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Capstone Projects

A management plan for cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus) in the Serengeti National Park of Tanzania

Thu, 04/30/2015 - 21:32
Abstract: Cheetah’s (Acinonyx jubatus) are well known as the fastest land mammal on the globe, capable of reaching record running speeds exceeding 65 miles per hour (110 kilometers per hour) and acceleration rates of 7.5 m s-2. Over their history, however, these large felids have not been able to outrun the risk of extinction. In the last century, cheetah numbers have drastically declined, resulting in a net loss of over 90% of their population. Currently, the extant worldwide population is estimated at approximately 7500 adult animals. The Serengeti National Park in Tanzania is home to an overall dynamic ecosystem filled with numerous species of wildlife, of which, there is a cheetah population that has been extensively studied over many decades. The survival of this species in the National Park requires the implementation of management strategies that will ensure the greatest positive impact on the cheetah population, while also taking into consideration the costs and threats to other species and stakeholders. This particular management plan aims to incorporate the many variables that play a role in the ecological, as well as anthropogenic aspects of the area. A successful management plan for the Serengeti cheetah must utilize all possible information related to the ecology of the wildlife, the policy of the area, and the sociocultural and economic facets that effect the region. Ultimately, these interconnected disciplines must be combined in order to make these important conservation decisions and effectively manage for this vulnerable species. This management plan has brought together these related fields and incorporated them into viable strategies and actions that could be implemented in order to meet the outlined objectives and maximize the probability that the Serengeti cheetah population will increase in numbers. Focusing attention on only one front of cheetah conservation may yield positive results. However, if the overall viability of the population is to remain, all avenues of conservation must be taken. Ecologically speaking, the management of predator populations could lead to increased cheetah cub mortality, but the education of farmers and ranchers, who persecute adult cheetahs on farmland, would furthermore benefit the Serengeti cheetah population since more adults would be available to successfully reproduce. If the cheetah population in the Serengeti is to remain sustainable, wildlife managers must incorporate all aspects of conservation into the management of this species.
Access: Yes
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2015
Authors: David M. Hejna

Management Plan for Feral Swine (Sus scrofa) in New York

Thu, 04/30/2015 - 21:41
Abstract: Every year feral swine cause massive damage to the environment and economy due to their foraging habits. It is estimated that feral swine cause $800 million of damage to agriculture and $1.5 billion overall each year in the United States. The feral swine population in New York is currently small enough to be effectively managed if quick action is taken. However, if actions are not taken quickly breeding populations of feral swine will grow exponentially due to their high fecundity and survivability and will become a much bigger problem and hard to manage. This management plan details the best way to quickly eliminate feral swine in New York to stop the damage they are currently doing, and block them from doing more damage in New York. Actions that will be taken include group capturing of feral swine, opportunistic take by farmers, aerial hunting and surveying, poisoning by sodium nitrate, posting publications in public buildings, holding a press conference, enacting an invasive species school curriculum, and using Judas hogs.
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Literary Rights: Off
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2015
Authors: Ryan Reinshagen

A Management Plan for the Black-Tailed Prairie Dog (Cynomys ludovicianus)

Thu, 04/30/2015 - 22:07
Abstract: Since the turn of the century black-tailed prairie dog (Cynomys ludovicianus) populations have declined as much as 98% throughout North America (Miller et al. 1994). It was once thought that prairie dogs occupied between 80-104 million acres historically, but with the expansion of ranching and agriculture into the prairie dogs native habitat, that number has been reduced to 2.4 million acres in recent years. Black-tailed prairie dogs play a vital role in the prairie and grasslands ecosystems. There are a number of different species of animals that depend on prairie dogs and their activities. It has been thought that over 170 species rely on the prairie dogs for their burrows, for food, and the habitat they create. Most states currently within the range of the black-tailed prairie dog classify the species as a pest or varmint, and no state has adequate regulatory mechanisms in place to assure conservation of this species within its borders. This management plan will propose strategies to adequately regulate the conservation of the black-tailed prairie dog, eventually leading to the partial restoration of the prairie ecosystem.
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Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2015
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Ryan McAuliffe

20 Year Management Plan for Eastern Spiny Softshell Turtles in the Conewango Creek Watershed

Thu, 04/30/2015 - 23:45
Abstract: Although the eastern spiny softshell turtle (Apalone spinifera spinifera) is common through much of its range, it is generally considered to be a species that is on the decline, particularly in the Great Lakes region were the species has been extirpated from many local watersheds. The spiny softshell turtle has been extirpated from the majority of its range in New York State where it is currently listed as a “species of special concern”. The Conewango Creek Watershed of Southwestern New York and Northwest Pennsylvania likely contains one of the last viable populations of spiny softshell turtles in New York State. Relatively little is known about this particular population of spiny softshell turtles, however, there are a number of factors including water quality, habitat loss and degradation, and human disturbance that likely threaten the long-term viability of spiny softshell turtles in the Conewango Creek Watershed. Recently a population of spiny soft shell turtles was discovered in the Chadakoin River which flows through the city of Jamestown New York. Spiny softshell turtles in this urban section of the Conewango Watershed are particularly vulnerable to threats from human activities and development. The focus of this 20 year plan is to ensure the long-term viability and growth of spiny softshell turtles in the Conewango Creek Watershed and the Chadakoin River in an effort to prevent further decline of the species and ensure that there is at least one viable population of eastern spiny softshell turtles in New York State. Recommended management actions focus on research to better understand the population demographics and to model the population changes, increasing population recruitment, identifying additional critical habitat areas, protecting and enhancing habitat, and raising public awareness and appreciation for the spiny softshell turtle. The following management plan will discuss the species conservation challenges and serve as a guide for spiny softshell turtle management and research in the Conewango Creek Watershed for the next 20 years.
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Literary Rights: Off
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2015
File Attachments: cnowak_MGT_Plan_2015.pdf
Authors: Creighton Nowak

Inter-reach movements of brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) in Smitty Creek Watershed, Franklin County, New York.

Fri, 05/01/2015 - 13:47
Abstract: It is not presently known if overwinter decreases in age-0 brook trout densities in the Smitty Creek watershed are caused by migration or mortality. This field study examined inter-reach movements of brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) among four reaches in the Smitty Creek Watershed in Franklin County, New York, during the fall season of 2014. The objectives of this study were to access brook trout movement during the fall season, and to compare age-0 brook trout movements to those of older trout. I hypothesized that potential migrations in age-0 brook trout could be observed following decreases in water temperatures. Brook trout were sampled twice: once in mid-September using a backpack electrofishing unit, and again in early November. All individuals sampled in September were given reach-specific fin-clips. Individuals sampled in November were examined for fin clips in order to determine movement and direction of movement. A small amount of age-0 trout (n=7) were found in different reaches, all of which had moved upstream to lower-order reaches, contrary to the hypothesis. A considerable proportion of fish (~70%) sampled in November did not have identifiable fin-clips, indicating movement both in and out of reaches by a large percentage of individuals. However, the amount of fish making these movements and the direction (upstream or downstream) of their movement could not be determined. Future studies on patterns in brook trout movement are necessary in obtaining a more definite explanation of overwinter changes in age-0 brook trout densities.
Access: Yes
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2015
Authors: Jesse Smith

Management Plan of Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) in New York State for Long Term Species Success (2015-2035)

Fri, 05/01/2015 - 17:27
Abstract: The goal of this management plan is to maintain populations of golden eagles (Aquila chrysaetos) to prevent the extirpation of the species in New York State. Golden eagle in the eastern United States are generally an unmanaged species. Population estimates are broad, ranging from 1,000-2,500 individuals in the eastern range. Many of these eagles breed in northern Canada and may only be seen passing through the United States on migratory routes. This management plan outlines need for management, a primary goal, with objectives and strategies associated for golden eagle in New York State (2015-2025).
Access: Yes
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2015
File Attachments: Mng_Plan_FINAL.docx
Authors: John MacNaught

Management of Africanized Honey Bees (Apis mellifera scutellata) in the United States

Tue, 05/05/2015 - 10:06
Abstract: Africanized honey bees (AHB) are a hybrid species that the United States Fisheries and Wildlife Services classify as invasive. The species has spread at an alarmingly high rate since it was introduced to Brazil. AHB are a genetic cross between European and African honey bees. This hybridized species of bee exhibits increased rates of absconding, more aggressive and defensive behaviors, less selectivity in nesting sites, and higher swarming rates. The result of these behavioral characteristics is an increase in the number of stings per incident. Faster reproductive rates and shorter incubation periods allow AHB to invade EHB colonies and convert the genetic structure within a few weeks. AHB pose a threat populations of EHB which are already experiencing losses due to colony collapse disorder. Their tendency to colonize a wide range of cavities often puts them in immediate proximity to humans which poses a threat to the well-being of anyone who lives where AHB have colonized. The spread of AHB throughout the U.S. has had an impact on the beekeeping and honey industry due to apiculturists who are reluctant to expose themselves to the danger that accompanies this species. Declines in managed bee populations create problems for the agricultural industry as well which relies heavily on managed bee populations for pollination. Management plans have been established in many states and it is illegal to possess managed AHB colonies. Our goal is to decrease the rate of AHB dispersal by identifying and eradicating Africanized hives, and to distribute information on the species on a national scale by consolidating existing material and creating education opportunities in every state. Each action will be assessed to determine whether it accomplished the desired objective and adjusted to increase effectiveness. If adequate conservation efforts are not established in the U.S., AHB will likely have significant ecological and socio-economic implications.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2015
Authors: Nathaniel Wells

The management of the Virunga Mountain Gorilla (Gorilla beringei beringei) in the face of political instability.

Tue, 05/05/2015 - 10:09
Abstract: Located in one of the most war torn and corrupt regions on the planet is the Mountain gorilla. Discovered by western science in only 1902 this species population is estimated at less then 1000 individuals who are split into two distinct populations. The first is in the Bwindi impenetrable forest of Rwanda and the other is the focus of this management, which is located in Virunga National Park. Virunga has faced a myriad of political corruption, social disorder, and economic stability. Not only the battlefront for some of the worst human on human crimes in history, it has also been a refuge for millions of people escaping genocide for the past 20 to 30 years. This has led to this region having some of the densest human populations being 300-600 individuals per square kilometer. For these two reasons habitats have been destroyed, resources overexploited, and disease transmission has greatly increased. These factors are some of the main contributions to population declines of many species in this region, especially the mountain gorilla. This management plan will address four of the most influential negative impacts on the mountain gorilla population survival. These four are habitat loss, hunting and poaching, disease transmission, and the amount of civil unrest and war in the region. To successfully manage the gorillas there will b social, economic, political and biological factors that will be addressed to ensure the most complete management plan. The actions of this plan will be a blend working with local communities, the resources around them and the people using the resources. The most important actions that should be done first are to address the amount of deforestation and the establishment of reforestation programs.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2015
Authors: Christopher Mattern

Recovery Plan for the Critically Endangered Green Sea Turtle (Chelonia mydas)

Tue, 05/05/2015 - 10:32
Abstract: Green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas) are a long lived marine reptilian species that are found in nearly all of the earth’s oceans. Green sea turtle populations used to range in the millions of individuals but since the overharvesting and bycatch of the species began in the late eighteen hundreds, the populations have declined to an estimated 180,000 breeding individuals world-wide. The species was red listed by the IUCN and put on the endangered species list in 1982 almost a decade after the Endangered Species Act was created. Ninety percent of adult and juvenile mortality is caused by drowning in fishing nets killing thousands every year just in United States waters. Thousands more are killed every year in the rest of the world’s oceans from similar fishing practices. The sea turtle life history strategy has a high reproductive value for adults and focuses little on the newborns each year. The death of each sexually mature adult has a large declining effect on the population. This management plan is designed to increase green sea turtle populations to remove them from the endangered species list by reducing mortality by fisheries bycatch through legislation. This will be achieved by increasing the use of turtle excluder devices (TEDs) in fishing industries world-wide to reduce bycatch mortality and increase survivorship of adults and juveniles. Saving this endangered species is of extreme importance and up to us to do.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2015
File Attachments: Management Plan.docx
Authors: Jonathan Rice

Feral Horses (Equus caballus) Management on Assateague Island, MD

Tue, 05/05/2015 - 11:51
Abstract: The “Assateague Wild Ponies,” as they are often referred to, are truly feral horses that were introduced by humans in the early 1600s. These horses are damaging the barrier island ecosystem because the island did not evolve to compensate for horses. The horses graze on sensitive vegetation and trample endangered bird species’ nesting habitat and eggs. However, these horses are seen as a national icon of beauty and freedom causing many people to come visit the island simply to see these “wild ponies.” They are classified as a “desired exotic species.” Therefore these horses need to be managed in order to decrease their negative impacts and maintain a healthy population for the public to enjoy. This will be accomplished by decreasing their population from ~ 150 horses to below 100. Initially the herd will be reduced by a one-time auction of the horses. This will then be maintained via the use of the immmunocontraceptive Porcine Zona Pellucida (PZP) which prevents pregnancy by not allowing the egg to be fertilized. Additional actions will be taken to further reduce the negative effects caused by the horses including exclusion fences and additional feeding to reduce grazing and trampling effects. Furthermore, public education will occur to reduce the number of human-horse conflicts and feeding of the wildlife. Overall, this will decrease the negative impacts the horses have on the island.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2015
File Attachments: ManagementPlan_CN_4.29.docx
Authors: Claire G Nellis