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Capstone Projects

A Global Recovery Plan for the Endangered Blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus)

Tue, 04/28/2015 - 16:11
Abstract: Blue whales (Balaenoptera musculus) are the largest baleen whale species on the planet, and currently the biggest animal in existence. In the early 20th century, blue whales were nearly exterminated by whaling fleets until they received worldwide protection in 1967. Since then, the global populations of blue whales have had difficulty recovering due to their slow population growth rate and existing threats. Most of these populations are below 2,000 individuals with exception of a population off the coast of California, which has shown slight recovery in the past decade. The management of the blue whale depends on solutions that are addressed with long-term considerations, thus management will need to be continued for multiple decades in order to increase these global populations.
Access: Yes
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2015
Authors: Matthew Fuirst

American Lobster (Homarus americanus) Management in the inshore and offshore waters of Maine

Wed, 04/29/2015 - 14:39
Abstract: The goal of this management plan is to maintain a healthy and sustainable lobster population that can support the pressures of a profitable commercial fishery. The Maine lobster fishery is the second leading industry in Maine with recent annual profits of over 456 million dollars earned by less than the 6,000 commercial lobster fisherman within the state (DMR, 2015). The fishery has had record landings in the last decade and the fishery stock seems to be thriving. With the collapse of the Maine ground fish, shrimp, and scallop fishery many commercial fisherman have fallen back on one of the few fisheries that seems to have a promising future in the state. Some potential threats to the fishery are the increase number of fisherman in the offshore lobster fishery, the falling price per pound of lobster, and the growing risk of the spread of shell disease. To make drastic regulatory changes to the fishery at this time would be met with strong opposition by the stakeholders but increases in funding to expand on research and marketing initiatives to protect the future of the fishery has much more of a likelihood of being supported by the stakeholders of the Maine lobster fishery.
Access: Yes
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2015
Authors: Brandon Bezio

Introduction of Wood Bison (Bison bison athabascae) into Glacier National Park

Wed, 04/29/2015 - 16:00
Abstract: Wood bison populations have been reduced to only a few herds since the 1900s. These large grazers were once found throughout their range in Canada and Alaska and now there are isolated herds in Canada and only one herd in Alaska. The causes of population decline are over exploitation and habitat loss. Due to successful management practices the wood bison populations have been slowly recovering. The goals of this management plan are to introduce a wood bison herd into the Glacier National Park and to minimize the conflicts between humans and the bison. To achieve the goals of this management plan actions must be taken. The actions that will be used are to translocate individuals to the park, maintain the local ecosystem in the area of introduction, disease prevention, keeping the human and bison conflicts low, educate the local communities and stakeholders about bison, and to manage problem bison that leave the park. Introducing wood bison in Glacier national Park is beneficial because it will establish another wood bison meta-population and aid in the recovery of the wood bison in their native range. With this introduction, the hopes are to create a sustainable herd and to increase the wood bison population in their natural range.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2015
Authors: Dylan Hurst

Recovery Plan for the Reintroduction and Establishment of a Viable Wolverine (Gulo gulo) Population in Colorado

Wed, 04/29/2015 - 18:39
Abstract: After their near or complete elimination from the western United States in the early 1900’s, wolverine (Gulo gulo) began to recolonize small areas of their historic distribution in the northern portion of the Rocky Mountains during the latter part of the century. Though wolverine have not been recorded in the state since 1919 with the exception of a single dispersing male, Colorado still contains a large area of suitable wolverine habitat. Analysis of critical habitat characteristics revealed that Colorado’s wolverine habitat could support 21% of wolverine population capacity in the contiguous United States. This large area has the potential to serve as a core source population of wolverine to supplement periphery sink populations and provide population resiliency in the face of climate change or extreme mortality events. Despite the abundance of suitable habitat, the establishment of a viable wolverine population will require reintroduction, rather than relying upon extreme dispersal events of individuals from established populations. Keeping human-wolverine conflicts to a minimum, protecting potential denning sites from development, increasing and maintaining connectivity between wolverine habitats, and supplementing individuals from other populations to maintain genetic diversity within the relatively isolated habitat in Colorado will be critical for the persistence of this species. The utilization of this management plan can ensure that all ecological, socio-economic, and regulatory factors associated with wolverine reintroduction in Colorado can be effectively addressed to promote the success of wolverine recovery in the contiguous United States.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2015
Authors: Ashley Evans

Reintroduction of the Gray Wolf to Isle Royale National Park

Wed, 04/29/2015 - 18:52
Abstract: The gray wolf (Canis lupus) has a large historical range across the lower 48 states and has recently recolonized the Great Lakes Region in the 1970s due to migration. Wolves crossed an ice bridge to Isle Royale National Park in the 1940s and established a population. For over 50 years scientists have been studying this population, along with the resident moose population, to understand the ecology of a nearly unexploited ecosystem. The wolf population has been dropping in numbers over time, more severely in the last decade. The limited genetic diversity has been shown to lead to back deformities and a reluctance to breed amongst individuals. In May of 2014, the annual report stated only 9 wolves were left with only 2 females remaining. A meeting by the National Park Service concluded to only interfere if the chance of a breeding pair did not exist, in other words, the two females died. The most recent publication of the 2015 Annual Report stated only 3 individuals have been seen on the island. A management plan is critically needed to decide a course of action as to interfere or to let nature take its course. The purpose of this management plan is to propose a goal and set of objectives to achieve reintroduction of a wolf population after the extinction of the current poulation. To maintain a genetically viable population is to maintain sufficient gene flow with multiple breeding pairs within several packs. This can be achieved with a simulation of a “natural migration” by relocating individuals from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to Isle Royale. We can achieve the goal with sufficient funding, communication amongst partners, and current monitoring procedures.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2015
Authors: Kelsey Schumacher

Feral Pig Management for New York 2015-2025

Wed, 04/29/2015 - 20:40
Abstract: A population of feral pigs (Sus scrofa) has established a breeding population in New York State. These pigs have been escaping from hunting preserves throughout the state and have adapted to the habitat well. Feral pigs can cause a lot of property damage and also take out farmers’ fields by erosion or trampling the crops. There is a big problem with feral pigs in the southern United States and have grown in great numbers with great impact on the ecosystems. Feral pigs are an invasive species that have no population controlling predators and can reproduce rapidly. The pigs also compete with native species for food and habitat and can force native species to relocate to find more food. Pigs eat anything from bulbs and roots to eating rodents, frogs and deer. The pigs can also cause erosion of landscapes which can lead to nutrients washing away from the soil. Removal of feral pigs in the south has been ongoing for years without any success and their population is growing rapidly. Therefore, action must be taken now to stop the spread of feral pigs in New York before their population gets out of control. In order to reach this goal of complete eradication, different actions of removal need to be taken. Some of the actions that will be used to remove pigs will be trapping and setting out feeders with toxins in it designed for feral pigs. The other action that will be needed is creating regulations for hunting preserves that prevent pigs from escaping. If nothing is done now then the feral pig populations in New York will keep growing and lead to the same issues as southern states.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2015
File Attachments: Management_Paper3.doc
Authors: Cody Fuller

Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) Management Plan for the Western United States

Thu, 04/30/2015 - 11:14
Abstract: Executive Summary Golden eagles (Aquila chrysaetos) can be found throughout the western United States in large meta-populations. Their population is currently stable but is being threatened by energy companies. The golden eagle population is currently growing about two percent a year. Within the past ten years, 70% of golden eagle deaths have been caused by human-related activities. Electrocution and interactions with wind turbines are the two primary causes of golden eagle deaths. Currently, there are not many actions being utilized to decrease the number of human-related deaths. Therefore, actions must be taken in order to reduce the number of human-related deaths in the western United States. The goal of this management plan is to maintain a self-sustaining golden eagle population. Actions such as decreasing the number of deaths by electrocution and wind turbines, and increasing the number of captive released subadults into the wild will help to decrease human-related deaths. Failure to act will likely result in the decline of golden eagles.
Access: Yes
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2015
Authors: Travis Stoll

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
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2015
Authors: Jacob Ball

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.
Access: Yes
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2015
Authors: Thomas Buel

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.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2015
Authors: Lucas Cipperly