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Capstone Projects

A Sustainable Management Plan of Saiga antelope (Saiga tatarica) in Kazahkstan

Wed, 05/02/2018 - 23:45
Abstract: Saiga antelope (Saiga tatarica) are a remnant of the last ice age, and are a charismatic symbol of people who live in the vast steppes and arid plains of Eurasia. Once existing in masses comparable to ungulates of African savannah, Saiga populations in the past few decades have witnessed a dramatic decline due to a host of environmental and anthropogenic factors. At the turn of the century numbers were one million, and at present numbers around 18,000 individuals. Poaching, diseases, harsh winters, rampant predation by wolves and pet dogs, and human caused mortality forces preventing Saiga populations from rebounding. These issues are in what is moving Saiga toward extinction. To stop this impending ecological disaster from happening, a management plan must be created in order to save an emblematic and historic species from annihilation. Kazakhstan currently holds the largest number of surviving Saiga herds and individuals, and has the most potential for a managed rejuvenation of the population, which is currently still in decline. Measures must be taken to reduce predation and poaching, and allow for more recruitment of claves into the breeding population, which in addition to increasing the population will also offset the gross sex ratio of males to females that currently is precarious enough that a potential reproductive collapse is not impossible. Measures reducing human impacts must also be taken to ensure the end of poaching and hunting of Saiga, sale of their parts, and cooperation between the managers and the Kazakhstani government via a council that will oversee the entire management implementation, as well as advocate for Saiga any legal or legislative situation. With enough funding and support, and with the completion of the societal and ecological objectives, it may be possible to accomplish our overall goal to increase Saiga populations, returning them to sustainable levels.
Access: Yes
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2018
Authors: Owen Denton

Gray fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus) management plan in New Jersey, 2019 to 2029

Thu, 05/03/2018 - 00:04
Abstract: Gray fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus) are a medium sized omnivore living from the southern edge of Canada to the northern regions of Columbia and Venezuela. The species has a stable population across its geographic range. On a finer scale, some localized populations are unstable, and are of conservation concern. NJ’s gray fox population is unstable, with a 99% decrease in the population since the early 1980’s and a 52% decrease since the early 2000’s. The goal of this management plan is to increase the gray fox population within NJ to a self-sustaining population. This will be achieved by five objectives; (1) use known major factors found to affect gray fox populations outside of NJ and investigate them within NJ, identifying the severity of each across all of NJ, (2) reduce morbid diseases in gray fox across all of NJ by 50%, (3) increase and preserve preferred gray fox habitat of deciduous forests, brushy forests, early successional fields, and the contiguity between, or a combination of any four by 20% across all of NJ, (4) reduce predation by coyotes or humans, or a combination of both on gray fox by 20% across all of NJ, and (5) increase gray fox pup, age 0 to 4 months, survivorship within NJ by 65%. Unstable populations result from habitat alteration, habitat destruction, overharvest, disease, or any combination of them, making them the focus of objectives. NJ biologists do not know why gray fox populations are declining in NJ. Due to this lack of knowledge, early stages of the management plan will focus on those possible factors causing the decline. The information gained from research above will provide a focus on factors that are effecting the population thus guiding the future management of gray fox in NJ. If the management plan is successful, ecological stress will be reduced, keeping small mammal populations stable, increasing seed dispersal rates, and increasing available harvest numbers for both trappers and hunters.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2018
Authors: Austin Damminger

Management Plan for Timber Rattlesnakes (Crotalus horridus) in Southwestern Wisconsin

Thu, 05/03/2018 - 00:47
Abstract: Timber rattlesnakes (Crotalus horridus), also formally known as canebrake rattlesnakes, are native to the United States and were once widespread throughout the entire country, including southern Canada where it is now extirpated. Currently, timber rattlesnakes are found primarily within eastern United States. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List states populations are steadily declining as a response to bounty hunting, pet trade, habitat degradation because of human interference, and public perception. As a result of their large geographic range and large population across the United States, they are listed as a species of Least Concern with a declining population on the IUCN Red List. In the state of Wisconsin over the past 40 years timber rattlesnakes have been subjected to habitat loss from timber harvesting, bounty hunting, climate change, and human interaction with increasing human population. As a result of population decline, genetic isolation of this species has caused small populations to drift and decline. Currently, this species is currently state protected in efforts to reduce intentional take. Diet is 91% small mammals, 9% birds, other reptiles, and amphibians. In the active season during the summer months timber rattlesnakes in various habitats will habit in mixed deciduous forests with exposed rocky outcroppings, and bluff prairies relying on coarse woody debris for foraging. During winter, this species occupies underground surfaces with crevices that provide retreats for overwintering. The goal of this plan is to increase current populations and decrease genetic isolation within their current, historical range in southwestern Wisconsin over the next 30 years from 2018-2048. The objectives to achieve this goal include: determine current populations, maintain suitable habitat, and increase public outreach to decrease intentional take. Based on a population model, increasing juvenile survival to make it to an adult is necessary to restore a population. If this plan is successful, population sizes should increase to a sustaining level within 30 years from 2018-2048 allowing them to contribute to their environment as a keystone species.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2018
File Attachments: miller_mgmt_plan.docx
Authors: Jaclyn Miller

A Management Plan for Gray Foxes (Urocyon cinereoargenteus) in Allegany and Steuben Counties in Southern Tier New York State

Thu, 05/03/2018 - 01:26
Abstract: In this plan, the overall goal is to increase gray fox numbers in Allegany and Steuben counties to achieve sustaining populations in southern tier New York State. Implementation of predator control, breeding habitat management, public education, food resource management, and disease management techniques will be used to reach the overall goal of this plan. Decrease in predator effects of gray foxes will be achieved through trap and relocation (Steelman et al 1998, McGlennen et al. 2001, Shivik et al. 2005). Breeding habitat will be increased through re-planting native vegetation in areas such as hedgerows and forest edges (Croxton et al. 2004, Aiken et al. 2015). Through public outreach and education, a better understanding of the gray fox and its ecological role to the environment and surrounding ecosystems can be established (Pimentel et al. 1993, Peterson and Messner 2010). Food availability will be increased through a series of scat analyzations and camera trap data which will distinguish preferred prey species across all four seasons (Kamler and MacDonald 2011). Administering continuous oral vaccines through sweet baits (sugar coated food items) and active injections to trapped individuals will decrease effects of disease on gray fox populations. There is currently no population demographics on the gray fox in the target area and this plan will give a better understanding to the condition of gray fox populations in southern tier New York State.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2018
Authors: Logan Milligan

Management Plan for Pygmy Three-toed Sloths (Bradypus pygmaeus) on Isla Escudo de Veraguas, Panama, 2018-2058

Thu, 05/03/2018 - 01:50
Abstract: Pygmy three-toed sloths (Bradypus pygmaeus, hereafter PTTS) are an arboreal folivore that live on Isla Escudo de Veraguas, a 4.3km2 island off the coast of Panama. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List lists PTTS as critically endangered due to low populations and small extent. Population estimates vary between 50 and 5000. PTTS have only been recognized as a unique species since 2001. PTTS spend most of their time in red mangroves (Rhizophora mangle) on the edge of the island. PTTS will move in to the surrounding interior forest, however. PTTS feed mostly on red mangrove (Rhizophora mangle) leaves. This makes mangle a critical habitat to the species. Mangle refers to the intertidal ecosystem centered around mangrove trees. Each female PTTS will have one offspring per year. Populations have been declining due to habitat degradation from human visitation to the island. Legal protection of the island and PTTS has varied over time. The main goal of this management plan is to increase the population of PTTS to carrying capacity. This will be achieved by meeting several objectives. The first objective is to double the extent of mangrove habitat. Other objectives include improving sloth populations, educating the public about sloth conservation and improving legal protection of sloths. Isla Escudo de Veraguas is in danger of losing a unique member of its ecosystem.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2018
File Attachments: Davis_PTTSplan.docx
Authors: Quinn Davis

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