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Capstone Projects

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