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Capstone Projects

Reintroduction of Eastern Loggerhead Shrikes (Lanius ludovicianus migrans) to Western New York State

Thu, 05/03/2018 - 09:02
Abstract: Loggerhead Shrikes (Lanius ludovicianus migrans) inhabit open areas with mixed vegetation and bare patches. Suitable habitat contains hawthorn trees for nesting and impaling stations for prey. Vegetation provides perches that Loggerhead Shrikes use for hunting. Diet consists mainly of invertebrates, but Loggerhead Shrikes also feed on vertebrates. Loggerhead Shrikes are generalists and their diets change seasonally, geographically, and annually. Nesting habitat primarily consists of red cedar (Juniperus virginiana) and hawthorn (Crataegus spp.) trees. Outside of breeding season, eastern Loggerhead Shrikes are migratory. Expansion in territory size during winter may be due to decreased food availability from a reduction of invertebrates. Throughout North America, Loggerhead Shrike populations have declined 79% in the last 40 years. Loggerhead Shrikes are considered endangered in New York State where they have been extirpated but are only considered a species of concern by the USFWS continent wide. The reason for decline of Loggerhead Shrikes is due to winter habitat loss which reduces overwinter survival of juveniles and adults. Other contributors for the decline of Loggerhead Shrikes are pesticides, climate change, road collisions, habitat loss, and changes in agricultural practices including the planting of row crops. Considerable amounts of suitable unused habitat for Loggerhead Shrikes exists in New York State suggesting loss of suitable habitat is not the main reason of decline in the northeast. A wild population of eastern Loggerhead Shrikes exists in Ontario, Canada, where conservation efforts have increased the population. Habitat conditions in New York where Loggerhead Shrikes will be reintroduced are comparable to those currently occupied in Ontario. The goals of this plan are to reintroduce and maintain Loggerhead Shrike populations in New York and to maintain suitable breeding habitat in the state. The objectives to achieve these goals are: start a captive breeding program in New York for Loggerhead Shrikes, establish a stable captive breeding population within 5 years, increase juvenile overwinter survival rate, reduction of issue with farmers and hawthorn trees, manage fields to provide for Loggerhead Shrike habitat, and reduction of pesticide use in suitable habitat areas in 5 years. Population modeling showed that adult survival was the key factor to reintroducing and maintaining a population of Loggerhead Shrikes in New York State. By releasing 75 juveniles into the wild annually from captive bred field propagation pens, a stable population of wild Loggerhead Shrikes should exist in New York State within 20 years. Conservation and reintroduction of this species is needed for a population to exist in New York in the future.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2018
Authors: Hannah Bieber

Management plan for giant golden-crowned flying fox bats (Acerodon jubatus) on the island of Negros in the Philippines

Thu, 05/03/2018 - 10:20
Abstract: The giant golden-crowned flying fox bat (Acerodon jubatus) is a critically endangered species endemic to the Philippines. This species is an endemic specialist that is significantly important to the Philippine ecosystems and cultures. Golden-crowned flying foxes have been listed on the IUCN Red List as endangered since 1994. This species is a forest obligate that uses primary growth forests for roosting and riparian zones for foraging. Figs (Ficus spp.) comprise 41% of their diet. Deforestation in the Philippines has led to loss of primary growth forests that are necessary to sustain fruit bat populations. Golden-crowned flying foxes are extremely sensitive to hunting and other roost site disturbances. A 50% decline in their population over the last three generations has been caused by habitat loss due to deforestation and overharvesting by poaching. There are only 12-15 remaining populations of golden-crowned flying foxes, with each population being estimated to contain less than 200 individuals. Only three of these populations are formally protected and even protected populations are declining at a rate of 10-15% per generation. This species is expected to be extinct within 50 years. The goal for this management plan is to increase the population of giant golden-crowned flying fox bats to a sustainable level in the Philippines for the enjoyment of stakeholders and the maintenance of their ecosystem. Objectives include: 1) estimate population size across 100% of current range on the entire island of negros; 2) provide education to 30% of tourists and 30% of residents on Negros to promote sustainable hunting and habitat preservation by 2020; 3) reduce mortality from poaching by 50% by 2022; 4) begin restoration of at least 25,005 ha of fruit bat habitat by 2023. To sustain this species for the future benefit of humans and the ecosystems, management of this species is necessary. If management of this species is properly implemented and adult survival is increased, the population of giant golden-crowned flying fox bats should increase over time and both the ecosystems and the cultural heritage of the Philippines will remain intact.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2018
Authors: Thompson Tomaszewski

Recovery Plan for Talaud Flying Fox (Acerodon humilis) On Talaud Islands, Indonesia

Thu, 05/03/2018 - 10:26
Abstract: Talaud flying foxes (Acerodon humilis; hereafter A. humilis) are a fruit bat similar in appearance to the other members of its genus, and is endemic to the Talaud Islands of Indonesia. As frugivores, their diet consists of soft fruits and possibly pollen or nectar, but the specific species it consumes are unknown. Bats of family Pteropodidae are known to have large foraging home ranges that may cover 100 km or more in a single night, often resulting in contact with humans at orchards and temporary roost sites. These interactions are often viewed negatively as a nuisance in orchards, and the trees they roost in are frequently cut down for timber. Having only been briefly described twice based on seven specimens, few details of this species' life history or biological needs are known. Based on being an island-endemic species and the few individuals seen, it is listed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as ‘Endangered’, though current population statistics are unknown. The bat is protected legally by the Indonesian government, but active efforts are limited with uncertain results. While some potential habitat of A. humilis is protected in Karakelang Utara dan Suletan Wildlife Preserve on Karakelang Island, much of its possible habitat on the rest of the Talaud Islands is unprotected. The decline of this species is believed to be directly linked to destruction of its habitat due to timber harvesting, and direct harvesting of the species for the bushmeat trade. The goals of this management plan are (1) to gain understanding and acquire the necessary knowledge of Talaud flying foxes to effectively manage them, and (2) increase populations of Talaud flying foxes to down-list them from endangered on the IUCN Red List over 20 years. The objectives of this management plan are: (1.1) conduct population surveys to determine population sizes and distribution of Talaud flying foxes on the largest Talaud Islands of Karakelang, Salibabu, Kabaruan, Karatung, Nanusa, and Miangas over first two years, (1.2) construct a HSI (Habitat Suitability Index) model for A. humilis over years 3-5, (2.1) reduce occurrence of illegal logging on the Talaud Islands by 50% over initial 10 years, (2.2) increase total area of protected habitat sites by 20% over 20 years, (2.3) increase assistance to Indonesian government and communities in habitat protection efforts through contributions of US $10M from government and non-government organizations (NGOs) over 20 years, and (2.4) increase local education and awareness of threats to species, and educate on solutions and alternative agricultural practices through outreach programs to 60,000 residents and 50,000 tourists over first 5 years. As an island endemic species, there should be a focus on its protection. A thorough study of the species will provide knowledge and inform recovery actions. Financial and logistical support will reduce illegal harvesting and destructive agricultural practices. Public education builds appreciation for and dispels myths about the species. If a commitment to scientific investigation and funding of management efforts are prioritized, then there is still a chance for this rare species to persist. Protecting biodiversity is of particular importance in island ecosystems, where endemic species are susceptible to extinction. Fruit bats are known to be keystone species in their role as pollinators and seed-dispersers. The negative impacts of the reduction or loss of A. humilis cannot be fully understood as long as so little is known about the species itself. Recovery and understanding must be a priority for the sake of protecting ecosystem function and to prevent the loss of unique species.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2018
Authors: Weston J. Schloss

Recovery plan for Stenoderma rufum in the El Yunque National Forest of Puerto Rico

Thu, 05/03/2018 - 10:26
Abstract: Puerto Rico is the largest island in the Caribbean, an area with regular hurricanes that cause large scale disturbances on a regular interval of about 60 years. Recently the frequency of these events has increased with Hurricane Hugo in 1991, Hurricane Georges in 1994, and Hurricane Maria in 2017, the most damaging. Stenoderma rufum, the red fig-eating bat, has become increasingly rare as these large-scale disturbances have increased.. Hurricane Hugo was the first documented hurricane for its effects on the red fig-eating bat. Initial population damage was low in comparison to related species such as Artibeus jamaicensis, the Jamaican fruit bat, however the long term damage was greater: A. jamaicensis recovered to pre-hurricane levels within 3 years whereas S. rufum declined in population for nearly 3 years afterward and did not show significant signs of recovery until 5 years after the storm. In part this delayed recovery could be attributed to Hurricane Georges shortly thereafter. S. rufum is a phyllostomid bat that is foliar nesting and frugivorous which makes it more vulnerable to disturbance than other species on the island when defoliation from hurricanes can be as high as 100% in some areas of the LEF with tree mortality as high as 50%. Frugivorous bats are major agents of seed dispersal which is critical to the health of forest communities in a disturbance habitat. The red fig-eating bat was the dominant frugivorous bat in Puerto Rico prior to Hurricane Hugo and the only known seed dispersal agent for at least one species of tree. This bat acts as a keystone species in its environment but as of now its status is unknown. The most recent hurricane, Maria, was the third most expensive hurricane in terms of damages in the United States and has unofficially been described as the worst defoliation event in the history of Puerto Rico. Aside from hurricane disturbance human expansion over the last few decades has fragmented habitat on the island causing a number of isolated populations. S. rufum has been shown to be a weak flier with individuals maintaining small home ranges making immigration an unlikely vector for recovery. This plan looks to recover the population of the red fig-eating bat in the LEF which at the time of last study was declining or potentially absent altogether and with the addition of the damage from Hurricane Maria the population is likely in critical condition. To accomplish this monitoring needs to be established long-term to understand the state of the population as well as the effects of management undertaken. Population size and demographics as well as forest recovery are the primary factors addressed as they are both the most significant effects caused by hurricanes and the slowest to recover. Due to the possibility that this species is already at a critical point it is also suggested that captive breeding be implemented. Captive bred populations could be used to supplement the declining numbers as well as protect the species should wild populations disappear. Two breeding sites are recommended in this plan: One on site to allow the species a more familiar climate to grow in as well as being accessible for active and consistent release of individuals to bolster wild populations, and a second on the mainland of the US to protect the captive breeding program from being exposed to the same danger of severe weather disturbance that endangers the wild population. If no action is taken to recover red fig-eating bat populations could be extinct within the next 20 years.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2018
Authors: Scott Curley

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
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2018
File Attachments: Hill_2018.05.03
Authors: Kaiden Jenna Hill

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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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2018
File Attachments: King_2018_05_03.docx
Authors: Kyle King

Management Plan to Increase Gould’s Wild Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo mexicana) Population in New Mexico

Wed, 04/26/2017 - 20:57
Abstract: Gould’s wild turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo mexicana) are the largest subspecies of wild turkey in United States, but are also the most geographically restricted. In New Mexico, Gould’s populations occur in the Peloncillo, Animas and San Luis mountain ranges located in Hidalgo County, southwest New Mexico. This subspecies faces threats of habitat loss by several factors that including severe wildfires, competition with livestock grazing, lack of sustaining water sources. Gould’s wild turkeys are a popular United States subspecies for avid hunters seeking the completion of the Royal or Grand Slam wild turkey hunts. With the proper management, New Mexico could provide an increase of habitat for the Gould’s wild turkey. The overall goal of this management plan is to increase and maintain the Gould’s wild turkey population in southwest New Mexico to maximize hunting and recreational viewing opportunities. Objectives to be taken to achieve this goal includes: 1. Improvement and maintain the occupied and potential turkey habitat in their native range within 10 years. 2. Obtain suitable habitats through conservation easements within 5 years. 3. Increase and maintain a sustainable population within 10 years. 4. Gain landowner and volunteer participation through outreach and funding through partnerships with organizations within 10 years. The increase of Gould’s wild turkey populations will positively affect hunting and viewing opportunities and economics from higher populations of Gould’s wild turkey. This management plan will be implemented for the next 10 years, starting in 2018 and ending in 2028. Once this plan is complete, we will then assess the actions and implement further management needs for the future.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2017
File Attachments: Final.docx
Authors: Austin Cartwright

Preventing the Spread of Eurasian Boar (Sus scrofa) into New York State

Thu, 04/27/2017 - 09:28
Abstract: Eurasian boars (Sus scrofa) pose a large threat as they are destructive in their feeding habits. According to the USDA, roughly 5 million wild Eurasian boar live inside the United States, and are currently found in 31 states. This species is responsible for $1.5 billion dollars in crop destruction, property damage, and management efforts annually. Eurasian boars are an exotic invasive species originating from Eurasia, and were introduced to the United States during the 1500s for meat and hunting purposes. This species survives and successfully breeds in a large range of habitats, and outcompete native fauna. The goal of this management plan is to prevent Eurasian boar populations from becoming established in New York State. Preventing the spread of this species is important because they are not native to New York, and can become an economic burden to farmers and local residents. There is currently no known breeding populations inside of New York, but Eurasian boars have come into New York in the past and are likely to return. The following objectives will be enacted to achieve the overall goal for preventing the spread of this species: (1) Educate the public on the dangers and negative impacts from Eurasian boars (2) Update and maintain current legal policies that prevent the importation, sale, trade, or ownership of Eurasian boar (3) Establish response teams that would eradicate wild Eurasian boar populations. This management plan will be implemented for the next 10 years (2017-2027). Once completed, the successfulness of this management plan will be reviewed and reassessed.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2017
Authors: Nick Masucci

Recovery Plan for the Wood Turtle (Glyptemys insculpta) in Connecticut

Thu, 04/27/2017 - 10:16
Abstract: Since European colonization began in North America, turtle populations have declined across the entire continent, due to habitat conversion and overharvesting. Wood turtles (Glyptemys insculpta) are medium-sized freshwater turtles, and the most terrestrial of North American turtles, though they still require year-round flowing streams. They are found throughout southern Canada, the Great Lakes region, and the northeastern United States south to Virginia. Wild adults attain sexual maturity at 10-14 and have been known to reach 50 years of age. Their populations have survived the impacts of human development until recent history, when automobiles and the expansion of road systems caused far greater adult mortality. This species is considered rare, but widespread, and is threatened with extinction due to small local population size, and components of their life history strategy. Like many turtles, wood turtle populations exhibit a Type 3 survivorship curve, with high nest and hatchling mortality, and low adult mortality. Their small disjunct breeding populations experience unnaturally high adult mortality from road crossings, illegal collection, agricultural mortality, subsidized depredation, and possibly forestry and dam practices. These problems are compounded by a lack of information regarding the species’s ecology. Currently there is no accurate population estimate, though the Canadian government estimates near or above 10,000 individuals range-wide. The focus of current management is to promote the survivorship of adult wood turtles, since adult survivorship is more essential to healthy populations than that of nests or juveniles. Emphasis is placed on reducing mortality from road crossings through fencing and underpasses, and reducing illegal collection. In areas where human development is less, collection may be the only serious threat. This management plan presents a comprehensive research plan that focuses on understanding the ecology of wood turtles, and outlines adaptive management strategies to increase survivorship. The goal of this plan is to ensure that a comprehensive and adaptive strategy is in place to reestablish the long-term stability of wood turtle populations in Connecticut.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2017
Authors: Andrew Thomas Bowe

Management Plan for Red-throated loons (Gavia stellata) in North America

Thu, 04/27/2017 - 10:44
Abstract: Red-throated loons (Gavia stellata) are an indicator species for aquatic ecosystems and environmental impacts. Although red-throated loons are listed as a species of least concern, their population is overall declining and not much is understood as to why this is occurring. Their population in Europe, Asia, and Russia are declining, but the North American population has remained stable for the last 40 years. From 1977-1993, the red-throated loon population in Alaska declined by 53% due to the 1985 T/V Exxon oil spill in the North Pacific Ocean. The current issue with red-throated loons is that there is no current data on their behavior, demographics and environmental threats, which makes it difficult to determine what best management practices are needed in order to maintain their population in North America. This management plan is designed to maintain the stable red-throated loon population, increase the understanding of their behavior, increase the public awareness on their ecological role, and monitor environmental impacts that affect red-throated loons for duration of 10 years. This will be done through a series of objectives such as: increasing first year survival rates and nesting success; maintaining the annual adult survival rate at its current rate; educating fish market industries, oil and gas industries, and the general public on the ecological role of red-throated loons; conducting behavioral studies and monitoring concentrations of contaminants that affect red-throated loons.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2017
Authors: Timothy Flannery