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Capstone Projects

Management Plan for Pacific Walrus (Odobenus rosmarus divergens) in Alaska, 2017-2027

Fri, 04/28/2017 - 18:06
Abstract: Pacific Walruses are social mammals and travel in herds. Most of the population spends the summer months in the ice pack of the Chukchi Sea; however, mostly adult males use coastal haulouts in the Bering Sea. Walruses use ice to rest between foraging trips, mate, care for their young, and defend themselves against predators. Climate reduced their ability to engage in these behaviors by eliminating the ice pack in their summer season. Walruses feed on bivalves on the sea bottom; however, because of climate change they no longer can reach the bottom. In response to the loss of ice, walruses are resting on land haulouts with as many as 20,000-40,000 individuals. This puts pressure on the benthic material supply. The swim from drifting ice to coastal haulouts can be hundreds of kilometers, which leads to the death of young walruses. Walruses are sensitive to sounds from ships, aircrafts, and tourist underwater and out of water. When walruses are disturbed by these events, they create stampedes by trying to dive into the water. The stampeding event ends in high mortality for calves. In 2007, more than 1,000 walruses were trampled to death in Chukotka, Russia. To prevent human disturbances, management at haulouts needs to occur for 10 years (2017-2027). The goals are to improve demographic knowledge of pacific walruses, minimize stampeding events, and grow and replace native bivalves near land haulouts. This could be accomplished by laws that require aircraft and vessels to maintain the appropriate distance. Creating artificial habitat would result in less use of coastal haulouts which would decrease mortality during stampeding events. It would also provide easier access to bivalves for foraging trips. Bivalves are depleting near land haulouts due to large demand from the high density of walruses, therefore aquaculture is needed to replace their food source. Harvesting more of the adult population would be essential to maintain the population from going over carrying capacity. If the adult population decreases then fewer calves will die in stampedes. These objectives are necessary to ensure the future of walruses and their new habitat.
Access: No
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2017
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Desiree Stumpf

Spruce grouse (Falcipennis canadensis) management in the northern Adirondacks

Fri, 04/28/2017 - 22:31
Abstract: Spruce grouse (Falcipennis canadensis) are a large game bird that exists in the northern Adirondacks as well as most of Canada and several other states in the U.S. including Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Alaska. With estimated populations of approximately 200, spruce grouse are threatened with becoming extirpated. In the northern Adirondacks, spruce grouse are dependent on coniferous forests that provide adequate cover and food that consists of Jack pine (Pinus banksiana) and black spruce (Picea mariana). These preferred habitats consist of dense middle-aged forests, unfortunately these preferred habitats have declined due to climate change and logging (Potvin 2006). To manage for these types of forests this plan will implement stem exclusion and prescribed fires. These forest management techniques will allow for more understory regeneration that will require several years to achieve. Additionally, translocation of spruce grouse into three counties (St. Lawrence, Franklin, and Essex) of the northern Adirondacks will help increase spruce grouse populations, which will be monitored using radio-tracking. Predator control, such as trapping red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) is expected to increase fledgling survival. The synergistic effect of these management strategies will achieve a sustainable population of spruce grouse in the northern Adirondacks by 2027.
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Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2017
Authors: Ray Coffey

Management Plan for Round Gobies (Neogobius melanostomus) in the Great Lakes

Sat, 04/29/2017 - 08:30
Abstract: Round gobies (Neogobius melanostomus; hereafter goby) are an invasive fish species native to the Black and Caspian Sea. They were introduced in 1990 and have rapidly expanded their population throughout all of the Great Lakes, faster than any previous invader. Round gobies are bottom dwelling fish structurally and functionally similar to a native species, the mottled sculpin (Cottus bairdii). Gobies are much more aggressive, causing high competition for the sculpins. They feed primarily on zebra mussels, but also on the eggs of lake trout (Salvelinus namaycush) and smallmouth bass (Micropterus dolomieu), which are popular native gamefish. There is a possibility of the species spreading into the Mississippi River through tributaries coming out of the lakes, which would introduce them to the largest watershed in the United States. In 2002, the population estimate of round gobies in western Lake Erie alone was 13.27 tonnes/km2 (9.9 billion individuals) which is up to 7 times higher than the biomass estimated of yellow perch (Perca flavenscens). This management plan proposes to decrease the population by 50% by 2023 by reducing introduction into the Great Lakes, isolating the population that currently exists from spreading, educating the public on the species, and capturing fish using a combination of techniques, increasing mortality. Some actions include monitoring ballast water tanks of ships entering the Great Lakes, using electrical barriers to isolate gobies, and using minnow traps baited with liver to capture the fish. No action would result in gobies reaching extremely large numbers in areas where they do not currently exist. If all objectives are successful, the current population of round gobies in the Great Lakes will decrease by 50% by 2032.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2017
File Attachments: MgmtPlan.docx
Authors: Michala Seibert

Establishment of Self-sustaining Asiatic Black Bear (Ursus thibetanus) Populations in South Korea

Sun, 04/30/2017 - 15:49
Abstract: The Asiatic black bear (Ursus thibetanus) is similar to the American black bear (Ursus americanus) in size and appearance and is distributed across much of Asia. They are omnivorous, but eat mostly plant matter and are heavily reliant on hard mast in the fall. When fall mast supply is low, these bears move out of forests and into fields, consuming crops to supplement their diet and negatively interacting with humans. Little is known about the biology of this species, but it is an IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Threatened Species and listed on national conservation lists in many of the countries in its range. The decline of this species has been linked to forest decline alongside the expansion of agriculture and hunting for their gallbladders. South Korea has a small, protected population of Asiatic black bears in Jirisan National Park and others scattered throughout the forests of the country. These bears can be successful if protected and studied, however they are common agricultural pests and public opinion toward them varies. Once part of the ancient culture of the area and because hunting them is illegal, they are now farmed for their gallbladders which produce high-value bile which is used in traditional medicine. As the bear is the mascot for the Paralympic Games, the nation should focus on restoring this bear to its former status both ecologically and socioculturally. The goal of this management plan is to make the Asiatic black bear a national icon for the country of South Korea and establish a growing population in the protected lands of the nation. This goal requires multiple objectives to ensure the success of the species. An analysis to assess the conservation gaps of the species will show where action is needed. A public education program will harbor support in South Korea. More biological studies must be funded and conducted to better inform management. If conservation of the Asiatic black bear is prioritized in South Korea and public opinion is improved, this species’ population will be able to sustain growth.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2017
File Attachments: Craig_MgmtPlan.docx
Authors: Robert Craig

Long-Eared Owl (Asio otus) Management Plan for Regions 5 and 6 of New York State

Sun, 04/30/2017 - 17:49
Abstract: Long-eared owls (Asio otus) are commonly associated with open grasslands, riparian areas and edge habitat which are used for hunting. Diet consists of 90% voles (Microtus spp.) with the other 10% consisting of other small mammals and rarely, birds. Nesting typically occurs in dense conifer stands where inactive corvid or hawk nests also exist. Inactive nests must be present because like other owl species, long-eared owls do not build their own nests. Outside of the breeding season long-eared owls are highly migratory and have been found to roost communally. Loss of habitat to urban expansion, forest succession and changing farming techniques are considered to be major threats to this species. Across North America, two sub species of long-eared owls exist, however this plan focuses on management of the eastern subspecies (A. o. wilsonianus) in Northern New York. Throughout the Northeast region the long-eared owl is listed as threatened or endangered except in New York where it has no additional protection. However, due to the species large geographic range and large worldwide population estimate it is listed as a species of Least Concern with a declining population on the IUCN Red List. The goals of this plan are to increase the population from 250 to 350 over the next 25 years and to provide information that leads to greater protection of the species in New York. The objectives to achieve these goals include: reductions in nest predation via predator exclusion, increases of nesting and hunting habitat via habitat artificial nest boxes and restoration, and population surveys via banding, radio telemetry and nest success surveys. Based on population modeling adult survival is the key factor to focus on when managing for this species. A 5% increase in adult survivorship should result in a positive population trend, with a 6% increase being more favorable to the overall goals and objectives. Long-eared owls are a lesser known species that deserve our help to ensure their survival and growth for the enjoyment of current and future generations of New York.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2017
File Attachments: LEOW_Mgmt_Plan.docx
Authors: Matthew Williams

Are Zooplankton As Patchy As Phytoplankton?

Mon, 05/01/2017 - 15:44
Abstract: Phytoplankton and zooplankton form the base of most lake food webs and are the primary sources of energy for higher trophic levels. Recent studies have shown that the horizontal distribution of phytoplankton is not even across the surface of lakes. While the vertical distribution of zooplankton has been well studied, little is known about the horizontal distribution of zooplankton in the surface waters of lakes or the spatial interactions among zooplankton and phytoplankton. The aim of this study was to quantify the spatial distribution of phytoplankton and zooplankton and determine if their spatial distributions are related. We sampled zooplankton and phytoplankton during the day and at night in a 24 point grid in Paul Lake, Michigan in the late spring and early summer of 2016. Phytoplankton and zooplankton were not uniformly distributed horizontally. Instead, there were high density patches of both zooplankton and phytoplankton, and in many instances there was positive autocorrelation. Additionally, zooplankton and phytoplankton concentrations were rarely correlated in space indicating that grazing is likely not a driver of zooplankton or phytoplankton spatial heterogeneity. If the goal of a study is to understand and characterize the entire population of either phytoplankton or zooplankton, we suggest taking multiple samples of the pelagic zone.
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Literary Rights: Off
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2017
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Jonathan Stetler, Cal Buelo

Management Plan of Harlequin Ducks (Histrionicus histrionicus) on the East Coast of the United States (2017-2027)

Wed, 05/10/2017 - 19:16
Abstract: Harlequin ducks (Histrionicus histrionicus) are sea ducks that winter on the east coast of North America and breed in eastern Canada. They nest along rapid streams that provide suitable nesting habitat along with high abundancy of aquatic invertebrates. Harlequin ducks are a species of special concern in Canada as well as on the east coast of the United States. The species is declining they prefer have thin breeding habitat requirements, a relatively small population size, and are sensitive to disturbances on their wintering and breeding grounds. Such disturbances include transformation of habitats and human disturbances. This plan has goals that mainly focuses on the conservation of Harlequin duck populations and habitat from 2017 to 2027. The first goal of this plan is to create and maintain possible habitat for Harlequins to breed and winter on the east coast of the United States. The objectives to achieve this goal are to identify and map by 2019 all-important Harlequin ducks wintering and potential breeding habitats on the east coast of the United States, through 2027 create, protect, and manage important and possible areas for breeding and wintering habitats, and by 2020 set guidelines to protect Harlequin duck habitat from industrial, recreational, and fisheries activities. The second goal of this plan is to increase the distribution and abundance of Harlequins wintering. The objective for this goal is to increase the egg and hatch year bird survival by 10% for all Harlequin ducks on the east coast of United States as well as the overall population by 30% by 2027. The final goal is to inform and educate recreational users and hunter’s about Harlequin ducks and their habitats, and threats. For this goal the objectives are to mitigate factors that are restricting the species wintering survival on the east coast of the United States by 2022. The second objective to this final goal is by 2019, develop an educational program on the east coast of the United States that will promote the understanding of Harlequin ducks and their wintering requirements.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2017
File Attachments: Management Plan.docx
Authors: Dakota Urban

Management Plan of Bobolinks (Dolichonyx oryzivorus) Breeding in The Finger Lakes Region of New York

Fri, 10/13/2017 - 10:50
Abstract: Bobolinks (Dolichonyx oryzivorus) are sexually dimorphic, medium-sized, songbirds that commonly breed across North America. In New York, bobolinks begin nesting around mid-May in open grasslands or hayfields larger than 2 hectares with 3-4 cm of thatch on the ground. Bobolinks are typically philopatric, however land-use practices may alter habitat suitability and negatively affect nesting success. During a ten-year period from 2003 to 2013, bobolink populations have decreased -1.19% across North America (Renfrew 2015). Modernization of hay harvesting practices have increased the occurrence and frequency of disturbance to nesting bobolinks. In New York, the main cause of nest failure is cutting for hay during the nesting season. The goal of this management plan is to increase the population of bobolinks breeding in the Finger Lakes Region of New York. This plan aims to improve bobolink breeding habitat by creating a program that uses policy and philanthropy to balance habitat requirements of bobolink with stakeholder needs through compensation of financial loss due to habitat protection. Coordinating best management practices among landowners and increasing enrollment within the Conservation Reserve Program will reduce edge effects and increase available breeding habitat in the Finger Lakes region. Failure to alter unsuccessful management strategies will permit the current declining population trend to continue. Management is necessary to maximize protection of nesting bobolinks while minimizing financial and legal restrictions encountered by farmers. If this management plan is successful, there will be an increase in the population size of bobolinks returning to the Finger Lakes Region during the breeding season and the once declining population trend will stabilize within the region.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2017
Authors: Emily Eidman

Restoring Allegheny Woodrats (Neotoma magister) to New York’s Appalachian Mountain Range

Thu, 10/19/2017 - 19:31
Abstract: The Allegheny woodrat has recently been extirpated from the northern extent of its range due to a combination of anthropogenic factors, including habitat destruction, fragmentation disconnecting metapopulations, and contributing to increases in raccoon populations. Populations in New Jersey have been stabilized at present, and may be increasing. There is speculation that metapopulations could slowly reestablish themselves in New York form New Jersey’s recovering populations. Regardless, efforts to aid the species’ recolonization would return a formerly prevalent species to New York. Ultimately, 50 genetically diverse, captive-reared Allegheny woodrats will be released throughout the northern extent of the Appalachian mountain range contained within southern New York. Released individuals will be from neighboring states’ captive breeding programs for a more genetically diverse gene pool to help prevent bottleneck effects within metapopulations, and their status will be monitored via radio telemetry tracking. Before reintroducing subjects to the area, tree loggers of the northern Appalachian range should enact policies to conserve mast crop trees and increase overall yield for the area of the range which extends into New York State. Habitat connectivity would need to be restored to aid the woodrats’ recolonization. Raccoons (Procyon lotor) are both predators of Allegheny woodrats and the fatal source of raccoon roundworm (Baylisascaris procyonis) exposure, either situation almost guaranteed to result in woodrat fatality. Increasing raccoon take in the southern half of New York State would better the recolonization specimens’ chances of reestablishment, crucially combined with the distribution of anthelmintic baits to passively deworm remaining raccoons in the area. With these objectives accomplished after five years, Allegheny woodrats will have a greater potential to reestablish former metapopulations within New York.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2017
Authors: Kara L Meierdiercks

The Application of Silvicultural Treatments to Establish and Maintain Early Successional Habitat in the Adirondack Forests of New York State

Sat, 04/29/2017 - 15:12
Abstract: Early successional habitat (ESH) in New York state can be described as young forests comprising trees, shrubs, grasses, and other herbaceous plants that form relatively open canopies with dense understories. ESH has decreased due to nearly ninety percent of the naturally occurring shrublands of North America having been destroyed. The destruction of this habitat is of top concern due to the threatened and endangered species whom rely on these sorts of habitats to thrive. Considering the future climate projections, population models, and theoretical species distribution, responsible stewardship is needed to manage in favor of ESH types. A meta-analysis of various journals and databases was performed to synthesize information into a general management plan for establishing ESH in the Adirondacks. Through combining methods and silvicultural management practices from past plans in the northeastern United States, as well as background knowledge of the area, this management plan has been tailored specifically for an Adirondack forest. These outlined silvicultural treatments may also be extended to a variety of other forest types in the eastern U.S.A. Re-establishing young forests throughout the region is the goal of this plan. In doing so, these practices will enhance the health, resiliency, and biodiversity of the Adirondack region, and New York State by creating critical ESH which the fauna and flora of this region depend upon.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Integrative Studies, Natural Resources Management and Policy
Year: 2017
Authors: Nicole Morin, Ryan Baker, Ora Bice