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Capstone Projects

One-Hundred Year Wild Tuatara (Sphenodon punctatus) Management Plan for Te-Ika-Maui, New Zealand

Fri, 05/01/2020 - 04:16
Abstract: Tuataras (Sphenodon punctatus) are the only remaining reptiles in the order Rhynchocephalia, endemic to New Zealand. Previously, tuataras existed across the mainland of New Zealand, but now reside on 32 offshore islands in small dispersed populations. Tuataras live in underground burrows, typically with fairy prions (Pachyptila turtur) and forage nocturnally on invertebrates, small mammals, and birds. Conservation issues of concern include future populations of invasive rats, competition with conspecific species during nesting – nest evacuations, for example - habitat alteration inducing stochastic plasticity, climate change causing increased male to female sex ratios in populations, and hybridization. This management plan aims to reintroduce and restore wild tuatara populations on the North Island of New Zealand to past populations before the introduction of invasive rats. Objectives reaching this goal include increasing habitat availability by 75% and increase public cooperation with conservation efforts by at least 50%. To increase habitat availability, a habitat suitability index will be implemented to assess proper habitat for tuataras on the North Island, New Zealand. After suitable habitat has been identified, artificial burrows will be constructed increasing survivorship of tuataras and decreasing parasitism and competitions with fairy prions. To increase cooperation with the public, surveys will be administered to increase ecological knowledge of tuataras. A land use plan will be applied, allowing for public seminars and town meetings to be incorporated into the plan. Seminars and surveys will help identify lowered scientific knowledge of tuataras as well as increasing the public’s awareness of conservation needs. The course of actions of this management plan could increase tuatara populations to sustainable levels, back to what they once were in the past of New Zealand.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2020
Authors: Koby R. Coplen

Management Plan for the Streamside Salamander (Ambystoma barbouri) in Middle Tennessee

Fri, 05/01/2020 - 02:36
Abstract: Streamside salamanders (Ambystoma barbouri) are cryptic, fossorial salamanders found in the inner and outer basin of middle Tennessee. Streamside salamanders are a sibling species to the better-known small-mouthed salamander (Ambystoma texanum), and once thought to be the same species. A. barbouri are typically found in upland deciduous habitat with significant limestone rock. Each October, they migrate to first and second-order streams to deposit eggs underneath rocks. As of 2004, they are listed as near threatened on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List with a decreasing population, despite actual population numbers being unknown. Primary threats to A. barbouri populations include increased development in the Nashville area, agriculture, and climate change. As the population of Nashville increases, new infrastructure is consistently being created to meet the needs of a growing population. Agricultural runoff causes morphological abnormalities, and half of Tennessee’s land use consists of farmland. Climate change has also directly impacted A. barbouri populations with more frequent drying and flooding events that create casualties during the breeding season. The primary goal of this management plan is to create an increased population trend for A. barbouri populations within middle Tennessee. Objectives to achieve this goal include obtaining an accurate population estimate for A. barbouri, gaining more insight on A. barbouri natural history to make more informed management decisions, raising public concern for the species, and increasing larval survivorship to 10%. As A. barbouri populations are very locally distributed, it is integral a management plan be implemented immediately to change the current trajectory of this species.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2020
Authors: Cassandra McCuen

Twenty-Year Management Plan for Increasing the Population for the Common pochard (Aythya ferina) in the United Kingdom

Thu, 04/30/2020 - 22:34
Abstract: Common pochards (Aythya ferina) are a harvested diving duck that inhabits the United Kingdom and is distributed across all of Europe. Common pochard populations have been declining for 20-30 years. Conservation issues for this duck include fishponds being abandoned due to low economic returns, loss of nesting habitat due to agricultural habitat, nest predation, and lack of bag limits during hunting season. This management plan aims to increase and restore a stable common pochard population for harvest. Objectives to reach this goal include; increasing the egg survival by 6% in 20 years, restore and maintain breeding habitat by 40% in 20 years, and maintain common pochard populations at 52,000 in the United Kingdom. To have success, an egg survival study, a nest site selection study, and a mark and recapture study will be needed, as well as predator control. If the management plan actions are successfully achieved, then common pochard populations will be increased for suitable harvest for future generations.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2020
Authors: Hunter Kroening

Twenty-Year Mauritian Flying Fox (Pteropus niger) Management Plan for Mauritius Island.

Thu, 04/30/2020 - 20:14
Abstract: The Mauritian Flying Fox (Pteropus niger) is the only fruit bat endemic to the island of Mauritius off of Madagascar in the southwestern India Ocean. Known to most of the local fruit farmers on the island as a pest during the growing seasons, many individuals are poached or hunted for other purposes. Mauritian Flying Foxes can be found in colonies all around the island and travel long distances to foraging sites. This fruit bat faces competition and ecological pressures from invasive plant and animal species that now inhabit the island. With this conflict and an increasing negative interactions with humans, the government of Mauritius enacted mass culls to target the populations of flying fox. Because of this and other issues decreasing the overall population numbers, The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List confirmed in 2018 that Mauritian Flying Foxes was an endangered species. The goal of this management plan is to increase the population to a sustainable level with focus on conservation efforts from the year 2020 to 2040. The objectives to achieve this goal include: (1) Conduct research on the biology, ecology, and behavior to determine proper population sizes and distribution of Mauritian flying foxes on the island of Mauritius in order to increase populations, (2) Increase the overall survivorship to 90% for all age classes, (3) Reduce mortality rates from poaching, and (4) Increase fruit farmer cooperation and educational programs for the locals and tourists. Proper management for the Mauritian Flying Fox is vital and with this plan put into action, the population on Mauritius can return to a stable number.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2020
Authors: Kelvey I. McGinnis

Swan Goose (Anser cygnoides) Thirty Year Population Management Plan for Eastern Asia (2020-2050)

Thu, 04/30/2020 - 19:32
Abstract: Swan Geese (Anser cygnoides) are a species of goose found throughout the eastern part of Asia. They are herbivores which mostly feed on plants along the banks and in the water of lakes and wetlands. The primary conservation issues threatening the swan goose populations are over harvesting/illegal hunting, habitat loss due to agricultural development, drought in the summers and rising water levels in the winter. This management plan aims to increase and stabilize the population of swan geese in eastern Asia in the next thirty years. Objectives to achieve this goal include increasing the swan goose hatchling survivorship by 10% in ten years, increasing swan goose nest survivorship by 20% in ten years and to increase the survivorship of juvenile and adult swan geese by 20% in 15 years. To meet these objectives, actions such as: planting vegetation to increase available habitat and cover, creating a dam to help control the water levels, increasing the amount of protected land available, creating signs in areas frequently used by swan geese to increase public awareness, using surveys to determine the level of public knowledge of swan geese and creating more laws protecting them as well as hiring more conservation officers to enforce those laws will be implemented. The swan goose is a key indicator species for a healthy ecosystem and was a popular game species throughout most of its range. With proper management the swan goose populations can increase and stabilize in eastern Asia.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2020
Authors: Shane Lafountain

Thirty-Five-Year Management Plan for the Darwin’s Fox (Lycalopex fulvipes) on Chiloé Island and Nahuelbuta National Park in Southern Chile

Thu, 04/30/2020 - 19:11
Abstract: The Darwin’s fox (Lycalopex fulvipes) is a small canid existing in southern Chile in South America. Two populations exist: a population estimated to be around 500 on Chiloe Island, and a smaller, mainland population in Nahuelbuta National Park, estimated to be made up of around 78 individuals. They are opportunistic omnivores that require dense native forests to shelter, forage, and breed. Very little is known about this species due to its small, and decreasing, population size. The Darwin’s fox is threatened by many conservation issues, as well. These issues include disease spread, attacks, and spatial displacement from poorly managed free-ranging domestic dogs (Canis lupis familiaris), ignorance of park visitors and residence through off-leash dogs in protected areas and unrestricted feeding of foxes resulting in naivety of foxes to humans and dogs, and loss of native forests for replacement by exotic plantations. This management plan aims to increase the Darwin’s fox population in Chile to sustainable levels in 35 years. The objectives to reach this goal include: (1) Reduce domestic dog dispersal into fox areas by 80% in 15 years, (2) Decrease disease prevalence in the Darwin’s fox population by 50% in 15 years, (3) Increase local human population awareness of the Darwin’s fox by 87% in 5 years (4) Increase survival of 3-year old and younger foxes by 80% in 15 years, and (5) Increase suitable habitat by 75% in 15 years. These actions will be carried out through satellite surveillance and radio tracking to better understand fox population numbers, fox movements, and mortality, as well as to monitor dogs in the park. Surveys will be conducted, and educational seminars and pamphlets will be provided to park visitors and local Chilean residence. This will be done to get a better understanding of the actions of dog owners and increase visitors awareness of these fox’ existence, why they shouldn’t feed or interact with them, and why to keep their dogs out of protected areas. New legislation will be put in place to further this. Legislation will help to keep dogs out of the park and prevent people from feeding them through increased fines and penalties for breaking these laws. This will also help to prevent the spread of diseases such as canine distemper virus from dogs to foxes, which would be catastrophic to this already small population. Suitable habitat will be increased through providing dense understory in exotic plantations so that these converted landscapes will still be usable. This management plan has the potential to increase fox survival and increase overall awareness of them, resulting in a reverse in the downward trend of this population and, instead, increasing the population to a sustainable level in Chile.  
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2020
Authors: Cody Kautzman

Thirty-year Roloway Monkey (Cercopithecus roloway) Management Plan for Ghana and Côte d'Ivoire

Thu, 04/30/2020 - 18:43
Abstract: Roloway monkeys (Cercopithecus roloway) is a critically endangered, long-limbed, long-tailed monkey that is endemic to Ghana and the Côte d'Ivoire countries in West Africa. Roloway monkeys are listed on the 25 most threatened primate taxa in the world. Roloway monkeys primarily eat ripe fruits and invertebrates but will also eat seeds, flowers, and young leaves. Roloway monkeys prefer mangrove trees to use as a shelter, a source of food, a source of water, and protection but can be found in other tropical forested areas. Roloway monkeys reproduce approximately twice a year. Roloway does not have a specific breeding season and is based on their environment. Roloway monkeys spend their entire life in the trees. Thus, deforestation is a primary concern for the survival of the species. In addition, the villagers hunt monkeys for bushmeat; villagers do not specifically target roloway monkeys but make no effort to avoid the species while hunting. The goals of this management plant are to increase the intrinsic value of roloway monkeys to the residents of Ghana and the Côte d'Ivoire and restore the population of roloway monkeys to sustainable population size. There are six main objectives to reach and fulfill the goals. First, increase the villagers’ knowledge of what roloway monkeys are and look like by 40% of individuals. Second, to decrease the amount of roloway monkey bushmeat in markets for sale by 30% within ten years. Third, reduce illegal tree harvesting in Ghana and the Côte d'Ivoire by 50% in the next 25 years. Fourth, increase roloway monkeys travel between the towns located on the border of Ghana and the Côte d'Ivoire by 40% within 30 years. Fifth, increase the information known about population size and natural history of roloway monkeys by producing five peer-reviewed papers over 20 years to improve the management of the species. And finally, increase the survival rate of subadults into adulthood by 20% within the next 30 years. These objectives will be achieved through different actions, including education, increased management and monitoring of known habitats, and implementation of new data collection methods. The completion of each objective and the effective implementation of each action should increase the intrinsic value of roloway monkeys in the villagers’ eyes and the restoration of roloway monkey’s population size.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2020
Authors: Jazzmin Wipf

New York State Barn Owl (Tyto alba) Thirty-Year Recovery Plan

Thu, 04/30/2020 - 17:11
Abstract: The barn owl, (Tyto alba) is found on all continents except Antarctica, making it one of the most widely distributed bird species. They are cavity nesters and vole specialists which exhibit great flexibility in prey selection and nesting habitats, despite this, barn owls have become rare in North America and towards the northern limits of its range in New York State. Primary conservation issues for barn owls in New York include 1.) The degradation and loss of grassland habitat through agricultural intensification, and consequent reduction in prey base 2) The effective removal of nesting and roost sites by conversion of old open barns into closed, steel buildings and the removal of trees for field expansion 3) Increased rates of vehicle collision in response to increasing road density and traffic volume 4). Instances of secondary poisoning through ingestion of prey items contaminated by anticoagulant rodenticides such as bromadiolone and brodifacoum (Stone et al, 1999). This 30-year management plain aims to protect, conserve and restore Barn owls and the grasslands on which they depend in New York State. Objectives to reach this goal include 1.) Increasing nesting success by 5% per year during the first 10 years of the plan 2.) Increasing state barn owl population by 2% annually throughout the 30-year plan 3.) Increasing the number of monitored barn owl nest boxes on private property by 5 boxes annually within the first 10 years of the plan 4.) Reducing Barn Owl road mortality in New York State by 2% per year within the first 20 years of the plan 5.) Reducing instances of all secondary wildlife killings by second generation anticoagulant rodenticides by 100% statewide 6.) Reducing instances of barn owl fledgling capture by 50% during the 30-year plan. In the increase of nesting success, 4,000 ha of suitable habitat on private lands participating in the landowner incentive program will be identified and 20 nest boxes will be installed each year at identified adequate nesting sites within the first 10 years of the plan. In the increase of statewide population an average of 200 acres of privately owned grasslands will be registered annually through the landowner incentive program and managed in accordance with grassland bird BMPs. In increasing nest boxes on private property, informational brochures will be published via the NYSDEC website and surveys will be administered to agricultural landowners. In addition, volunteer nest box programs will be created to involve citizens in conservation efforts. In reducing road mortality, 30 peak Barn owl road mortality zones across the state will be identified for which to manage via the planting of median vegetation, erection of signs, and development of deterrents. The reduction of SGAR mortality will be attained through the registration of all Second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides as restricted use pesticides and the implementation of safer alternatives to rodent control. The reduction of fledgling capture will be attained through the increase in availability of information. The combined efforts of each objective should serve to increase nesting barn owl populations in New York State to a self-sustainable and ecologically functioning level.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2020
File Attachments: Muratori 2020.4.30.docx
Authors: Malerie Muratori

Ten-year management plan for the Mexican axolotl (Ambystoma mexicanum) in Xochimilco, Mexico City

Thu, 04/30/2020 - 17:02
Abstract: The Mexican axolotl (Ambystoma mexicanum) is an aquatic salamander found in homes and labs across the world and yet, is only endemic to a polluted, urbanized canal system in Xochimilco, Mexico City. In Xochimilco, the habitat for axolotl was historically a lake that was converted into a series of canals by the Aztecs. The Xochimilco ecosystem began deteriorating after the fall of the Aztec empire. In the 1950’s, rapid urbanization of Mexico City led to pollution, reduction of habitat, and the introduction of exotic fish for food. These factors further contribute to the decline of the axolotl which once was at the highest trophic level in the Xochimilco ecosystem. In 1998 the density of axolotl in Xochimilco was approx. 6000 individuals/km2 and todays estimate is 35 individuals/km2. The goal of this management plan is to restore the axolotl population in the Xochimilco ecosystem to the 1998 estimate of 6000 individuals/km2. Objectives to reach this goal include an 80% increase in viable habitat for the survival and reproductive success of the axolotl, an 80% reduction in exotic fish in the Xochimilco ecosystem, an increase in the amount of sexually mature axolotl by 45%, and a 50% increase in public awareness of the declining axolotl population. To increase axolotl habitat in Xochimilco there must be refuges or cover that allows them to survive predation and have cover for their eggs. A decrease in exotic fish will decrease predation on axolotl at their most vulnerable stages of life. Releasing adult axolotl into Xochimilco will increase the population size of the next generation. Educating the public hopefully will inspire them to care and understand the factors leading to the decline of the axolotl population.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2020
Authors: Eddie Boyer

Forty Year Management Plan for Mandrill (Mandrillus sphinx) in the Rio Campo and Campo Reserves in Equatorial Guinea and Cameroon West Africa.

Thu, 04/30/2020 - 15:51
Abstract: Mandrills (Mandrillus sphinx) is the largest primate of the cercopithecine primates in West Africa. They are omnivorous in diet, although tend towards frugivory and herbivory, which allows them to coexist in large hordes of up to 900 individuals in the breeding season. Males are seasonally present in a horde and disperse at times when females are not at their peak breeding capacity. Conservation issues for the species include illegal harvest for use as bushmeat, which hinders their adult survival probability, as well as their sex ratio, as adult male mandrills are preferentially taken. Other issues include habitat degradation for agriculture and mining, increased fragmentation due to roadways, relatively relaxed environmental laws, and lack of information regarding the true population of mandrills remaining in the wild. This management plan will aim to implement actions to establish accurate population estimates for the species, in order to make accurate conservation actions to stop the decrease in population, and stabilize the population. I will also aim to reduce the effect of illegal hunting on the species through social and cultural actions aimed at decreasing the reliance on bushmeat in local communities, as well as increasing environmental law regulations and enforcement. Social reform actions will include the implementation of government subsidies for domestic livestock farming, as well as for wild caught fishing operations. Employment opportunities will be made available for individuals who rely on commercial bushmeat trade for income. These opportunities will be in conservation and will include education in the conservation of vulnerable species. Management actions will eliminate the decrease in mandrill populations, and lead to an increase in populations to stability.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2020
Authors: Kyle Gleichauf