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Capstone Projects

Sun Bear (Helarctos malayanus) 20-year Management Plan for Lao People’s Democratic Republic

Tue, 04/28/2020 - 15:54
Abstract: Sun bears (Helarctos malayanus) are the smallest member of the Ursidae family and are native to large, undisturbed dipterocarp tropical forests in southeast Asia. They are omnivorous with a diet consisting primarily of fruit and insects. Sun bears are solitary and historically avoid areas with a strong human presence. These preferred areas are decreasing in abundance in Lao People’s Democratic Republic (PDR) as the nation’s economy grows with its timber industry, causing widespread deforestation. The lack of available forests for sun bears inhibits the ability of juveniles to disperse from their mother’s dens, decreasing their survivorship. Deforestation has also forced sun bears to live in closer proximity to humans, especially in agricultural areas. This causes interactions in the form of crop raiding and property damage, bringing economic harm to farmers in Lao PDR. These negative interactions have also caused farmers in Lao PDR to have a negative opinion of sun bears on their farms, increasing adult sun bear mortality from these interactions. Sun bear populations in Lao PDR are projected to decline by 17% over the next 20 years if no management action is taken. This management plan seeks to stabilize the sun bear population in Lao PDR. As habitat availability is declining, increasing the population is not feasible. The objectives to attain a stable population are to increase the survivorship of sun bears during their mother-dependency period and of the adult stage class. This includes increasing cub survivorship by 5%, yearlings by 4%, and juveniles by 1.5% in 20 years and adults by 1% in 10 years. To increase survivorship of mother-dependent sun bears, planning in forestry operations will be implemented to decrease disturbance levels of these operations and increase their efficiency. Reforestation through plantations will also be initiated in previously deforested areas. Finally, all bear bile extraction farms will be located and shut down to prevent poaching. This plan also looks to improve the opinions of farmers towards sun bears. Objectives to achieve this goal includes reducing the number of farmers who view sun bears as a hindrance to agricultural production by 10% over 15 years and decreasing the number of farmers experiencing property damage by 50% over 20 years. Actions to decrease the proportion of farmers who view sun bears as a hindrance include the establishment of a crop insurance program with the Lao PDR Ministry of Forestry to offset losses of farmers due to damage from wildlife and other natural events. Surveys will also be distributed to gather up to date information regarding the current state of the relationship between farmers and sun bears, and what farmers feel should be done to help them. To decrease property and livestock damage, trained livestock guard dogs (LGD) will be distributed to farmers as a deterrent to keep sun bear off their property. Another preventative measure is to establish electric fences around crops to exclude sun bears from these areas as well as provide a deterring effect from the electric shock. These management actions will likely cause an initial increase in the population above a stable level; however, after 5 years the population will reach a level that can be maintained beyond the 20-year management timeline for up to 100 years.  
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2020
File Attachments: Monroe 2020.04.28.pdf
Authors: Richard Monroe

Twenty-year Long-tailed duck (Clangula hyemalis) Management Plan for Eastern North America

Thu, 04/30/2020 - 11:44
Abstract: Long-tailed ducks (Clangula hyemalis) are a migratory sea duck with a circumpolar distribution. Since they are an arctic species and breed outside of current breeding bird surveys there is little data for their demographics and no data specific to eastern North America (Atlantic Flyway and Mississippi Flyway). Over the last 30 years their population has declined by 50%; this causes concern that the species could be at risk of becoming endangered if the trend in population numbers continues. This management plans goal is to increase and stabilize long-tailed ducks population numbers over the next 20 years. This will be accomplished by decreasing the bycatch of long-tailed ducks in commercial gillnet fisheries by 10% and reducing the total number harvested through hunting per year by 10%. To better monitor this progress a breeding bird survey will be established in their eastern North American breeding area. Surveys and alternative fishing methods will be introduced to commercial gillnet fisheries to raise awareness about bycatch of long-tailed ducks and seabirds in general. By the end of this 20 year management plan, it is expected that long-tailed ducks, along with seabirds and other arctic bird species breeding outside of current breeding bird surveys, will benefit from these actions.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2020
Authors: Megan Lazarus

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

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

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 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

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

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

Swan Goose (Anser cygnoides) Thirty Year Population Management Plan for Eastern Asia (2020-2050)

Thu, 04/30/2020 - 19:32
Abstract: Swan Geese (Anser cygnoides) are a species of goose found throughout the eastern part of Asia. They are herbivores which mostly feed on plants along the banks and in the water of lakes and wetlands. The primary conservation issues threatening the swan goose populations are over harvesting/illegal hunting, habitat loss due to agricultural development, drought in the summers and rising water levels in the winter. This management plan aims to increase and stabilize the population of swan geese in eastern Asia in the next thirty years. Objectives to achieve this goal include increasing the swan goose hatchling survivorship by 10% in ten years, increasing swan goose nest survivorship by 20% in ten years and to increase the survivorship of juvenile and adult swan geese by 20% in 15 years. To meet these objectives, actions such as: planting vegetation to increase available habitat and cover, creating a dam to help control the water levels, increasing the amount of protected land available, creating signs in areas frequently used by swan geese to increase public awareness, using surveys to determine the level of public knowledge of swan geese and creating more laws protecting them as well as hiring more conservation officers to enforce those laws will be implemented. The swan goose is a key indicator species for a healthy ecosystem and was a popular game species throughout most of its range. With proper management the swan goose populations can increase and stabilize in eastern Asia.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2020
Authors: Shane Lafountain

Twenty-Year Mauritian Flying Fox (Pteropus niger) Management Plan for Mauritius Island.

Thu, 04/30/2020 - 20:14
Abstract: The Mauritian Flying Fox (Pteropus niger) is the only fruit bat endemic to the island of Mauritius off of Madagascar in the southwestern India Ocean. Known to most of the local fruit farmers on the island as a pest during the growing seasons, many individuals are poached or hunted for other purposes. Mauritian Flying Foxes can be found in colonies all around the island and travel long distances to foraging sites. This fruit bat faces competition and ecological pressures from invasive plant and animal species that now inhabit the island. With this conflict and an increasing negative interactions with humans, the government of Mauritius enacted mass culls to target the populations of flying fox. Because of this and other issues decreasing the overall population numbers, The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List confirmed in 2018 that Mauritian Flying Foxes was an endangered species. The goal of this management plan is to increase the population to a sustainable level with focus on conservation efforts from the year 2020 to 2040. The objectives to achieve this goal include: (1) Conduct research on the biology, ecology, and behavior to determine proper population sizes and distribution of Mauritian flying foxes on the island of Mauritius in order to increase populations, (2) Increase the overall survivorship to 90% for all age classes, (3) Reduce mortality rates from poaching, and (4) Increase fruit farmer cooperation and educational programs for the locals and tourists. Proper management for the Mauritian Flying Fox is vital and with this plan put into action, the population on Mauritius can return to a stable number.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2020
Authors: Kelvey I. McGinnis