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Capstone Projects

Management Plan for Feral Cats in Oahu, Hawaii

Wed, 05/02/2018 - 21:26
Abstract: Feral cat (Felis catus) populations are increasing rapidly due to their reproduction frequency and size. On average, four kittens are found per litter two times a year. Feral cats are opportunistic hunters. The diet of feral cats consists of 70% mammals, 16% birds, and 3% reptiles/amphibians. In a closed system, the feral cats range will occupy most areas of the closed system due to their ability to be generalists. On the island of Oahu, Hawaii, feral cat ranges overlap 1.3 million humans. The population of feral cats has been estimated to be 16,000 on Oahu. Recent attempts to decrease the populations due to sociocultural, economic, and ecological issues has resulted in the use of TNR (Trap, Neuter, and Release) programs. A short-term result would be a decrease in populations, however, these programs do not promote the protection of native wildlife that occupy the island of Oahu. There are currently no effective management plans that create an effort to manage for the wildlife populations where there is an overabundance of feral cats, while providing a humane strategy of eradication to please the public. The goal of this management plan is to decrease the population of feral cats on the island of Oahu to protect the native wildlife which inhabits Oahu. The objectives that are required to obtain this goal include decreasing the survivorship of weaning cats by 42% by using drop fall traps and hunting, increasing the eradication rate by 6.6% every year from the shelter or shelters by creating an adoption program and euthanasia protocol, and increasing awareness of feral cat problems via survey in 1 year and passing legislation that regulates feral cat feeding, abandonment, and introduction in to the wild. When implemented, this plan will decrease feral cat populations on Oahu which will decrease the predation on native small mammals, birds, and reptiles/amphibians.
Access: Yes
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2018
File Attachments: FeralCatsOahu.docx
Authors: Sean Dudenhoeffer

2018 Management Plan for Fossas (Cryptoprocta ferox) in Madagascar

Mon, 04/30/2018 - 11:28
Abstract: Fossas (Cryptoprocta ferox) are an endemic species to Madagascar with features resembling members of Felidae, Herpestidae, and Viveridae. They are widely distributed throughout the island and are located in rainforests, dry forests, and mountainous terrain. As the top-predators of Madagascar, fossas are opportunistic hunters and will feed on the most abundant prey in an area, which are usually the various lemur species inhabiting Madagascar. Fossas are often overlooked in terms of research for their lemur counterparts, resulting in a lack of information pertaining to the species. Fossas are listed as vulnerable on the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Red List and under Appendix II of CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora). The species has declined by 30% over the last 21 years and are projected to mirror that decline over the next 21 years. The fossas’ decline is primarily linked to habitat destruction and fragmentation and hunting of the species. Invasive species are likely also contributing by transmitting foreign pathogens to fossas, but more research in this area is required. Madagascan forests are continuing to decline annually as more are cleared to make room for agricultural practices. Local Madagascans hunt fossas due to their negative view in local culture, to protect their fowl and livestock, and as a source of bushmeat in some areas. Of Madagascar’s 46 protected areas, many of them contain established populations of fossas. However, these populations are too small or fragmented and will not remain viable into the future. Fossas can be successful if their habitat is preserved and their negative perception by Madagascan villagers is altered. Their top-predator status, unique morphology and taxonomy, and endemic nature make them a valuable species worth restoring to sustainable population levels and protecting for future generations. This management plan has two goals; (1) Establish fossas as a valuable wildlife species among wildlife stakeholders and (2) improve the negative ecological conditions facing fossas to foster population growth. Both goals require multiple objectives to be met to be completed and thus ensure the survival of the species. Educational programs will improve fossas’ negative perception and negative interactions between fossas and Madagascans will be decreased to lessen the numbers harmed or killed by locals. Ecotourism focusing on fossas will be established to increase awareness and funding for conservation. Protected areas of fossa habitat will be enlarged or connected to better suit their needs. Fossa food availability will be increased indirectly by increasing the size of their protected habitat. Invasive species populations of felines and canines will be decreased. Further research on fossa ecology is necessary to improve understanding of fossas and their demographics and improve management practices in the future. If fossas’ habitat requirements are met and protected and their negative view in the eyes of Madagascans is reversed, the species’ decline will be reversed and the population will become sustainable into the future.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2018
File Attachments: Notoris_2018_04_25.docx
Authors: John Notoris

Management plan of honey badger (Mellivora capensis) populations in Karnataka, India

Fri, 04/27/2018 - 11:56
Abstract: Honey badgers (Mellivora capensis) are known for their thick skin and fearless behavior. Honey badgers have a large distribution throughout Sub-Saharan Africa, Arabia, Iran and western India. Honey badgers are commonly found in open woodlands, desert, high mountains and coastal shrubs. Their diet consists of scorpions, Hottentotta rugiscutis, Heterometrus swammerdami, Hottentotta tamulus, and Lychas tricarinatus; small rodents: lesser bandicoot rat (Bandicota bengalensis), Indian bush rat (Golunda ellioti), soft-furred rat (Millardia meltada), little Indian field mouse (Mus booduga), house mouse (Mus musculus), Sahyadris forest rat (Rattus satarae), Nilgiri long-tailed tree mouse (Vandeleuria nilagirica), jungle palm squirrel (Funambulus tristriatus), Malabar spiny dormouse (Platacanthomys lasiurus), Etruscan shrew (Suncus etruscus), and the Asian house shrew (Suncus murinus); and herpetofauna, Brook’s gecko (Hemidactylus brookii), bark gecko (Hemidactylus leschenaultia), brahminy skink (Mabuya carinata), Indian rat snake (Ptyas mucosa), and the banded racer (Argyrogena fasciolatus). Honey badgers are mustelids that burrow into the banks of streams, rock cavities, and thick brush along with the spaces naturally formed by tree roots. Ecological concerns threatening honey badger populations include deforestation, lack of space, and disease. Sociocultural and economic threats to honey badgers include bush meat trade, medicinal uses, illegal fur trade and apiarist’s defending their hives from honey badgers. All of these issues have been documented in Sub-Saharan Africa, where the majority of research for this species has been done. The scope of this management plan focuses in Karnataka, India, these threats, are relevant and current concerns to honey badger populations in Karnataka. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species has the honey badger listed as a species of least concern, this listing is given due to the absence of information on this species. The goal of this management plan is to increase and stabilize honey badger populations in Karnataka in order to make the honey badger a flagship species for the state (2018-2048). Objectives of this goal include: increase protected honey badger habitat, by 10% in ten years, increase understanding of honey badger ecology in Karnataka in eight years publishing four, peer reviewed scientific articles, evaluate 85% of honey badger populations in Karnataka in five years, and having a honey badger acceptance rate of 70% by human populations in thirty years. Honey badgers are an elusive and unique species who have increased acclaim due to the use of social media websites. With proper management this species can have sustainable and sizable populations for the state of Karnataka.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2018
File Attachments: Management_Plan_Woods
Authors: Alaina Woods

Restoring Allegheny Woodrats (Neotoma magister) to New York’s Appalachian Mountain Range

Thu, 10/19/2017 - 19:31
Abstract: The Allegheny woodrat has recently been extirpated from the northern extent of its range due to a combination of anthropogenic factors, including habitat destruction, fragmentation disconnecting metapopulations, and contributing to increases in raccoon populations. Populations in New Jersey have been stabilized at present, and may be increasing. There is speculation that metapopulations could slowly reestablish themselves in New York form New Jersey’s recovering populations. Regardless, efforts to aid the species’ recolonization would return a formerly prevalent species to New York. Ultimately, 50 genetically diverse, captive-reared Allegheny woodrats will be released throughout the northern extent of the Appalachian mountain range contained within southern New York. Released individuals will be from neighboring states’ captive breeding programs for a more genetically diverse gene pool to help prevent bottleneck effects within metapopulations, and their status will be monitored via radio telemetry tracking. Before reintroducing subjects to the area, tree loggers of the northern Appalachian range should enact policies to conserve mast crop trees and increase overall yield for the area of the range which extends into New York State. Habitat connectivity would need to be restored to aid the woodrats’ recolonization. Raccoons (Procyon lotor) are both predators of Allegheny woodrats and the fatal source of raccoon roundworm (Baylisascaris procyonis) exposure, either situation almost guaranteed to result in woodrat fatality. Increasing raccoon take in the southern half of New York State would better the recolonization specimens’ chances of reestablishment, crucially combined with the distribution of anthelmintic baits to passively deworm remaining raccoons in the area. With these objectives accomplished after five years, Allegheny woodrats will have a greater potential to reestablish former metapopulations within New York.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2017
Authors: Kara L Meierdiercks

Are Zooplankton As Patchy As Phytoplankton?

Mon, 05/01/2017 - 15:44
Abstract: Phytoplankton and zooplankton form the base of most lake food webs and are the primary sources of energy for higher trophic levels. Recent studies have shown that the horizontal distribution of phytoplankton is not even across the surface of lakes. While the vertical distribution of zooplankton has been well studied, little is known about the horizontal distribution of zooplankton in the surface waters of lakes or the spatial interactions among zooplankton and phytoplankton. The aim of this study was to quantify the spatial distribution of phytoplankton and zooplankton and determine if their spatial distributions are related. We sampled zooplankton and phytoplankton during the day and at night in a 24 point grid in Paul Lake, Michigan in the late spring and early summer of 2016. Phytoplankton and zooplankton were not uniformly distributed horizontally. Instead, there were high density patches of both zooplankton and phytoplankton, and in many instances there was positive autocorrelation. Additionally, zooplankton and phytoplankton concentrations were rarely correlated in space indicating that grazing is likely not a driver of zooplankton or phytoplankton spatial heterogeneity. If the goal of a study is to understand and characterize the entire population of either phytoplankton or zooplankton, we suggest taking multiple samples of the pelagic zone.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2017
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Jonathan Stetler, Cal Buelo

Management Plan for Radiated Tortoises in Madagascar (Astrochelys radiata)

Thu, 04/27/2017 - 19:57
Abstract: Radiated tortoises are native to southern Madagascar. As of 2008, they have been listed as critically endangered. Human influences such as deforestation, increased poaching, and overexploitation are responsible for the decrease in their population. These tortoises are vulnerable to population decline because they reproduce between 16 and 20 years of age. Without management, they could go extinct within 30 years.
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Literary Rights: Off
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2017
File Attachments: final management plan.docx
Authors: Stephanie Weston

Gunnison Sage Grouse (Centrocercus minimus) Range-wide Conservation Plan 2017-2027

Thu, 04/27/2017 - 17:57
Abstract: Inhabiting several isolated populations in southwest Colorado and southeast Utah, Gunnison sage grouse (Centrocercus minimus) have been mesmerizing bird watchers and ornithologists, and concerning wildlife biologists. This gallinaceous bird relies solely on leks for mating, and has been a species of concern since it was classified as a separate species from the Greater sage grouse. This species numbering roughly 5000 has been declining due to factors threatening their habitat and leking grounds, and factors affecting their genetic diversity. Human actions, whether it be construction of roads and housing, disturbance caused by natural resource exploitation such as drilling for natural gas and oil, or even grazing cattle to provide food for the population, have all severely impacted the ability of this species to persist. Genetic factors have also been a source for reduced fitness and population viability. Due to the isolated populations, inbreeding and loss of genetic diversity has begun to negatively affect these isolated populations, further reducing the overall viability of the species, with the number of alleles present being reduced to 2.13 in extreme cases. The goal of this management plan is to increase the health and size of the population by 2027, as well as to make Gunnison sage grouse a game species once adequate population sizes have been established. This goal will be achieved through restoration and improvement of sagebrush habitat on both private and public lands, along with transplants of individuals to isolated populations to increase genetic diversity. Private lands will be accessed and managed by providing land owners with incentives such as tax breaks and income compensation. The eventual classification of this species as a game animal will further increase the value of the species to human populations while also providing an additional reason to ensure that Gunnison sage grouse persist into the future.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2017
File Attachments: Capstone_final_bridge.docx
Authors: Dakota Bridge

Management Plan for Bobcats in the Finger Lakes Region of Western New York

Thu, 04/27/2017 - 15:06
Abstract: Bobcats are a popular species for hunters and trappers due to the fact that they are so elusive from humans. Each year human development increases which leads to a decrease of suitable habitat for bobcats. This is the reason for the previous decline in bobcat populations in many regions throughout the United States. With proper management actions implemented, the Fingers Lakes region of New York has the potential to increase and maintain bobcat populations. The goal of this plan is to Increase and maintain a bobcat population in the Finger Lakes region of western New York to allow hunting in the region. To achieve this goal the following objectives will need to be met: 1. Increase bobcat population size to 2 individuals per square mile of suitable habitat in the next ten years, 2. Improve bobcat habitat in areas of intense agriculture annually in the Finger Lakes region of New York throughout the next 5 years, and 3. Create the opportunity for quality hunting and trapping experiences by the general public within the next ten years, or when the population size reaches 2 individuals per square mile of suitable habitat. Increasing bobcat population size will benefit hunters and trappers with the introduction of hunting and trapping seasons and an increase in opportunity and satisfaction and therefore presenting an economic benefit to the region. Also, several other species of wildlife may benefit from the efforts to restore habitat.
Access: Yes
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2017
Authors: Jared McAllister

Margay (Leopardus wiedii) Management Plan for Mexico & Central America from 2017 to 2037

Thu, 04/27/2017 - 13:43
Abstract: Margays (Leopardus wiedii) are a mid sized Neotropical felid that is endemic to Central and South America. They are associated with forest habitat with a lot of tree canopy and considered to be highly adapted to arboreal life. Margays inhabit continuous forest to smaller forest fragments in deciduous, coniferous and savanna ecosystems. Overall, margay populations are declining throughout much of its range due to habitat fragmentation, conversion of forest to agricultural farmland and human expansion. Margay populations are expected to decline over the next 18 years at a rate close to 30%. Little is known about population densities of margays and more research needs to be conducted in order to further understand margay ecology and biology. Over the next 10 years scientists predict that forest degradation, hydroelectric dams, fire and deforestation will further fragment and isolate populations of margays throughout its native range. This management plan proposes five objectives, which are designed to educate native people about margays and provide incentives if there is human wildlife conflict, determine densities of margays throughout Central America and Mexico, determine the amount of spatial juxtaposition of corridors needed, monitor areas where margays and ocelots were both found and slow the rate of deforestation throughout Central America.
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Literary Rights: Off
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2017
Authors: Nick Petterelli

Management Plan for North American Porcupines (Erethizon dorsatum) West of the Cascade Mountains in Oregon

Thu, 04/27/2017 - 12:28
Abstract: North American porcupines (Erethizon dorsatum) are rodents that reside in heavily forested areas. They prefer mixed forest stands with rock dens for cover, thermoregulation, and diet. They primarily feed on lignin of trees and are therefore frequently in the tree canopy feeding and avoiding predators. Due to their damage to trees, porcupines are commonly perceived as a nuisance by the public as logging is an important industry in western Oregon. In most states, including Oregon, they are unprotected by harvest regulations which can lead to unsustainable recreational harvest rates. Hence, harvesting porcupines in this region protect trees from a nuisance species, could be one of the factors for declining porcupine populations. Additionally, habitat loss and fragmentation could also be primary factors to porcupine decline. Habitat loss coupled with a lack of harvest management regulations could potentially extirpate the species from western Oregon in the near future. This management plan will be active from 2018 to 2028. The goal of the management plan is to create a 5% increase in total population in western Oregon. This can be achieved by reducing clear cutting by 5% and require forest management practices that provide 60-70% deciduous and 30-40% coniferous forest composition. Another objective is to increase adult survivorship to 85%. This management plan recommends a daily bag limit of one porcupine from September to December with a maximum of 5 individuals per year, until populations are presumed to be healthy. Creation and preservation of cover via rock dens and tree cavities will increase survivorship by decreasing predation rates. Porcupines can be considered a keystone species as they can change forest composition and provide habitat for other species of wildlife such as woodpeckers. Efforts to cooperate with logging industries and porcupine harvest rates would be beneficial to the wildlife of western Oregon.
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Literary Rights: Off
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2017
Authors: Michael E. Servant