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Capstone Projects

Population Management for Invasive Cane Toads (Rhinella marina) in Florida

Wed, 05/02/2018 - 20:59
Abstract: Cane toads (Rhinella marina) are a relatively large species of anuran that are historically native to South America through Central America and as far north as extreme Southwestern Texas. This range has been artificially expanded by humans to numerous areas of the globe, usually as a form of biological pest control, the most infamous of which is the release of a population of cane toads in Australia in the 1930’s that failed and has wreaked havoc on the native ecosystems and residents of the country ever since with no evidence of stopping. Cane toads were also inadvertently released into Florida in the 1950’s when a population escaped from the Miami airport, and was supplemented by subsequent releases from pet owners. The main concern with cane toads is their particularly potent toxin that they release when threatened which has led to many cases of pet death and emergency vet visits for curious dogs in Florida and the decline of some entire species of predator in Australia. However the detrimental effects can also come in other forms as cane toads can be hosts for “the parasite spill back” phenomenon, in which an invading species such as cane toads can be the perfect breeding ground for a parasite and then through expanding range and increasing population numbers disseminate it to other related species. As of now cane toads are mostly a problem for pet owners in Florida and do not seem to be much threat to the natural ecosystems as they are limited in movement by Florida’s tall grass ecosystems. This threat should not be ignored however, as cane toads are highly adaptable and in Australia the invading population has adapted to habitats in which they are not usually encountered. The goal of this management plan is to use the lessons of Australia and what little research has been done in the United States to reduce the population of, and prevent or limit the spread of cane toads further into urban areas and prevent potential degradation of natural habitat by 2028. This includes the education and training of the public to help get the highest numbers of individuals captured, along with education for pet owners on what to do should your pet become poisoned and the best ways to prevent this. Should this plan be successful it will help to prevent a potentially disastrous situation resembling the one that has occurred in Australia while the cane toad is still very limited in its movements and vulnerable to large scale elimination efforts.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2018
Authors: Christopher Rappleyea

Wildlife Management Plan for Amur Leopards (Panthera pardus orientalis) in the Primorski Krai Region of Northeast Russia

Wed, 05/02/2018 - 21:21
Abstract: The Amur leopard (Panthera pardus orientalis) is an endangered subspecies of leopard that inhabits the far eastern regions of Asia. It is also locally known as the far-eastern leopard, Manchurian leopard, or Korean leopard. These large carnivores are solitary animals that prefer habitat of mixed coniferous and deciduous woods with rocky outcrops, cliffs, and fallen timber. They are elusive mammals that are especially adapted to living in the snowy winters in Russia and populations are declining at an alarming rate. Habitat loss is the leading cause of population decline in the species, but other factors include disease, poaching, retaliatory killings, a decrease in prey bases, leopard-human conflict, and other unnatural causes. Understanding these issues and background of Amur leopards is difficult because there is a lack of data regarding the species’ reproduction, immigration and emigration, population, and habitat use. This management plan aims to increase the population of Amur leopards in Primorski Krai to numbers that are economically, ecologically, and culturally appreciated. Several techniques like fully understanding the species with camera traps, habitat conservation, education and incentive programs, stabilizing prey species, and reducing human-leopard conflicts may be used to help accomplish this goal. Many of the actions and objectives involve the patience and support of researchers and conservationists, as the collection of data regarding the Amur leopard is extremely time consuming. The recovery and success of this leopard depends on the cooperation of public and private organizations as well as stakeholder support. Through the implementation of this management plan, the recovery and long term success of the Amur leopard will be ensured.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2018
File Attachments: AmurLeopard_FinalDraft.docx
Authors: Hannah Poljacik

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
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2018
File Attachments: FeralCatsOahu.docx
Authors: Sean Dudenhoeffer

Iberian lynx (Lynx pardinus) Management Plan for Southern Spain

Wed, 05/02/2018 - 22:58
Abstract: Iberian lynx (Lynx pardinus) are a large cat predator species that are genetically different from their sister taxa, Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx). Their distribution includes Portugal and Spain, but most of the populations are established in the Iberian Peninsula of southwest Spain. This is a territorial species that only interact with one another for a short time during the breeding season. Only two breeding populations are remaining in the Iberian Peninsula, Sierra Morena and Doñana, which operate on a source-sink dynamic to the smaller metapopulations. Iberian lynx have a preference for Mediterranean scrubland and a diet that comprises mostly European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) and some small mammals. The species is currently listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and is categorized as greatest regional and global concern. Habitat destruction to promote agriculture and illegal take by humans are major contributors to the decline of species population densities. Disease outbreak in European rabbit populations causing a decline in prey densities and an outbreak of feline leukemia in the breeding populations has contributed to their inability to persist as well. The goal of this management plan is to increase Iberian lynx populations and create a positive relationship between the species and citizens of Spain. These goals can be achieved through a series of objectives and actions which include: habitat restoration, captive breeding programs, stricter enforcement of laws, livestock compensation programs, and increase public awareness. With the cooperation from public, political, and conservation managers the establishment of a self-sustaining Iberian lynx population in Southern Spain may be possible.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2018
Authors: Mikayla Krahl

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.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2018
Authors: Owen Denton

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.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2018
Authors: Austin Damminger

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

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.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2018
Authors: Logan Milligan

Management Plan for Pygmy Three-toed Sloths (Bradypus pygmaeus) on Isla Escudo de Veraguas, Panama, 2018-2058

Thu, 05/03/2018 - 01:50
Abstract: Pygmy three-toed sloths (Bradypus pygmaeus, hereafter PTTS) are an arboreal folivore that live on Isla Escudo de Veraguas, a 4.3km2 island off the coast of Panama. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List lists PTTS as critically endangered due to low populations and small extent. Population estimates vary between 50 and 5000. PTTS have only been recognized as a unique species since 2001. PTTS spend most of their time in red mangroves (Rhizophora mangle) on the edge of the island. PTTS will move in to the surrounding interior forest, however. PTTS feed mostly on red mangrove (Rhizophora mangle) leaves. This makes mangle a critical habitat to the species. Mangle refers to the intertidal ecosystem centered around mangrove trees. Each female PTTS will have one offspring per year. Populations have been declining due to habitat degradation from human visitation to the island. Legal protection of the island and PTTS has varied over time. The main goal of this management plan is to increase the population of PTTS to carrying capacity. This will be achieved by meeting several objectives. The first objective is to double the extent of mangrove habitat. Other objectives include improving sloth populations, educating the public about sloth conservation and improving legal protection of sloths. Isla Escudo de Veraguas is in danger of losing a unique member of its ecosystem.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2018
File Attachments: Davis_PTTSplan.docx
Authors: Quinn Davis

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