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Capstone Projects

Thirty-Five-Year Management Plan for the Darwin’s Fox (Lycalopex fulvipes) on Chiloé Island and Nahuelbuta National Park in Southern Chile

Thu, 04/30/2020 - 19:11
Abstract: The Darwin’s fox (Lycalopex fulvipes) is a small canid existing in southern Chile in South America. Two populations exist: a population estimated to be around 500 on Chiloe Island, and a smaller, mainland population in Nahuelbuta National Park, estimated to be made up of around 78 individuals. They are opportunistic omnivores that require dense native forests to shelter, forage, and breed. Very little is known about this species due to its small, and decreasing, population size. The Darwin’s fox is threatened by many conservation issues, as well. These issues include disease spread, attacks, and spatial displacement from poorly managed free-ranging domestic dogs (Canis lupis familiaris), ignorance of park visitors and residence through off-leash dogs in protected areas and unrestricted feeding of foxes resulting in naivety of foxes to humans and dogs, and loss of native forests for replacement by exotic plantations. This management plan aims to increase the Darwin’s fox population in Chile to sustainable levels in 35 years. The objectives to reach this goal include: (1) Reduce domestic dog dispersal into fox areas by 80% in 15 years, (2) Decrease disease prevalence in the Darwin’s fox population by 50% in 15 years, (3) Increase local human population awareness of the Darwin’s fox by 87% in 5 years (4) Increase survival of 3-year old and younger foxes by 80% in 15 years, and (5) Increase suitable habitat by 75% in 15 years. These actions will be carried out through satellite surveillance and radio tracking to better understand fox population numbers, fox movements, and mortality, as well as to monitor dogs in the park. Surveys will be conducted, and educational seminars and pamphlets will be provided to park visitors and local Chilean residence. This will be done to get a better understanding of the actions of dog owners and increase visitors awareness of these fox’ existence, why they shouldn’t feed or interact with them, and why to keep their dogs out of protected areas. New legislation will be put in place to further this. Legislation will help to keep dogs out of the park and prevent people from feeding them through increased fines and penalties for breaking these laws. This will also help to prevent the spread of diseases such as canine distemper virus from dogs to foxes, which would be catastrophic to this already small population. Suitable habitat will be increased through providing dense understory in exotic plantations so that these converted landscapes will still be usable. This management plan has the potential to increase fox survival and increase overall awareness of them, resulting in a reverse in the downward trend of this population and, instead, increasing the population to a sustainable level in Chile.  
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2020
Authors: Cody Kautzman

Thirty-year Roloway Monkey (Cercopithecus roloway) Management Plan for Ghana and Côte d'Ivoire

Thu, 04/30/2020 - 18:43
Abstract: Roloway monkeys (Cercopithecus roloway) is a critically endangered, long-limbed, long-tailed monkey that is endemic to Ghana and the Côte d'Ivoire countries in West Africa. Roloway monkeys are listed on the 25 most threatened primate taxa in the world. Roloway monkeys primarily eat ripe fruits and invertebrates but will also eat seeds, flowers, and young leaves. Roloway monkeys prefer mangrove trees to use as a shelter, a source of food, a source of water, and protection but can be found in other tropical forested areas. Roloway monkeys reproduce approximately twice a year. Roloway does not have a specific breeding season and is based on their environment. Roloway monkeys spend their entire life in the trees. Thus, deforestation is a primary concern for the survival of the species. In addition, the villagers hunt monkeys for bushmeat; villagers do not specifically target roloway monkeys but make no effort to avoid the species while hunting. The goals of this management plant are to increase the intrinsic value of roloway monkeys to the residents of Ghana and the Côte d'Ivoire and restore the population of roloway monkeys to sustainable population size. There are six main objectives to reach and fulfill the goals. First, increase the villagers’ knowledge of what roloway monkeys are and look like by 40% of individuals. Second, to decrease the amount of roloway monkey bushmeat in markets for sale by 30% within ten years. Third, reduce illegal tree harvesting in Ghana and the Côte d'Ivoire by 50% in the next 25 years. Fourth, increase roloway monkeys travel between the towns located on the border of Ghana and the Côte d'Ivoire by 40% within 30 years. Fifth, increase the information known about population size and natural history of roloway monkeys by producing five peer-reviewed papers over 20 years to improve the management of the species. And finally, increase the survival rate of subadults into adulthood by 20% within the next 30 years. These objectives will be achieved through different actions, including education, increased management and monitoring of known habitats, and implementation of new data collection methods. The completion of each objective and the effective implementation of each action should increase the intrinsic value of roloway monkeys in the villagers’ eyes and the restoration of roloway monkey’s population size.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2020
Authors: Jazzmin Wipf

New York State Barn Owl (Tyto alba) Thirty-Year Recovery Plan

Thu, 04/30/2020 - 17:11
Abstract: The barn owl, (Tyto alba) is found on all continents except Antarctica, making it one of the most widely distributed bird species. They are cavity nesters and vole specialists which exhibit great flexibility in prey selection and nesting habitats, despite this, barn owls have become rare in North America and towards the northern limits of its range in New York State. Primary conservation issues for barn owls in New York include 1.) The degradation and loss of grassland habitat through agricultural intensification, and consequent reduction in prey base 2) The effective removal of nesting and roost sites by conversion of old open barns into closed, steel buildings and the removal of trees for field expansion 3) Increased rates of vehicle collision in response to increasing road density and traffic volume 4). Instances of secondary poisoning through ingestion of prey items contaminated by anticoagulant rodenticides such as bromadiolone and brodifacoum (Stone et al, 1999). This 30-year management plain aims to protect, conserve and restore Barn owls and the grasslands on which they depend in New York State. Objectives to reach this goal include 1.) Increasing nesting success by 5% per year during the first 10 years of the plan 2.) Increasing state barn owl population by 2% annually throughout the 30-year plan 3.) Increasing the number of monitored barn owl nest boxes on private property by 5 boxes annually within the first 10 years of the plan 4.) Reducing Barn Owl road mortality in New York State by 2% per year within the first 20 years of the plan 5.) Reducing instances of all secondary wildlife killings by second generation anticoagulant rodenticides by 100% statewide 6.) Reducing instances of barn owl fledgling capture by 50% during the 30-year plan. In the increase of nesting success, 4,000 ha of suitable habitat on private lands participating in the landowner incentive program will be identified and 20 nest boxes will be installed each year at identified adequate nesting sites within the first 10 years of the plan. In the increase of statewide population an average of 200 acres of privately owned grasslands will be registered annually through the landowner incentive program and managed in accordance with grassland bird BMPs. In increasing nest boxes on private property, informational brochures will be published via the NYSDEC website and surveys will be administered to agricultural landowners. In addition, volunteer nest box programs will be created to involve citizens in conservation efforts. In reducing road mortality, 30 peak Barn owl road mortality zones across the state will be identified for which to manage via the planting of median vegetation, erection of signs, and development of deterrents. The reduction of SGAR mortality will be attained through the registration of all Second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides as restricted use pesticides and the implementation of safer alternatives to rodent control. The reduction of fledgling capture will be attained through the increase in availability of information. The combined efforts of each objective should serve to increase nesting barn owl populations in New York State to a self-sustainable and ecologically functioning level.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2020
File Attachments: Muratori 2020.4.30.docx
Authors: Malerie Muratori

Ten-year management plan for the Mexican axolotl (Ambystoma mexicanum) in Xochimilco, Mexico City

Thu, 04/30/2020 - 17:02
Abstract: The Mexican axolotl (Ambystoma mexicanum) is an aquatic salamander found in homes and labs across the world and yet, is only endemic to a polluted, urbanized canal system in Xochimilco, Mexico City. In Xochimilco, the habitat for axolotl was historically a lake that was converted into a series of canals by the Aztecs. The Xochimilco ecosystem began deteriorating after the fall of the Aztec empire. In the 1950’s, rapid urbanization of Mexico City led to pollution, reduction of habitat, and the introduction of exotic fish for food. These factors further contribute to the decline of the axolotl which once was at the highest trophic level in the Xochimilco ecosystem. In 1998 the density of axolotl in Xochimilco was approx. 6000 individuals/km2 and todays estimate is 35 individuals/km2. The goal of this management plan is to restore the axolotl population in the Xochimilco ecosystem to the 1998 estimate of 6000 individuals/km2. Objectives to reach this goal include an 80% increase in viable habitat for the survival and reproductive success of the axolotl, an 80% reduction in exotic fish in the Xochimilco ecosystem, an increase in the amount of sexually mature axolotl by 45%, and a 50% increase in public awareness of the declining axolotl population. To increase axolotl habitat in Xochimilco there must be refuges or cover that allows them to survive predation and have cover for their eggs. A decrease in exotic fish will decrease predation on axolotl at their most vulnerable stages of life. Releasing adult axolotl into Xochimilco will increase the population size of the next generation. Educating the public hopefully will inspire them to care and understand the factors leading to the decline of the axolotl population.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2020
Authors: Eddie Boyer

Forty Year Management Plan for Mandrill (Mandrillus sphinx) in the Rio Campo and Campo Reserves in Equatorial Guinea and Cameroon West Africa.

Thu, 04/30/2020 - 15:51
Abstract: Mandrills (Mandrillus sphinx) is the largest primate of the cercopithecine primates in West Africa. They are omnivorous in diet, although tend towards frugivory and herbivory, which allows them to coexist in large hordes of up to 900 individuals in the breeding season. Males are seasonally present in a horde and disperse at times when females are not at their peak breeding capacity. Conservation issues for the species include illegal harvest for use as bushmeat, which hinders their adult survival probability, as well as their sex ratio, as adult male mandrills are preferentially taken. Other issues include habitat degradation for agriculture and mining, increased fragmentation due to roadways, relatively relaxed environmental laws, and lack of information regarding the true population of mandrills remaining in the wild. This management plan will aim to implement actions to establish accurate population estimates for the species, in order to make accurate conservation actions to stop the decrease in population, and stabilize the population. I will also aim to reduce the effect of illegal hunting on the species through social and cultural actions aimed at decreasing the reliance on bushmeat in local communities, as well as increasing environmental law regulations and enforcement. Social reform actions will include the implementation of government subsidies for domestic livestock farming, as well as for wild caught fishing operations. Employment opportunities will be made available for individuals who rely on commercial bushmeat trade for income. These opportunities will be in conservation and will include education in the conservation of vulnerable species. Management actions will eliminate the decrease in mandrill populations, and lead to an increase in populations to stability.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2020
Authors: Kyle Gleichauf

Sixty-year Galápagos fur seal (Arctocephalus galapagoensis) Management Plan for the Galápagos Islands, Ecuador

Thu, 04/30/2020 - 14:53
Abstract: Galápagos fur seals (Arctocephalus galapagoensis) are one of the smallest species of fur seals globally. They were once widespread throughout the Galápagos Islands, but intense sealing in the 1800s has caused their range to be limited to most of the western islands. Their main prey sources are fish from families Myctophidae and Bathyergidae, which inhabit the deeper layer of the ocean. Conservation issues of primary concern include El Niño events, increasing fisheries, invasive species, climate change, and other anthropogenic practices. This management plan aims to restore Galápagos fur seal populations to a healthy size and their historic range within the Galápagos Marine Reserve, Ecuador. Objectives to reach this goal are to increase survival in subadult populations by 90% in 60 years, increase emigration rates by 20% within 15 years in populations, increase resistance during El Niño events by increasing survival rates by 50% in 30 years, and implement at least two similar existing laws or policies from the United States to protect the coastal and oceanic habitats. To increase survival rates in subadults, further research will be conducted into the age specific survival rates for this species. Along with that, restricted beach areas totaling in 500 m^2will be implemented to prevent human disturbances. To increase emigration rates, fragmented rookeries will be connected through the restricted beach areas. In order to increase resistance during El Niño events, the most and least vulnerable areas will be identified, and fishing will be restricted in areas to provide enough food. To promote and protect coastal habitats, an act like the Coastal Zone Management Act in the United States should be considered being implemented. Along with that, goals for conservation should be set, knowledge of coastal habitat should be enhanced, and wetland inventories should be updated and accessible to all. These practices have the potential to increase the population to over 25,000 individuals in 60 years.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2020
Authors: Nicole M White

Forty-year Kinosternon angustipons (Central American mud turtle) Management Plan in Nicaragua

Thu, 04/30/2020 - 14:18
Abstract: Kinosternon angustipons (Central American/ narrow bridged mud turtle) is a mud turtle native to Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama. There is limited primary scientific information available except for the initial species description. K. angustipons and other native turtles are threatened by illegal forestry activity, pollution, and invasive predators. Through the use of a population model, the projected population will decline until extinction within the next forty years. The model identified key areas of interest that, if properly managed, can result in healthy stable population. Three areas of management focus should be; improving the current scientific knowledge base for K. angustipons to focus and facilitate accurate management effort. Improving the habitat quality will increase availability and quality of cover and food resources. Finally, protecting the nest and hatchlings will increase survival and recruitment within the population. These actions should have the desired results of increasing the percentage of reproductively active females, average number of eggs, and the survivability of the nest and hatchlings. If these areas, determined by the model to be influential to the population's rate of change, receive targeted support then K. angustipons will not remain unknown or go extinct.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2020
File Attachments: KOCH.2020.05.01 Final.docx
Authors: Nicholas Koch

North Cascades Ecosystem Wolverine (Gulo gulo) Revival Plan

Thu, 04/30/2020 - 13:32
Abstract: Wolverines (Gulo gulo) are recognized as one of the rarest, and least known carnivores of the northern hemisphere. They are the largest bodied mustelid and survive primarily on carrion food subsidies while living at low population densities. Conservation issues of primary concern to the North Cascades wolverine population include human sensitivity, high management costs, lack of policy protection, and the impacts of climate change (i.e. genetic bottlenecking and lack of connectivity due to decreasing persistent snow cover). This management plan, in the form of a revival plan, seeks to increase the wolverine population within the North Cascades Ecosystem (NCE) to a more sustainable size. Objectives to reach this goal include conducting research to obtain a population size estimate within 3 years following the onset of the revival plan, increasing allelic richness of the population by 25% over the next 10 years, and maintaining the high survivorships at all wolverine age classes for 20 years. To maximize efficiency, while also minimizing cost, the population estimation will be conducted based on data collection from scatdetection dog teams and live-trapping wolverines with log-cabin style box traps. Due to the contingency of subsequent objectives, log-cabin live-trapping is also beneficial as it presents the opportunity to directly handle wolverines and deploy radio collars. To increase allelic richness of the wolverine population, individuals from the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem in Montana will be translocated to supplement the gene pool. To ensure gene flow and promote connectivity within the population, habitat corridors will also be created utilizing living tree fences that promote snow accumulation and persistence that is favored for wolverine dispersal. To maintain survivorship rates (68% for juveniles, 92% for subadults, 91% for adults) actions taken will slightly increase survival, creating a buffer zone to prevent decreased survival at any age class. Specific actions include petitioning for state and/or federal protection under the Endangered Species Act to designate critical habitat and ultimately prevent disturbance and decreasing infanticidal mortality events utilizing a Radio Activated Guard (RAG) depredation deterrent system. Management actions will increase the population to a size that is accepted by stakeholders and financially feasible based on a habitat suitability model of the North Cascades Ecosystem.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2020
Authors: Jacob Harvey

Twenty-Year Management Plan for Northern Long-eared Bat (Myotis septentrionalis) populations in the United States

Thu, 04/30/2020 - 12:32
Abstract: Since the onset of white-nose syndrome in 2006, bat populations have been declining rapidly. For the northern long-eared bat, Myotis septentrionalis, this rate was as high as 75% in some years. With such high mortality it will not take long for the species to be extinct, modeling suggests it could be as soon as within the next 10 years (Appendix B). Unfortunately, white-nose syndrome is not the only issue M. septentrionalis face. They are a tree-roosting migratory bat which means they are highly impacted by windmills and their increasing construction. Bats are struck by the windmill blades, along with the impacts of habitat fragmentation that the windmill construction creates. It is important to implement a management for M. septentrionalis immediately because they provide important ecosystem services to the agriculture community. Northern long-eared bats eat crop pests which increases the yield on those crops, this ultimately leads to a reduction of pesticides farmers need to use and lower food prices. Northern long-eared bats combat more than just crop pests, they eat mosquitos too! Ultimately, if this management plan is executed successfully, northern long-eared bat populations will be restored and farmers will be able to reduce the amount of pesticide use and food prices will remain low.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2020
Authors: Hunter LaBombard

Fifty-Year Mary River Turtle (Elusor macrurus) Management Plan for Eastern Australia

Thu, 04/30/2020 - 12:15
Abstract: Mary River turtles (Elusor macrurus) are environmental specialists and are endemic to the Mary River system in Queensland, Australia. They are highly dependent on cloacal respiration, and are capable of spending up to 72 hours underwater in a single dive. Mary River turtles are a long-lived species, typically not reaching sexual maturity until 30 years of age. Conservation issues for this species include the following: exploitation of nests for the pet trade, loss of habitat connectivity due to the creation of dams, predation of nests by mesopredators, and nest mortality due to inundation of nests by floodwaters. Climate change poses additional risks towards this species due to rising temperatures and increased duration of droughts. There are two goals for this management plan, they include: (1) to restore the Mary River turtle population in Queensland, Australia to sustainable levels, and (2) to restore connectivity of the Mary River system in Queensland, Australia to promote the interaction of the local people with Mary River turtles. In order to reach these goals, multiple objectives have been established, they include: (1a) increase Mary River turtle nest survival by 50% in the Tiaro region of Queensland, Australia over the next 10 years, (2a) increase the number of nesting female Mary River turtles to 50% of the female population over the next 25 years, (1b) increase connectivity of Mary River turtle habitat by 50% over the next 50 years, (2b) increase public support for Mary River turtle conservation by 50% over the next 10 years. Objective 1a will be reached by protecting existing Mary River turtle nesting sites from mesopredator predation. Objective 2a will promote the creation of suitable nesting habitat to attract additional female turtles to nest in a protected area. To satisfy goal 2, objective 1b will be reached by establishing a suitable flow regime for 50% of the dams along the Mary River, which will reduce hypoxic environments to support Mary River turtles. Objective 2b will be reached by educating the public about Mary River turtles, as well as involving the public with the implementation of the management plan through volunteer positions. By fulfilling the goals set forth in this management plan, it will allow for the formation of a long-term/successful Mary River turtle management plan.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2020
File Attachments: Sojka 2020.04.30.docx
Authors: John Sojka