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Capstone Projects

Management of Africanized Honey Bees (Apis mellifera scutellata) in the United States

Tue, 05/05/2015 - 10:06
Abstract: Africanized honey bees (AHB) are a hybrid species that the United States Fisheries and Wildlife Services classify as invasive. The species has spread at an alarmingly high rate since it was introduced to Brazil. AHB are a genetic cross between European and African honey bees. This hybridized species of bee exhibits increased rates of absconding, more aggressive and defensive behaviors, less selectivity in nesting sites, and higher swarming rates. The result of these behavioral characteristics is an increase in the number of stings per incident. Faster reproductive rates and shorter incubation periods allow AHB to invade EHB colonies and convert the genetic structure within a few weeks. AHB pose a threat populations of EHB which are already experiencing losses due to colony collapse disorder. Their tendency to colonize a wide range of cavities often puts them in immediate proximity to humans which poses a threat to the well-being of anyone who lives where AHB have colonized. The spread of AHB throughout the U.S. has had an impact on the beekeeping and honey industry due to apiculturists who are reluctant to expose themselves to the danger that accompanies this species. Declines in managed bee populations create problems for the agricultural industry as well which relies heavily on managed bee populations for pollination. Management plans have been established in many states and it is illegal to possess managed AHB colonies. Our goal is to decrease the rate of AHB dispersal by identifying and eradicating Africanized hives, and to distribute information on the species on a national scale by consolidating existing material and creating education opportunities in every state. Each action will be assessed to determine whether it accomplished the desired objective and adjusted to increase effectiveness. If adequate conservation efforts are not established in the U.S., AHB will likely have significant ecological and socio-economic implications.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2015
Authors: Nathaniel Wells

Management Plan of Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) in New York State for Long Term Species Success (2015-2035)

Fri, 05/01/2015 - 17:27
Abstract: The goal of this management plan is to maintain populations of golden eagles (Aquila chrysaetos) to prevent the extirpation of the species in New York State. Golden eagle in the eastern United States are generally an unmanaged species. Population estimates are broad, ranging from 1,000-2,500 individuals in the eastern range. Many of these eagles breed in northern Canada and may only be seen passing through the United States on migratory routes. This management plan outlines need for management, a primary goal, with objectives and strategies associated for golden eagle in New York State (2015-2025).
Access: Yes
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2015
File Attachments: Mng_Plan_FINAL.docx
Authors: John MacNaught

Inter-reach movements of brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) in Smitty Creek Watershed, Franklin County, New York.

Fri, 05/01/2015 - 13:47
Abstract: It is not presently known if overwinter decreases in age-0 brook trout densities in the Smitty Creek watershed are caused by migration or mortality. This field study examined inter-reach movements of brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) among four reaches in the Smitty Creek Watershed in Franklin County, New York, during the fall season of 2014. The objectives of this study were to access brook trout movement during the fall season, and to compare age-0 brook trout movements to those of older trout. I hypothesized that potential migrations in age-0 brook trout could be observed following decreases in water temperatures. Brook trout were sampled twice: once in mid-September using a backpack electrofishing unit, and again in early November. All individuals sampled in September were given reach-specific fin-clips. Individuals sampled in November were examined for fin clips in order to determine movement and direction of movement. A small amount of age-0 trout (n=7) were found in different reaches, all of which had moved upstream to lower-order reaches, contrary to the hypothesis. A considerable proportion of fish (~70%) sampled in November did not have identifiable fin-clips, indicating movement both in and out of reaches by a large percentage of individuals. However, the amount of fish making these movements and the direction (upstream or downstream) of their movement could not be determined. Future studies on patterns in brook trout movement are necessary in obtaining a more definite explanation of overwinter changes in age-0 brook trout densities.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2015
Authors: Jesse Smith

20 Year Management Plan for Eastern Spiny Softshell Turtles in the Conewango Creek Watershed

Thu, 04/30/2015 - 23:45
Abstract: Although the eastern spiny softshell turtle (Apalone spinifera spinifera) is common through much of its range, it is generally considered to be a species that is on the decline, particularly in the Great Lakes region were the species has been extirpated from many local watersheds. The spiny softshell turtle has been extirpated from the majority of its range in New York State where it is currently listed as a “species of special concern”. The Conewango Creek Watershed of Southwestern New York and Northwest Pennsylvania likely contains one of the last viable populations of spiny softshell turtles in New York State. Relatively little is known about this particular population of spiny softshell turtles, however, there are a number of factors including water quality, habitat loss and degradation, and human disturbance that likely threaten the long-term viability of spiny softshell turtles in the Conewango Creek Watershed. Recently a population of spiny soft shell turtles was discovered in the Chadakoin River which flows through the city of Jamestown New York. Spiny softshell turtles in this urban section of the Conewango Watershed are particularly vulnerable to threats from human activities and development. The focus of this 20 year plan is to ensure the long-term viability and growth of spiny softshell turtles in the Conewango Creek Watershed and the Chadakoin River in an effort to prevent further decline of the species and ensure that there is at least one viable population of eastern spiny softshell turtles in New York State. Recommended management actions focus on research to better understand the population demographics and to model the population changes, increasing population recruitment, identifying additional critical habitat areas, protecting and enhancing habitat, and raising public awareness and appreciation for the spiny softshell turtle. The following management plan will discuss the species conservation challenges and serve as a guide for spiny softshell turtle management and research in the Conewango Creek Watershed for the next 20 years.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2015
File Attachments: cnowak_MGT_Plan_2015.pdf
Authors: Creighton Nowak

Management Plan for Feral Swine (Sus scrofa) in New York

Thu, 04/30/2015 - 21:41
Abstract: Every year feral swine cause massive damage to the environment and economy due to their foraging habits. It is estimated that feral swine cause $800 million of damage to agriculture and $1.5 billion overall each year in the United States. The feral swine population in New York is currently small enough to be effectively managed if quick action is taken. However, if actions are not taken quickly breeding populations of feral swine will grow exponentially due to their high fecundity and survivability and will become a much bigger problem and hard to manage. This management plan details the best way to quickly eliminate feral swine in New York to stop the damage they are currently doing, and block them from doing more damage in New York. Actions that will be taken include group capturing of feral swine, opportunistic take by farmers, aerial hunting and surveying, poisoning by sodium nitrate, posting publications in public buildings, holding a press conference, enacting an invasive species school curriculum, and using Judas hogs.
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Literary Rights: Off
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2015
Authors: Ryan Reinshagen

A management plan for cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus) in the Serengeti National Park of Tanzania

Thu, 04/30/2015 - 21:32
Abstract: Cheetah’s (Acinonyx jubatus) are well known as the fastest land mammal on the globe, capable of reaching record running speeds exceeding 65 miles per hour (110 kilometers per hour) and acceleration rates of 7.5 m s-2. Over their history, however, these large felids have not been able to outrun the risk of extinction. In the last century, cheetah numbers have drastically declined, resulting in a net loss of over 90% of their population. Currently, the extant worldwide population is estimated at approximately 7500 adult animals. The Serengeti National Park in Tanzania is home to an overall dynamic ecosystem filled with numerous species of wildlife, of which, there is a cheetah population that has been extensively studied over many decades. The survival of this species in the National Park requires the implementation of management strategies that will ensure the greatest positive impact on the cheetah population, while also taking into consideration the costs and threats to other species and stakeholders. This particular management plan aims to incorporate the many variables that play a role in the ecological, as well as anthropogenic aspects of the area. A successful management plan for the Serengeti cheetah must utilize all possible information related to the ecology of the wildlife, the policy of the area, and the sociocultural and economic facets that effect the region. Ultimately, these interconnected disciplines must be combined in order to make these important conservation decisions and effectively manage for this vulnerable species. This management plan has brought together these related fields and incorporated them into viable strategies and actions that could be implemented in order to meet the outlined objectives and maximize the probability that the Serengeti cheetah population will increase in numbers. Focusing attention on only one front of cheetah conservation may yield positive results. However, if the overall viability of the population is to remain, all avenues of conservation must be taken. Ecologically speaking, the management of predator populations could lead to increased cheetah cub mortality, but the education of farmers and ranchers, who persecute adult cheetahs on farmland, would furthermore benefit the Serengeti cheetah population since more adults would be available to successfully reproduce. If the cheetah population in the Serengeti is to remain sustainable, wildlife managers must incorporate all aspects of conservation into the management of this species.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2015
Authors: David M. Hejna

Managing White-Tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus) In Urban/Suburban Environments of New York State

Thu, 04/30/2015 - 18:49
Abstract: The purpose of this management plan is to reduce white-tailed deer numbers to safe and enjoyable numbers in those urban/suburban settings that need management of white-tailed deer. After implementation this management plan will reduce the total deer population, reduce the amount of damage to ornamental plants, reduce the amount of deer/vehicle collisions, and reduce the contraction rate of Lyme Disease.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2015
Authors: Lucas Cipperly

Management Plan for Wolverines (Gulo gulo) in the Northern Rocky Mountains of the United States

Thu, 04/30/2015 - 18:33
Abstract: The number of wolverines (Gulo gulo) throughout their historic range has been decreasing overall in the past 150 years. In some portions of their ranges wolverines have disappeared, while in other areas their populations are dense enough to be hunted as a game species. The number of people living within the geographic range of wolverines has increased over the past several decades. This means that more wolverine habitat is encroached on, therefore reducing the places that they are able to live. Wolverines have large home ranges from 100km2-900km2 and they need to be able to travel large distances in order to forage for food. If there are barriers to the movements of wolverines, then it will be more difficult for them to gather food to survive, and this can eventually cause their home ranges to shift to areas where there is less human habitation. Over 90% of the land in the lower 48 states has been logged, plowed, or disturbed from its original condition. This has resulted in a large loss of wildlife habitat that is crucial for the survival of many animals. For this management plan I will study populations of wolverines in the Northern Rocky Mountains of the United States and determine what actions need to be taken in order to restore populations of wolverines. The goal of my management plan is to increase wolverine populations to the point where no further management actions will be needed in order to keep populations steady or growing. This plan will reduce the amount of human encroachment into wilderness areas, lower poaching rates, educate the public on the importance of wolverines in their ecosystems, and reduce human-wolverine conflicts on ranches. This will result in a greater number of wolverines living in the Northern Rocky Mountains of the United States and reduce many of the threats to their survival.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2015
Authors: Thomas Buel

Northern New England and New York Mountain Lion Recolonization Management Plan

Thu, 04/30/2015 - 12:33
Abstract: Mountain lions (Puma concolor) were a common species found in the United States during the 1800s. Currently there are no breeding populations of mountain lions known to exist in the northeastern section of the United States. This loss of the species was due to human development and over harvesting that was facilitated by bounties. Humans have had a direct contribution to the loss of the species throughout this part of the country. Colonial expansion of farms into wild areas caused a negative connotation to mountain lions when predation occurred on livestock. This is what led to their local extinction. Today mountain lion populations are in great abundance throughout South America, western United States and Canada, and eastern portions of New Brunswick, Canada. Habitat degradation reduced suitable habitat and has pushed mountain lions to new geographic ranges. Ranging males have occurred in eastern United States in search of females and are increasing in quantity. This raises a question to whether breeding populations could be supported in the northeast. Due to state and federally owned land, there is suitable habitat located in the northeast. Help will be needed to facilitate the recolonization of this species. The goals of this management plan are to re-establish population sizes large enough for reproduction and satisfy stakeholders. To meet the goals for this management plan, four objectives must be met (1) Agreements must be made with landowners of property of 100 acres and larger in Northern New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine by 2020 that allows these lands to be protected for mountain lion use, (2) regulation of population numbers will be implemented by hunting harvest quota that will cause declines when population reaches two lions per square mile, (3) current average auction prices for livestock that are killed due to mountain lion predation will be provided to the owners, and (4) mountain lion, along with other large predator education will be provided to children in elementary school. This management plan requires extensive work in monitoring recolonizing mountain lion populations along with aiding with interactions that occur between mountain lions and humans. The overall goal of this plan is to re-establish a breeding mountain lion population within the northeast of the United States.
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Literary Rights: Off
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2015
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Zachary Beauregard

Comparison of Fish Assemblages between Impacted and Minimally Impacted Shorelines on Lower St. Regis Lake

Thu, 04/30/2015 - 11:49
Abstract: One of the least understood aspects of aquatic ecology is the role of the riparian zones of lakes, and how these habitats and their functions are impacted by human development of lakeshores. Nine impacted and six minimally impacted shorelines on Lower St. Regis Lake were classified with respect to the existing littoral coarse woody structure (CWS) and fish assemblages. There was a significant difference in normalized coarse woody debris ranking between the impacted and minimally impacted sites based upon the results of a Mann-Whitney non-parametric test. The minimally impacted sites exhibited a higher coarse woody structure ranking on average when compared to the impacted sample sites. Coarse woody structure in littoral zones plays a pivotal role in the feeding behaviors and survival of young fishes. The lack of coarse woody debris in littoral zones not only impacts the littoral structure of lakes, but can have a cascading effect on the overall health and productivity of lake ecosystems. Fish densities between the minimally impacted and impacted sites were not significantly different. While no significant difference was observed for the fish densities, the timing and limited sampling periods for this study may have influenced the low observed abundance of fish sampled. The low abundance of sampled fishes can also potentially be attributed to a poor year of recruitment to the fish populations in Lower St. Regis Lake. Further refinement of the field methods for sampling could improve the effectiveness of the study and result in a conclusive description of shoreline degradation in lake systems. The results of this study could be used to develop preliminary methods for monitoring or assessing shoreline degradation and its impacts on fish assemblages that rely upon natural littoral zones. Future management and regulations regarding the development and degradation of both riparian and shoreline zones along lakes can prevent a disastrous decline in fish populations and lake productivity throughout the Adirondack Park.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2015
Authors: Jacob Ball