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Capstone Projects

Increasing and Protecting the Population of Canada Lynx (Lynx canadensis) In the State of Maine

Tue, 05/07/2013 - 12:16
Abstract: Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis) was listed as a “threatened” species on March 24, 2000 (USFWS 2013). Canada lynx (hereby referred to as lynx) are a species known to trappers for their thick, long pelts. These pelts can be sold in the fur trade for on average about $175. They are highly sought after in areas where trapping is legal, but in Maine it is not legal to trap lynx. This management plan is going to work to achieve an increase in the population size of lynx in the state of Maine and to protect areas in Maine where there are current populations of lynx that are reproducing. The lynx is currently a threatened species, the USFWS on the Endangered Species Act, throughout its range due to it being a widely roaming organism. It is listed as a species of least concern according to the IUCN Red List. The goal of this plan is to achieve and maintain a sustainable population of Canada lynx in the state of Maine. The goal is going to be accomplished by three objectives. The first objective is to protect all areas of habitat in western and northeastern Maine with current reproducing populations of lynx for the next 10 years. The second objective is to manage areas of timber to establish more suitable habitat in northern Maine for the next 10 years. The third objective is to reduce the amount of incidentally harvested lynx in western and northeastern Maine by 25% each year for four years.
Access: Yes
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2013
File Attachments: Brown - Submission2.docx
Authors: Heath A. Brown

Protecting and Monitoring the Population of Florida Manatees (Trichechus manatus latirostris) in Lee County, Florida

Thu, 05/09/2013 - 10:57
Abstract: The Florida manatee is a subspecies of the species West Indian Manatee. It has been listed as Endangered on the basis of a population that has been in decline since the 1800s in Florida. Although, the exact population of Florida manatees is not currently known, biologists have seen a gradual decrease in contrast to the past. This is due to factors such as: watercraft collisions, cold stress, Red Tide, and other human related mortalities. Manatees are protected by several laws and regulations. These include: the Marine Mammal Protection Act, the Florida Manatee Sanctuary Act, and the Endangered Species Act. The goal of this management plan is to increase the Florida manatee population to a stable population and to maintain the population into the future. The objectives are to: investigate the distribution and status of Florida manatees in Lee County by conducting synoptic surveys twice every year; within five years, increase public awareness and education by 25%; within five years, increase the amount of protected and managed manatee habitat by 15%, and within five years, protect and enhance existing populations by identifying and minimizing causes of manatee injury, mortality, and disturbance by decreasing it by 20%.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2013
Authors: Jordan Shypinka

Tasmanian Platypus Management Plan

Fri, 12/06/2013 - 01:12
Abstract: Platypuses are an iconic mammal endemic to Australia (Furlan et al. 2010). They are an integral part of biodiversity of freshwater ecosystems. They are the only living representative of a significant lineage of platypus-like animals with a 60 million year fossil history (Grant and Temple-Smith 2003). Platypuses are regularly seen in Tasmania and promote curiosity and interest. They directly benefit ecotourism. A number of businesses including sanctuaries, wildlife tours, restaurants, cafes, caravan parks and motels benefit from their popularity (Gust and Griffiths 2010). Freshwater resources are essential to sustaining human existence and as a result, anthropogenic activities have severely diminished the quality of freshwater ecosystems worldwide. Physical alteration, habitat loss, water withdrawal, pollution, overexploitation, and the introduction of non-native species all have contributed to the decline in freshwater species (Revenga et al 2005).
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2013
File Attachments: final_Pritchard.pdf
Authors: Tori Pritchard

A MULTI-SCALE EVALUATION OF THE EFFECTS OF FOREST HARVESTING FOR WOODY BIOFUELS ON MAMMALIAN COMMUNITIES IN A NORTHERN HARDWOOD FOREST

Fri, 02/01/2013 - 16:19
Abstract: Forest harvesting and subsequent effects on forest structure have been shown to influence mammalian community assemblages and the abundance of individual species, however less attention has been paid to the implications of how harvested timber is used. This is particularly relevant in the Northern Forest, where a considerable portion of the forest harvesting is used to produce biofuels. Biofuels harvesting typically involves the process of whole-tree chipping which may lead to a dramatic reduction in the amount of woody material in the form of slash and coarse woody debris (CWD) left in harvested stands. The goal of our study was to assess the effects of biofuels harvesting on forest structure and subsequent effects on mammalian community structure and abundance. To address this goal, we focused on a ~35 Ha area of partially-harvested northern hardwood forest in the northern Adirondacks, New York. To sample mammals we used a combination of Sherman traps and track plates established at two scales across stands within this area. Our results showed that the response of small mammals to changes in forest structure is both species and scale specific. At the individual trap scale, CWD, slash, and understory cover were important drivers of the occurrence of individual species of small mammals. At the larger “grid” scale, small mammal relative abundance was driven by canopy cover and the density of woody stems. Our results indicate that the current harvesting practices used for biofuel production in the Adirondacks are unlikely to result in declines in abundance of common small mammal species. However, the retention of some slash post-harvest may be beneficial to some species, thus foresters may want to include slash retention when developing silvicultural prescriptions.
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Major: Environmental Sciences, Fisheries and Wildlife Science, Natural Resources Management and Policy
Year: 2012
Authors: Cody Laxton, Alisha Benack, Danielle Ball, Scott Collins, Sam Forlenza, Richard Franke, Stephanie Korzec, Alec Judge, Connor Langevin, Jonathan Vimislik, Elena Zito

Managing for increased productivity and size of an American kestrel (Falco sparverius) population in northern New York

Mon, 05/07/2012 - 12:58
Abstract: American kestrel (Falco sparverius) populations have recently declined across most of the eastern states. As a result, managers and concerned citizens alike have installed nest boxes across large areas to increase productivity. Mr. Mark Manske has run one of these nest box programs in northern New York, across parts of St. Lawrence and Franklin counties, over the past ten years. Through the combination of his research and other long term management plans, the ideal future plan was developed. The focus of the new plan is to boost efficiency of resources, ease of expansion and sustain a steady or increasing population of kestrels. GIS software was used to analyze each nest boxes’ characteristics in order to develop a model that may predict areas of possible high productivity. Surveys and public outreach are emphasized to create a broader supporting base and possibly acquire future partners for land use, volunteers and advertising. The continued monitoring of the northern New York kestrel population will ensure the presence of this vital species for generations to come.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Environmental Sciences, Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2012
File Attachments: Sauca_Final_Submision.docx
Authors: Tonnie Sauca Jr.

Can black-capped chickadees learn to associate ultraviolet markers with a food source?

Thu, 12/06/2012 - 07:22
Abstract: Food storing birds, like black-capped chickadees (Poecile atricapillus), have a higher hippocampal volume than other birds, giving them the ability to hide food in small caches and retrieve them hours later with great precision using physical features of the surrounding area as guides. This capacity for learning spatial information may be able to translate to other forms of learning, such as association. Black-capped chickadees are also able to see in the near ultraviolet range (~370nm), theoretically to allow for more vibrant plumage during the breeding season. I hypothesized that black-capped chickadees have the ability to associate an ultraviolet marker with a food source. If they can, perhaps birds can be 'taught' to go towards or away from things like wind turbines, windows, and other hazardous objects. I tested my hypothesis by counting the number of chickadees that landed on two different feeders, one with an ultraviolet marker and food and one with neither. I found that there was no significant trend, either within or between days, that would indicate that the birds learned (χ2 test and Student’s t-test). As a management use, researchers propose that ultraviolet markers on wind turbines could decrease the collision rate of birds with turbine blades.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2012
File Attachments: Eck_Capstone_Final.doc
Authors: Benjamin Eck

The influence of temperature, moon phase and cloud cover on the catchability of bats in the Upper Connecticut River Basin and the Merrimack River Basin

Sun, 12/09/2012 - 15:28
Abstract: Small mammals modify their behavior in response to environmental factors such as weather, temperature, moon phase, visibility and the time of night at which they forage. The goal of my study was to determine how environmental variables such as temperature, moon phase and visibility (cloud cover) affected the efficiency (bat captures/net meter/ hour) of bat mist netting. Mist nets were placed in the months of June, July, August, September and November from 2003 to 2012 using mist netting surveys at 23 Army Corps of Engineers dams and recreation projects in New Hampshire and Vermont. Catch rate of bats was not affected by moon phase (P= 0.317) or cloud cover (P=0.130), but were slightly affected by temperature (P=0.053). These results were consistent with other studies that looked at the effects of moon phase, cloud cover and temperature on bats. Knowing the effects of environmental conditions on catchability could be useful to biologists in determining if it is worthwhile to mist net bats on nights with certain conditions to maximize efficiency of catching bats
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Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2012
Authors: Jeremy Chamberlain

Comparative growth study of Eurasian watermilfoil (Myriophyllum spicatum) and Northern watermilfoil (Myriophyllum sibiricum): a look at apical influence

Mon, 04/16/2012 - 18:13
Abstract: Eurasian watermilfoil (Myriophyllum spicatum L) (EWM) is a highly invasive aquatic plant that has infested lakes across North America. EWM grows rapidly to form a dense canopy and outcompetes other species for light through shading. Northern watermilfoil (Myriophyllum sibiricum Komarov) (NWM) is a native, non-invasive, milfoil that occupies similar habitats as EWM. Little research has been done comparing fragment growth in these two species. This study compared fragment growth of EWM to NWM to better understand the invasiveness of EWM. Fragments of both species with and without an apical tip were allowed to grow in laboratory conditions for a duration of 6 weeks. Data were collected weekly on lateral bud growth, rootlet growth, and apical tip growth. On average EWM and NWM developed a similar number of lateral buds, but EWM had longer lateral buds. EWM also had fewer rootlets and longer average apical tip growth than NWM. In natural settings the physiology of EWM may allow it to allocate resources to apical tip and lateral growth in order to build up a dense canopy and outcompete native plants for light. This study further validates that the competitiveness of EWM is directly linked to its ability to form a dense canopy.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2012
File Attachments: MHall.Capstone.4.16.12.docx
Authors: Michael S. Hall

Varyable diets in house mice, Mus musculus, do not influence ability to determine new food sources through olfaction

Wed, 04/18/2012 - 21:35
Abstract: The olfactory system is important in helping mammals to be aware of predators, interact with one another and find food. The olfactory epithelial layer is located throughout the nasal cavity and the olfactory system, and contains many nerve receptors. These nerve receptors are continuously replaced throughout the animal’s life time, and it is evident the nerve receptors are more or less sensitive to different stimuli based on the odors and other chemical cues the olfactory system is regularly exposed to, in the animal’s environment. Gustation, or taste, is also important for animals to be able to learn and identify what food sources are harmful and which are edible. Because the nasal cavity and the opening into the mouth share a small space of the same connecting canal, at the top of the throat and esophagus, they both have the perceived ability to interact and influence each other. In this study two groups of mice were given different diets from each other; one restricted to lab blocks (n=4) and the other provided a more diverse diet (n=5). The ability for the mice to discriminate new possible food sources through olfaction was assessed by comparing their preferences to sniff, spend time at and visit a known food item and a novel food item. Mice groups were then compared to each other to assess how gustatory experiences could alter new food identification through olfaction. Mice in both groups preferred the known food item over the novel item (p=0.019; p=0.005), and there was not a significant difference in responses between the two groups (p=0.126; p=0.336). Data suggest the ability of mice to identify new possible food sources by olfaction could be more dependent on gustatory experiences related to that particular food source, not by how diverse the gustatory experiences of mice had.
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Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2012
Authors: Chantel Perkins

Management Plan for Pig-nosed Turtles of the Kikori Region, Papua New Guinea

Wed, 04/25/2012 - 12:01
Abstract: Pig-nosed turtles (Carettochelys insculpta) are the last remaining turtle of its family and it is estimated roughly 3,000 individuals remain in the wild. In the Kikori region of Papua New Guinea, the population of this turtle has been on a severe and rapid decline over the past 30 years as a result of population growth of the local villages, causing increased turtle harvest rates. The more blatant aspect causing affect is the harvesting for food by the locals, as they eat both the eggs and the adult turtles. Nests are raided and all the contents are removed and adults are harvested with close to a 90% successful catch rate. Habitat destruction caused by village development and fresh water collection, and collection pressures from the pet trade are also additively responsible for the population decline. In order to establish an effective manner to increase populations to a sustainable level, much more research needs to be conducted on these turtles, as little is known about them. It may also be imperative to their survival to establish other ways local villages can acquire protein sources.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2012
File Attachments: Final Management Plan.docx
Authors: Chantel Perkins