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Capstone Projects

Management Plan for Gopher Tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus) Populations in Georgia from 2019-2049

Sat, 04/27/2019 - 14:29
Abstract: Gopher tortoises (Gopherus polyphemus) are known for their elephantine hind feet and flattened, shovel-like forelimbs adapted for digging burrows. Burrows offer shelter from heat, fires, and predators, and serve as refugia for more than 350 other species including, the gopher frog (Lithobates capito), eastern diamondback rattlesnake (Crotalus adamanteus), burrowing owls (Athene cunicularia) and the endangered indigo snake (Drymarchon couperi). For this reason, gopher tortoises are considered a keystone species. Gopher tortoises are distributed throughout South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi in the southeastern United States. Gopher tortoises are commonly found in upland habitats with well-drained sandy soils and diverse groundcover lacking understory hardwoods. Their diet consists of grass-like herbaceous plants, fruits and flowers such as prickly pear cactus (Opuntia), wild grape (Vitis vinifera), legumes (Fabaceae), dandelions (Taraxacum), and grass-leaved golden asters (Chrysopsis graminifolia). Ecological concerns threatening gopher tortoise populations include deforestation, habitat fragmentation, and disease. Sociocultural and economic threats to gopher tortoises include human consumption, illegal pet trade and habitat development. All these issues have been documented in Florida, where most research for this species has been conducted. The scope of this management plan focuses in Georgia where these threats are relevant and create concerns to gopher tortoise populations. The goal of this management plan is to increase and stabilize gopher tortoise populations in Georgia from 2019-2049. Objectives of this goal include: increase adult gopher tortoise survivorship by 6% in thirty years, increase gopher tortoise hatchling survivorship by 10% in thirty years and increase and preserve gopher tortoise habitat, by 20% in twenty years throughout the state of Georgia. Actions focus on promoting the increased survivorship of hatchling and adult gopher tortoises, and increasing habitat needed for their survival. Emphasis is placed on reducing adult road mortality, anthropogenic transmission of upper-respiratory tract disease (URTD), nest protection, implementing headstarting programs to reduce hatchling predation, and using conservation easements and periodic fire to increase longleaf pine habitat. If gopher tortoise populations continue to decline the ecosystem in which they inhabit will collapse due to their role as a keystone species. With proper management this species can have stable and sizable populations for the state of Georgia.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2019
Authors: Courtney Cronk

Management Plan of White Shark (Carcharodon carcharias) Populations in Massachusetts (2019-2079)

Tue, 04/30/2019 - 09:15
Abstract: The Atlantic white shark (Carcharodon carcharias), hereafter known as white shark, is an understudied predatory species. The white shark is a species that is actively hunted for its jaws and fins. Not much natural history or basic information is known about the white shark. The goal of this management plan is to further understand the natural history of the white shark within the next 60 years. Objectives of this goal will be to carry out various surveys, and studies on the Atlantic white shark to understand habitat preferences, population sizes, fecundity, and food preferences. Actions will be to do mark-recapture studies, as well as aerial photo surveys. Another goal is to determine if the increasing gray seal population on the coast of Massachusetts is the main reason the populations of white sharks have increased in Massachusetts over the last 10 years. This will be done by taking the aerial surveys of populations of gray seals over a five-year study to determine if the population is increasing, decreasing, or stable. Then surveying the number of seals that are depredated on. It will also be determined by stomach contents if white sharks depredate any other species to determine if gray seals are the main food source for a white shark. Once the main food source is determined, researchers will be able to further manage the white shark. Outcomes of the management will be to understand the natural history of the Atlantic white shark and can more effectively manage for the population of white sharks in Massachusetts.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2019
Authors: Bre-Ann Flouton Johnson

Management on a Protected Landscape: Black-Throated Blue Warblers (Setophaga caerulescens) in the Adirondack Park, NY 2019 - 2069

Tue, 04/30/2019 - 11:28
Abstract: Black-throated blue warblers (Setophaga caerulescens) are a neotropical migrant passerine that specializes in breeding within interior forest habitats, with dense lower strata. Since the Breeding Bird Survey began in 1966, there has been over a 1.5% decline in sightings of this species along survey routes. In recent years, it has been found that access to secondary growth during the post-fledging period is essential to physiological health for migration. In the Adirondack Park of New York, a protected forest, there is a severe deficit of early successional habitats, especially adjacent to large tracts of mature forest. Compounding on this, there is resounding public conflict in relation to forest operations. This management plan aims to increase black-throated blue warbler encounters on BBS survey routes by at least 1% yearly on average, or by 50% over 50 years. To increase populations directly, new early successional habitat, and understory nesting cover will be developed using a variety of forestry techniques. We will increase early successional habitat by 10% by 2034, 20% by 2049, and 30% by 2069. Understory cover is planned to be increased by 5% by 2034, 15% by 2049, and 20% by 2069. Public education will be increased by presenting residents and visitors to the Adirondacks with free opportunities to learn about how natural resources are managed. Public opinion will be monitored alongside this education to study how public approval of forestry relates to environmental education. By the end of this 50-year management cycle, it is expected that black-throated blue warblers, along with several other species, will benefit greatly from these management actions. In addition, the general public will have a greater understanding, and therefore support of scientific wildlife management, including all tools that are used.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2019
Authors: Bradley R. Geroux

Management plan for brown hyena (Hyaena brunnea) populations in South Africa

Tue, 04/30/2019 - 12:25
Abstract: Brown hyena, Hyaena brunnea, is a species that is found throughout the southern portion of Africa, including South Africa. The population of brown hyenas in South Africa has continuously been decreasing and is currently around 1,000 individuals. This drop in the population size has caused the brown hyena to be considered vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) red list. The main conservation issues the amount of funding going towards hyena’s conservation is low. Also, the ecosystems that the brown hyena prefer live in have been turned into farmlands throughout South Africa. Another concern is the poaching of the species illegally, mainly to try and protect the farmers’ livestock. The goal of this management plan is to increase and maintain a sustainable population of brown hyenas in South Africa. The objectives of the management plan are to decrease the number of negative interactions with brown hyenas, implement educational programs, increase tourism that focuses on hyenas, increase the population of prey species, and to increase the amount of protected land throughout South Africa. To decrease the negative interactions between the brown hyena and humans, hyena-proofed fencing will be distributed to all farmers to protect their livestock. Implementing educational programs will include the residents of South Africa, rather than just the students, so that everyone gets an understanding of the importance of brown hyenas. An increase in ecotourism will be accomplished by creating tours that just focus on the hyenas in the area and increasing the number of prey species will start with captive breeding of selective species. The increase in protected land will start to create more land that there are more protections for the brown hyena, so they are hunted or poached. If these actions are implemented there will be an increase in the population and they will be able to reach a sustainable number, but if nothing is done, then the population will continuously decrease until it reaches extinction.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2019
Authors: David Gilleo

Restoring a top predator in Indonesia and Malaysia, the Sunda Clouded Leopard (Neofelis diardi)

Tue, 04/30/2019 - 13:58
Abstract: The Sunda clouded leopard (Neofelis diardi) is a semi-arboreal species of feline that is found in Indonesia and Malaysia. Sunda clouded leopard populations are in decline because of increasing deforestation. This specie’s diet consists of bearded pig (Sus barbatus), sumbar deer (Rusa unicolor), mouse deer (Tragulus spp.), porcupine (Hystrix sumatrae), and muntjacs (Muntiacus spp.) among others. Deforestation is having a large effect on the habitat available for the Sunda clouded leopard. Along with the habitat decline, there have been declines in the numbers of prey species due to poaching, creating a low food abundance for this species. These both are creating major conservation concerns for the Sunda clouded leopard in Sumatra, Indonesia and Borneo, Malaysia. The goal of this management plan will be to increase the population of the Sunda clouded leopard to a sustainable level and decrease habitat loss by 10% across Indonesia and Malaysia. For success, three objectives are needed, including: 1) publish 3 peer reviewed papers for the Sunda clouded leopard over the next 20 years, 2) increase the population size by 10% over the next 35 years, and 3) increase the suitable dipterocarp habitat by 10% over the next 25 years. Actions will include conducting scientific studies to gain knowledge of the Sunda clouded leopard. There will also be law enforcement and regulations added for the habitat along with many species that are found in this region. There will be an expected increase in the population of Sunda clouded leopard in order to reach a sustainable level in Sumatra, Indonesia and Borneo, Malaysia.
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Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2019
File Attachments: Final management plan.pdf
Authors: Robert Kahlstrom

Conserving the Whistling Canid: Management Plan for the Dhole (Cuon alpinus) Population in Jigme Dorji National Park, Bhutan (2019-2049)

Tue, 04/30/2019 - 18:27
Abstract: The dhole (Cuon alpinus) is a highly social canid that inhabits southeast Asia. This crepuscular species typically forms large packs, of up to 30 individuals, and is led by the breeding alpha pair. Dholes are habitat generalists, but primarily select habitats that support their hypercarnivory diet requirements. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists dholes as endangered based on the ongoing conservation concerns that are causing their populations to decline. The dholes’ prey base is decreasing due to land conversion, historic overhunting by humans, and interspecific competition with other larger predators. Dholes are also subjected to persecution by livestock farmers through retaliatory killings, which arise from depredating on cattle. Additionally, dholes are susceptible to the fatal diseases that are transmitted by feral and domestic dogs. Currently, there is no action being taken in any southeast Asian country to conserve the dhole. The goal of this management plan is to increase the dhole population in Jigme Dorji National Park to make Bhutan a model country for dhole conservation. This plan will focus efforts towards increasing pup survivorship by 30% over 30 years through identifying and monitoring dens sites, protecting potential denning sites, and mitigating the spread of diseases, such as rabies. Increasing prey availability by 10% in 20 years will also be addressed, by evaluating prey densities and encouraging alternative grazing practices to reduce pressure in ungulate habitat. Finally, an increase in human acceptance of dholes by 70% in the next ten years will be addressed through the distribution of surveys to the subdistricts within the park. Ultimately, the establishment of this management plan will create Bhutan as a model for dhole conservation by taking action to increase the population size of this endangered canid.
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Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2019
File Attachments: Dickerson_FINAL_dholes.pdf
Authors: Julie Dickerson

Management plan of Fennec fox (Vulpes zerda) populations in Algeria, Africa

Tue, 04/30/2019 - 20:22
Abstract: The Fennec fox (Vulpes zerda) is the smallest species in the Canidae family. Found throughout North Africa, the Fennec fox lives throughout the sandy regions of the Sahara Desert only in areas with sand dunes. The Fennec fox is a symbolic species of Algeria, though there is lack of knowledge regarding this species in the wild. The Fennec fox is commonly found and sold through the exotic pet trade. This species has been viewed as a pet rather than a conservation tool in the wild. The need for conservation for this species arose as a result of the Sahara Desert becoming more arid and desertification taking place. Lack of information is affecting the Fennec fox causing a threat to future populations. Managing to increase knowledge of their ecological role in the wild ensures future stable populations. The Fennec fox is shown to currently have a population that is increasing, how to keep the Fennec fox’s population in a sustainable population size is an important management goal for this species. The goal of the management plan is to ensure the future viability of the Fennec fox in Algeria. Several techniques will be used to support this goal such as using camera traps, Geographic Information System technology, pit fall traps, mark recapture methods, and using global position system radio collars. Many of these techniques used will help grasp a better understanding of the Fennec fox in the wild. The outcome of the management plan will result in the viability of the Fennec fox for future generations, and create a better understanding of the role it illustrates in the wild.
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Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2019
File Attachments: Final Final capstone.pdf
Authors: Ridge Koebbeman

Conserving Breeding and Wintering Grasslands: Protocol for Sprague’s Pipit (Anthus spragueii) Population Management

Tue, 04/30/2019 - 20:36
Abstract: The Sprague’s Pipit is a small North American passerine specializing in grassland ecosystems in both its breeding and wintering ranges. Historically, Sprague’s Pipit was among the most numerous grassland birds present on ranges across the United States. Now face a 75% decline in population. The main conservation issues impacting the Sprague’s Pipit is habitat availability and suitability. Fragmented habitat caused by anthropogenic suppression of natural disturbances such as fire and changes in grazing regimes, urbanization and continual conversion of pristine grassland to crop land greatly reduces potential habitat. The goal of this management plan is to increase the population of Sprague’s Pipit to create a stable community over ten years. This will be achieved by increasing adult survivorship by 20% and habitat availability and suitability over 10 years. Actions required to achieve are communicate and educate farmers on the importance of fallow fields as bird habitat. Land easements will increase wintering area availability and removing woody structures will increase habitat suitability. By increasing available grassland habitat in Montana, there will be an increase in available breeding habitat. This will be achieved with land easements and incentives to farmers to avoid grassland conversion. Seeding areas with cold and warm season grasses will transition unsuitable habitat to suitable grassland habitat. Habitat suitability will increase with moderate to low grazing practices paired with burning every 2-5 years. Mechanical removal will reduce woody structures and invasive plants. Hay fields are not preferred habitat but will be used for nesting. Thus to increase fledgling rate, mowing will be regulated on an area-dependent basis. After ten years, population of Sprague’s Pipit are expected to stabilize with an increase in available and suitable habitat. This plan will be templet for future states to implement conservation of such a novel species.
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Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2019
File Attachments: Master plan.pdf
Authors: Rocco Cavalluzzi

Managing declining Giant Armadillo (Priodontes maximus) populations in the Atlantic Forest, Brazil

Tue, 04/30/2019 - 20:38
Abstract: Giant armadillos (Priodontes maximus) are largely known for their massive body size and burrowing behavior that provides habitat for other species and promotes the cycling of nutrients in the soil. Individuals spend most of the day inside the burrow, with the majority of foraging occurring at night feeding on ants and termites. Giant armadillo’s geographic range extends throughout South America, occurring in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Columbia, Educator, Peru, and Venezuela. Ecological concerns threatening giant armadillo populations include habitat degradation and fragmentation, lack of protected habitat, and limited knowledge of species ecology. Sociocultural and economic threats originate from the illegal harvesting of individuals for subsistence and black-market trade coupled with increasing human development. While the harvest of individuals is illegal, inadequate law enforcement presence and regulations continue to limit necessary protection. These threats have been extensively documented throughout South America, especially in Brazil. This management plan focuses on the management of individuals in the Atlantic Forest, Brazil. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species currently lists the giant armadillo as vulnerable based on the anticipated population decline leading to extinction in the next thirty years. The goal of this management plan is to increase and stabilize giant armadillo populations in the Atlantic Forest of Brazil to promote a self-sustaining population from 2019-2049. Achieving the goal will require that several objectives are met within a specific timeline. The production of peer reviewed scientific articles outlining the ecology of the giant armadillo will be achieved through the completion of several scientific studies using surveys and camera traps. Areas containing suitable habitat across the geographic range will become protected with cooperation from private land owners. The locations of individual populations will be determined using camera traps and surveying areas pre-determined as suitable habitat. Adult survivorship will rise 10% with increased law enforcement, distribution of signs highlighting regulations, and the use of captive breeding. Public awareness of habitat protection and population management will increase through implementation of a pre/post management survey, semi-annual seminars, and notification of actions taken advertised throughout the community. Proper management will help develop a self-sustaining giant armadillo population across the Atlantic Forest, while also providing management actions that can be adapted to other locations throughout South America to ensure the longevity of this species.
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Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2019
Authors: Robert Haseltine

Thirty-year Wild Yak (Bos mutus) Management Plan for the Chang Tang Reserve, China

Tue, 04/30/2019 - 09:10
Abstract: Wild yaks (Bos mutus) are the largest of thirteen ungulate species existing on the Tibetan Plateau in China. They are non-selective grazers and ruminants, which allows them to travel in herds of up to thousands of individuals and survive on relatively low-quality forage. Conservation issues of primary concern include resource competition with domestic ungulates, hybridization, poaching, trading, and the potential impacts of climate change (i.e. lower average snowfall and longer ice-free period). The shifting climate allows pastoralists to establish permanent residences and keep larger livestock herds, which reduces available habitat for wild yaks. This management plan aims to restore wild yak populations within the Chang Tang Reserve to the 1995 estimate of 15,000 mature individuals to allow local subsistence culture to proceed. Objectives to reach this goal include increasing the population of annually fertile females by 50% in fifteen years, increasing connectivity between the Reserve and other fragmented portions of wild yaks’ distribution in China by 25% within ten years, and increasing landowner cooperation in wild yak conservation efforts by at least 75% within ten years. To increase the population of annually fertile females, at least five peer-reviewed articles focused on population dynamics and stage-based resource requirements will be published. These will require aerial surveys and fecal analyses. Furthermore, a mixture of optimally nutritious food plants will be planted in high elevation plots. Corridors with suitable habitat will be established between existing fragments to increase habitat connectivity. Surveying locals will help managers to identify uncertainties and to understand public awareness and perceptions of conservation need. Educational forums with supplementary materials will be provided to ensure locals are equipped to cooperate and to mitigate potential management issues, such as domestic-wildlife interaction. Locals of all ages will be provided education to establish positive perspectives of wild yaks and management practices, thus increasing cooperation. The management actions could increase yak populations above the Reserve’s carrying capacity (̴ 85,000) but allowing subsistence use will keep populations below this threshold.
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Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2019
File Attachments: ManagementPlan_WildYak.pdf
Authors: Audrey P. Emerson