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Capstone Projects

Reviving Sea Otters (Enhydra lutris) Populations Post Fur-Trade in the Aleutian Archipelago of Alaska

Wed, 05/01/2019 - 09:40
Abstract: Northern sea otters (Enhydra lutris) are a very important predator to the Aleutian Archipelago of Alaska. They are a keystone species that helps maintain a balanced relationship between sea urchins and kelp. Sea otters were nearly extinct in the early 20th century, but most populations have since recovered. However, otters of the Aleutian Islands are facing large declines due to increased killer whale (Orcinus orca) predation. Due to small, extant populations that are isolated from one another, it is difficult for otters to disperse from their birthplace, thus creating genetic bottle necking. This management plan’s goal is to stabilize sea otter populations, at islands that were not operating at equilibrium in 1965, to approximately 300 total individuals by 2026. Population models show adult survivability is the most influential on the population. The objective measures that will be taken to achieve this goal would be to (1) Stop the hunting of sea otters from 2019-2026, (2) decrease killer whale predation by 50% by 2026, and (3) increase the number of adults by at least 30% in areas that provide protection from killer whales by 2026. This plan expects a positive outcome with the goal being achieved within the given time frame, ± 1 year.
Access: Yes
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2019
Authors: Donovan Hughes

Conservation of the Critically Endangered Silky Sifaka (Propithecus candidus) in Marojejy National Park, Madagascar.

Wed, 05/01/2019 - 11:05
Abstract: Executive Summary The silky sifaka (Propithecus candidus) is a critically endangered, large bodied lemur endemic to the eastern montane rainforests of Madagascar. Silky sifakas eat primarily leaves but will also eat seeds, flowers, and fruits, which means they are not true folivores. Silky sifakas reproduce, on average, once every other year and will mate on a single day each year. Like other eastern rainforest sifakas, silky sifakas will not cross non-forested habitat (i.e. clear cuts or farm land) to travel between forest fragments. Thus, deforestation is a primary concern for the species’ survival of the species. Additionally, the local villagers hunt lemurs for bush meat. Locals do not specifically target silky sifakas but make no effort to avoid the species while hunting. The goal of this management plan is to increase and maintain the silky sifaka population within Marojejy National Park, in north eastern Madagascar. There are four main objectives to reach and fulfill this goal. First, conduct additional research on silky sifaka population size and natural history, and produce 5 peer reviewed papers to increase what is known about the species. Second, to increase survival rates of each age class to 90% in 20 years. Third, increase education on the importance and uniqueness of the forests and species that live within them, inside Marojejy National Park by 50% in 3 years. And finally, to reduce the illegal harvest of fuel and rosewood within Marojejy National Park, as well as the surrounding forests, by 90% in 3 years. These objectives will be achieved through different actions including education, increased management and monitoring of the park, and implementation of new data collection methods. The completion of each objective and the effective implementation of each action should result in the silky sifaka population stabilizing and increasing in numbers each year.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2019
File Attachments: Tolman_FWS470_Final.pdf
Authors: Matthew W. Tolman

Understanding the Scaly Anteater: A Management Plan for the Sunda pangolin in Southeast Asia (2019-2069)

Wed, 05/01/2019 - 16:14
Abstract: The Sunda pangolin (Manis javanica) is one of four pangolin species found in Asia. Known as the scaly anteater, it is native throughout southeast Asia and is considered to be the most illegally trafficked mammal in the world. The Sunda pangolin can be found in primary and mature secondary forests, and feeds mainly on ants and termites. Major ecological conservation issues for the Sunda pangolin include loss of habitat through deforestation for the palm oil industry in southeast Asia. Conservation issues involving economic and sociocultural aspects are that many Asian cultures believe that pangolin scales possess medicinal properties, and the pangolin is also a delicacy in many Asian cultures causing them to be heavily poached. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species has the Sunda pangolin listed as critically endangered because of the lack of information available on this species. The goal of this management plan is to create a better understanding of the biology and ecology of Sunda pangolins and gather information on the status of the population of Sunda pangolins in southeast Asia from 2019-2059. Objectives of this goal include: gain an understanding of Sunda pangolin ecology, biology and behavior in southeast Asia in fifteen years, publishing five peer reviewed scientific papers, assess 75% of Sunda pangolin population throughout southeast Asia in ten years, create awareness in local communities and collaborate with relevant agencies to commit to the conservation of Sunda Pangolins in twenty-five years. With proper management of the Sunda pangolin valuable knowledge of this species will be gained and steps can be made to save the population in southeast Asia.
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Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2019
File Attachments: JAllen_Final_Plan.pdf
Authors: Johannah Allen

Management Plan to Double the Oncilla (Leopardus tigrinus) Population in South America

Thu, 05/02/2019 - 08:02
Abstract: The oncilla (Leopardus tigrinus) is the smallest of eight neotropical cat species of South America. They have thick, short, light brown-grey fur that has spotted rosettes. The back of their ears also contains a white spot in the middle of the black fur. The average weight of the felid is 2.4 kg. Their main distribution is located in the northern part of South America. They tend to favor dense forests that have high cover. The oncilla diet consists of small mammals, birds, and reptiles. Some examples of the types of prey they consume include unidentifiable rodents (Cricetidae), the yellow pygmy rice rat (Oligoryzomys flavescens), grass mice (Akodon sp.), the rat-headed rice rat (Sooretamys angouya), and unidentified birds. They also depredate on poultry livestock in nearby villages. The oncilla has an average litter size of 1.5 kittens that become full grown by 11 months of age. They do not become reproductively mature until they reach an age of two. The IUCN Red List considers the oncilla to be a vulnerable species. The number of mature individuals is between 8,900-10,210. There is a projected decline in population by 36.8% over the next three generations. This management plan is focused on doubling the population of mature oncillas within the next 20 years in South America. The biggest ecological factor that is affecting populations is deforestation of their habitat. Oncillas are also hunted due to depredation on village livestock as well as for their skins and traditional medicinal purposes. First objective is to conduct a minimum of two studies improve understanding about the natural history aspects of the oncilla throughout the 20 years. Second, establish a minimum of three protected areas for the oncillas in the first ten years. Third, increase public knowledge of the oncilla by 50% throughout the 20 years. Finally, reduce the mortality of the oncilla by 75% in the first two years.
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Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2019
File Attachments: OncillaManagementPlan.pdf
Authors: Sarah Vivlamore

The Loggerhead Shrike (Lanius ludovicianus): Securing the future of the butcher bird in Arkansas

Thu, 05/02/2019 - 11:14
Abstract: The Loggerhead Shrike (Lanius ludovicianus) is the only one of the 30 species of true shrikes in the world endemic to North America. Loggerhead Shrikes (hereafter, shrikes) are raptorial grassland passerines, that use open fields with short vegetation including pastures with fence rows, mowed roadsides, and agricultural fields for hunting grounds. Breeding adults have frequently been found to nest in red cedar (Juniperus virginiana) and hawthorn (Crataegus spp.) trees, however when trees or shrubs are not available, shrikes will also nest in brush piles or hardwood debris. According to Breeding Bird Survey data shrike populations have been declining across most of their range since 1966 and are listed as near threatened on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List as of October 2017. The conservation issues believed to be affecting shrikes include habitat loss, high winter mortality, and pesticides used in agricultural practices. Increased population growth in northwestern Arkansas, and changes in agricultural practices in the south of the state, have reduced the open grassland or pastureland habitat that shrikes depend upon. Agricultural practice changes have also led to a decrease in available cover, resulting in higher predation levels especially during winter. The impact of pesticides is currently unknown however nearly 20 studies, including the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s 2000 Status Assessment, have listed pesticide use as a primary reason for the observed population decline. The goal of this management plan is to maintain a population size of 400,000 shrikes in Arkansas. The objectives to achieve this goal include executing an education and awareness campaign including surveys, brochures, and working with farmers to educate them on Conservation Reserve Programs, improving habitat across the state to support the 400,000-population size through farmer land agreements, and improving juvenile and adult shrike survival rates by 19 and 30%, respectively, through managing potential causes of mortality to prevent further decline and stabilize the population at 400,000 individuals. Through proper management of habitat, cover and foraging habitat availability will improve which will reduce mortality and improve survivorship rates. If this management plan is enacted, shrike populations are expected to recover, and stabilize in Arkansas.
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Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2019
File Attachments: Final Capstone.pdf
Authors: Connor W. Gale

Conservation Management Plan to Increase Population Numbers of the rusty-spotted cat (Prionailurus rubiginosus) in India and Sri Lanka

Fri, 05/03/2019 - 12:15
Abstract: Rusty-spotted cats (Prionailurus rubiginosus) are one of the smallest cats in the world. They are distributed in select parts of India and Sri Lanka. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List considers rusty-spotted cats to be near threatened. They can be found in moist, deciduous forests, especially during the dry season. Their diet consists of mostly small mammals, but they have been known to prey upon birds and amphibians as well. Rusty-spotted cats have a voracious appetite and fast metabolism that has resulted in them being called the hummingbirds of the felid family. Ecological concerns involving rusty-spotted cats include anthropogenic factors like deforestation and roadways passing through their habitat. Sociocultural and economic factors affecting populations of rusty-spotted cats include poaching due to livestock kills and hunting for bushmeat. This management plan focuses on rusty-spotted cat populations in areas that are anthropogenically impacted. The goal of this management plan is to gain a better understanding of the status of rusty-spotted cat populations and natural history, as well as to increase population numbers of rusty-spotted cats in India and Sri Lanka by increasing survival rates in rusty-spotted cats over the age of 1 year. The objectives of this goal are to increase annual survival rates of rusty-spotted cats by 10% by 2039 and reduce rusty-spotted cat habitat degradation by 30% by 2029. Populations of rusty-spotted cats thrive in pristine habitats that have no human impacts. To properly manage for this species, areas need to be protected in order to ensure that the rusty-spotted cat will continue to have suitable forest habitat to live and reproduce in.
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Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2019
File Attachments: Final Plan PDF.pdf
Authors: Ben Coolidge

Feral Horse (Equus caballus) Management Plan for South Central Wyoming

Fri, 05/03/2019 - 13:35
Abstract: Feral horses are found through our western rangelands in the thousands tho they are not truly “Wild Horses” they are technically feral and were introduced into the western landscape by Spanish conquistadors in the 1500s. In Southcentral Wyoming, there are currently 3,403 adult feral horses within 3,008,875 acres of federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) which exceeds the appropriate management level (AML) is 1,521-2,104 adults. Feral horse overpopulation is a large strain on the BLM's budget and a political and social hot topic as there is both support for more horses to be on the range and support for them to be removed. To date, feral horses are federally protected by The Wild and Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971 and are managed by the BLM. Feral horses have the potential to double their herd sizes every four years resulting in unchecked populations being able to overpopulate and degrade delicate rangeland ecosystem and utilizing resources crucial for native wildlife. Currently, feral horses are managed by rounding up the excess population via helicopter and removing them from the range to which they are then adopted out or held in captivity in the BLM's care. This management technique works but is time-consuming, expensive and redundant. To more adequately manage feral horses in south central Wyoming an animal roundup will be performed to have a population that is within the AML from which the immunocontraceptive Porcine Zona Pellucida (PZP) will be utilized to lower fecundity to a level that will prevent overpopulation. With this management option, PZP darting will have to be done on an annual basis but will be a much cheaper and socially acceptable option than today's. Once feral horse populations in South Central Wyoming are properly managed the result will be healthier multiple use rangelands for both wildlife, ranchers and recreationist to enjoy.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2019
Authors: Zachary R. Gauthier

Management Plan to Restore Henslow’s Sparrow (Ammodramus henslowii) Habitat in New York

Fri, 05/03/2019 - 13:53
Abstract: The Henslow’s sparrow (Ammodramus henslowii) is a grassland bird that lives throughout the Northern United States and Southern parts of Canada during the breeding season. Throughout history they are identified as a habitat indicator for grasslands. During the 1950’s Henslow’s sparrows thrived, but with the innovations in farming habitat, became sparse. Introduction of row crops and regenerating forests in New York have caused a decline in Henslow’s sparrow population. The goal of this management plan is to increase the Henslow’s sparrow population in New York by 20% within the next 20 years. An increase in general public and landowner knowledge of the Henslow’s sparrow by 80% in 20 years, done through the use of many different platforms such as social media, local newspaper, and mailed pamphlets and flyers in order to allow for multiple platforms of information gathering. There will be an increase in the available habitat for Henslow’s sparrows by 20% in 10 years. The use of surveying techniques will provide information about suitable areas for management of Henslow’s habitat leading to the implementation of landowner incentive programs. Improve the management practices on the existing Henslow’s sparrow habitat by 60% in 15 years. This increase accomplished through implementation of regulations on private landowners to integrate a mowing rotation and a decrease in pesticide use on grasslands and areas near grasslands that can cause drift from one field to another. It will also survey the Henslow’s sparrow population by 80% in the 5 years. This is accomplished through the use of surveys that already are in use, such as the breeding bird survey and the grassland bird survey. It is expected that throughout this management plan, not only will there be an increase of at least 20% of Henslow’s sparrows, but also improve understanding by the public of the needs of this species, leading to improved management practices and better habitat for this grassland bird.
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Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2019
Authors: Scott Richardson

A Sustainable Management Plan for Invasive Red Deer (Cervus elaphus) in South America (2019-2049)

Fri, 05/03/2019 - 14:35
Abstract: Red deer (Cervus elaphus) are the fourth largest deer species in the world and are native throughout Europe, Western Asia, and Northern Africa. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) classifies the red deer as “least concern” in its native range. In the early 1900’s red deer were introduced to South America for deer farming and trophy hunting. Today their populations are estimated at over 100,000 individuals. In South America, the IUCN classifies red deer as one of the 100 worst invasive species. They utilize a variety of habitat types and have expanded their range quickly, crossing the Andean mountain range separating Argentina and Chile. The main conservation issue associated with red deer is competition with native species. Red deer inhabit similar habitats and have dietary overlap with the pudu (Pudu pudu) and endangered huemul deer (Hippocamelus bisulcus) and may be contributing to declining numbers in those species. High browsing pressure is influencing native plant growth and may be altering forest ecosystems. The goal of this management plan is to reduce red deer populations in order to mitigate impacts on native species while maintaining a population that is sustainable for hunting. Proposed objectives to achieve this goal include: (1) increasing the understanding of red deer ecology in South America by publishing three peer reviewed articles, (2) surveying forested landscapes to monitor vegetative response to browsing pressure, (3) increase the number of hunters in the human population, and (4) reduce red deer populations by 30% within a 30 year period. If appropriate actions are taken, there should be an increased understanding of the ecological impacts red deer have on native species and forest ecosystems. Increased ecological knowledge along with hunter participation will help to reduce competitive impacts while sustaining a population that can be utilized as an economic resource for the region.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2019
File Attachments: White_finalplan.docx
Authors: Patrick White

Management Plan for White-headed Vultures (Trigonoceps occipitalis) in Africa 2019-2094

Fri, 05/03/2019 - 11:59
Abstract: White-headed vultures (Trigonoceps occipitalis) are Old-World vultures native to the African continent. They were once found across the landscape of central Africa but are currently restricted to protected habitats. Their diet consists of livestock and other ungulates carrion native to Africa. The populations of white-headed vultures are sharply declining due to anthropogenic causes. Ecological concerns are the loss of habitat due to deforestation, agricultural practices, and urbanization. Sociocultural and economic factors include black market trade, poisoning, and bush meat trade, these factors have contributed the greatest loss in population numbers of the species. All these areas of concern have been recorded across the entirety of Africa, but mainly near the Kruger National Park, where the highest portion of the population currently resides. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species currently has the white-headed vulture listed as a critically endangered species, due to the fact that the small population is experiencing an extreme rate of decline, with local populations believed to be experiencing an even faster decline due to major poisoning events. This management plan is to increase white-headed vulture populations in Africa to self-sustaining numbers, to prevent extinction of the species from 2019-2094. The objectives that are being used to help achieve this goal are: increase protected habitat for white-headed vultures by 10% in 5 years, increase adult and sub-adult survivorship by 5% in 10 years, and reduce poisoning and poaching of the white-headed vultures by 50% in 10 years. White-headed vultures are a vital species in the ecosystem in Africa and should not go extinct. With proper management for the white-headed vulture the populations can rebound and re-inhabit their historical habitat.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2019
File Attachments: Larocque_Capstone.docx
Authors: Brady J Larocque