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Capstone Projects

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

Yellow-Crowned Night-Heron (Nyctanassa voilacea) Management Plan for Coastal New Jersey Salt Marshes

Thu, 05/03/2018 - 10:25
Abstract: The yellow-crowned night-heron (Nyctanassa voilacea) is a species of heron that mostly inhabits coastal salt marshes and swamps. They often breed in communal rookeries close to developed areas which often leads to negative human impacts. They range from New Jersey south along the coast down to Florida and Bermuda. Their populations are stable throughout most of their range but they are currently listed as threatened in New Jersey. Their diet is comprised mostly of crustaceans and occasionally small fish. In the late 1800s, this species was hunted almost to extinction because its plumage was used for hats and other clothing. The species made a recovery when the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (16 U.S.C. §§ 703–712) was passed but now population numbers have been declining since the 1970s when human development increased in coastal areas. They are experiencing habitat loss due to human development. The goal of this plan is to increase populations to a sustainable breeding level throughout their range within the state of New Jersey. More biological information about this species is required to further understand the life cycle and behavior of these birds as well as aid in adaptive management strategies. A public education pamphlet will be made and distributed to households, sporting goods shops, bait and tackle shops, and to tourists in the area of interest. There will be habitat restoration projects to ensure proper roosting habitat in already protected areas including state parks and wildlife management areas. If these objectives are successfully achieved and human impact is minimized than the Yellow-Crowned Night-Heron will be able to sustain a healthy breeding population in New Jersey salt marshes.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2018
File Attachments: Cartwright_Final_Plan.docx
Authors: Adam Cartwright

Management plan for the: Jackson's mongoose (Bdeogale jacksoni)

Thu, 05/03/2018 - 10:26
Abstract: Jackson’s mongoose (Bdeogale jacksoni) is in the Herpestidae family. Like the bushy-tailed mongoose (Bdeogale crassicauda) and the black footed mongoose (Bdeogale nigripes) they are located within a small geographic region in South eastern Africa. This family of mongooses are all listed on the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature), but the Jackson’s mongoose is listed as near threatened, more of a concern than other members of its family. The Jackson’s mongoose is an omnivorous predator that preys upon small mammals and rodents as well as fruiting plants. This species is nocturnal and very elusive, there are only few reported pictures of this species. This cause of this species’ decline is due to the loss of forest habitat throughout its natural range. The range of this species is in small national parks located in Kenya and Tanzania. The lack of knowledge about this species is part of the reason this species is in decline. The goal of this management plan is to conduct research on this species of mongoose to discover an accurate population size. The goals and objectives of this management plan will aim to establish a sustainable population of this species by managing their habitat. If the proper courses of action are performed throughout this management plan a sustainable population of the Jackson’s mongoose is attainable.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2018
File Attachments: Final_paper.docx
Authors: Seamus McArdle

Management of Sierra Nevada Red Foxes (Vulpes vulpes necator) in the Sierra Nevada and Cascade Mountains

Thu, 05/03/2018 - 10:32
Abstract: Sierra Nevada red foxes (Vulpes vulpes necator) are one of three subspecies of montane red fox that exist from 1,200 m to 3,600 m in elevation throughout the Sierra Nevada and Cascade mountain ranges. California and Oregon are thought to contain the 7 remaining populations of SNRF, with other potential populations existing in these states as well as Nevada. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species has lowland red fox species (Vulpes vulpes) listed as a species of least concern, leaving this subspecies neglected with respect to management. It is estimated that fewer than 50 individuals exist in the wild, leaving extinction as a possible outcome in the near future. With current population estimations being based upon camera sightings and genetic evidence, a need for management is imperative. Depletion of high elevation heterogeneous habitat, competition, predation, disease, and climate change act as potential threats to the remaining populations of Sierra Nevada red foxes. A scarce amount of data has been produced regarding their distribution, ecology, and behavior, making it difficult to develop a detailed plan to revive their species. They are a native species, however, that possess much value. Their extinction could lead to an ecological imbalance with respect to predators, prey, and the native flora that inhabit mountainous ecosystems. Their revival may lead to incorporation into local zoos and the dissolving of the red fox trapping ban in California, offering room for economic growth. Indigenous people of California, Oregon, and possibly Nevada may also gain aesthetic pleasure by viewing these foxes in nature if populations were to increase. Further regulation from these three states would provide rules and guidelines regarding the well-being of these foxes should their populations exhibit this increase. With these concepts in mind, the goals are to educate the people of California, Oregon, and Nevada on the current state of Sierra Nevada red foxes while striving to produce healthy and stable populations. Obtaining more accurate estimations of their total population by camera trapping and scat sampling will be essential for this claim. Radio tracking efforts will also help to fill in the ecological data gaps that exist. Gaining knowledge on diseases, restoring alpine habitat by mitigating overgrazing and conducting controlled burns, and eliminating coyotes will aid in the production of healthy and stable populations. This management plan focuses on a combination of these objectives and corresponding actions in order to meet the overall goals in an efficient and timely manner.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2018
File Attachments: Nardelli_5_2.docx
Authors: Dave Nardelli

Managing Raccoons (Procyon lotor) to Benefit Allegheny Woodrats (Neotoma magister) in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.

Thu, 05/03/2018 - 10:45
Abstract: Raccoons (Procyon lotor) are a generalist species whose populations are on the rise throughout the United States. Raccoons are well known for carrying rabies, mange, and many other diseases that can be transmitted to other species. However, it’s the lesser known raccoon round worm (Baylisascaris procyonis) that is having a dramatic effect in the Northeastern United States. The adult worms reside in the small intestine of the raccoon and the eggs are passed in its feces which is then transferred to a new host. The round worms are not fatal to raccoons but can be to other species. One of those species, the Allegheny woodrat (Neotoma magister) collects the feces of other animals to eat the seeds out of it, meaning when they collect raccoon feces they are susceptible to contracting raccoon round worm. The Alleghany woodrat is endangered in New York state and threatened in New Jersey (Sheldon 2004). Therefore, it has become necessary to manage raccoons, the host of the round worm, in a way that will benefit the Allegheny wood rat. This includes decreasing raccoon populations, deworming raccoons, and getting the public more involved with the management of raccoons. If all of this were completed then the Allegheny wood rat would be much more stable and possibly able to recolonize the habitat it’s been extirpated from.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2018
File Attachments: Davies 5.3.18.docx
Authors: Liam Davies

Management Plan to Increase Nesting Success of Northern Pintails (Anas acuta) in the Prairie Pothole Region of North Dakota

Mon, 05/07/2018 - 17:36
Abstract: Once one of the most abundant ducks in North America, northern pintails have significantly declined since the 1960s when populations reached about 10 million. Over the past 40 years they have declined 78%, or about 2.4% per year between 1966 and 2015, due to expanding agricultural activity in their prairie pothole breeding grounds. In 2009 that the pintail population was estimated at 3.2 million, which is substantially below the 5.6 million population goal set by the North American Waterfowl Management Plan. The northern pintail population is substantially impacted by drought; and a loss of grasslands and wetland habitat in the prairie pothole region. Without proper breeding habitat pintails migrate further north to the Artic lowland tundra, where wetland conditions are more stable. However, when large numbers breed in these regions fewer young are produced. As a result, the prairies are where the fate of the pintail population lies. Throughout North America the northern pintail is listed as a migratory bird species where it is protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and receives some management under the North American Waterfowl Management Plan. In North Dakota, the northern pintail is listed as a level II species of concern and there it receives management under the State Wildlife Action Plan, but because it is only a level II species it does not receive the management until all actions are covered for level I species. 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 International Union for Conservation of Species (IUCN) Red List of threatened species. The goals of this plan are to increase the abundance and distribution of northern pintails in North Dakota over the next 10 years and to provide information that leads to greater public involvement for the management of the species in North Dakota. The objectives to achieve these goals include: mitigation of agricultural impacts on nests, reductions of egg, hatchling, and hen predation via predator exclusion, increase in nesting habitat via Farm Bill practices and State Wildlife Grants, and the education of the public about the nesting requirements of northern pintails and the potential impacts of agriculture as well management practices to avoid these impacts. Based on population modeling, egg, hatchling, and hen survival is the key factor to focus on when managing for this species. An increase of about 50% nest success (eggs) and reduced predation rate on hatchlings and hens should result in a positive population trend, yielding a population of 6.7 million in 10 years, with a greater than 50% increase being more favorable to the overall goals and objectives. Northern pintails are a game species that needs management action in breeding areas to ensure their survival and growth for the enjoyment of current and future generations.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2018
Authors: Joseph K Roberts

Special Topic: An Investigation of Long Term Monitoring of Fishes in Two Aquatic Ecosystems

Fri, 05/11/2018 - 10:06
Abstract: Lower St. Regis Lake Abstract Long-term ecological research is important in understanding how fish communities change over time. The objective of this study was to determine how fish communities in Lower St. Regis Lake have changed. From 2004 - 2017 fisheries students at Paul Smith’s College have conducted lake surveys on Lower St. Regis Lake using standardized sampling protocols. This study showed shifts in fish community composition, changes in size structure, and variable body condition. As Lower St. Regis Lake changes, continued long-term ecological research will provide an opportunity for students monitor and study factors that may be effecting fish populations and communities. Smitty Creek Abstract Long term ecological monitoring of streams provides an effective means to evaluate changing habitat conditions on fish population dynamics. Our objective was to use long-term data from four tributaries in Smitty Creek Watershed to explore the relationship of age-0 brook trout densities to regional weather conditions. Catch data of age 0 brook trout was collected during the fall from 2004 to 2017. Average monthly precipitation and temperature data was taken from the Lake Clear regional weather station. Of four streams, Little Aldo showed correlation of age-0 brook trout with the precipitation and temperature data. Future work should include improved instrumentation within the reaches and the use of site-specific data.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2018
File Attachments: Final Capstone West St. Cyr
Authors: Taylor West, Joe St. Cyr

Introduction of Wood Bison (Bison bison athabascae) into Glacier National Park

Wed, 04/29/2015 - 16:00
Abstract: Wood bison populations have been reduced to only a few herds since the 1900s. These large grazers were once found throughout their range in Canada and Alaska and now there are isolated herds in Canada and only one herd in Alaska. The causes of population decline are over exploitation and habitat loss. Due to successful management practices the wood bison populations have been slowly recovering. The goals of this management plan are to introduce a wood bison herd into the Glacier National Park and to minimize the conflicts between humans and the bison. To achieve the goals of this management plan actions must be taken. The actions that will be used are to translocate individuals to the park, maintain the local ecosystem in the area of introduction, disease prevention, keeping the human and bison conflicts low, educate the local communities and stakeholders about bison, and to manage problem bison that leave the park. Introducing wood bison in Glacier national Park is beneficial because it will establish another wood bison meta-population and aid in the recovery of the wood bison in their native range. With this introduction, the hopes are to create a sustainable herd and to increase the wood bison population in their natural range.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2015
Authors: Dylan Hurst

Reintroduction of the Gray Wolf to Isle Royale National Park

Wed, 04/29/2015 - 18:52
Abstract: The gray wolf (Canis lupus) has a large historical range across the lower 48 states and has recently recolonized the Great Lakes Region in the 1970s due to migration. Wolves crossed an ice bridge to Isle Royale National Park in the 1940s and established a population. For over 50 years scientists have been studying this population, along with the resident moose population, to understand the ecology of a nearly unexploited ecosystem. The wolf population has been dropping in numbers over time, more severely in the last decade. The limited genetic diversity has been shown to lead to back deformities and a reluctance to breed amongst individuals. In May of 2014, the annual report stated only 9 wolves were left with only 2 females remaining. A meeting by the National Park Service concluded to only interfere if the chance of a breeding pair did not exist, in other words, the two females died. The most recent publication of the 2015 Annual Report stated only 3 individuals have been seen on the island. A management plan is critically needed to decide a course of action as to interfere or to let nature take its course. The purpose of this management plan is to propose a goal and set of objectives to achieve reintroduction of a wolf population after the extinction of the current poulation. To maintain a genetically viable population is to maintain sufficient gene flow with multiple breeding pairs within several packs. This can be achieved with a simulation of a “natural migration” by relocating individuals from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to Isle Royale. We can achieve the goal with sufficient funding, communication amongst partners, and current monitoring procedures.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2015
Authors: Kelsey Schumacher