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2022 Event Overview of Organized Symposia
Special Symposia Announced! These 13 organized symposia will be offered as part of the technical program at the annual conference. An Organized Symposium is a series of integrated presentations that address aspects of a single topic or theme.
1) Amphibian and Reptile Conservation into the 22nd Century
Contact: Melissa Youngquist, Research Biologist, Shedd Aquarium, myoungquist@sheddaquarium.org

Co-Organizers: Dr. Mark Mills, Professor of Biology, Department of Biology, Missouri Western State University

Overview: Midwestern amphibian and reptile populations continue to face multiple threats to their health and persistence including habitat loss and fragmentation, climate change, the illegal wildlife trade, and emerging diseases. Conservation of these taxa will require collaboration and cooperation from diverse stakeholders: local, federal, and tribal governments, research institutes, zoos and aquariums, non-profits, and the public. The objective of this symposium is to share current efforts and needs that will help us preserve Midwestern amphibian and reptile diversity for the next 100 years and beyond. This symposium seeks to provide a platform to share current research, management actions, and technologies and to foster collaborations for the conservation of amphibians and reptiles.
2) Biology and Management of Nongame Native Fishes
Contact: Shannon Fisher, Fisheries Populations Monitoring and Regulations Manager, MN DNR, shannon.fisher@state.mn.us

Co-Organizers: Corey Geving, Roughfish.com and MN IT Services; Nathan Lederman, IL DNR

Overview: For most agencies, the primary gamefish have been the pillars of their fish management programs. Although gamefish are important, the angling and aquatic community value of “nongame” native fishes, such as Bowfin and Freshwater Drum, as well as Gar, Buffalo, Sucker, and Redhorse species, has been increasingly recognized over the past decade. Historically, “rough” fish have been publicly viewed as detrimental to aquatic communities, to be of limitless supply, and disposable. However, increased awareness about nongame native fishes has led to elevated concerns raised by anglers, biologists, and other conservationists.

Although many of the concerns have involved bowfishing harvest, angling of nongame native fishes has also triggered questions about wanton waste, fishing contests based on number of fish harvested, illegal dumping of dead fish, and harvest impacts to fish populations and aquatic communities. Our collective data on nongame native fish biology is limited and until recently, there had been minimal interest in establishing harvest regulations. Deeper dives into some databases, though, have revealed that there may be more information than we realized about life history and population dynamics of these unique species.

This symposium would bring together those with an interest in and data about nongame native fish life history, biology, and regulation. We welcome a broad Midwest cross-section of participation to share information about 1) in-place regulations for, 2) changing attitudes about, 3) life history/population dynamics for, and 4) invasive species impacts on nongame native fish, as well as 5) where nongame native fishes are likely to fit into the future of our fisheries management programs.
3) COVID-19 Impacts on Fish, Wildlife, and License Sales
Contact: Jeff Kopaska, Biometrician - Fisheries, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, jeff.kopaska@dnr.iowa.gov

Overview: This symposium will address regional impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic on hunting and fishing license sales, as well as the impact of increased recreational use on fisheries and wildlife resources. This symposium will be of broad interest to agency biologists and administrators, R3 coordinators, and human dimensions researchers throughout the Midwest.
4) Engaging New and Diverse Audiences (R3 and DEI) Symposia
Contact: Jamie Cook, Hunter Education Coordinator, Iowa Dept. of Natural Resources, jamie.cook@dnr.iowa.gov

Co-Organizers: Jamie Cook, Rebecca Krogman, and Megan Wisecup - Iowa DNR; Emily Iehl - Wisconsin DNR

Overview: Recruitment, Retention, and Reactivation (R3) efforts are gaining traction as professionals continue to recognize the importance of hunting, angling, trapping, boating, and the shooting sports to state wildlife agency operations and programming. As participation in these traditional outdoor activities declines nationally, state agencies must adapt to ensure that their work remains relevant to changing future generations. In the past 10 years, over 40 states have hired or designated R3 Coordinators to tackle this problem. Their strategies include slowing declines in traditional user groups, conducting outreach to potential new participants who may adopt these activities, and fielding ideas for positive cultural changes within state agencies.

In addition many conservation organizations are working to address the issue of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion both internally for staff and to stakeholders through engagement with local communities. As most conservation professionals are trained in biological sciences, the need to integrate science from human dimension experts outside of the conservation community are critical.

This symposia will serve as a venue for R3 professionals and conservation professionals to learn about various efforts, programs and studies surrounding these critical topics impacting conservation in North America.
5) Establishing Reliable and Defensible eDNA Monitoring Programs
Contact: Nick Frohnauer, eDNA Coordinator, US Fish and Wildlife Service, nicholas_frohnauer@fws.gov

Co-Organizers: Patrick Dehaan, Project Leader, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Whitney Genetics Lab, Onalaska, WI, 608-518-6133, patrick_dehaan@fws.gov

Overview: Environmental DNA (eDNA) has become an important tool to detect species at low abundance, track population trends, and trace habitat use. Monitoring programs for rare and endangered fish and wildlife species as well as invasive species have begun to incorporate eDNA methods into routine surveys. The combination of eDNA technology with traditional survey methods has resulted in species monitoring programs that are more effective at biodiversity assessments, rare, native species detection, and early detection of invasive species. Developing an eDNA monitoring program requires careful consideration of several elements to produce reliable and defensible results: marker validation, sampling design, field techniques, laboratory protocols, and communication. A well designed eDNA monitoring program will help increase detection probability, reduce false results, and improve data interpretation. We encourage researchers, biologists, and managers using eDNA as a tool in species monitoring programs to submit an abstract pertaining to any aspect of their program. This symposium will benefit attendees considering establishing new eDNA monitoring programs and those in established eDNA monitoring programs looking to improve their process and share lessons learned. At the end of the symposium, we will have a panel discussion to address questions from the presentations and provide expertise for groups wanting to develop eDNA monitoring programs. The symposium will wrap up with a meeting of the newly formed invasive carp eDNA Community of Practice.
6) Fish and Climate Adaptation in the Midwest
Contact: Abigail J Lynch, Research Fish Biologist, U.S. Geological Survey, National Climate Adaptation Science Center, ajlynch@usgs.gov

Co-Organizers: Holly Embke (U.S. Geological Survey, National Climate Adaptation Science Center; University of Wisconsin - Madison)

Overview: From Cisco in Minnesota to Walleye in Wisconsin and Lake Trout in Michigan, changes in temperature, precipitation, winter duration, and other climate impacts are already substantially altering fish populations and fisheries across the Midwest. This symposium will feature collaborative, applied research supported by the U.S. Geological Survey Climate Adaptation Science Centers (CASCs) to help fish, fisheries managers, anglers, and other users adapt to changing conditions. Highlighted research will span topics including creating a safe operating space for walleye, understanding bluegill as a socio-ecological system, quantifying fish growth drivers across broad spatial scales, and identifying climate adaptation strategies for inland fisheries. The session will conclude with a discussion about key knowledge gaps to identify future research avenues for CASCs regarding fish in a changing climate.
7) Harvest Management in Recreational Fishing and Hunting
Contact: Kevin Pope, kpope2@unl.edu

Co-Organizers: Larkin Powell, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Overview: We propose an integrated fisheries and wildlife Symposium on the status of the science of setting harvest regulations. Presenters will provide current research and critical reviews that will address one or more of the following: life-history characteristics of harvested populations, evolutionary and behavioral effects of harvest on fish and wildlife, political and social realities in harvest decisions, the use of Integrated Population Models to improve management decisions, the use of formal decision-making processes to select harvest regulations, frameworks to choose monitoring schemes to support harvest decisions, effects of harvest regulations on angler and hunter behaviors, and the effects of various regulations such as catch-and-release fishing, length limits for fish, point systems for deer, and bag limits for waterfowl. The recently published book “Harvest of Fish and Wildlife: New Paradigms for Sustainable Management'' provides a basis for this symposium. We aim to provide timely information that will ultimately assist managers to make better decisions and justify decisions to their supervisors. Harvest management is omnipresent as a decision mandate for state and federal agencies, and is closely tied to funding of state agencies. This Symposium will gather scientists and managers to highlight unique and innovative approaches for management of recreational harvest of fish and wildlife, and to provide an interdisciplinary overview of harvest management. Presenters will be encouraged to address potential implications to both fish and wildlife. The setting should broaden presenters’ and audience-members’ understanding of current harvest-management approaches, and we propose a final open discussion slot in the program during which participants would provide input towards development of a unifying conceptual model of harvest management.
8) Natural Resource Conservation in Midwestern Agricultural Landscapes: Challenges and Opportunities
Contact: Andrew Little, Assistant Professor of Landscape Ecology and Habitat Management, School of Natural Resources, alittle6@unl.edu

Co-Organizers: Matt Stephenson, Iowa State University (mattstep@iastate.edu, main contact); Dr. Andrew Little, University of Nebraska-Lincoln (alittle6@unl.edu)

Overview: Agriculture intensification has resulted in a simplification of agricultural systems in the Midwest (e.g., crop rotations focused on corn and soybean compared to wider crop diversity) with increased field sizes, and removal of non-crop habitat to maximize production. By 2050, the world’s population is expected to reach 9.7 billion people resulting in increased agriculture intensification to meet this nutritional demand. At the same time, increased climate variability is expected to affect water availability, pest occurrences, and plant diseases. Market uncertainty and increasing land taxes also create financial risks for agricultural producers. These challenges for increased food production, environmental protection, climate variability, and economic uncertainty require innovative solutions to achieve sustainable agroecosystems. Therefore, we (natural resource professionals) must engage with a variety of stakeholders to maximize natural resource conservation and agricultural production in the Midwest to meet current and future demands. Presentations/discussions will focus on challenges and innovative approaches and partnerships to achieve sustainable agroecosystems in the 21st Century.
9) Permitting and Planning Tools for Conserving Working Landscapes
Contact: Rebecca Sloan, Environment & Planning, ICF, rebecca.sloan@icf.com

Overview: State agencies, industry groups, and non-profit organizations are more and more frequently working proactively to conserve species, plan large projects around sensitive habitat types, and inform stakeholders and the public about sensitive resources. In many cases, these efforts are focused on creating a balance between development and protection for rare and listed species. In this section we will discuss novel and creative ways to inform the protection, restoration, and enhancement of lands that serve both as habitat for rare and sensitive species and as “working” landscapes for local, regional, and state communities. We define “working” landscapes broadly to include forests, rights-of-way, rangeland, recreational areas, streams, rivers, etc. We invite speakers that are working on spatial tools or datasets that inform conservation activities; outreach processes that have used crowd-funded or decision frameworks to solve complex stakeholder issues; or permitting approaches that balance conservation with human-related disturbance.
10) Population Models in Practice: Integrating Data to Guide Fish and Wildlife Conservation in the Midwest
Contact: Tyler Harms, tyler.harms@dnr.iowa.gov

Co-Organizers: Tyler M. Harms, Iowa Department of Natural Resources; Todd W. Arnold, University of Minnesota

Overview: Integrated population models (IPMs) are a statistical approach for combining multiple data sets into a single, hierarchical analysis for improving inference on dynamics of a population interest and evaluating factors driving those dynamics. In recent years, IPMs have become an increasingly popular tool for analyzing disparate data sets to evaluate population dynamics of a variety of fish and wildlife species. However, there remains misconceptions among practitioners that IPMs are challenging to implement and are somewhat rigid in regards to the types of data needed for reliable inference. In this symposium, we hope to demonstrate the utility of IPMs for guiding fish and wildlife conservation and management decisions while simultaneously demystifying the fallacies associated with the effective implementation of this useful method. We will begin the symposium with a brief overview of IPMs and follow with presentations on the application of IPMs to a wide variety of species, including both terrestrial and aquatic as well as game and non-game. Presentations will also demonstrate the flexibility of IPMs in regards to the different types of data and associated models used for population inference. Our ultimate goal with this symposium is to stimulate ideas among practitioners about how IPMs can be used in their systems.
11) Regional SGCN in Landscape Conservation
Contact: Kelley Myers, Senior Adviser on Landscape Conservation, US Fish & Wildlife Service, kelley_myers@fws.gov

Co-Organizers: Ed Boggess, MAFWA MLI Executive Liaison; Claire Beck, MAFWA MLI Technical Coordinator

Overview: This Symposium will provide a brief overview of the Midwest Landscape Initiative, a thorough examination of the Regional Species of Greatest Conservation Need (RSGCN) effort it has recently undertaken, and an opportunity for participants to help chart the course of the MLI going forward.

The early potions of the symposium will include presentations, providing information about the Initiative and its work, as well as perspectives of those participating in the various committees and work groups. Participants should have a better understanding of the MLI and the Regional SGCN product by the end of the group meeting.

The later afternoon is proposed as more of an interactive workshop, with a focus on participation of attendees and a goal to identify ways the conference attendees can use the resources MLI is developing and, if interested, engage in the effort. Our facilitators will guide the participants through a series of brainstorm sessions, which will provide the participants an opportunity to think through application of the Regional SGCN resources in their daily work. At the same time, the participants will provide possible direction and ideas for the regional initiative moving forward.

Our work is enhanced by the diversity of backgrounds and perspectives shared. To that end, we encourage all to attend, from directors to management biologists to research students to field technicians to policy analysts and everyone among and between. If you do not work in a traditional fish and wildlife field but are nonetheless interested in fish and wildlife values and considerations, this is the group for you.
12) Research and Management of Four Invasive Carps: Bighead, Black, Grass, and Silver Carp
Contact: Andrea Fritts, Research Fish Biologist, U.S. Geological Survey, afritts@usgs.gov

Co-Organizers: Emily Pherigo - Fish Biologist, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Columbia Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office, Columbia, MO; Kim Bogenschutz - Aquatic Invasive Species Program Coordinator, Iowa DNR, Boone, IA

Overview: The introduction and establishment of invasive species can have far-ranging economic and ecological effects, with freshwater ecosystems facing particularly high risks. There is a growing number of examples of exotic fishes that have established reproductively active populations in new areas. One such group of fishes in North America includes bighead carp (Hypophthalmichthys nobilis), black carp (Mylopharyngodon piceus), grass carp (Ctenopharyngodon idella), and silver carp (H. molitrix). The detrimental effects that these carps can have on North American aquatic ecosystems has spurred the creation of regional and national strategies for controlling populations of these four species. Since the release of The Management and Control Plan for Bighead, Black, Grass, and Silver Carps in the United States in 2007, many resources and efforts have gone into learning about these carps and implementing management actions in the Mississippi River Basin and the Great Lakes. This session will provide managers and researchers an opportunity to discuss recent innovations and approaches for controlling and mitigating the effects of these invasive species. Presentations will cover topics related to, but not limited to, monitoring, communications, modeling, control, and management approaches.
13) State of the Science on Measures of Faunal Community Health in Response to Multi-Scale Stressors
Contact: Joanna Whittier, Asst Research Prof, Univ of Missouri, whittierj@missouri.edu

Co-Organizers: Joanna Whittier, University of Missouri; Joshua Hubbell, University of Missouri; Christy Dolph, University of Minnesota; Jacques Finlay, University of Minnesota

Overview: Ecosystem health throughout the globe is severely challenged by the direct and indirect impacts of human activities in working landscapes. Approaches to measure ecosystem health by quantifying faunal community condition have advanced substantially due to advances in analytics, availability of large-scale environmental datasets, and increased access to community sampling efforts. The suitability of various indices to provide a measure of faunal community health continues to be an evolving research avenue. This session will showcase advances in this field by offering insights into the multi-scale drivers of faunal community health as indicated by biodiversity endpoints such as biotic integrity, taxonomic or functional diversity, taxonomic composition, functional groups, or guilds.
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