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Capstone Projects

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

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

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

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.
Access: Yes
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2018
Authors: Hannah Bieber

Conservation Management Plan of Fishing Cat (Prionailurus viverrinus) Populations on Coastal Edges of India

Thu, 05/03/2018 - 07:58
Abstract: Fishing cats (Prionailurus viverrinus) in India are located primarily in water bodies, reed beds, swamps, and locally cultivated grass area. In other countries fishing cat lowlands and hilly areas that form wetlands. Fishing cats are polygynous and they only breed once a year. Thirty percent of grassland habitat and fifty percent of wetland habitat is irreversibly lost due to agricultural development, urbanization and industrialization in India threating this species. Over the past 18 years, fifty percent of the population has declined and is anticipated to continue if no habitat protection is established for the fishing cat. Habitat loss and over development has been leading to fragmentation of fishing cat populations, which for the conservation of this species has led to genetic isolation. Fragmentation and genetic isolation, increases the chance of extinction. Fishing cats have been traded illegally across borders, used as a food source in local tribes, and killed in retaliation due to interference with live stock, as well as being poisoned, snared and indiscriminately trapped. The goal of this plan is to increase the fishing cat populations in India’s coastal regions along with increasing global and local awareness of fishing cat importance. Implementation of permaculture practices and wetland monitoring programs/ incentives are proposed solutions towards slowing the rate of destruction of valuable fishing cat habitat. Revising current Indian government laws that deal with penalties and fines of fishing cat poaching, trading, and killing are ways that could deter human/ fishing cat interactions, as well as help improve fishing cat populations. International internship programs and the creation of new social media sites along with increased media station coverage about fishing cats could also spread the importance of this species on a global scale. Failure to maintain and save fishing cat habitat and spread global awareness continue the current rate of decline for the fishing cat. If this plan is successful, fishing cat populations would be maintained and steadily increase along with the restoration and maintenance of current wetland ecosystems and habitats.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2018
File Attachments: Fishing Cat
Authors: Madison Lemoine

Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus) Management Plan for the Hudson River Estuary over the Next 25 Years

Thu, 05/03/2018 - 03:34
Abstract: Double-crested Cormorants (DCC) (Phalacrocorax auritus) are waterbirds that spend a majority of their time feeding in water. Their diet consists primarily of the fish species Percidae, Centrarchidae, Cyprinidae, Clupeidae, and Ictaluridae but sometimes feed on other aquatic life. Nesting and roosting of DCC occurs in trees along the edge of the waterbody in which they are present, both activities are done communally. Sometimes cormorants have a negative impact on fish species. They are also associated with the destruction of the trees that they roost and nest in. Commonly during the fall and winter, cormorants migrate to the southern United States. Double-crested cormorants are one of six species of cormorant that live in North America and are the most widely distributed. This species is protected under the Migratory Bird Act and has been Blue-listed (of special concern) but according to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, they are no longer protected and some management being done involves killing them to reduce numbers in places like New York where they’re reducing fish stocks and destroying native trees/vegetation. The Hudson River Estuary stretches 153 miles from Troy to the New York Harbor. This tidal estuary flows in two directions and has some salt content up about the Rensselaer area. The estuary is a home for more than 200 fish species and provides feeding habitat for many bird species such as DDC (waterbirds) and Bald Eagles. The goal of this plan is to balance DDC populations in the Hudson River Estuary between the wants and needs of the people. The two objectives that would help achieve this goal are reducing cormorant populations where needed to help reduce negative impacts on fish and the area and also to educate the public on DCC and how they may play a big role in an ecosystem without negatively affecting the area. To ensure that populations of DCC in the Hudson River Estuary do not grow too large or become too low these management implications should be enacted to keep their populations balanced throughout the area.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2018
Authors: Frank J. Keegan

A Management Plan for Gray Foxes (Urocyon cinereoargenteus) in Allegany and Steuben Counties in Southern Tier New York State

Thu, 05/03/2018 - 01:26
Abstract: In this plan, the overall goal is to increase gray fox numbers in Allegany and Steuben counties to achieve sustaining populations in southern tier New York State. Implementation of predator control, breeding habitat management, public education, food resource management, and disease management techniques will be used to reach the overall goal of this plan. Decrease in predator effects of gray foxes will be achieved through trap and relocation (Steelman et al 1998, McGlennen et al. 2001, Shivik et al. 2005). Breeding habitat will be increased through re-planting native vegetation in areas such as hedgerows and forest edges (Croxton et al. 2004, Aiken et al. 2015). Through public outreach and education, a better understanding of the gray fox and its ecological role to the environment and surrounding ecosystems can be established (Pimentel et al. 1993, Peterson and Messner 2010). Food availability will be increased through a series of scat analyzations and camera trap data which will distinguish preferred prey species across all four seasons (Kamler and MacDonald 2011). Administering continuous oral vaccines through sweet baits (sugar coated food items) and active injections to trapped individuals will decrease effects of disease on gray fox populations. There is currently no population demographics on the gray fox in the target area and this plan will give a better understanding to the condition of gray fox populations in southern tier New York State.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2018
Authors: Logan Milligan

Management Plan for Timber Rattlesnakes (Crotalus horridus) in Southwestern Wisconsin

Thu, 05/03/2018 - 00:47
Abstract: Timber rattlesnakes (Crotalus horridus), also formally known as canebrake rattlesnakes, are native to the United States and were once widespread throughout the entire country, including southern Canada where it is now extirpated. Currently, timber rattlesnakes are found primarily within eastern United States. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List states populations are steadily declining as a response to bounty hunting, pet trade, habitat degradation because of human interference, and public perception. As a result of their large geographic range and large population across the United States, they are listed as a species of Least Concern with a declining population on the IUCN Red List. In the state of Wisconsin over the past 40 years timber rattlesnakes have been subjected to habitat loss from timber harvesting, bounty hunting, climate change, and human interaction with increasing human population. As a result of population decline, genetic isolation of this species has caused small populations to drift and decline. Currently, this species is currently state protected in efforts to reduce intentional take. Diet is 91% small mammals, 9% birds, other reptiles, and amphibians. In the active season during the summer months timber rattlesnakes in various habitats will habit in mixed deciduous forests with exposed rocky outcroppings, and bluff prairies relying on coarse woody debris for foraging. During winter, this species occupies underground surfaces with crevices that provide retreats for overwintering. The goal of this plan is to increase current populations and decrease genetic isolation within their current, historical range in southwestern Wisconsin over the next 30 years from 2018-2048. The objectives to achieve this goal include: determine current populations, maintain suitable habitat, and increase public outreach to decrease intentional take. Based on a population model, increasing juvenile survival to make it to an adult is necessary to restore a population. If this plan is successful, population sizes should increase to a sustaining level within 30 years from 2018-2048 allowing them to contribute to their environment as a keystone species.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2018
File Attachments: miller_mgmt_plan.docx
Authors: Jaclyn Miller

Gray fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus) management plan in New Jersey, 2019 to 2029

Thu, 05/03/2018 - 00:04
Abstract: Gray fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus) are a medium sized omnivore living from the southern edge of Canada to the northern regions of Columbia and Venezuela. The species has a stable population across its geographic range. On a finer scale, some localized populations are unstable, and are of conservation concern. NJ’s gray fox population is unstable, with a 99% decrease in the population since the early 1980’s and a 52% decrease since the early 2000’s. The goal of this management plan is to increase the gray fox population within NJ to a self-sustaining population. This will be achieved by five objectives; (1) use known major factors found to affect gray fox populations outside of NJ and investigate them within NJ, identifying the severity of each across all of NJ, (2) reduce morbid diseases in gray fox across all of NJ by 50%, (3) increase and preserve preferred gray fox habitat of deciduous forests, brushy forests, early successional fields, and the contiguity between, or a combination of any four by 20% across all of NJ, (4) reduce predation by coyotes or humans, or a combination of both on gray fox by 20% across all of NJ, and (5) increase gray fox pup, age 0 to 4 months, survivorship within NJ by 65%. Unstable populations result from habitat alteration, habitat destruction, overharvest, disease, or any combination of them, making them the focus of objectives. NJ biologists do not know why gray fox populations are declining in NJ. Due to this lack of knowledge, early stages of the management plan will focus on those possible factors causing the decline. The information gained from research above will provide a focus on factors that are effecting the population thus guiding the future management of gray fox in NJ. If the management plan is successful, ecological stress will be reduced, keeping small mammal populations stable, increasing seed dispersal rates, and increasing available harvest numbers for both trappers and hunters.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2018
Authors: Austin Damminger

A Sustainable Management Plan of Saiga antelope (Saiga tatarica) in Kazahkstan

Wed, 05/02/2018 - 23:45
Abstract: Saiga antelope (Saiga tatarica) are a remnant of the last ice age, and are a charismatic symbol of people who live in the vast steppes and arid plains of Eurasia. Once existing in masses comparable to ungulates of African savannah, Saiga populations in the past few decades have witnessed a dramatic decline due to a host of environmental and anthropogenic factors. At the turn of the century numbers were one million, and at present numbers around 18,000 individuals. Poaching, diseases, harsh winters, rampant predation by wolves and pet dogs, and human caused mortality forces preventing Saiga populations from rebounding. These issues are in what is moving Saiga toward extinction. To stop this impending ecological disaster from happening, a management plan must be created in order to save an emblematic and historic species from annihilation. Kazakhstan currently holds the largest number of surviving Saiga herds and individuals, and has the most potential for a managed rejuvenation of the population, which is currently still in decline. Measures must be taken to reduce predation and poaching, and allow for more recruitment of claves into the breeding population, which in addition to increasing the population will also offset the gross sex ratio of males to females that currently is precarious enough that a potential reproductive collapse is not impossible. Measures reducing human impacts must also be taken to ensure the end of poaching and hunting of Saiga, sale of their parts, and cooperation between the managers and the Kazakhstani government via a council that will oversee the entire management implementation, as well as advocate for Saiga any legal or legislative situation. With enough funding and support, and with the completion of the societal and ecological objectives, it may be possible to accomplish our overall goal to increase Saiga populations, returning them to sustainable levels.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2018
Authors: Owen Denton