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Capstone Projects

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

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

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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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2015
Authors: Ryan Reinshagen

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.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2015
File Attachments: cnowak_MGT_Plan_2015.pdf
Authors: Creighton Nowak

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

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).
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2015
File Attachments: Mng_Plan_FINAL.docx
Authors: John MacNaught

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

The management of the Virunga Mountain Gorilla (Gorilla beringei beringei) in the face of political instability.

Tue, 05/05/2015 - 10:09
Abstract: Located in one of the most war torn and corrupt regions on the planet is the Mountain gorilla. Discovered by western science in only 1902 this species population is estimated at less then 1000 individuals who are split into two distinct populations. The first is in the Bwindi impenetrable forest of Rwanda and the other is the focus of this management, which is located in Virunga National Park. Virunga has faced a myriad of political corruption, social disorder, and economic stability. Not only the battlefront for some of the worst human on human crimes in history, it has also been a refuge for millions of people escaping genocide for the past 20 to 30 years. This has led to this region having some of the densest human populations being 300-600 individuals per square kilometer. For these two reasons habitats have been destroyed, resources overexploited, and disease transmission has greatly increased. These factors are some of the main contributions to population declines of many species in this region, especially the mountain gorilla. This management plan will address four of the most influential negative impacts on the mountain gorilla population survival. These four are habitat loss, hunting and poaching, disease transmission, and the amount of civil unrest and war in the region. To successfully manage the gorillas there will b social, economic, political and biological factors that will be addressed to ensure the most complete management plan. The actions of this plan will be a blend working with local communities, the resources around them and the people using the resources. The most important actions that should be done first are to address the amount of deforestation and the establishment of reforestation programs.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2015
Authors: Christopher Mattern

Evaluation of the First 10 Years of Long-Term Ecological Monitoring of Fishes and Physical Habitat with Regional Temperature and Precipitation Regimes in the Smitty Creek Watershed with Recommendations for Future Efforts

Mon, 04/28/2014 - 13:39
Abstract: Long-term ecological monitoring of freshwater ecosystems is a relatively recent trend in the scientific community. Trends in such monitoring data help fisheries biologists in determining best management practices to ensure the sustainability and longevity of these commonly used natural resources. Ten years of standard physical habitat and fish capture data has been collected from the Smitty Creek Watershed (upstate New York) from 2004 to 2013. The goals of this study were (I) to determine if there were significant changes in stream reach hydromorphology between 2004 and 2013 and (II) to detect any long-term trends between local precipitation and temperature regimes and fish catches in Smitty Creek. A one-way analysis of variance was conducted to determine significant changes in stream reach widths between 2004 and 2013. Total catches of the most common fishes found in the sampling reaches and age-0 brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) were related to yearly and monthly precipitation and temperature regimes using Pearson correlation matrices with a ~95% confidence interval. Correlation matrices were also used to assess species catches versus species to determine if certain species catches are related. All four mean stream reach widths increased to some extent from 2004 to 2013. Both Little Aldo Creek and Aldo Creek mean stream widths increased significantly, while Middle Smitty and Lower Smitty only increased marginally (Table 1). Smaller streams increased significantly more than larger ones; suggesting that smaller streams are more susceptible to hydro-geometrical changes during high flow events than larger streams. Over 60 statistically significant relationships were found between fish catches and various temperature and precipitation variables. The most intriguing findings were that overall brook trout catches and age-0 brook trout catches were highly negatively correlated with December lowest temperatures and highly positively correlated with January total precipitation. Suggesting that brook trout recruitment in the Smitty Creek Watershed is sensitive to winter precipitation and temperature regimes. Cold winters with high snowfall may stabilize these small streams, providing safe and suitable habitat for the early life history stages of brook trout. Overall, the results of this study provide a comprehensive analysis and outline of the major trends and relationships found in the Smitty Creek Watershed. In addition, it provides numerous recommendations for future research and analysis of these trends and relationships.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2014
Authors: Nathan T. Mills

Temporal Variation in Relative Abundance of Aquatic Macro-Invertebrates and its Implications for Water Quality Assessments

Mon, 04/28/2014 - 16:06
Abstract: Macro invertebrate sampling is widely used to assess the water quality of streams. Sampling can be performed throughout the year depending on the geographical location. In this study a repeated sampling of rivers and streams in the St. Lawrence River basin located in northern New York State was carried out to determine if seasonal changes affect aquatic invertebrate relative abundance within macro invertebrate communities. This relationship was compared to water quality assessments to determine the most accurate time for sampling. By assessing the changes in relative abundance of macro invertebrates we can determine if those changes affect the measures used to infer water quality. By comparing changes in the inferred water quality to the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) assessments, an appropriate sampling window was determined. Kick sampling methods following the DEC’s protocols were used to collect aquatic invertebrates throughout the scale of eight months in six rivers throughout the northern Adirondacks. Currently the DEC recommendation for sampling is June through September. The findings of this study illustrate that June and July is not an appropriate time for sampling in the northern Adirondacks. The most stable time to sample for aquatic macro-invertebrates, according to the 2013 sampling events is August through October.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2014
File Attachments: Powells_Capstone.docx
Authors: Jason R. Powell