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Capstone Projects

Feral Horse (Equus caballus) Management Plan for South Central Wyoming

Fri, 05/03/2019 - 13:35
Abstract: Feral horses are found through our western rangelands in the thousands tho they are not truly “Wild Horses” they are technically feral and were introduced into the western landscape by Spanish conquistadors in the 1500s. In Southcentral Wyoming, there are currently 3,403 adult feral horses within 3,008,875 acres of federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) which exceeds the appropriate management level (AML) is 1,521-2,104 adults. Feral horse overpopulation is a large strain on the BLM's budget and a political and social hot topic as there is both support for more horses to be on the range and support for them to be removed. To date, feral horses are federally protected by The Wild and Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971 and are managed by the BLM. Feral horses have the potential to double their herd sizes every four years resulting in unchecked populations being able to overpopulate and degrade delicate rangeland ecosystem and utilizing resources crucial for native wildlife. Currently, feral horses are managed by rounding up the excess population via helicopter and removing them from the range to which they are then adopted out or held in captivity in the BLM's care. This management technique works but is time-consuming, expensive and redundant. To more adequately manage feral horses in south central Wyoming an animal roundup will be performed to have a population that is within the AML from which the immunocontraceptive Porcine Zona Pellucida (PZP) will be utilized to lower fecundity to a level that will prevent overpopulation. With this management option, PZP darting will have to be done on an annual basis but will be a much cheaper and socially acceptable option than today's. Once feral horse populations in South Central Wyoming are properly managed the result will be healthier multiple use rangelands for both wildlife, ranchers and recreationist to enjoy.
Access: Yes
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2019
Authors: Zachary R. Gauthier

Conservation of the Critically Endangered Silky Sifaka (Propithecus candidus) in Marojejy National Park, Madagascar.

Wed, 05/01/2019 - 11:05
Abstract: Executive Summary The silky sifaka (Propithecus candidus) is a critically endangered, large bodied lemur endemic to the eastern montane rainforests of Madagascar. Silky sifakas eat primarily leaves but will also eat seeds, flowers, and fruits, which means they are not true folivores. Silky sifakas reproduce, on average, once every other year and will mate on a single day each year. Like other eastern rainforest sifakas, silky sifakas will not cross non-forested habitat (i.e. clear cuts or farm land) to travel between forest fragments. Thus, deforestation is a primary concern for the species’ survival of the species. Additionally, the local villagers hunt lemurs for bush meat. Locals do not specifically target silky sifakas but make no effort to avoid the species while hunting. The goal of this management plan is to increase and maintain the silky sifaka population within Marojejy National Park, in north eastern Madagascar. There are four main objectives to reach and fulfill this goal. First, conduct additional research on silky sifaka population size and natural history, and produce 5 peer reviewed papers to increase what is known about the species. Second, to increase survival rates of each age class to 90% in 20 years. Third, increase education on the importance and uniqueness of the forests and species that live within them, inside Marojejy National Park by 50% in 3 years. And finally, to reduce the illegal harvest of fuel and rosewood within Marojejy National Park, as well as the surrounding forests, by 90% in 3 years. These objectives will be achieved through different actions including education, increased management and monitoring of the park, and implementation of new data collection methods. The completion of each objective and the effective implementation of each action should result in the silky sifaka population stabilizing and increasing in numbers each year.
Access: Yes
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2019
File Attachments: Tolman_FWS470_Final.pdf
Authors: Matthew W. Tolman

Reviving Sea Otters (Enhydra lutris) Populations Post Fur-Trade in the Aleutian Archipelago of Alaska

Wed, 05/01/2019 - 09:40
Abstract: Northern sea otters (Enhydra lutris) are a very important predator to the Aleutian Archipelago of Alaska. They are a keystone species that helps maintain a balanced relationship between sea urchins and kelp. Sea otters were nearly extinct in the early 20th century, but most populations have since recovered. However, otters of the Aleutian Islands are facing large declines due to increased killer whale (Orcinus orca) predation. Due to small, extant populations that are isolated from one another, it is difficult for otters to disperse from their birthplace, thus creating genetic bottle necking. This management plan’s goal is to stabilize sea otter populations, at islands that were not operating at equilibrium in 1965, to approximately 300 total individuals by 2026. Population models show adult survivability is the most influential on the population. The objective measures that will be taken to achieve this goal would be to (1) Stop the hunting of sea otters from 2019-2026, (2) decrease killer whale predation by 50% by 2026, and (3) increase the number of adults by at least 30% in areas that provide protection from killer whales by 2026. This plan expects a positive outcome with the goal being achieved within the given time frame, ± 1 year.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2019
Authors: Donovan Hughes

Management Plan for Stray Dog (Canis lupus familiaris) Populations in Kathmandu, Nepal

Wed, 05/01/2019 - 00:10
Abstract: Dogs (Canis lupus familiaris) are the most abundant predators, inhabiting all continents excluding Antarctica. Widely distributed, they are able to adapt to an expansive range of surroundings, maximizing survivability rates throughout the populations. Dogs are able to habituate regardless of rural mountainous terrain or crowded bustling cities. Stray dog populations have been established as a result of the frequent abandonment of pet dogs due to sickness, aggression, estrus behavior, or negligence. The diet of stray dog populations in Poland have been documented consisting of 30% oats, seeds and fruits, 15% small mammals, 12% game species, 7% insects, and 36% organic or inorganic items. The presence of dogs can deter endemic wildlife from utilizing suitable habitats, causing an increase in nest desertions. Dogs have also been known to hybridize with species within the Canis genera such as with the endangered Ethiopian wolf (Canis simensis), disrupting the genetic integrity of the species. Breeding multiple times within a year, producing anywhere from 1 to 15 pups per litter, there has been an estimate of over 20,000 stray dogs in Kathmandu, Nepal. Exposure to harsh living conditions have resulted in many of these dogs becoming malnourished, increasing susceptibility to parasites and diseases. Decreasing the population of stray dogs in Kathmandu by 50% from 2019 to 2049 will decrease ecological impacts on native wildlife, as well as decrease the transmission of zoonotic diseases. Decreasing food availability for stray dogs will result in a decrease within the stray dog population; if executed gradually, the stray dog population will not disperse to neighboring communities. When food sources suddenly diminish, dogs have been observed dispersing to maximize food availability. Decreasing the fecundity of females ages 1 to 2 will halt the dog population from its current exponential increase. Further educating the public regarding impacts of stray dog populations will decrease opportunities for disease transmission, pet abandonment, as well as discourage the public from sustaining the population. Decreasing the population of stray dogs in Nepal will protect native wildlife by decreasing negative effects on breeding success as well as increasing habitat use by endemic species. Human exposure to zoonotic diseases can also be minimized as a result of decreased interactions with stray dogs.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2019
Authors: Iris Li

Management on a Protected Landscape: Black-Throated Blue Warblers (Setophaga caerulescens) in the Adirondack Park, NY 2019 - 2069

Tue, 04/30/2019 - 11:28
Abstract: Black-throated blue warblers (Setophaga caerulescens) are a neotropical migrant passerine that specializes in breeding within interior forest habitats, with dense lower strata. Since the Breeding Bird Survey began in 1966, there has been over a 1.5% decline in sightings of this species along survey routes. In recent years, it has been found that access to secondary growth during the post-fledging period is essential to physiological health for migration. In the Adirondack Park of New York, a protected forest, there is a severe deficit of early successional habitats, especially adjacent to large tracts of mature forest. Compounding on this, there is resounding public conflict in relation to forest operations. This management plan aims to increase black-throated blue warbler encounters on BBS survey routes by at least 1% yearly on average, or by 50% over 50 years. To increase populations directly, new early successional habitat, and understory nesting cover will be developed using a variety of forestry techniques. We will increase early successional habitat by 10% by 2034, 20% by 2049, and 30% by 2069. Understory cover is planned to be increased by 5% by 2034, 15% by 2049, and 20% by 2069. Public education will be increased by presenting residents and visitors to the Adirondacks with free opportunities to learn about how natural resources are managed. Public opinion will be monitored alongside this education to study how public approval of forestry relates to environmental education. By the end of this 50-year management cycle, it is expected that black-throated blue warblers, along with several other species, will benefit greatly from these management actions. In addition, the general public will have a greater understanding, and therefore support of scientific wildlife management, including all tools that are used.
Access: Yes
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2019
Authors: Bradley R. Geroux

Lower St. Regis Lake Survey: A Comparative Study of Fish Population Structure and Function over Time

Thu, 12/13/2018 - 14:24
Abstract: Lake surveys are performed on bodies of water to provide a health analysis of fish populations over time. Lake surveys can be conducted in a variety of ways to attain specific data. Lower St. Regis Lake was surveyed to determine the fish community composition and to understand fish population traits. Using fyke nets placed at six predetermined locations for 24 hours, as well as fishing, we collected data for age, length (mm), weight (g), and parasites present. Data was analyzed in the lab using Excel to form graphs and tables to demonstrate our findings. Catch rates were lower compared to years before and comparing our data to New York State Department of Conservation data found that our length-at-age data was lower for the six-species sampled. Pumpkinseed and yellow perch were the only two species to have over twenty fish sampled. Decreased air temperatures brought in by a cold front during the week of our sampling may have been a reason for our lower number of fish caught. Mesh size is also a bias while using these nets as smaller fish can escape, and predatory fish can prey on smaller fish while in the net. Some species of fish such as black crappie may be more susceptible to capture due to its habit of associating with structure.
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Major: Biology, Environmental Sciences, Environmental Studies, Fisheries and Wildlife Science, Natural Resources Conservation and Management
Year: 2018
File Attachments: Capstone_Final.docx
Authors: Deacon Chapin, Jared Chlus, Louis Daversa, Jon Herrman, Robert Visicaro

Minnow Abundance in Heron Marsh: Spatial Variation, the Status of the Non-Native Fathead Minnow, and Hybridized Redbelly and Finescale Dace

Fri, 12/14/2018 - 09:27
Abstract: Due to their distinct influence on surrounding ecosystems and food web dynamics, minnow populations have been monitored in Heron Marsh, in the northern Adirondacks in New York, since fall of 2012. This study documented the presence of species known to predate on minnows, the hybridization between redbelly dace (Chrosomus eos) and finescale dace (Phoxinus neogaeus), and the presence of the recently documented fathead minnow (Pimephales prometas). To survey piscivores, two fyke nets were set around the marsh for one trap night. The fishes were then identified and measured. The collection of predators is part of a preliminary study to document the presence of predator fish species within Heron Marsh. Minnow data was collected via minnow traps set at long term study sites and one new site. The traps were set over night and collected the following day. The minnows were identified and measured to the nearest mm. When analyzing the data collected in the field, the data from previous years was compared to this years data. The findings indicate that hybrids of redbelly and finescale dace can be observed only at sites where both parent species exist. This 2018 study was the first one to document hybrid species though they have been observed in past years. The status of the fathead minnow is not significantly different from findings from 2017 however, their populations are noticeably smaller than previous years. Predator composition was primarily brown bullhead (Ameiurus nebulosus) and creek chub (Semtilus atromaculatus).
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2018
Authors: Sarah LaLumiere and Patrick Nicholson

A USE VERSUS AVAILABILITY DIET STUDY OF AGE-0 FISHES IN NEAR SHORE WOODY STRUCTURE

Thu, 12/13/2018 - 14:09
Abstract: In 2014, the need for an ecological restoration program began at Paul Smiths College in attempt to restore or improve the shoreline along Lower St. Regis Lake. When restoring a shoreline, one must look at what organisms are using the area and how they are doing it. Invertebrates and fishes play a large role in distinguishing problems or changes in an environment, so we sampled both to add useful knowledge to the restoration program. Specifically, we looked to see if fishes were selecting for specific invertebrates (food), or if they did not have a preference. We used a backpack electrofishing unit to sample young of the year fishes near shore along three 60-meter segments, and a 100-foot bag seine to collect fishes offshore along the same segments. Invertebrates were sampled along the same segments and was done so by picking up all coarse woody debris and brushing the pieces off with our hands into a sieve bucket. Woody debris too large to pick up were scraped underwater using a standard kick net. Invertebrates were identified to order level, and fish stomach contents were also identified to the order so that we could conduct a comparison. After using a Chi Square test, we found that according to our p-value (0.2796) fishes were not selecting against any individual taxonomic group. Smallmouth bass were also the dominant present species along nearshore woody debris which could either suggest a higher recruitment than other species, a preference of use by the smallmouth bass, or human introduced capturing bias. Although we can’t indefinitely say fishes were selecting for Dipterans, data shows that dipterans made up just 4.5% of the total invertebrate composition on CWD but made up 9% of the fishes’ stomach contents suggesting fishes may be selecting for them.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2018
File Attachments: CompletedCapstone.docx
Authors: Adrian Forbes, Alexander Frank, Matthew D Simpson

Management Plan to Increase King Rail (Rallus elegans) Populations in the Northeastern United States (2019-2034)

Fri, 05/04/2018 - 19:00
Abstract: King rails (Rallus elegans) live in freshwater marshlands and rice field habitats. These habitats are often associated with food sources and nesting cover. Diet consists of 58% animal matter ranging from small crustaceans to fish and frogs. Nests are placed in large clumps of grass throughout dense vegetation, or in a tussock. Outside the nesting and breeding season, rails found in the northeastern United States migrate south in search of food opportunities. With only 10% of natural wetlands remaining from destruction and alterations in farming techniques, major threats associated with king rail populations have rose. King rails are listed as near threatened throughout the United States and under no protection aside from the Migratory Bird Act. The IUCN Red List reported that the current population trend is decreasing at rate of 30% over 14 years. Based on population models, survival within the fledgling stage is the key factor to focus on during conservation practices. The goal of this plan is to increase the population from its current state to a sustainable level for maximum viewing and ecological stability throughout the northeastern states of Maryland, Delaware and New Jersey within the next 15 years. The objectives to reach this goal include: find population estimates to better assess the species abundance of king rails, obtain lands for king rails species to inhabit, decrease the amount of selected marshland being restructured, and increase the fledgling stage survival rate of king rails. King rails are an understudied species that deserve conservation help to ensure survival.
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Literary Rights: Off
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2018
File Attachments: King_2018_05_03.docx
Authors: Kyle King

Rock Pigeons of Portland, Oregon: 10 Year Management Plan (2018-2028)

Thu, 05/03/2018 - 12:56
Abstract: Rock pigeons (Columba livia) of the family Columbidae are urban exploiters with a worldwide distribution. Pigeons commonly present a management issue in urban areas due to their high density and opportunistic feeding habits. Rock pigeons are not protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act as they are non-migratory however, their versatile nature as wild, feral, and domestic stock tends to lead to their exclusion from hunting seasons and similar legislation. Property damage caused by pigeons in Portland is intensified in areas where the birds roost such as the site of a deconstruction grant program where roosting pigeons caused irreparable damage to over 66% of previously recoverable siding material. The view of pigeons as a nuisance by residents and the potential for disease transmission to people add to human-pigeon conflict within Portland. At its current trajectory, the rock pigeon population of Portland, Oregon will continue to rise above the social carrying capacity until it reaches the biological caring capacity. The goal of this management plan is to reduce human-pigeon conflict in Portland, Oregon. This goal requires a reduction in the population size of pigeons in the city, a reduction in pigeon related damages to public and private property, a decrease in disease transmission potential of the pigeon population, and offering a controlled opportunity for human pigeon interaction.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2018
File Attachments: Hill_2018.05.03
Authors: Kaiden Jenna Hill