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Capstone Projects

Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus) Management Plan for the Hudson River Estuary over the Next 25 Years

Thu, 05/03/2018 - 03:34
Abstract: Double-crested Cormorants (DCC) (Phalacrocorax auritus) are waterbirds that spend a majority of their time feeding in water. Their diet consists primarily of the fish species Percidae, Centrarchidae, Cyprinidae, Clupeidae, and Ictaluridae but sometimes feed on other aquatic life. Nesting and roosting of DCC occurs in trees along the edge of the waterbody in which they are present, both activities are done communally. Sometimes cormorants have a negative impact on fish species. They are also associated with the destruction of the trees that they roost and nest in. Commonly during the fall and winter, cormorants migrate to the southern United States. Double-crested cormorants are one of six species of cormorant that live in North America and are the most widely distributed. This species is protected under the Migratory Bird Act and has been Blue-listed (of special concern) but according to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, they are no longer protected and some management being done involves killing them to reduce numbers in places like New York where they’re reducing fish stocks and destroying native trees/vegetation. The Hudson River Estuary stretches 153 miles from Troy to the New York Harbor. This tidal estuary flows in two directions and has some salt content up about the Rensselaer area. The estuary is a home for more than 200 fish species and provides feeding habitat for many bird species such as DDC (waterbirds) and Bald Eagles. The goal of this plan is to balance DDC populations in the Hudson River Estuary between the wants and needs of the people. The two objectives that would help achieve this goal are reducing cormorant populations where needed to help reduce negative impacts on fish and the area and also to educate the public on DCC and how they may play a big role in an ecosystem without negatively affecting the area. To ensure that populations of DCC in the Hudson River Estuary do not grow too large or become too low these management implications should be enacted to keep their populations balanced throughout the area.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2018
Authors: Frank J. Keegan

Conservation Management Plan of Fishing Cat (Prionailurus viverrinus) Populations on Coastal Edges of India

Thu, 05/03/2018 - 07:58
Abstract: Fishing cats (Prionailurus viverrinus) in India are located primarily in water bodies, reed beds, swamps, and locally cultivated grass area. In other countries fishing cat lowlands and hilly areas that form wetlands. Fishing cats are polygynous and they only breed once a year. Thirty percent of grassland habitat and fifty percent of wetland habitat is irreversibly lost due to agricultural development, urbanization and industrialization in India threating this species. Over the past 18 years, fifty percent of the population has declined and is anticipated to continue if no habitat protection is established for the fishing cat. Habitat loss and over development has been leading to fragmentation of fishing cat populations, which for the conservation of this species has led to genetic isolation. Fragmentation and genetic isolation, increases the chance of extinction. Fishing cats have been traded illegally across borders, used as a food source in local tribes, and killed in retaliation due to interference with live stock, as well as being poisoned, snared and indiscriminately trapped. The goal of this plan is to increase the fishing cat populations in India’s coastal regions along with increasing global and local awareness of fishing cat importance. Implementation of permaculture practices and wetland monitoring programs/ incentives are proposed solutions towards slowing the rate of destruction of valuable fishing cat habitat. Revising current Indian government laws that deal with penalties and fines of fishing cat poaching, trading, and killing are ways that could deter human/ fishing cat interactions, as well as help improve fishing cat populations. International internship programs and the creation of new social media sites along with increased media station coverage about fishing cats could also spread the importance of this species on a global scale. Failure to maintain and save fishing cat habitat and spread global awareness continue the current rate of decline for the fishing cat. If this plan is successful, fishing cat populations would be maintained and steadily increase along with the restoration and maintenance of current wetland ecosystems and habitats.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2018
File Attachments: Fishing Cat
Authors: Madison Lemoine

Managing the Declining Population of Northern long-eared bats in New York State

Thu, 05/03/2018 - 08:02
Abstract: White-nose syndrome (Geomyces destructans) is a fungal disease that has caused over 5.5 million bat deaths in eastern North America. The fungus affects any open skin including the bat’s patagium and causes lesions. The fungus consists of microscopic spores which can attach to anything it comes into contact with to spread the disease. The fungus is spread from bat to bat and cave systems as well as facilitated by human tourism. Northern long-eared bats (Myotis septentrionalis) are currently threatened in New York State. The northern long-eared bat is an insectivore and must hibernate when its food source is unavailable. During hibernation the bat’s immune system is suppressed, making it more vulnerable to the effects of white-nose syndrome. The bat will deplete its fat reserve to fight off the disease, which will lead to death if the bat cannot find a food source. White-nose syndrome has decreased the northern long-eared bat population by 90% in New York State. There is no cure for white-nose syndrome, and the northern long-eared bat population continues to decrease in New York State. The northern long-eared bat population is relatively unknown, but estimated to be 20,000 individuals in New York State. Population projections predict that the bat may become extirpated from New York State in the next 5 years. Increasing the survivability of the juvenile bat population to 70% and the adult bat population to 80% would prevent the extirpation of the species. The goal of this management plan is to increase the population of northern long-eared bats in New York to prevent the extirpation of the species from the state and create a sustainable population. This should be done by preventing further human facilitation of the disease, increasing educational resources for the public and gathering more information about the fungus and the northern long-eared bat population in New York.
Access: No
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2018
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Bailey Muntz

Management Plan for Canvasback (Aythya valisineria) Breeding Populations in Saskatchewan

Thu, 05/03/2018 - 08:39
Abstract: Canvasbacks (Aythya valisineria) are a migratory waterfowl species that commonly breed in pothole wetlands located in and around Saskatchewan. Canvasbacks are hunted in both the United States and Canada. This species population is declining due to habitat destruction and loss of wetlands for agricultural purposes. In the past humans, have also been responsible for this species ingesting heavy metals, causing the species population to decline drastically from hunting and leading to a change in the diet of this species from a plant based to more of a clam based diet which can be detrimental during times of food deprivation. The goal of this plan is to increase the breeding population of canvasbacks in Saskatchewan. The objectives of this goal are to increase the overall population to over 2 million over the course of 10 years (2018-2028), create and restore 50% of wetlands in the breeding range of canvasbacks over 10 years, enhance the education of farmers and the public in the surrounding areas about conservation issues regarding canvasbacks and increasing knowledge by 50% in 3 years (2018-2021), and reduce parasitic nest intrusions to below the average 4.7 eggs per nest over 10 years. Without proper management, canvasbacks could continue to have a loss in habitat and decreases in population. If populations were to plummet, a sought after game species could no longer be appreciated by both the hunting and birding communities. Populations do not have to decrease and with proper management populations could increase and be sustainable.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2018
File Attachments: compiledplan.docx
Authors: Hunter Weber

Management plan for black-tailed prairie dog (Cynomys ludovicianus) in the South Dakota grasslands

Thu, 05/03/2018 - 09:00
Abstract: Black-tailed prairie dogs (Cynomys ludovicianus) inhabit open grasslands in which they create burrows to live in causing destruction to surrounding flora. Black-tailed prairie dogs are a nuisance by ranchers and farmers due to the destruction they cause to croplands and pastures. Although prairie dogs cause damage to agriculture fields, they are vital to nearly 170 species that depend on them for food, cover, nesting areas, and the sub-habitat they create. One hundred thousand acres of South Dakota grassland is occupied by prairie dogs. The goal of this plan is to reduce negative interactions between black-tailed prairie dogs and ranchers as well as create a healthy and stable habitat for species reliant on prairie dogs. The objectives to achieve these goals include: reducing the prairie dogs population on private land by 60% and public land by 40% in 5 years, creating educational courses to show importance of prairie dogs to surrounding habitats, and reducing the risk of sylvatic plague from spreading through colonies inhabited by black-footed ferrets. Based on population modeling, the focus will be on decreasing the juveniles annual survival rate by 20% will help achieve our objective of decreasing the population on private and public land. By enacting this plan, more than just the black-tailed prairie dog can be enjoyed when traveling through the South Dakota grasslands.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2018
File Attachments: Hoellerer_Final_Draft.docx
Authors: Tyler Hoellerer

Management plan to sustain moose (Alces alces populations in Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine against climate change

Thu, 05/03/2018 - 09:01
Abstract: Moose (Alces alces) are an icon to New England. They congregate public from different states for an opportunity to observe and acquire hunting permits to harvest this iconic individual. Moose can eat 18 to 27 kg of browse a day affecting the understory and regrowth of tree species such as red maple (Acer rubrum), sugar maple (Acer saccharum), stripped maple (Acer pensylvanicum) and yellow birch (Betula alleghaniensis). Moose populations were regulated to one individual every square mile to meet the needs of the forest industry due to the increase of hunting permits. Moose populations continued to decline throughout its southern most continental indicating another factor was present; climate change. Warmer temperatures are causing shorter winters which correlates to higher tick populations. An abundance of moose ticks causes loss of hair and dramatic loss of blood of an individual. Additionally, warmer winter temperatures are also impacting forested habitat that moose are dependent on. Tree roots are more susceptible to damage from frost with less snowpack. Frost damage can stunt the regrowth of maple and birch saplings that moose depend upon for browsing. Goals of this plan are to mitigate present and future effects of climate change on moose populations as forested habitat changes and to increase survivorship of female moose and calf populations within Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. Objectives put in place to maintain these goals include maintaining yearly fecundity rates while increasing calf survivorship, perform tick counts on individual moose until fecundity rates are not affected, monitor moose wintering ranges, create and protect coniferous and deciduous stands on private land, model climate change effects on moose populations, model forested landscape changes in response to climate change, and increase public interest to create and protect wetlands on privately owned lands. With the completion of these objectives, moose populations will be maintained against the indirect effects of climate change.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2018
File Attachments: Whipple_Final Plan.docx
Authors: Devon Whipple

Reintroduction of Eastern Loggerhead Shrikes (Lanius ludovicianus migrans) to Western New York State

Thu, 05/03/2018 - 09:02
Abstract: Loggerhead Shrikes (Lanius ludovicianus migrans) inhabit open areas with mixed vegetation and bare patches. Suitable habitat contains hawthorn trees for nesting and impaling stations for prey. Vegetation provides perches that Loggerhead Shrikes use for hunting. Diet consists mainly of invertebrates, but Loggerhead Shrikes also feed on vertebrates. Loggerhead Shrikes are generalists and their diets change seasonally, geographically, and annually. Nesting habitat primarily consists of red cedar (Juniperus virginiana) and hawthorn (Crataegus spp.) trees. Outside of breeding season, eastern Loggerhead Shrikes are migratory. Expansion in territory size during winter may be due to decreased food availability from a reduction of invertebrates. Throughout North America, Loggerhead Shrike populations have declined 79% in the last 40 years. Loggerhead Shrikes are considered endangered in New York State where they have been extirpated but are only considered a species of concern by the USFWS continent wide. The reason for decline of Loggerhead Shrikes is due to winter habitat loss which reduces overwinter survival of juveniles and adults. Other contributors for the decline of Loggerhead Shrikes are pesticides, climate change, road collisions, habitat loss, and changes in agricultural practices including the planting of row crops. Considerable amounts of suitable unused habitat for Loggerhead Shrikes exists in New York State suggesting loss of suitable habitat is not the main reason of decline in the northeast. A wild population of eastern Loggerhead Shrikes exists in Ontario, Canada, where conservation efforts have increased the population. Habitat conditions in New York where Loggerhead Shrikes will be reintroduced are comparable to those currently occupied in Ontario. The goals of this plan are to reintroduce and maintain Loggerhead Shrike populations in New York and to maintain suitable breeding habitat in the state. The objectives to achieve these goals are: start a captive breeding program in New York for Loggerhead Shrikes, establish a stable captive breeding population within 5 years, increase juvenile overwinter survival rate, reduction of issue with farmers and hawthorn trees, manage fields to provide for Loggerhead Shrike habitat, and reduction of pesticide use in suitable habitat areas in 5 years. Population modeling showed that adult survival was the key factor to reintroducing and maintaining a population of Loggerhead Shrikes in New York State. By releasing 75 juveniles into the wild annually from captive bred field propagation pens, a stable population of wild Loggerhead Shrikes should exist in New York State within 20 years. Conservation and reintroduction of this species is needed for a population to exist in New York in the future.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2018
Authors: Hannah Bieber

Management Plan for Increasing and Maintaining a Sustainable Population of Virginia Opossum (Didelphis virginiana) in New York

Thu, 05/03/2018 - 09:45
Abstract: Virginia opossum (Didelphis virginiana) is the only marsupial in North America. The range of the opossum has extended into northern territories due to a shift in climate change. These territories have been exploited for their resources due to habitat conversion. Their successful exploitation of anthropogenic resources modified their diet to fit their habitat. They often scavenge among human trash and porches where food is left out for pets. This close proximity to humans facilitates negative opossum-human interactions. However, due to their diverse diet and preference for grooming and consuming ticks and fleas, their presence in New York can result in a decrease of zoonotic diseases, such as Lyme disease. In folklore, this species is continuously thought of as an ugly, nuisance, and trickster. Furthermore, this expansion in their range and association to folklore has resulted in an increase in intentional road kill and trapping mortalities and increased competition between larger mesopredators. International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species lists this species as least concern with no data for population densities (1). Minimal population estimates have been conducted to determine how to best manage this species. The goal of this plan is to increase the population of the opossum and maintain a sustainable density in the state of New York over the next ten years.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2018
File Attachments: Final Paper for FWS470.docx
Authors: Alexandra Putnam

Management Plan to Improve Habitat Viability for American Dippers (Cinclus mexicanus) in the Black Hills Region of South Dakota

Thu, 05/03/2018 - 10:07
Abstract: American dippers (Cinclus mexicanus) are a unique passerine that forages for terrestrial and aquatic organisms. When hunting for aquatic organisms the American dipper utilizes a variety of strategies including swimming underwater, standing on the shore with their head in the water and diving into the water from the air. American dipper habitat is comprised of fast flowing mountain streams where they hunt and nest near the water. In the Black Hills National Forest in South Dakota and Wyoming the American dipper is restricted to two breeding streams, Spearfish and Whitewood Creek. American dippers have been removed from their historic breeding streams due to changing land cover, increased human population and urbanization. Currently only 50-75 individuals remain in the Black Hills. The goal is to increase American dipper populations and habitat within the Black Hills National Forest. Population monitoring through surveys and mist netting will be conducted to obtain estimates of abundance. Protection will be granted along current breeding streams and restoration of historic breeding streams will allow American dippers to expand their range. To increase American dipper populations in the region water quality levels must be enhanced for suitable foraging conditions on historic breeding streams. Additionally, managing and protecting riparian zones along historic breeding sites will offer more suitable habitat for dippers in the region allowing them to return to these streams. Forestry practices in riparian ecosystems have negative effects on American dippers, human disturbance and saw dust pollution increases the likelihood of stream abandonment by American dippers. Reducing forestry and mining operations in the Black Hills region will allow American dippers to remain on current breeding streams and expand into historic breeding streams. Through habitat restoration and preservation American dipper populations can begin to recover to predevelopment numbers within the national forest.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2018
File Attachments: American_dipper.docx
Authors: Nicholas Yerden

Ten-year management plan of the Lower Keys marsh rabbit (Sylvilagus palustris hefneri) on the lower half of the Florida Keys island chain

Thu, 05/03/2018 - 10:19
Abstract: Lower Keys marsh rabbits (Sylvilagus palustris hefneri, subsequently referred to as LKMR) are endemic to the lower portion of the Florida Key Island chain. They have been extirpated from much of their historic range and now are only found on Big Pine, Bocca Chica, Saddlebunch, and Sugarloaf Keys with some individuals present on smaller surrounding islands. They rely on coastal marshes for their diet of sedges, grasses and young mangroves as well as for cover from their vast array of predators. Populations have been on a steady decline for several decades, resulting in their listing as an endangered species in Florida and across the nation in 1990. Their status has not changed since then due to the general lack of data, especially regarding population dynamics and recovery. The cause of this decline is attributed to reduced habitat availability and increased fragmentation due to human development and sea-level rise. Additionally, increasing populations of feral cats and Burmese pythons significantly increase predation of all ages of LKMR. The goal of this management plan is to allow for recovery across the Florida Keys island chain by raising the population of LKMR to a stable point where they can reproduce and disperse adequately. Efforts include increasing the number of individuals in the population, reducing predation by invasive species, and increasing the availability and connectivity of the habitat. A secondary goal of the plan includes increasing the economic revenue resulting from the existence of LKMR in the Florida Keys to fund conservation efforts and benefit local economies. This will be accomplished with educational program and development of low-impact tourism and revenue from non-consumptive wildlife use. Quick action in this plan is of critical importance if there to be a chance for recovery in the species. With ever changing conditions in the environment and potential for more disastrous events in the future, it is unlikely that this species will recover, but not for the lack of trying.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2018
Authors: Cody J. Sears