the St. Marys River Rapids and Little Rapids from paired bongo nets. Larvae were identified in the laboratory using dichotomous keys and QA/QC following established lab protocols. Preliminary analysis suggests high abundance of rainbow smelt (Osmerus mordax) in the St. Marys River with spawning and emergence periods varying according to species. The five most abundant species were rainbow smelt (Osmerus mordax), trout perch (Percopsis omiscomaycus), burbot (Lota lota), cyprinds (Cyprinidae), and yellow perch (Perca flavescens). Burbot were the earliest species to emerge (mid-May), experienced the earliest peak abundance (mid-June), and were captured over the greatest timespan at 15 weeks. Yellow perch were collected for the shortest drift window at 7 weeks. Cyprinids, trout perch, and rainbow smelt had observed abundance peaks during the middle to end of July. Larvae were collected in the highest abundance at night (2000 – 0700 hours). Future research will seek to determine how larval drift phenology interacts with hydrologic conditions to influence fish production.
Tags: Fisheries Techniques, Freshwater Fish-Other, River/Stream
Exploring Invasive Carp Reproduction in Tributaries of Illinois Rivers
Track: General Fisheries
Authors: Adam Landry, Eden Effert-Fanta, David Yff, Cassi Moody-Carpenter, Robert E Colombo - Eastern Illinois University
Student or Professional: Student-Graduate
Abstract: Bigheaded carp (Hypopthyalmichthys sp.) are a genus of invasive Asian Carp that have spread throughout the rivers of the Midwest and threaten the health of native ecosystems. They compete with native species for resources and in some rivers make up over sixty percent of the fish biomass. Bigheaded carp reproduction has been researched in large rivers such as the Mississippi and in some large tributary rivers. However, there is insufficient scientific literature on bigheaded carp reproduction in small rivers despite the prevalence of bigheaded carp adults, larvae and eggs in many of these systems. Our goal is to fill this gap in the literature by researching bigheaded carp reproduction in tributaries of the Wabash and Illinois Rivers. We have been collecting data on the abundance of bigheaded carp larvae and eggs in six tributaries over the past four years. This data shows differences in bigheaded carp reproductive output between tributaries. The next phase in our research will be to examine the gonadosomatic index (GSI) and abundance of adult bigheaded carp between tributaries. We will compare this data to the abundance of bigheaded carp eggs and larvae from the respective tributaries. Lastly, we will look at potential correlations between parameters such as discharge, temperature, and food availability and indicators of bigheaded carp reproduction. We expect increased discharge, increased food availability and warmer temperatures to correlate with higher abundance of eggs, larvae and adults. Understanding the use of tributaries for reproduction by bigheaded carp is important in understanding the potential of these systems to increase basin-wide populations in the larger mainstem rivers. Furthermore, with the potential for bigheaded carp to invade the Great Lakes drainage, it is important to understand what parameters may facilitate bigheaded carp reproduction in small rivers similar in size to the rivers characteristic of the Great Lakes drainage.
Tags: Ecology, Exotic/Invasive Species, Freshwater Fish-Other, River/Stream
Fishtracks: Asian Carp Related Telemetry Tools and Data Management
Track: General Fisheries
Authors: Travis Harrison, Brent Knights, Marybeth Brey, James Duncker, Enrika Hlavacek - U.S. Geological Survey
Student or Professional: Professional
Abstract: Environmental managers and researchers are interested in data standardization, archiving, sharing, quality assurance, visualization and analysis of Asian carp related telemetry data. Fishtracks is a web application that was developed to meet those objectives by storing, processing, serving and analyzing the collected multi-agency telemetry data. The application provides interfaces for uploading and downloading standardized data that is validated before import, processed during import, and exported as a cleaned consistent dataset. Fishtracks manages the aggregated heterogenous dataset as a spatiotemporal network of receivers and transmitters that represent fish movement histories. The aggregated movement histories are accessible to researchers and Fishtracks for creating visualizations and analyses from combined efforts that are used to inform management. There are many other benefits provided by Fishtracks including visual receiver tracking, data provenance, a REST application programming interface, R package, etc. Here we go into detail on what we did, how we did it, and the challenges involved in fulfilling these objectives for a collaborative multi-year effort.
Tags: Technology/Geographic Information Systems
Habitat Use by Lake Sturgeon (Acipenser fulvescens) Using Acoustics and Stable Isotopes
Track: General Fisheries
Authors: Morgann Gordon, ORAU NSSC/U.S. EPA; Kayden Estep, Idaho Fish and Game Department; Dan Wilfond, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources; Justin VanDeHey, University of Wisconsin - Steven's Point; Joel Hoffman, U.S. EPA
Student or Professional: Professional
Abstract: Lake Sturgeon are a long-lived, migratory fish species native to the Great Lakes region that were extirpated from the St. Louis River during the early 1900s. Beginning in the 1980s, Minnesota and Wisconsin DNRs along with the Fond du Lac tribe, initiated intensive restocking efforts in the lower river.  Despite these intensive efforts, there has been only limited evidence for successful natural reproduction. Understanding habitat use by Lake Sturgeon is an important step to address the potential environmental factors, including legacy contaminants, that are potentially limiting the recovery of Lake Sturgeon in the lower St. Louis River. Therefore, our goal was to use both physical (acoustic tags) and chemical (carbon and nitrogen stable isotopes) tags to characterize habitat use and movements of Lake Sturgeon. Both types of tags revealed strong variations among individuals in habitat use, including some fish exhibiting near exclusive use of Lake Superior, harbor, and riverine habitats, as well as other fish using different combinations of these three habitats. Notably, we did not find a significant correlation between habitat use as characterized by either method, suggesting that the fish readily switch habitats, or that feeding areas and residency areas are independent and distinct, or some combination of both. Further decoupling of these tracking methods will aid resource managers determine how restoration of the St. Louis River will affect the population and contribute to recovery.
Tags: Management, Nutrition, Restoration/Enhancement
Impacts of Dam Removal on the Spread of Invasive Silver Carp in the Vermillion River
Track: General Fisheries
Authors: Adam Jones, Eastern Illinois University; David Yff, Eastern Illinois University; Cassi Moody-Carpenter, Eastern Illinois University; Eden Effert-Fanta, Eastern Illinois University; Trent Thomas, Illinois Department of Natural Resources; Robert E. Colombo, Eastern Illinois University
Student or Professional: Student-Graduate
Abstract: Dams have become an integral component of society by providing an abundant amount of resources for everyday life. They generate hydroelectricity, transportation, recreation and much more. However, it is well established that dams create various detrimental effects to the ecology of rivers. These consequences have led the push for dam removal in various lotic systems. In this project we examine a possible negative impact of dam removal. Our goal is to understand how the removal of the Danville dam on the Vermillion River (Danville, Illinois) has impacted the spread of the invasive Silver Carp (Hypophthalmichthys moltrix). We expected that the removal of the dam would allow increased access throughout the river for carp, thus expanding their range and potentially increasing their condition due to increased access to available resources in previously inaccessible locations. We sampled 6 sites located on the Vermillion River twice a year for several years prior to removal of the dam, as well as several years after dam removal (from 2012 to present). Fish were collected via electrofishing and subsequently measured, weighed and identified. We then compared pre and post dam removal abundance and range by using CPUE. In addition, we compared the condition of carp by calculating relative weight. We found that the abundance of Silver Carp increased, and post dam removal and the range of carp shifted post dam removal. Carp were originally only found in downstream sites; however, when the dams were removed, they were present primarily in upstream sites. Condition also increased post removal, likely due to increased access to resources. These findings not only have the potential to further inform decisions on future dam removal disputes, but they also offer an opportunity to increase our understanding of Silver Carp spread and aid in the discovery of possible species control tactics.
Tags: Exotic/Invasive Species, Population Dynamics, River/Stream
Life History Characteristics of Goldeye (Hiodon alosoides) in Milford Reservoir, Kansas
Track: General Fisheries
Authors: Brett T. Miller, Ernesto Flores, Ben C. Neely - Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism
Student or Professional: Professional
Abstract: Goldeye (Hiodon alosoides) are native through much of Canada and the Mississippi River drainage in the United States. Their life history characteristics have been described in northern populations, but there is a paucity of information about remnant populations caused by impoundment of rivers. Milford Reservoir, Kansas, impounds the Republican River and harbors a self-sustaining, although declining, population of Goldeye. The objectives of this study were to describe size structure, age, growth, and body condition of this remnant population. Goldeye lengths ranged from 235-431 mm with a mean length of 290 (±4.5 SE) mm. The estimated maximum observed age for goldeye was 8; however, age-1 goldeye were the most abundant year-class collected accounting for 80% of sampled fish. A von Bertalanffy growth model was fit to back-calculated length at annulus formation with parameter estimates: L8 = 402 mm, K = 0.93, and t0 = 0.29. Linear models of weight at length suggested females acquired more mass per unit of length than males (ANCOVA, F = 9.63, P < 0.001). Overall, this study provides cursory knowledge of a remnant Goldeye population in a midwestern impoundment. These results can be applied to promote better understanding of their ecological role in Milford Reservoir, Kansas, and other midwestern impoundments with remnant populations.
Tags: Fisheries Techniques, Freshwater Fish-Other, Inland Lake/Reservoir
Natural Reproduction of Walleye Populations in Southern Minnesota Lakes
Track: General Fisheries
Authors: Askhan Shametov, Department of Fisheries Wildlife and Conservation Biology, University of Minnesota; Loren M Miller, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, St. Paul, Minnesota and Department of Fisheries, Wildlife & Conservation Biology, University of Minnesota
Student or Professional: Student-Graduate
Abstract: Fishery managers have stocked Walleye (Sander vitreus) into many southern Minnesota lakes because natural reproduction is thought to be insufficient to support desired fisheries. Stocked fry were derived mostly from several large spawning runs in northern Minnesota. Walleye are native to lakes in the Cannon River system of southeastern Minnesota while populations were introduced in many southwestern lakes. In the Cannon system, stocking may impact the genetic integrity and performance of locally-adapted populations. In introduced populations, a better-adapted strain might enhance natural reproduction and reduce the reliance on stocking. An ongoing study is comparing the performance of Walleye from local and northern Minnesota strains stocked in southern Minnesota lakes. Here, we complement this study by evaluating the contribution and ancestral composition of natural reproduction in the study populations. We used 14 microsatellite loci data to determine the ancestry of unmarked, and therefore naturally-produced, fish. Available genetic data on possible source populations were used to increase the accuracy of Bayesian ancestry estimates in STRUCTURE software. Natural reproduction contributed a higher proportion of the native populations in lakes of the Cannon River system (median 71%) than of four introduced populations in southwestern Minnesota (median 23%). The proportion of native ancestry (designated Lower Mississippi Strain: LMS) was high ( >80%) in the Cannon system for spawning adults, adults in summer surveys and juveniles, despite decades of stocking with multiple northern strains. Southwestern populations, with no known LMS stocking until recently, had reproductive contributions by several northern strains and little LMS ancestry. In the Cannon system, reduced stocking or the use of LMS strain will help maintain persisting high native ancestry. In introduced southwestern populations, northern strains can contribute but ongoing LMS stocking will test whether this strain can better enhance natural reproduction.
Tags: Freshwater Fish-Walleye, Genetics-Fish
Validation of Daily Ring Formation in Otoliths of Known-Age Age-0 Shoal Bass Micropterus Cataractae
Track: General Fisheries
Authors: AnaSara Kipp, University of Wisconsin- Stevens Point; Steven M. Sammons, Auburn University
Student or Professional: Student-Graduate
Abstract: Shoal Bass are native to the Apalachicola river basin drainage, but their populations have recently experienced a decline due to habitat destruction, population fragmentation, and hybridization with other black bass species. Little is known about the early life history of this species. Daily ring counts on otoliths have been used in many studies to estimate spawning times and early growth history of many species, but validation of daily ring formation is often not conducted. The objectives of this research is to validate the formation of daily rings in known-age Shoal Bass otoliths, analyze bias between readers, and examine the accuracy of daily ring counts. Shoal Bass were hatched and raised at the Go Fish Education Center in Perry, Georgia. Fish were collected at different ages, ranging from ten days to ninety days post swim-up. Twelve sample groups were collected and each sample contained two to five fish. Otoliths were prepared using standard methods and read independently by two readers. The relation between the mean ring count and known age of the fish will be analyzed using linear regression. Sample sizes were limited due to disease outbreaks, and the study may be repeated in future years if deemed necessary.
Tags: Fisheries Techniques, Freshwater Fish-Bass
 
General Wildlife
A Comparison of During- and Post-flood Nutrient Composition and Periphyton Abundance in the Niobrara River
Track: General Wildlife
Authors: Matthew Chen, University of Nebraska at Lincoln School of Natural Resources; Jessica Corman, University of Nebraska at Lincoln School of Natural Resources
Student or Professional: Student-Undergrad
Abstract: The Niobrara River is classified as a National Scenic River by the National Parks Service. This means that the river is relatively free-flowing and undisturbed. In the spring of 2019, a major rain-on-snow event caused widespread flooding across the state of Nebraska, including the Niobrara River basin. From early spring well into the late fall of 2020 water levels on the Niobrara remained significantly above historic averages. We started sampling for nutrient chemistry and benthic periphyton abundance/density in the early summer of 2019 with the intent to take a snapshot of the health of the river during a flood event. As water levels returned to normal, we set out with the same sampling protocols in order to collect data on the river one year removed from the flood event. The main goal of our project has been to assess the resilience of the Niobrara River and to understand any lasting effects of a major flood event. Our data has suggested significant increases in benthic periphyton density in both sandy and rock dominated areas of the river and nutrient concentrations have risen similarly, but nutrient loads have remained relatively unchanged.
Tags: Climate, Ecology, Habitat
A Thirteen Year Study of Wintering Birds in Sandhill Wildlife Area, Wisconsin
Track: General Wildlife
Authors: Mackenzie Whitney; Jason Riddle - UWSP
Student or Professional: Student-Undergrad
Abstract: Many wintering bird species occupy the Sandhill Wildlife Area (SHWA) in Babcock, Wisconsin. The southwest corner of SHWA is composed of oak (Quercus spp.) and aspen (Populus spp.) ranging in age from 15 to 75 years. The University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point’s student chapter of The Wildlife Society has sponsored a student woodpecker research project from 2007-2020 at SHWA. Hairy (Picoides villosus), downy (P. pubescens), and red-bellied woodpeckers (Melanerpes carolinus), as well as white-breasted nuthatches (Sitta carolinensis), have been captured to investigate home range size during the winter months. These birds are trapped in a 31.5 hectare grid of wire tree traps and caught between January and March annually. These birds are then tagged with a United States Geological Survey (USGS) aluminum band. Home ranges were determined using the Minimum Convex Polygon estimator in ArcGIS. Recapturing these birds creates an opportunity to observe the fluctuations in individual home range size, weight, and fidelity over an extended period of time.
Tags: Avian
American Kestrel, but Not Red-tailed Hawk, Observations Indicate a Bias Toward the Roadway
Track: General Wildlife
Authors: Thomas L Freeman, University of Nebraska at Kearney; Casey W Schoenebeck, Minnesota Department of natural Resources
Student or Professional: Professional
Abstract: Raptor researchers frequently use road counts as a proxy for bird abundance. However, the robustness of the correlation between road counts and direct estimates of bird density has received little attention, and few studies directly evaluating road bias by diurnal raptors have been reported. We conducted road counts (1600 km sampled) and 243 fixed-radius circle plots to create paired daily indexes and daily population density estimates to analyze the relationship between these abundance measures for red-tailed hawks and American kestrels in south-central Nebraska. Red-tailed hawk road counts ranged from 17 to 92 birds per 1000 km traveled and were linearly related (R=0.60, F=4.7, df=1, P=0.06) to population density which ranged from 0.04 to 0.17 birds per square km. American kestrel road counts ranged from 0 to 34 birds per 1000 km traveled, and population density estimates ranged from 0 to 0.06 birds per square km. There was no significant correlation (R=0.38, F=1.5, df=1, P=0.25) between the two abundance measures for American kestrel. Behavioral observations suggest that American kestrels likely exhibit a strong attraction to the roadway. Comparison of the perpendicular distance from the roadway when a bird was observed during a road count indicated that American kestrels are distributed closer to the road (17.6 ± 7.6 m) compared to red-tailed hawk (169.4 ± 169.4 m), and American kestrels are statistically more likely to be perched on power lines (67%) when observed which correlates well with a bias toward the roadway. These data suggests road counts are a valid estimator of red-tailed hawk abundance over the landscape while road counts potentially over-sample American kestrel in the in the agricultural landscape of south central Nebraska.
Tags: Avian, Behavior, Survey Methods
Application of an eDNA Technology for Improving the Monitoring Efficacy of a Freshwater Mussel, Lampsilis siliquoidea (fatmucket), in a Mussel Restoration Program at Indiana Dunes National Park
Track: General Wildlife
Authors: Meredith Nevers, Muruleedhara Byappanahalli, Katarzyna Przybyla-Kelly, Katy Klymus, Aaron Aunins - U.S. Geological Survey; Charles Morris, Indiana Dunes National Park
Student or Professional: Professional
Abstract: Native unionid mussels have long been used as an index of biological integrity and overall health of aquatic habitats. However, these mussels are among the most threatened biota in the nation, including the waterways (streams, rivers) in the Great Lakes basin. The main objective of the current work was to evaluate the application of an eDNA technology for monitoring a native unionid mussel species, Lampsilis siliquoidea (fatmucket), currently being restored in selected waterways in Indiana. The study was conducted in the Little Calumet River, Indiana Dunes National Park, where fat fatmucket is believed to be extirpated. A population of fatmucket (n = 277) was transported from the Iroquois River (a tributary of the Kankakee River) to the NPS lab for overnight purging. The mussels were  then transferred into 4 enclosures (cages) placed in the Little Calumet River for a few days to let mussels to adapt to the new environment; finally, the mussels were moved to their permanent habitat, located within the eastern branch of the Little Calumet River, in early August. Throughout this transition period, water and sediment samples were collected for eDNA analysis. Over the next 90 days, triplicate water and sediment samples were collected on 10 occasions from the mussel bed and at 20, 50, and 1200 m (downstream from the bed) to determine the spatio-temporal distribution of the fatmucket eDNA marker. DNA was extracted from water and sediment samples using Qiagen’s DNeasy Blood and Tissue kit. The fatmucket eDNA marker (targeting MT-ND1 gene) was determined in water and sediment samples using a new qPCR method developed for this study. As unionid mussels are morphologically cryptic in their natural habitat, DNA-based methods, such as the one developed and validated in this study, greatly complement the traditional mussel surveys in population assessment programs.
Tags: Restoration/Enhancement, River/Stream, Threatened and Endangered Species
Available or Preferred? Bumble Bee Floral Resource Selection Relative to Floral Resource Availability in Northern Illinois Prairies
Track: General Wildlife
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: Bumble bee species (Bombus Latreille) are experiencing global declines, and there is increased interest in their conservation. Unlike many native bee species, bumble bees are generalist pollinators and visit multiple floral species over an active season. Nonetheless, bumble bees show preferences for specific flowering species, especially when foraging pollen to feed offspring. Bumble bee species may exhibit niche separation and overlap, and floral preferences can vary depending on the species. Effective pollinator-targeted conservation and restoration practices should rely on sustaining or increasing the number of nectar and pollen-bearing plants preferred by multiple bumble bee species. Here we present an analysis of floral selection choices (as determined at the moment of capture on the transect) relative to floral availability (as determined by quadrat and visual scan surveys of blooming plants on the transect on day of bee capture). We sampled ~1000 bumble bees across three different sites in McHenry County, IL, during June-August 2019. We present for each bumble bee species what plant species were preferred beyond what was expected based on availability.
Tags: Conservation Biology, Invertebrate, Threatened and Endangered Species
Behavior of Rehabilitated Sloths in a Soft-Release Enclosure
Track: General Wildlife
Authors: Chelsea Morton, Cooperative Wildlife Research Laboratory, Department of Forestry Southern Illinois University; Clayton Nielsen, Cooperative Wildlife Research Laboratory, Department of Forestry Southern Illinois University; Andrew Carver,Cooperative Wildlife Research Laboratory, Department of Forestry Southern Illinois University; Nestor Correa, Pan-American Conservation Association; Yiscel Yanguez, Pan-American Conservation Association
Student or Professional: Student-Graduate
Abstract: Sloths (Bradypus spp. and Choloepus spp.) are commonly admitted to wildlife rescue centers throughout Latin America.  Many sloths are rescued as orphans and require long-term care in captivity until they are considered suitable for release.  Soft release is considered beneficial for hand-reared individuals, providing a gradual transition from captivity to the wild.  We studied the behavior of Hoffmann’s two-toed sloths (C. hoffmanni) that were hand-reared in captivity and monitored while in a soft-release enclosure prior to release in Soberanía National Park, Panamá.  Ten sloths were processed in 2 groups, with each group spending 3 months in an outdoor 500-m2 enclosure.  The soft-release area was enclosed by a 1.40 m concrete wall with a predator fence surrounding the perimeter.  Behavioral observations were conducted in morning and evening sessions during November 2019-January 2020 and April-June 2020, resulting in 556 hours of observations.  Focal sampling with continuous recording was used to measure true frequencies and durations across 5 main activities: moving, feeding, resting, grooming and alert.  A nonparametric Kruskal-Wallis one-way analysis of variance was used to compare overall activity budgets across individuals and a Mann-Whitney test was used to compare activity budgets between wet and dry seasons. To assess the relationship between time spent in each activity and progression of time spent in the soft-release enclosure, a one-way analysis of variance was used to contrast differences between the first, second, and third month of observations.  We observed variation in activity budgets between individuals of both groups of sloths.  However, resting was a main activity for morning sessions and sloths were observed to become more active during evening sessions, indicating primarily nocturnal activity patterns.  These data show how the behavioral adaptations of captive-raised sloths in soft release can be useful in assessing the species’ suitability for release following long-term rehabilitation.
Tags: Behavior, Conservation Biology, Wildlife Techniques
Cannibalism in Bears: A Review and Meta-Analyses
Track: General Wildlife
Authors: Emmarie P. Alexander, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Department of Animal Sciences; Maximilian L. Allen, Illinois Natural History Survey, University of Illinois; Shinsuke Koike, Institute of Global Innovation Research, Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology, Institute of Agriculture, Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology
Student or Professional: Student-Undergrad
Abstract: Common food of bears includes small ungulates, spawning fish, mast crops, berries, and insects. To forage optimally, bears must consume substantial quantities of food at one location to minimize the cost of energy expenditure. While rare for some species, bears may also scavenge and exploit large prey carcasses killed by other carnivores. Another less frequent strategy is cannibalism (defined as the killing and consumption of a conspecific). This foraging strategy is not thoroughly understood in bears, but it has been suggested that cannibalism generally allows animals to increase their fitness by removing a competitor and creating a food resource. We observed a 10-year-old female cannibal partially consuming a 3-year-old subadult during a study of Asiatic black bears (Ursus thibetanus) in Japan and wanted to understand the context of this infrequent foraging tactic. We performed a systematic literature review and meta-analysis of previous scientific literature. We considered five types of cannibalism: conspecific strife (the killing and consumption of adult competitors), infanticide (the killing and eating of dependent young by conspecifics), filicide (the killing and eating of dependent young by parents), siblicide (the killing and eating of siblings), and scavenging (the eating of a conspecific that is already dead). We found 33 articles that documented 172 accounts of cannibalism among four species: American Black Bear (Ursus americanus), Asiatic Black Bear, Brown Bear (Ursus arctos), and Polar Bear (Ursus maritimus). The most documented type of cannibalism across species was infanticide (55 incidents), with filicide being the least documented (9 incidents). Cannibalism incidents occurred most in polar bears, whereas incidents were less documented in Asiatic black bears. These findings suggest that frequencies and patterns of cannibalism vary within the genus; thus, characterizing the species differences may allow for identifying how bears alter their diet in response to change in prey availability to forage optimally.
Tags: Behavior, Ecology, Mammal
Determination of Male and Female Eastern Wild Turkey Activity Levels with Trail Cameras in Wisconsin
Track: General Wildlife
Authors: Shelby Truckenbrod, Undergraduate Research Fellow, Wildlife Ecology and Management, University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point; Hannah Butkiewicz, Graduate Research Assistant, Wildlife Ecology and Management, University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point; Christopher Pollentier, Upland Game Bird Research Scientist, Office of Applied Science, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources; Jennifer Stenglein, Quantitative Research Scientist, Office of Applied Science, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources; Jason Riddle, Professor of Wildlife Ecology, University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point
Student or Professional: Student-Undergrad
Abstract: The Eastern Wild Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo silvestris) was successfully reintroduced to Wisconsin in the 1970s. Populations are currently monitored through harvest surveys, brood surveys, and trail cameras. For this study, we obtained photos from trail cameras that were deployed in 2015 at private land locations throughout Wisconsin through the Snapshot Wisconsin program. We classified photos of wild turkeys from 2016 to 2019 according to sex. Our objective was to determine male and female wild turkey activity levels between April and August in two landscape types, forest (predominately deciduous, coniferous, and mixed forest cover types) and open (primarily agricultural, grassland, and pasture cover types). We evaluated “activity level,” which we defined as the number of triggers/camera/unit time. We hypothesize that (1) female wild turkey activity levels will be higher in open landscapes in July and August compared to April through June, (2) male activity levels will be higher than females in April through June, (3) male and female activity levels will be higher during daylight hours in forested landscapes, and (4) male and female activity levels will be higher during dawn and dusk hours in open landscapes. Observing trends in activity through long-term trail camera data can aid in better understanding wild turkey behavior in space and time.
Tags: Avian, Hunting, Survey Methods
Determining Adult Wild Turkey Sex Ratios in Wisconsin Using Snapshot Wisconsin Trail Camera Images
Track: General Wildlife
Authors: Hannah Butkiewicz, Graduate Research Assistant, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point; Shelby Truckenbrod, Undergraduate Research Fellow, Wildlife Ecology and Management, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point; Jason Riddle, Professor of Wildlife Ecology, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point; Jennifer Stenglein, Quantitative Research Scientist, Office of Applied Science, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources; Christopher Pollentier, Upland Game Bird Research Scientist, Office of Applied Science, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
Student or Professional: Student-Graduate
Abstract: The eastern wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo silvestris) is an important ecological and economic upland game bird species in Wisconsin and throughout their range. Snapshot Wisconsin provides a novel opportunity to develop methods for monitoring wild turkeys utilizing trail camera data. Our objective was to determine the adult sex ratio of wild turkeys captured on cameras across Wisconsin between the months of April and August of 2016-2019. We hypothesize that the adult sex ratio will reflect ratios obtained through more traditional field methods such as count-based surveys or physical trapping efforts. Camera data has the potential to contribute basic demographic knowledge of this important species remotely and at larger landscape levels that would otherwise be impractical with some traditional field-based methods.
Tags: Avian, Hunting, Survey Methods
Differential Timing of Migrating Northern Saw-Whet Owls (Aegolius acadicus) Based on Age Categories
Track: General Wildlife
Authors: Carter Freymiller; Michaela Meehl; 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
Evaluation of Direct and Contaminant-associated Effects of Microplastic Exposure on the Competitive Behavior of Fish
Track: General Wildlife
Authors: Ally Swank; Jessica Ward - Ball State University
Student or Professional: Student-Undergrad
Abstract: Microplastics (MPs) are globally ubiquitous in aquatic environments and have become a critical environmental issue in recent years due to their adverse impacts on the physiology, reproduction, and survival of aquatic biota. However, exposure to MPs also has potential to induce sub-lethal behavioral changes that can affect individual fitness. For example, many plastics additives introduced during the manufacture of MPs are known endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) that mimic the action of natural hormones and alter sexual and competitive behavior and impair mating success in fish. Emerging evidence also suggests that such chemicals could be leached into the bodies of aquatic organisms after ingestion. More importantly, EDCs and other aquatic contaminants may also adhere to MPs in the environment, which can then serve as transport vectors for these compounds. To date, no prior research has investigated the independent or faciliatory effects of microplastics and associated contaminants on the reproductive behavior of fish. In this study, we are evaluating the significance of MPs in the environment for fish populations and aquatic communities. The central hypothesis of the project is that exposure to MPs in urban-impacted freshwater systems alters intraspecific reproductive interactions and reduces the mating success of fish. To test this hypothesis, we are evaluating the biological effects of virgin MP particles, and those exposed in a common synthetic estrogen solution, on dominance and territorial acquisition in a freshwater fish, Pimephales promelas. These results will fill critical gaps in knowledge regarding the direct and indirect (vector-borne) effects of MPs on the behavior of aquatic vertebrates and provide new information on the effects of MPs in freshwater systems.
Tags: Behavior, Conservation Biology, Freshwater Fish-Other
Genetic Introgression and Ancestry of Wild and Farm-Bred Red Foxes in North America and Eurasia
Track: General Wildlife
Authors: Emmarie P. Alexander, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Department of Animal Sciences; Halie M. Rando, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Department of Animal Sciences, Perelman School of Medicine - University of Pennsylvania; Jennifer L. Johnson, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Department of Animal Sciences; Anna V. Kukekova, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Department of Animal Sciences
Student or Professional: Student-Undergrad
Abstract: The red fox (Vulpes vulpes) has the widest geographical range of any wild, terrestrial mammal, adjusting to live in captivity and cities. Mitochondrial DNA analyses, used to trace maternal lineage, suggest that farm-bred fox populations originated in eastern Canada. Moreover, these analyses found that urban foxes, but not rural, share maternal ancestry with captive foxes. To thoroughly characterize genome wide patterns of diversity, the paternally inherited Y- chromosome must also be analyzed. In this study, we genotyped 181 foxes using a panel of 13 microsatellite markers. The haplotypes identified were compared across wild foxes in rural and urban areas as well as farm-bred populations across North America and Eurasia. This comparative analysis of the Y-chromosome found possible signs of genetic introgression from farm-bred foxes into wild populations and signs of shared ancestry among all farm populations with wild Canadian foxes. Utilizing maternally and paternally inherited DNA is critical in furthering the present knowledge of the genetic variation, distribution, and relatedness of red fox populations. These findings support the red fox as a viable mammalian model to study genome-wide adaptations to anthropogenic change.
Tags: Genetics-Wildlife, Mammal, Urban Wildlife
Hierarchical Modeling of Habitat Influences on Species Richness and Occupancy of Forest Wildlife
Track: General Wildlife
Authors: Justin J. Remmers, Cooperative Wildlife Research Laboratory, Southern Illinois University; Clayton K. Nielsen, Cooperative Wildlife Research Laboratory, Southern Illinois University; Damon B. Lesmeister, U.S. Forest Service
Student or Professional: Student-Graduate
Abstract: Habitat is an important factor affecting forest wildlife distributions. Midwestern temperate forests offer diverse landscapes and ecosystems to explore the effects of habitat on wildlife; however, research across large geographic regions in temperate forests incorporating a wide array of habitat characteristics and multiple taxonomic groups remains scarce.  To address this gap in the literature, we conducted camera-trapping surveys and used occupancy modeling to (1) identify areas of high biodiversity and (2) identify habitat characteristics associated with species richness across a 16,058-km2 region of southern Illinois, USA.  During January-April 2008-2010, we deployed 3-4 cameras at 357 forested sites (n=1,188 total camera locations).  Thirty-three variables were measured at each site and encompassed both microhabitat (e.g., total basal area, stem density, coarse woody debris) and macrohabitat (e.g., landcover type, patch size).  We collected >100,000 unique photographic captures of endothermic animals and observed 29 different wildlife species or taxonomic groups.  We applied 2 novel occupancy modeling approaches using multi-species, hierarchical models to these data; model 1 was a fixed-effects community occupancy model and model 2 was a multi-season, multi-species occupancy model with a binary latent state combination with a Royle-Nichols multi-season species occupancy model.  The number of observed species detected at a site ranged from 4.0-12.0, and the mean number of observed species at a site was 7.8 ± 3.3 (SD).  Mean detection probabilities ranged from 0.049 ± 0.095 for great blue herons (Andrea herodias) to 0.930 ± 0.008 for raccoons (Procyon lotor). Mean occupancy probabilities ranged from 0.009 ± 0.011 for American beaver (Castor canadensis) to 0.991 ± 0.005 for white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus).  Species richness values generally decreased as percentage of urbanized land increased across the study area, indicating negative effects of urbanization on forest wildlife.  Wildlife managers can use this information to further understand the role of urbanization in forested landscapes.
Tags: Forest, Habitat
Home Range Habitat Composition of Bobcats in Central Illinois
Track: General Wildlife
Authors: Hayden D. Wolfe, Western Illinois University; Tyler J. Stratman, Western Illinois University; Robert W. Klaver, U. S. Geological Survey Iowa Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit; Christopher N. Jacques, Western Illinois University
Student or Professional: Student-Graduate
Abstract: Illinois is heavily comprised of agricultural development that has encroached on or heavily fragments forested habitats suitable for bobcat activities.  This research is focused on examining effects of habitat factors on bobcat home range metrics in fragmented landscape throughout central Illinois.  In order to effectively manage bobcats, it is important to understand this relationship.  Across 6 counties we captured and collared 59 bobcats (n = 34 males, n = 25 females) with GPS or VHF collars during winter capture seasons (i.e., November through March) every year from 2016 to 2020.  We will estimate home range size of all individuals with >30 location fixes.  Using Program R and an adaptive kernel estimator we will use a 95% utilization distribution (UD) to estimate home ranges and a 50% UD to estimate core areas.  We will then create home range circular analysis regions using ArcGIS and superimpose these regions over 2016 National Land Cover Data.  Doing so allows us to calculate the habitat composition for those regions and thereby model habitat factors that affect home range metrics.  Preliminary results of our analyses will be presented at the conference.  Results from this research will identify home range patterns and help inform habitat management efforts that facilitate the coexistence of bobcats and people across the state.
Tags: Other - Home Range
Influence of Hard Mast Abundance on Wisconsin's Black Bear Harvest
Track: General Wildlife
Authors: Nathan Kluge, University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point; Cady Sartini, University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point
Student or Professional: Student-Graduate
Abstract: Wisconsin’s black bear (Ursus americanus) population provides a diverse hunting experience, producing some of the largest bear harvest numbers in the United States. Hunter success can be dictated by different factors including bear population densities, harvest method, and fluctuations in annual natural food abundance. Hard mast, such as acorns, makes up a large portion of black bear diets throughout the state and the abundance of mast can alter the relative harvest vulnerability of bear from year to year. The objectives of this study are to determine if (1) the production of hard mast is related to Wisconsin’s black bear harvest and (2) if relationships differ between harvest methods, sex, and age of the bear. Annual hard mast production for each species will be quantified throughout Wisconsin’s primary black bear range. Survey123, a mobile device app, will be used to record oak mast productivity at 10 randomized locations within each of the 28 counties in the study area. Each location was generated along roads that are within oak cover types, giving surveyors the greatest probability of encountering oak trees. A Likert scale of 0-3 will be used to quantify the mast productivity and species dominance at each location. A mast index will then be developed for each county and compared to harvest rates by method (bait, dogs, or other), between age classes (juveniles and adults) and sex by fitting these variables to a multiple linear regression. Understanding how mast production influences bear harvest will allow the Wisconsin DNR to better estimate annual harvest quotas for each bear management zone.
Tags: Ecology, Hunting, Wildlife Techniques
Influence of Hard Mast Production on Bait Site Visitation Frequency of Ursus americanus
Track: General Wildlife
Authors: Arthur Young; Nathan Kluge; Cady Sartini - University of Wisconsin Stevens Point
Student or Professional: Student-Undergrad
Abstract: Multiple studies have found an inverse relationship between the abundance of hard mast and the hunting success of hunting bears with bait. Even though the interaction between hard mast production and hunter success has been examined in other states, a similar study in Wisconsin is useful because of its unique combination of hunting methods and an extended baiting season. The objective of this study is to examine how hard mast production affects the frequency of bears visiting bait sites. Ten bait sites with trail cameras were installed in two central Wisconsin counties from August to October 2020. The number of minutes a bear was present each day (bear-minutes) as well as the estimated hard mast availability (hard mast score x oak cover type percentage) are being calculated for each site. Mast scores were determined by sampling ten random locations within each county for acorn abundance to create a mast index for that county. The percentage of oak cover type within a 3-mile buffer of each bait site will be calculated using ArcGIS Pro and be multiplied by the county mast score to obtain an estimate of hard mast availability around a bait site. We expect to find that as mast production decreases, the visitation rates of bears at bait sites will increase. A concurrent study being conducted by Nathan Kluge hopes to show that Wisconsin bear hunters are more successful during hard mast crop failures. We expect this study will show that hunters are more successful because a scarcity of natural food encourages bears to visit bait sites. We hope that the correlation between mast production and bait site visitation will be strong enough that an annual, regional hard mast survey can be used to help predict hunter success rates in Wisconsin counties.
Tags: Ecology, Human Dimensions, Mammal
Intoxication Cases in Passerines and Near-passerines Through Eight Years of Avian Rehabilitation in Northern Wisconsin
Track: General Wildlife
Authors: Melinda Houtman, University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point; Shelli Dubay PhD, University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point; Ashley Nilsson, Raptor Education Group, Inc.
Student or Professional: Student-Undergrad
Abstract: Insecticides are applied to millions of acres of land in the United States each year. Some organophosphate insecticides like DDT are banned in the United States due to environmental and health concerns. Many other insecticides are used liberally despite little research into their impacts on native wildlife. During the summer of 2020, staff at Raptor Education Group Inc., a wildlife rehabilitation center in Antigo, Wisconsin noticed a drastic increase in songbirds showing signs of poisoning.  While the true cause of these poisoning cases remains unknown, insecticides are suspected given the behaviors exhibited by the birds. I conducted an analysis of eight years of patient records to determine trends. Many of the songbird species examined are primarily insectivorous. When birds consume contaminated insects, poisons can bioaccumulate and eventually kill the animal. Few treatment options exist for poisoned birds once they begin showing symptoms so the best method to prevent these cases is to limit insecticide use in the environment.
Tags: Avian, Diseases/Parasites, Human Dimensions
Investigating Camera Trap Analysis Methods to Assess Ecological Influence on Species Activity at an Active Beaver Lodge in the Great Lakes Region
Track: General Wildlife
Authors: Camryn Arnstein, NOAA Hollings Scholar; Emily Kuzmick, Co-Mentor/Direct Supervisor – Coastal Training Program Coordinator Old Woman Creek National Estuarine Research Reserve; Peter Wiley, Co-Mentor - Economist NOAA Office for Coastal Management
Student or Professional: Student-Undergrad
Abstract: As climate events and patterns change in frequency and intensity, it is necessary to understand how these changes will impact the natural environment. The Phenological Species Monitoring Program at Old Woman Creek National Estuarine Research Reserve (OWC NERR) aims to track these ecological changes in the Great Lakes region by comparing the presence and activity of keystone and indicator wildlife species recorded at OWC NERR to local and regional climate data. The North American beaver (Castor canadensis) is one of the keystone species monitored as a part of this program. Beavers play a critical role in modifying the surrounding environment by building lodges, damming tributaries, and felling trees, thereby altering water dynamics and vegetation composition. North American beavers have had a sporadic presence at OWC NERR in the past, with their return in 2015 sparking interesting questions regarding habitat shifts, food web dynamics, and hydrology. Motion-sensor camera traps (i.e. trail cameras) record activity at the active beaver lodge at OWC NERR to capture beaver and secondary species presence and activity over time, throughout seasonal changes. Manually sorting and analyzing trail camera footage is time-consuming and labor-intensive, highlighting the need to implement specific software to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of data management. This project focused on selecting a trail camera software suitable for analyzing the extensive trail camera data and refining existing data analysis and communication techniques. DeerLab Trail Camera Photo Management Software© has proven to effectively organize trail camera data and assist in assessing overall activity at the lodge quickly and accurately. This software will be integrated into the long-term monitoring program’s existing protocol to facilitate understanding seasonal patterns in beaver lodge activity, communicating findings to a variety of audiences, and ultimately how climate change impacts ecological functioning at OWC NERR over time.
Tags: Climate, Great Lakes, Wildlife Techniques
Least Bittern Juvenile Movements and Habitat Use at Emiquon Preserve
Track: General Wildlife
Authors: Stephanie M. Schmidt, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Illinois Natural History Survey; Thomas J. Benson, Illinois Natural History Survey, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Auriel M. V. Fournier, Illinois Natural History Survey
Student or Professional: Student-Graduate
Abstract: Least Bitterns (Ixobrychus exilis) are secretive marsh birds that are migrants and residents of Illinois. They are a state threatened species that resides primarily in inundated cattail marsh. Emiquon Preserve is a restored wetland along the Illinois River and through water-level manipulations it produces heterogeneous habitats and is home to breeding Least Bitterns. There is limited knowledge about Least Bittern juvenile habitat use and movement before flight is attained, and this information would be beneficial for management for this species. This project aimed to understand how juvenile Least Bitterns use their habitat as they mature and how water management may impact habitat-use decisions. From June through August 2020 we hand-captured unflighted juvenile Least Bitterns at known nests with known ages. All handled birds were banded and those within an appropriate weight range were given glued-on VHF tags. Juveniles were tracked every 1-4 days through homing techniques. Once visually located, locations, percent aerial visibility, dominant vegetation type, and habitat were recorded. This study presents the relationships between age and dispersal from the nest as well as flight capability (flighted at day 29) and habitat use.
Tags: Avian, Habitat, Wetland
Mammal Abundance in Urbana, Illinois Differs from Ecologically Similar Areas
Track: General Wildlife
Authors: Laura S. Whipple, Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences, University of Illinois; Jinelle H. Sperry, Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences, University of Illinois; Maximilian L. Allen, Illinois Natural History Survey
Student or Professional: Student-Undergrad
Abstract: Large-scale wildlife research studies, such as the Snapshot USA project coordinated by the Smithsonian Institute, offer valuable information on how wildlife communities change across the United States. Such large-scale studies allow for researchers to investigate how mammal communities are affected by landscape variables, such as habitat edge and human development. In our study area of Urbana, Illinois, these two variables convergence at a fine scale, where data collection took place in small forest patches surrounded by an agricultural and exurban landscape in an area that was previously dominated by tall grass prairie. We placed 14 motion-triggered camera traps in forested areas during September and October 2019 and compared our results to deployments in ecologically similar areas. For our comparisons to ecologically similar sites, we grouped Snapshot USA 2019 deployments into a “prairie” or “forest” category based on Bailey’s Prairie and Hot Continental ecoregions. We found a species richness of 15 mammals (Mean = 9.0 ± 0.46; range = 6 - 12) across all Urbana camera sites, while other Snapshot USA sites recorded species richness ranging from 1 to 19. We found that species richness was significantly higher at Urbana sites when compared to prairie sites and that synanthropic species (eastern gray squirrel [Sciurus carolinensis]; northern raccoon [Procyon lotor]; and white-tailed deer [Odocoileus virginianus]) had higher relative abundances in Urbana than forest and prairie sites. These results indicate that the combination of two over-lapping ecoregions and the high percentage of agricultural landcover in Urbana, Illinois may be the reason for the differences seen in mammal communities between the Urbana site and other areas that should have similar communities. If the Snapshot USA project continues with large-scale sampling over many years, this dataset will be an important tool for monitoring changes in wildlife communities across the United States. 
Tags: Habitat, Mammal
Mammalian Species Richness, Activity Patterns, and Temporal Segregation in a Northern Conifer Forest
Track: General Wildlife
Authors: Ashley S. Harris, Department of Biology, Bemidji State University; Jacob M. Haus, Department of Biology, Bemidji State University
Student or Professional: Student-Undergrad
Abstract: Mammal species that exhibit spatially overlapping territories and those that share common food resources coexist through temporal segregation, allowing them to avoid conflict and thus increase probability of survival. We utilized camera traps to examine the interactions of different species present in a coniferous forest in northern Minnesota. We conducted our study in Hobson Memorial Forest, a 97-ha research forest owned by Bemidji State University in northern Minnesota. Common overstory trees include red pine (Pinus resinosa), white pine (P. strobus), and bur oak (Quercus macrocarpa). Common understory trees include beaked and American hazelnut (Corylus sp.) and a variety of dogwoods (Cornus sp.) We divided the study area into 6 equivalent grids comprised of about 16.2 ha each, with a camera placed near the center of each grid. We monitored cameras during a winter survey period (22 February – 11 April 2020) and a summer survey period (22 May – 1 September 2020). We recorded 60 detections of 8 mammal species over 264 winter period trap days, and 185 detections of 12 mammal species over 612 summer period trap days. We observed a greater number of detections and greater species richness in the summer survey relative to the winter survey. We found evidence for differences between summer and winter activity patterns for several species, including eastern gray squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis), large canids (Canis latrans and C. lupus), and white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus). White-tailed deer appeared to shift daily activity patterns temporally to avoid large carnivores in the winter, but not in the summer. We will use this data to better understand both the interactions and niche differentiation between species as well as the diversity and richness of wildlife within northern conifer forests.
Tags: Forest, Mammal
Preliminary Study into How Cover Type Adjacent to Home Range Affects Drumming Patterns in Ruffed Grouse (Bonasa umbellus) in Northern Wisconsin
Track: General Wildlife
Authors: Phillip Maguire, Senior, Wildlife Ecology And Management; Logan Cutler, Senior, Fisheries And Aquatic Sciences; Brady Roberts, Junior, Wildlife Ecology And Management; Catrina Johnson, Sophomore, Wildlife Ecology and Management; Dr. Jason Riddle, Advisor - University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point
Student or Professional: Student-Undergrad
Abstract: Ruffed Grouse (Bonasa umbellus) are an important game bird in the Great Lakes region. Males perform a unique drumming display atop fallen logs to attract females and maintain their territory throughout the spring. Drumming activity is routinely performed on the same log, facing the same direction. As a part of the UW-Stevens Point Wildlife Society, our undergraduate research project aims to evaluate drumming patterns of Ruffed Grouse in Northern Wisconsin. Telemetry was conducted between March and June of 2019. In a previous study, home range sizes and drumming log locations were identified. The analysis revealed that the majority of drumming logs were positioned within ten meters of the home range edge and drumming primarily faced out of the home range. Because of this, adjacent habitat may be affecting drumming activity. This project plans to examine the land cover types that occur in the direction of drumming efforts to identify any consistency using Locate 3.11 and ArcMap. These aspects will be analyzed within ArcMap using the land cover map of Treehaven. Using these methods, we hope to see whether male Ruffed Grouse are focusing drumming activity on particular resources or land cover types in order to attract mates or best establish a breeding territory. This information will be used to influence habitat management decisions on the Treehaven property and other Ruffed Grouse management areas.
Tags: Avian, Habitat
Redhead Parasitism and Its Effects on Canvasback Fecundity
Track: General Wildlife
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; Dr. Robert Lonsinger, South Dakota State University
Student or Professional: Student-Graduate
Abstract: Suitable habitat for nesting is limited for over-water nesting ducks (e.g., canvasbacks [Aythya valisineria]) and some species, particularly the redhead (Aythya americana), have adapted to habitat constraints by parasitizing nests of other ducks. In previous studies, >50% of canvasback nests were parasitized by redheads with an average of =3 parasitic eggs laid per nest. To further understand nest parasitism in diving ducks we tracked host and parasitic eggs of redheads and canvasbacks in southern Manitoba, Canada, throughout the 2019 and 2020 nesting seasons. We counted all eggs found in and around host nests and classified missing eggs as either lost to parasitism or depredation. We found 223 canvasback nests during the study period, 84% of which were parasitized by =1 redhead. Of the 1,311 canvasback eggs we were able to find in this study, 26% were lost due to parasitism, 36% to depredation, and 38% hatched out of canvasback nests. We found 188 redhead nests during the same period. Redhead nests hatched 1.4 redhead ducklings on average, whereas nest parasitism added an additional 1.6 hatched redhead eggs for an average of 3.0 hatched redhead ducklings per individual redhead nest. In contrast, canvasbacks lost 1.5 eggs per nest due to redhead parasitism and only hatched 2.3 eggs per nest on average. We suggest that redhead parasitism may be a factor limiting canvasback productivity on our study area and deserves further investigation.
Tags: Avian, Conservation Biology, Management
Relationships Between Biodiversity and Physicochemistry of Nine Urban Campus Ponds
Track: General Wildlife
Authors: Macioe Firsching; Audrey Lindsteadt; Anthony Rademann; Zachary Schank; Carissa Ganong - Missouri Western State University
Student or Professional: Professional
Abstract: Bioindicators, such as macroinvertebrates and zooplankton, and physicochemical parameters are common metrics of aquatic ecosystem health. We investigated relationships between these parameters in nine Missouri Western State University campus ponds that span an urbanization gradient with watershed land uses ranging from forested to heavy human use. We predicted that (1) ponds with heavily impacted watersheds would have lower biodiversity, pH, and dissolved oxygen levels and higher turbidity, conductivity, and nutrient concentrations than ponds with forested watersheds, and (2) physicochemical parameters would be significantly correlated with zooplankton and macroinvertebrate biodiversity. We quantified zooplankton biodiversity, benthic macroinvertebrate biodiversity, and water chemistry parameters May-November 2020, and here we present our results and discuss implications of watershed land use.
Tags: Ecology, Invertebrate, Urban Wildlife
Seasonal Movements of Mule Deer Across the Navajo Nation
Track: General Wildlife
Authors: Hannah Manninen, Cooperative Wildlife Research Laboratory and Department of Forestry, Southern Illinois University; Clayton Nielsen, Cooperative Wildlife Research Laboratory and Department of Forestry, Southern Illinois University; Jessica Fort, Navajo Nation Department of Fish and Wildlife; Jeffrey Cole, Navajo Nation Department of Fish and Wildlife; Guillaume Bastille-Rousseau, Cooperate Wildlife Research Laboratory and Department of Zoology, Southern Illinois University
Student or Professional: Student-Graduate
Abstract: Mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) populations have been declining throughout their range in the western United States since the 1980s. Habitat loss, overgrazing, disease, and predation contribute to the decline of mule deer populations. Navajo Nation, the largest sovereign tribe in the United States, encompassing 71,000 square km in New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah, has experienced a 51% decline in their mule deer population over the past decade. Lack of information on mule deer ecology on Navajo Nation led to the creation of the Navajo Mule Deer Project, with the Nation beginning to collar mule deer in February 2018. We are using GPS collar data from >90 mule deer to analyze migration routes, stopover sites, arrival and departure dates of spring and fall migrations, daily movements, and habitat selection. We will classify movements of each individual mule deer with >6 months of locations as migrant, nomadic, disperser, or resident, using net-squared displacement in the adehabitatLT package in R Studio. We will also determine the arrival and departure dates of spring and fall migrations for deer that were classified as migrants. To date, 13% of individuals migrated 40 km. Our project will deliver valuable information to researchers and managers so more informed decisions can be made to recover mule deer populations, such as restoring habitat and conserving corridors.
Tags: Ecology, Habitat, Mammal
Selection of Nest Boxes by Cavity Nesting Waterfowl Based on Diameter at Breast Height in Mead Wildlife Area
Track: General Wildlife
Authors: Elianne Heilhecker; Casey Kroening; Victoria Fasbender; Aiden Gehrke; Advisor Ben Sedinger, University of Wisconsin Stevens Point
Student or Professional: Student-Undergrad
Abstract: Cavity nesting birds rely on nest boxes in areas where natural cavities are not available. In Wisconsin, specifically the Mead Wildlife Area in Marathon County, Lophodytes cucullatus (Hooded merganser) and Aix sponsa (Wood ducks) use nesting cavities or boxes for their eggs; however, the use rate and number of young produced may be declining. To evaluate a potential factor affecting nest box use at the Mead, we examined selection and success of wood duck and hooded merganser nests based on diameter at breast height (DBH) of the tree nest boxes were affixed to. Data on use and success were collected at the Mead Wildlife Area by the UWSP Wildlife Society, and DBH data was collected in 2019. 130 boxes were checked annually in January and February by opening the boxes, removing, and examining the contents, and recording any type of use. Previous research conducted in central Minnesota concluded that wood ducks specifically did not use trees with a DBH less than 20 cm (Gilmer et al. 1978), and work done by Bellrose, Johnson and Meyers quantified natural cavity dimensions. Our study found no selection preference related to DBH but had much higher success rate for boxes mounted on poles rather than trees.  Our goal is to inform science-based decisions on where to place nest boxes to be the most effective. Bellrose, Frank C, Johnson, Kenneth L, Meyers, Udell, T, “Relative value of Natural Cavities and Nesting Houses for Wood Ducks” The Journal of Wildlife Management, vol. 28 No. 4 Oct. 1964, pp. 661-676 https://www.jstor.org/stable/3798781?seq=1#metadata_info_tab_contents. Gilmer, David S., et al. “Natural Cavities Used by Wood Ducks in North-Central Minnesota.” The Journal of Wildlife Management, vol. 42, no. 2, 1978, pp. 288–298. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/3800266. 
Tags: Avian, Behavior, Habitat
Sex and Age Ratios of Savannah Elephants in Northern Botswana Using Digital Photogrammetry
Track: General Wildlife
Authors: Nate Weisenbeck, University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point; Tommy Young, University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point
Student or Professional: Student-Undergrad
Abstract: Through progressive conservation management Botswana has earned its reputation as a haven for elephants. It is estimated that the carrying capacity of elephants for the entire country is between 50,000 and 55,000. Botswana’s thriving elephant population in 2016 was estimated to be about 131,626. This explosion in population size was likely due to the three-year hunting ban set in place. We conducted research to determine the growth rate of the African elephants in Botswana. 1,153 pictures were taken of elephants, but due to visual obstructions only 366 of the photos were usable. We sampled elephants along the Khwai river, Mababe depression, and around the Okavango Delta in the Northwest region of Botswana using a Canon EOS Rebel T5 at both 55mm and 250mm focal lengths. We used photogrammetry to measure the shoulder heights of the elephants by using a program called ImageJ. The age of each of the measured elephants was calculated using the shoulder height and their age and sex. We compared the percentage of calves and adults over the age of 11 to the age distribution of an elephant population at a stable stage distribution. The calculated sex ratio of males to females was 1:1.85. Out of population size of 366 elephants 42 males and 144 females were over the age of 11. That leaves 180 elephants that are considered young making up 49.18% of our sample. Our data shows that most of the sampled population are young elephants which could be because there are so many elephants on the landscape, most elephants are not living long lives due to resource availably. Without a management strategy in play the population will crash. Hunting offers an incredible opportunity to manage the elephant population as well as provide food and jobs to local villagers.
Tags: Human Dimensions, Hunting, Landscape Ecology, Mammal, Population Dynamics
True Metabolizable Energy of Targeted and Unfavorable Moist-Soil Seeds in Waterfowl
Track: General Wildlife
Authors: Matthew R. Williams, Forbes Biological Station, Illinois Natural History Survey, Western Illinois University; Heath M. Hagy, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service; Joseph D. Lancaster, Gulf Coast Joint Venture, Ducks Unlimited; Andrew D. Gilbert, Forbes Biological Station, Illinois Natural History Survey; Joshua M. Osborn, Forbes Biological Station, Illinois Natural History Survey; Aaron P. Yetter, Forbes Biological Station, Illinois Natural History Survey; Auriel M.V. Fournier, Forbes Biological Station, Illinois Natural History Survey.
Student or Professional: Student-Graduate
Abstract: True Metabolizable Energy (TME) is a measure of the assimilable energy (kcal) a food item provides a consumer and can be useful for wildlife managers to decide which plants to encourage/discourage when managing wetlands for waterfowl. The current availability of TME estimates limit the understanding of the impacts habitat management decisions have on the energetic carrying capacity of wetlands. Furthermore, TME values for specific food taxa may differ among waterfowl species and such differences are important for determining appropriate management strategies. Prior TME research prioritized food items most commonly found in waterfowl diets and mostly focused on a single waterfowl species, leaving a gap in information on moist-soil seeds considered undesirable or invasive by wetland managers. Therefore, we will estimate TME values of several moist-soil seeds considered by waterfowl managers as desirable (e.g. Polygonum lapathifolium, Cyperus erythrorhizos and Leptochloa panicoides) and several considered to be undesirable (e.g., Sesbania herbacea, Polygonum hydropiperoides, Sida spinosa, Cyperus iria, Sphenocela zeylanica) within wild-caught mallard (Anas platyrhynchos), northern pintail (A. acuta), green-winged teal (A. crecca). From December 2019 to March 2020, we completed 7 feeding trials and from October 2020 to April 2021 we plan to run 17 feeding trials using 8 seed and 3 duck species during the non-breeding period. Each 48-hour trial included 24 hours of fasting to clear the birds’ digestive tracts, precision feeding a known mass of a single food item, followed by a 24-hour period of excreta collection. Individual ducks were used in multiple trials with different seed species but were given a >14-day respite between trials. Our results will be used to support conservation planning models to refine waterfowl objectives stepped down from the North American Waterfowl Management Plan to better inform waterfowl conservation planners and wetland managers throughout the Mississippi Flyway of the United States.
Tags: Avian, Nutrition, Wetland
Urban Wildlife Management Success: Seven Years of Canada Goose Population Management on Missouri Western State University Campus
Track: General Wildlife
Authors: Cary D. Chevalier, Jason Kusilek, Jeremy Reynolds - Biology Department, Missouri Western State University
Student or Professional: Professional
Abstract: In 2014 we began a Canada goose (Branta canadensis) population monitoring and management project in the campus of Missouri Western State University.  The restoration of Canada Goose in NW Missouri has not only been successful over the years, but in some areas, like on our campus, goose populations were reaching levels where they were becoming nuisances.  Geese were increasingly nesting near buildings, and by frequently traveled walkways.  Nesting geese would often harass people walking by, defecating with increased frequency near building entrances and on sidewalks, thereby creating health hazards as well as general messes.  Our objectives were to 1) determine the extent of nesting activity; 2) map the distribution of nesting sites on campus; and 3) institute a population recruitment control program to help keep our goose population at a level where they would be considered a treasure rather than a nuisance.  During the spring nesting season, we surveyed the entire ~ 600 acre campus.  We used mapping GPS systems and GIS to map nest locations and monitor nest site activity.  We counted and oiled all known eggs with corn oil and/or spiked eggs, then we documented hatching success.  In 2014 – 2020 we recorded the locations of 10, 12, 12, 16, 14, 16, and 17 nests, respectively.  After treatment, broods observed from known nests were 5, 2, 0, 0, 1, 0, and 0 for years 2014 - 2020, respectively. The goose reproductive success on campus for these six years was reduced by 50% our second year of effort, then by 100% thereafter for known nests.  We have determined where geese nest and can now move forward with habitat modification to reduce the attraction of these areas for nesting purposes.
Tags: Human Dimensions, Management, Urban Wildlife
Use of Remote Passive Integrated Transponder Tag Reader to Monitor Wolf Pup Survival in Minnesota
Track: General Wildlife
Authors: Carolin Humpal, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources; Mike Schrage, Fond du Lac Resource Management Division; Morgan Swingen, 1854 Treaty Authority; John Erb, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
Student or Professional: Professional
Abstract: Quantifying and understanding variation in survival rates of gray wolf (Canis lupus) pups can be helpful in estimating or forecasting population sizes or improving management decisions associated with depredation management or public harvest, and proactively detecting issues of conservation concern. Although expandable VHF collars can be useful to monitor early pup survival, the collars often drop or are chewed off in the first few weeks to months after deployment, requiring either the recapture of animals or an alternative method of monitoring survival to the fall population. As part of a broader effort to evaluate tools for monitoring reproductive ecology and success of wolves, we began inserting passive integrated transponder (PIT) tags above the wrist joint and between the shoulder blades while handling pups at dens. PIT tags can be hand-read if wolves are recaptured or found dead, but we explored use of a Biomark IS1001 remote PIT tag reader with cord antenna as a less invasive and potentially more cost-effective method for estimating minimum survival of wolf pups into the fall. After addressing early technological issues, in 2020 we were able to deploy and validate use of a remote solar-powered PIT tag reader for monitoring minimum late-summer and fall survival of wolf pups. Although initial results are promising, more work needs to be done to determine the optimal timing for deployment, placement of equipment, and software settings for the remote tag reader. This equipment appears to be another tool available to track minimum survival of wolf pups through the fall, and potentially longer.  
Tags: Mammal, Population Dynamics, Wildlife Techniques
Validating the Use of a Handheld Meter for Measuring a Plasma Metabolite, Triglyceride, in the Field
Track: General Wildlife
Authors: Christopher Roelandt, University of Michigan-Flint; Jill Witt, University of Michigan-Flint; Amber Roth, University of Maine
Student or Professional: Student-Graduate
Abstract: Plasma metabolite concentration analyses are effective in predicting change in body mass and are useful as an indicator of body condition in birds. Triglyceride (TRIG) is a plasma metabolite demonstrated to be effective for indicating when birds are either in a state of fattening or fasting. TRIG can be a useful indicator of food resources consumed by individual birds using a habitat and aid land managers interested in assessing the quality of that habitat. Blood plasma sample collection in a field setting can be challenging and methods aimed at reducing these challenges may help to expand the measurement of plasma metabolites like TRIG in the field. I evaluated the use of a small handheld meter, CardioChek PA analyzer, for measuring TRIG concentrations as a means to reduce these challenges. I compared the TRIG concentrations from the handheld meter to the results of the same plasma sample analyzed in a laboratory to determine the validity of using a handheld meter in the field. The handheld meter’s results were precise but not accurate in the field, possibly due to the effects of environmental conditions on the meter’s function. I recommend further research into the limitations of this handheld meter and developing methods to reduce the effects of light, temperature, and humidity on its function in the field.
Tags: Avian, Nutrition, Physiology
Water Drawdowns and Survival of Marsh Bird Nests at Emiquon Preserve
Track: General Wildlife
Authors: Stephanie M. Schmidt, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Illinois Natural History Survey; Thomas J. Benson, Illinois Natural History Survey, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Auriel M. V. Fournier, Illinois Natural History Survey
Student or Professional: Student-Graduate
Abstract: Marsh birds are a secretive and under-studied group of birds that rely on inundated, dense emergent wetlands for nest construction and protection. To benefit migrating waterfowl, Emiquon Preserve, a cattail marsh along the Illinois River, draws down water from June to August after marsh birds have initiated nesting. Knowledge on the effects of water-level manipulation is limited, and we were particularly interested in learning more about the effects water drawdowns have on nest success, predator access to nests, and juvenile survival. In 2020, we systematically searched suitable habitats and located 135 marsh bird nests (Least Bittern, Common Gallinule, Black-crowned Night-Heron) at varying water depths and distances from the shore. We set up cameras at a subset of nests to record predators at the nests and we revisited the nests throughout the season to document their fate. We will present results on the analyses of predation events and survival as documented on predator cameras and during nest revisits from May to August. We will present analyses of nest survival and juvenile survival from data collected during nest revisits, on camera traps, and from tracking VHF tags.
Tags: Avian, Management, Wetland
Wetland Bird Response to Habitat Variables Associated with Wetland Restoration: An Evaluation of Wetland Reserve Program Easements in Western Kentucky and Tennessee
Track: General Wildlife
Authors: David Hicks, University of Missouri Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit; Jon Podoliak, University of Missouri Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit; Lisa Webb, USGS, University of Missouri Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit
Student or Professional: Student-Graduate
Abstract: The Wetland Reserve Program (WRP) restores wetlands on private lands and seeks to achieve the greatest wetland functions and values, along with optimum wildlife habitat, on every acre enrolled in the program.  Restoration activities on WRP sites often focus on improving wildlife habitat that supports game species such as migratory waterfowl, but it is uncertain how restoration methods impact non-game waterbird communities such as wading birds and marshbirds (Ciconiiformes and Podicipediformes).  Our objective was to assess how waterfowl and non-game waterbird species richness and abundance are related to the water depth, vegetative cover, and vegetation species composition on WRP easements in western Tennessee and Kentucky.  We sampled avian communities and habitat variables in four distinct habitat types within easements; remnant forests, tree plantings, natural woody regeneration, and constructed shallow water areas (SWA), on 37 study sites to assess seasonal responses of avifauna to habitat variables.  Data from the first two sampling rounds (collected in October 2019 and February 2020) indicate that mean waterfowl species richness on sites was 1.36 (±1.45) and mean waterbird species richness was 0.26 (±.059).  Mean abundances of waterfowl and waterbirds were 10.44 (±16.07) and 0.40 (±0.93) respectively.  Water depth was positively associated with waterfowl species richness (F = 9.109, R2 =.114, P=.004), but not with abundance (F = 1.977, R2=.02, P = .17).  Waterbird abundance was positively associated with percent shrub/scrub plant cover (F = 4.44, R2 = .08, P = .04) while waterbird richness was not significantly associated with any measured variable.  Data collection is ongoing through spring 2021.  Evaluation of wetland bird responses to habitat variables on WRP easements may serve to inform future wetland restoration activities.
Tags: Ecology, Wetland
Wolf Movements in Relation to Bear Hunter Bait in Northern Minnesota
Track: General Wildlife
Authors: Ellen M. Candler, University of Minnesota; Joseph Bump, University of Minnesota
Student or Professional: Student-Graduate
Abstract: Black bear (Ursus americanus) hunting using bait to attract bears occurs throughout North America and is a controversial topic among wildlife managers, hunting groups, and the general public. Bear bait is a pulsed resource that is known to be used by a variety of species including grey wolves (Canis lupus). We expected that wolves in Northern Minnesota would adjust their utilization distributions (UD) and recursion distributions (RD) in response to bear bait presence on the landscape. Using wolf GPS-collar data from the Greater Voyageurs Ecosystem, I constructed UDs and RDs for four wolves known to have visited bear hunter bait sites. I compared change in UD and RDs between the period before baiting and the period during baiting. Additionally, I compared the mean daily distance traveled by each wolf before and during baiting. I found that wolves appear to shift both their UD and RD to include use of bear hunter bait sites, but do not significantly alter their mean daily distance traveled between the two time periods. Future research will include the use of Fourier and Wavelet analysis to analyze recursion behavior of wolves in relation to known bear hunter bait locations over a continuous time period to better statistically analyze the shift in bait site use that we detected before and during baiting. Wolf use of bear hunter bait sites may impact wolf energetics and survival rates.
Tags: Behavior, Hunting, Mammal
Young Bucks Stay Home? Age-Specific Distance Between White-Tailed Deer Cast Antler Match Sets
Track: General Wildlife
Authors: Brian Peterson, University of Nebraska Kearney; Casey Schoenebeck, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
Student or Professional: Professional
Abstract: White-tailed deer antlers are grown and cast every year, triggered by photoperiod and the subsequent decrease in testosterone. The timing of complete casting and therefore the distance an individual deer’s antlers are cast from one another can vary. To our knowledge, this is the first study to evaluate the age-specific distance an individual deer’s antlers are naturally cast in a free-ranging white-tailed deer population. Our objectives were to 1) determine the age-specific distance antlers from a match set were cast from each other and 2) determine home range fidelity in late-winter by evaluating the distance individual deer cast their antlers in subsequent years. We hypothesized 1.5-year-olds would have a greater distance between cast antlers compared to ≥ 2.5-year-olds due a larger home range. Cast antlers were collected from the central Nebraska Platte River valley (2009-2020) as part of a long-term monitoring program. Cast antler match sets and subsequent sides were assumed based on reasonable physical proximity and antler similarities (i.e. size, burring, symmetry and coloration) and are currently undergoing genetic confirmation. The mean distance between match sets of ≥ 2.5-year-olds was significantly greater (W = 383, P = 0.03) and found twice as far apart as 1.5-year-olds. However, fewer yearling match sets were found (n = 21) compared to the older age group (n = 54), and 5 meters (compared to 49% of ≥ 2.5-year-olds) which may suggest a potential bias in finding the smallest antler sets due to a longer timeframe for yearlings to complete casting resulting in unavailable casts either in time or space (e.g., off study site). Cast antlers from the same individual (primarily 2.5 to 5.5-year-olds) were found on average 473±134 m or ~ 0.3 miles apart in subsequent years suggesting late-winter home range fidelity for older individuals.
Tags: Mammal
 
Human Dimensions/Outeach/Public Engagement
Natural Flood Management - Planning and Priorities for the Lake Superior’s South Shore Watersheds
Track: Human Dimensions/Outeach/Public Engagement
Authors: Tom Hollenhorst, US EPA Great Lakes Toxicology and Ecology Division; Molly Wick, University of MN, Duluth; Kyle Magyera, Wisconsin Wetlands Association; Faith Fitzpatrick, USGS Upper Midwest Water Science Center
Student or Professional: Professional
Abstract: Tributaries along the south shore of Lake Superior are known for severe flooding problems due to steep terrain, highly erodible soils and flashy hydrology.  Reducing flood and coastal erosion risk involves implementing measures that help to protect, restore and emulate the natural functions of catchments, floodplains, rivers and the coast.  We explored various natural flood management concepts for slowing the flow and mitigating flood effects in several watersheds along Lake Superior’s south shore.. These included increasing storage, catchment and channel roughness, reconnecting riparian areas and other potential best management practices for natural flood management. To help prioritize areas where erosive flows might be mitigated, we assessed peak flow to drainage area ratios, potentially restorable wetlands and the proportion of open lands for catchments, watersheds and sub-watersheds throughout Lake Superior’s south shore.  We also employed the Height Above Nearest Drainage (HAND) method of mapping riparian areas to help identify potential areas for reconnecting flood plains.  These efforts will be used to help identify potential fluvial erosion hazards, such as the locations and extent of incised channels, gullies and eroding ravines and opportunities to repair degraded headwater streams, floodplains and wetlands to protect and improve vulnerable road-stream crossings.
Tags: Conservation Biology, Ecology, Great Lakes, Habitat, Landscape Ecology, Restoration/Enhancement, River/Stream, Wetland
Tallgrass Prairie Restoration on the Campus of Missouri Western State University, St. Joseph, MO
Track: Human Dimensions/Outeach/Public Engagement
Authors: Mark S. Mills, Missouri Western State University; Jeff Powelson, Missouri Department of Conservation; Cary Chevalier, Missouri Western State University
Student or Professional: Professional
Abstract: We have initiated a long-term prairie restoration project on the campus of Missouri Western State University (MWSU).  The 39-acre site is within the city limits of St. Joseph, MO.  Prior to this project, the site consisted of mostly hay fields and three wooded acres surrounding a small pond.  In 2019 we applied two herbicide applications coupled with mowing to remove invasive and nonnative plants and to prepare the site for planting in January 2020.  We used a seed mixture of approximately 150 species of prairie forbs and grasses donated by The Nature Conservancy’s Dunn Ranch near Eagleville, MO, with additional seed provided by the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC).  The current plan calls for a 25-acre prairie unit that will consist of a mixture of warm-season grasses (e.g., Little Bluestem, Side-oats Grama, and Prairie Dropseed) and wildflowers.  Three different areas totaling 3.9 acres will be designated as pollinator plots and will receive additional plantings of pollinator-friendly plants with an emphasis on plants preferred by monarch butterflies.  Five acres adjacent to the wooded area were recently planted with a variety of hardwood trees (e.g., various oaks, hickory, black cherry, and walnut) spaced 40-60 feet apart to create a savannah.  Additional plans include creating experimental plots, creating a GIS database, continuing to sample the flora and fauna, and conducting controlled burns.  We also plan to plant a wheelchair-accessible interpretive prairie garden near the parking lot.  This prairie site will serve the students and faculty of MWSU as an area for laboratory exercises and undergraduate research projects.  Additionally, the MWSU cross country course runs through the prairie.  The prairie will also be open to public groups such as K-12 classes, scout troops, and other community groups.
Tags: Grassland, Habitat, Restoration/Enhancement
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