Wildlife Technical Sessions

WILDLIFE TRACK I - Monday, October 14, 2013
1:00 pm – 1:20 pm Spring Dispersal Movements of Northern Bobwhites in Western Oklahoma
J. Matthew Carroll, Craig A. Davis, Dwayne R. Elmore, Samuel D. Fuhlendorf & Eric T. Thacker, Department of Natural Resource Ecology and Management, Oklahoma State University

Surface mine reclamation is creating large tracts of early successional vegetation in portions of the northern bobwhite?s (Colinus virginianus; bobwhite) range, but understanding limiting factors on these sites is essential if they are to be managed successfully for bobwhite. We used radio telemetry to evaluate one potentially limiting factor, reproductive success, on Peabody WMA, a 3,330 ha reclaimed surface mine in western Kentucky. During 2010-2011 we captured bobwhite using funnel traps and monitored them (n = 210 radio-collared) during the breeding (1 Apr-30 Sep) season. We located 57 nests, of which 47.4% were successful and 52.6% were unsuccessful. We used the nest survival model in Program MARK to estimate daily nest survival rates (DSR) from 23 a priori models developed from 3 covariate suites: group, micro-habitat, and patch. Observed DSR was 0.949 (SE = 0.010) and nest survival was 0.303 (SE = 0.077). Nest age was the most influential factor for nest survival (? = 0.178, CI = 0.088-0.269). We found no evidence that micro-habitat or patch metrics influenced nest survival. Percent coverage of open herbaceous vegetation surrounding a nest had a minimal effect on nest survival (? = -0.013, CI = ?0.030-0.003). Our results suggest reclaimed mined lands can sustain successful breeding efforts of bobwhite. To increase nesting success, management of appropriate vegetation structure may be more important than managing for desirable species in such a unique landscape. Further research on reclaimed mined land should assess the influence of other micro-habitat and weather metrics on nest success.
1:20 pm - 1:40 pm Evaluation of Multi-scale Factors Affecting Northern Bobwhite Nesting Ecology on Reclaimed Mined lands in Kentucky
Evan P. Tanner, Ashley M. Unger, Patrick D. Keyser & Craig A. Harper, Department of Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries, University of Tennessee, John J. Morgan, Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources

Surface mine reclamation is creating large tracts of early successional vegetation in portions of the northern bobwhite?s (Colinus virginianus; bobwhite) range, but understanding limiting factors on these sites is essential if they are to be managed successfully for bobwhite. We used radio telemetry to evaluate one potentially limiting factor, reproductive success, on Peabody WMA, a 3,330 ha reclaimed surface mine in western Kentucky. During 2010-2011 we captured bobwhite using funnel traps and monitored them (n = 210 radio-collared) during the breeding (1 Apr-30 Sep) season. We located 57 nests, of which 47.4% were successful and 52.6% were unsuccessful. We used the nest survival model in Program MARK to estimate daily nest survival rates (DSR) from 23 a priori models developed from 3 covariate suites: group, micro-habitat, and patch. Observed DSR was 0.949 (SE = 0.010) and nest survival was 0.303 (SE = 0.077). Nest age was the most influential factor for nest survival (? = 0.178, CI = 0.088-0.269). We found no evidence that micro-habitat or patch metrics influenced nest survival. Percent coverage of open herbaceous vegetation surrounding a nest had a minimal effect on nest survival (? = -0.013, CI = ?0.030-0.003). Our results suggest reclaimed mined lands can sustain successful breeding efforts of bobwhite. To increase nesting success, management of appropriate vegetation structure may be more important than managing for desirable species in such a unique landscape. Further research on reclaimed mined land should assess the influence of other micro-habitat and weather metrics on nest success.
1:40 pm – 2:00 pm Avian Habitat Response to Hay and Biofuels Production in Native Warm-Season Grass Stands in the Mid-South
J.L. Birckhead & C.A. Harper, Department of Forestry, Wildlife, and Fisheries, University of Tennessee, P.D. Keyser, Center for Native Grasslands Management, University of Tennessee, G.E. Bates & D. McIntosh, Department of Plant Science, University of Tennessee, J.C. Waller, Department of Animal Science, University of Tennessee 

Changing pasture and hayfield management practices have impacted grassland songbird and northern bobwhite Colinus virginianus populations in the Mid-South in the past fifty years. Non-native species, such as tall fescue Schedonorus phoenix and orchardgrass Dactylis glomerata, are commonly used for hay production in the Mid-South, where they are managed in dense stands that are harvested during peak nesting periods for grassland birds. Native warm-season grasses have been promoted for hay production and are often touted as beneficial for wildlife. Switchgrass Panicum virgatum is also being promoted for biofuels production. The benefits of native warm-season grass hay and biofuels stands for grassland birds and northern bobwhite is influenced by management. We conducted a study in Tennessee, 2010 & 2011, to evaluate the impact of two hay harvest treatments and a biofuels harvest treatment on vegetative structure for nesting and brood-rearing grassland birds and northern bobwhite in three native warm-season grass mixtures. Hay and biofuels stands provided adequate nesting cover for grassland songbirds and northern bobwhite through May, and hay harvests in May and June created suitable structure for brood-rearing northern bobwhite. However, hay harvests in May or June negatively impact nesting success for grassland songbirds and northern bobwhite. NWSG planted for biofuels only do not provide suitable structure for northern bobwhite broods. We recommend big bluestem Andropogon gerardii and indiangrass Sorghastrum nutans for hay production, as these species mature later and harvest in mid- to late June is more likely to allow successful initial nesting attempts.
2:00 pm – 2:20 pm Ant Community Composition in Oklahoma Grasslands as an Evaluation of Food Availability for Northern Bobwhites
Allison Giguere & Dr. Carmen Greenwood, Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology, Oklahoma State University

Ants, which are both abundant and diverse in arid grassland environments, fill many important ecological niches and comprise one of the predominant forage taxa for reproductive and juvenile Northern Bobwhite quail (Colinus virginianus). A better understanding of the ecological and behavioral factors that shape ant community composition within the diverse habitats of arid short-grass prairie will contribute to the development of sustainable management practices conducive to conservation of Northern Bobwhite quail, which are currently in a state of decline. Diversity of vegetative structure and species composition, physical habitat gradients, differences in resource utilization and dominance interactions are among the factors that contribute to these prolific and complex assemblages of ant taxa. This study aims to quantify niche-partitioning behaviors among ant taxa in the Beaver Wildlife Management Area of the Oklahoma panhandle region. Six transects were established perpendicular to the riverbed, spanning the range of ecological regions from a riparian zone to upland sand dunes and were sampled using two sampling techniques. Replicated baiting techniques were utilized using 5 different resource categories. Pitfall traps were also established in each of the habitat zones along each transect, and were collected throughout the summers of 2012 and 2013. Physical soil and environmental conditions were documented within sampling regimens. Significant differences in ant total abundance in response to bait type and significant differences in total abundance related to habitat differences among the 4 ecoregions that were observed.
2:20 pm - 2:40 pm Northern Bobwhite Seasonal Habitat Selection on a Reclaimed Surface Coal Mine in Kentucky
Ashley M. Unger, Evan P. Tanner, Craig A. Haper, Patrick D. Keyser & Frank T. van Manen, Department of Forestry, Wildlife, and Fisheries, University of Tennessee; John J. Morgan, Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources

Reclaimed coal mines represent an opportunity to provide large tracts of habitat for northern bobwhite (Colinus virginianus). Reclaimed mine sites are commonly planted to non-native species, including sericea lespedeza (Lespedeza cuneata) and tall fescue (Schedonorus phoenix), which can inhibit growth of more desirable plant species and limit favorable structure for northern bobwhite. Although bobwhite are found on reclaimed mine sites, there has been no studies documenting how bobwhites use various vegetation types common to reclaimed mine sites. Habitat use studies can provide information on preferred vegetation types on these unique landscapes and help direct future management decisions. We trapped and radiomarked 841 bobwhite, October 2009 to September 2011, on Peabody Wildlife Management Area, a 3,330 ha reclaimed coal mine in Kentucky, USA, to investigate how bobwhite use the associated vegetation types and respond to habitat management practices. We used 104 individuals to describe habitat use during the breeding season (1 April – 30 September), and 51 coveys during the non-breeding season (1 October – 31 March). Bobwhites were closer than would be expected to disked areas and roads and avoided areas dominated by dense, planted native warm-season grasses and areas with dense shrub cover during the breeding season. Bobwhites used disk blocks and areas 1 growing season after a burn more than would be expected, and specifically preferred disked or recently burned NWSG during the non-breeding season. Our results suggest habitat use was influenced primarily by vegetation structure and habitat management practices. Disking and prescribed fire can reduce the density of NWSG and sericea lespedeza, improving structure and enhancing habitat for bobwhites.
2:40 pm - 3:00 pm Factors Influencing Grasshopper (Orthoptera: Acrididae) Subfamily Distribution Along a Vegetation Gradient in Northern Bobwhite Habitat
Kenneth Masloski, Oklahoma State University; Mark Payton, Oklahoma State University; Michael Reiskind, North Carolina State University; Carmen Greenwood, Oklahoma State University

This research contributes to an effort to characterize arthropod community assemblages in Western Oklahoma grasslands that overlap with waning Northern Bobwhite populations. Grasshoppers (Orthoptera: Acrididae) are significant arthropods in the grassland ecosystem. They are important for returning nutrients to the soil through frass production and are important prey items for other insects, mammals, and birds including the Northern Bobwhite. It has been observed that Acrididae subfamilies will partition habitat use based on dietary habits, with those that eat primarily grasses often in greater abundance in areas dominated by grass and those with a broader diet often in greater abundance in areas with a mix of grass and non-grass plants. We initiated a habitat-based approach of grasshopper sampling on the Beaver River Wildlife Management Area (WMA) in Beaver, Oklahoma. Using density rings and sweep net sampling, we attempted to characterize the community of Acrididae that exists along a vegetation gradient in the Beaver River WMA. The vegetation types were characterized using a Daubenmire frame to estimate the proportion of cover of four different functional groups: grass, forb, litter, and bare ground. Pearson correlation coefficients were calculated and determined significant (p < 0.05) relationships between the proportion of cover of functional groups and overall grasshopper density, Gomphocerinae subfamily relative abundance, and Melanoplinae subfamily relative abundance. A two factor factorial ANOVA with repeated measures was performed to determine significance between the relative abundance of Gomphocerinae and Melanoplinae grasshoppers in each vegetation type. This research supports dietary-based habitat partitioning by Acrididae subfamilies.
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3:20 pm - 3:40 pm Oak Savanna Restoration: Oak Response to Fire and Thinning Through 28 Years
Ronald E. Masters, Tall Timbers Research Station; Jack Waymire, Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation

We used a small plot study to determine the efficacy of fire frequency and thinning as management tools for restoration of oak savanna, oak woodlands, pine-bluestem woodlands and pine savanna for application on a landscape scale. We initially reduced stand density to favor oak canopy dominance, except in one treatment pine dominance, to near pre-settlement stand density on selected experimental units. Thinned stands were then subjected to 0-, 4-, 3-, 2-, and 1-year late dormant season (late Feb- early April) fire frequency regimes for 26 years. For comparison we withheld control units from treatment and also included unthinned but with 4-year burn regime treatment units. We included two additional thinning treatments, the oak-savanna (HNT1) and pine-bluestem (PBS) treatments, both with annual burn regimes; the HNT1 had all pine removed (approximately 50 percent of the basal area) and the PBS had half of the hardwood thinned (approximately 25 percent of the pre-treatment basal area). We compared mortality rate, acorn production, and growth response of selected post oaks and blackjack oaks. We also assessed nutrient content of post oak acorns to determine prescribed fires potential influence on nutrient status. We found a differential response by species to presence or absence of fire; but all selected trees responded favorably in diameter growth to thinning. Blackjack oak mortality was highest on unthinned and unburned sites versus any of the fire treatments because of hypoxylon canker, an indirect result of high stand density (competition) and drought stress. Mortality of post-oaks was related to initial burns and to some extent cumulative effects of fire frequency interacting with fuel loads. Although thinning efforts on a landscape level were applied on Pushmataha Wildlife Management Area beginning in 1978, fire frequency was >4-year intervals, inadequate for maintenance of savanna and woodland structure. Based on small plot study results we began landscape application of frequent fire on a 1-3 year cycle in 1997, increased thinning in 1999-2001, then restoration thinning on the landscape in 2008 through present. Woodland-grassland/shrubland obligate songbirds, white-tailed deer and Rocky Mountain elk have responded favorably.
3:40 pm – 4:00 pm Fire on the Forty Program Models Effective Partnership for Managing Wildlife Habitat
Scott L. Edwards & John Gruchy, Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks; Jeffrey Lee, U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Fire is the natural disturbance process that influenced much of the southeastern United States, and many important habitat types have plant and wildlife communities adapted to and dependent upon frequent burning. Since the early 1900s, however, fire frequency across these landscapes has been reduced for a variety of reasons. Prescribed burning is the deliberate application of fire to accomplish land management objectives. Many landowners are reluctant to use prescribed fire due to high costs and liability concerns. To address some of these concerns, wildlife biologists from a variety of state, federal, and NGO organizations in Mississippi collaboratively worked with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service?s Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program and developed the Fire on the Forty Program to provide cost-share assistance for landowners who voluntarily manage their properties? habitat. We identified seven counties as focal areas based on priority habitats, management need, and fire deliverability, and implemented marketing campaigns to raise program awareness. During the past two years, we received 311 applications totaling over 39,000 acres for burning assistance. Projects were competitively ranked based on potential habitat benefits and we funded 215 properties totaling 27,964 acres. Landowners received a 50% cost-share reimbursement, and funding for the Fire on the Forty Program should continue through 2015. The landowner response to this program demonstrates the value of cost-share incentives to encourage habitat management and reaffirms that prescribed fire can be strategically applied to effectively deliver management practices in areas of conservation need.
4:00 pm – 4:20 pm A Decision Tool for Longleaf Restoration Based on Value to Wildlife Populations
James B. Grand, U.S. Geological Survey, Alabama Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Auburn Universty; Amy L. Silvano, School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences, Auburn University

Across its historic range, the longleaf pine ecosystem has been reduced to approximately 5% of its historic footprint. Declines in populations of dozens of species of birds, reptiles, amphibians, and plants associated with this extremely diverse ecosystem occurred concomitantly. Several are now endangered or threatened, and many are species of conservation concern. Numerous entities have established ambitious targets for reestablishing, enhancing, and protecting longleaf ecosystems. Because of the high cost, long-term nature, and uncertainty of success for these conservation efforts, careful consideration is given to maximizing the ecological benefits from them. We developed a dynamic Bayesian decision network to estimate the likelihood of outcomes, cost, and value to wildlife for individual projects. The model relies on information regarding the distribution of potential habitat for individual species, the density of urban areas, and the level of conservation protection associated with the project. We used estimates of the vegetative structure for each land cover type, and density of potential habitat in surrounding areas to predict colonization and use by individual species. We used the level of stewardship and density of urban areas to predict the likelihood that land cover would be maintained in desired conditions and that prescribed fire would be used maintain desired vegetative structure. We also demonstrate the use of the model to compare proposed actions including, midstory removal, prescribed burning, thinning and reforestation.
4:20 pm – 4:40 pm Potential Natural Vegetation of Arkansas' Mississippi Alluvial Valley
Charles Klimas; Environmental Laboratory U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center; Thomas Foti, Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission; Jody Pagan; 5-Oaks Wildlife Services, L.L.C.; Malcolm Williamson; Center for Advanced Spatial Technologies, University of Arkansas

Over the past three decades, extensive field studies of wetland plant communities have been conducted in the Mississippi Alluvial Valley. These field studies have been carried out for various purposes under the auspices of federal and state research programs or in conjunction with Corps of Engineers project planning efforts. In the process, a wetland site classification approach has evolved based on hydrology, soils, and geomorphic setting. The research data and classification system have been recently used for a new purpose: to create a set of Potential Natural Vegetation (PNV) maps covering more than 26,000 square miles within the region. The purpose of PNV maps is to serve as blueprints for restoration planning and prioritization. Due to the fact that the hydrology of the landscape has been permanently changed by major flood control projects, the PNV maps do not represent the distribution of the original, pre-settlement vegetation. Rather, they identify the natural communities that are appropriate to the modern altered site conditions. By using these maps, persons interested in restoring particular tracts of land can identify the plant communities appropriate to the conditions present. Conversely, individuals interested in restoring particular plant communities can identify parts of the landscape that can support each respective type. The PNV maps are available for use in a Geographic Information System, where a range of complex restoration scenarios (such as the development of wildlife travel corridors or refuge areas) can be explored efficiently, and alternative approaches can be compared to one another in terms of costs and ecological effectiveness.
4:40 pm - 5:00 pm Forestry Bioenergy in the Southeast United States: Implications for Wildlife Habitat and Biodiversity
Jason M. Evans, University of Georgia, Carl Vinson Institute of Government; Robert J. Fletcher, Jr., University of Florida, Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation; Janaki Alavalapati, Virginia Tech University, Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation; Daniel Geller, University of Georgia, College of Engineering; Alison Smith Bramlet, University of Georgia, College of Environment and Design; Jon Calabria, University of Georgia, College of Environment and Design

The U.S. southeast is emerging as a global epicenter for woody biomass-based energy facilities. However, expansion of this industry raises many concerns about potential changes in the management of southeastern forests, particularly in terms of increased conversion pressure on remnant native ecosystem assemblages and associated wildlife impacts. To begin assessing these issues, we partnered with National Wildlife Federation to conduct detailed geo-spatial assessments of land cover change risks, long-term harvest area footprints, and overall wildlife habitat impacts for several bioenergy facilities across the southeastern region. We first implemented a series of travel distance, competition, and land use conversion analyses to identify areas most suitable for woody biomass sourcing from each facility?s perspective. Using the2011 GAP land cover classifications as a habitat baseline, we next conducted a series of scenario runs to identify general biomass availability under different sourcing policy screens. We then iteratively identified areal risks to imperiled ecosystems associated with each sourcing screen. Scenarios that assumed no restriction against ecosystem conversion unsurprisingly indicated substantial habitat impact risks for all facilities. However, we found that large-scale biomass sourcing of yellow pine in coastal plain and piedmont sites is likely achievable under policies that restrict sourcing to the extant plantation forestry land cover base. Moreover, some research suggests that careful thinning protocols for bioenergy utilization could potentially promote improved wildlife values in extant southeastern plantation pine forests. Large-scale bioenergy sourcing from native hardwood forests, by contrast, appears inherently more problematic for long-term maintenance of wildlife habitat and diversity.

 

 

WILDLIFE TRACK II - Tuesday, October 15, 2013
10:15 am - 10:35 am Using occupancy analysis to select focal species as surrogates for species of concern
Amy L. Silvano, School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences, Auburn University; James B. Grand, U.S. Geological Survey, Alabama Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Auburn University

Most imperiled species are rare or elusive which makes it challenging to gather data to estimate their response to habitat restoration. Basing management decisions on focal species serving as surrogates of imperiled species may be a useful alternative for evaluating habitat restoration until populations rebound. We present a repeatable, systematic method for selecting focal species to indicate the potential response of imperiled species to habitat management. We performed 3688 surveys at 714 sites on 13 study areas from the southern Appalachians to the lower coastal plain in Alabama. We used single-season occupancy analyses to estimate species? sensitivities to land cover, vegetative structure, and landscape characteristics for all species detected. We then estimated relative sensitivity of occupancy by each species to site characteristics. For undetected imperiled species, we developed 26 different habitat profiles to identify relationships between use and response to changes in those same site characteristics. We then systematically selected multiple focal species that were associated with the relative sensitivity to site characteristics of imperiled species. Using these methods we were able to find focal species for 76% of the targeted habitat profiles. Although, there are numerous methods used to select focal species, the method presented here is based on empirically derived sensitivities to landscape characteristics. We suggest that these focal species can be useful to predict, monitor, or possibly evaluate impacts of proposed management actions when empirical data for imperiled species are not available.
10:35 am - 10:55 am State Agency and University Cooperative Wildlife Research: Mississippi's 37-Year Success Story
Scott L. Edwards, Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries; Steve Demarais, Mississippi State University, Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Aquaculture; Randy Spence, Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks

Scientific knowledge provides an important basis for effective wildlife management decisions. Given frequent budget constraints that impact the ability of wildlife agencies to generate their own knowledge, using trained research scientists at a university is a cost-effective alternative. We describe the cooperative agreement between Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks (MDWFP) and Mississippi State University (MSU) as a model of cost-effective partnership that blends science with management. Since 1976, our cooperation has produced 107 Master of Science theses, 19 Doctor of Philosophy dissertations, and 301 peer-reviewed publications which have contributed to the scientific literature while effectively addressing adaptive management needs of the agency. We describe the Deer Management Assistance Program as an example of the products produced through this cooperative venture. We also describe advances in waterfowl management that addressed regional and national issues.
10:55 am - 11:15 am Economic Returns of Conservation
Rob Southwick, Southwick Associates, Inc; Tom Allen, Southwick Associates, Inc.; Greg Knadle, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation

Recent research shows federal, state, local and private sources invest over $38 billion annually in the United States for natural resource and habitat conservation. These dollars, building upon conservation investments in past years, support outdoor industries and on-the-ground efforts that generated approximately $680 billion annually in retail spending, 12.8 million jobs and nearly $1.7 trillion in total economic activity. Not well known, by properly communicating these results, additional support for fish and wildlife management can be secured along with a stronger future for wildlife and its associated recreational endeavors.
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1:00 pm - 1:20 pm Effects of Field Management Practices on Northern Bobwhite Habitat
John P. Gruchy, Department of Forestry, Wildlife, and Fisheries, University of Tennessee; Craig A. Harper, Department of Forestry, Wildlife, and Fisheries, University of Tennessee

Native grasses and forbs have been promoted in conservation programs to enhance habitat for northern bobwhite (Colinus virginianus). However, high seeding rates and a lack of management result in vegetative structure that is less than optimal. We implemented six management practices (November disk, March disk, March burn, March mowing, strip-herbicide application, and September burn) with a control on an unmanaged field of planted native warm-season grass (hereafter, nwsg) in East Tennessee, 2003 – 2004, to evaluate effects on habitat for northern bobwhite. We recorded vegetation composition, vegetation structure, and biomass of invertebrate orders preferred by bobwhite broods, 2004 - 2005. Disking treatments increased coverage of bobwhite food plants and reduced planted native grass cover. Disking and burning treatments enhanced vertical cover and openness at ground level, and decreased litter in the season after treatment. March burning increased native grass cover and decreased undesirable grass cover. Structural and compositional variables did not differ between March mowing and control throughout the study. No treatment differences were observed in invertebrate biomass. We recommend burning and disking regimes to maintain early succession and improve vegetation structure for northern bobwhite. Further, we recommend mowing be discontinued as a habitat management practice for northern bobwhite.
1:20 pm - 1:40 pm Survival and Recovery Rates of Male Wild Turkeys on Private Lands in North-central Louisiana
Michael E. Byrne, Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, University of Georgia; Michael J. Chamberlain, Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, University of Georgia; James G. Dickson, School of Forestry, Louisiana Tech University; Larry Savage, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries; Norman J. Stafford III, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries

Harvest is an important mortality factor for male eastern wild turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo silvestris). To properly manage harvest it is necessary to understand the relationship between annual survival and factors such as hunter access, season length, and bag limits. We banded 261 male wild turkeys from 2002 ? 2009 and estimated survival and recovery parameters based on band recoveries from 2002 ? 2012 on private lands in the pine-dominated landscape of north-central Louisiana. Hunting season length was 23 days from 2002 ? 2006 and 30 days from 2007 ? 2012 with a 2-bird limit in all years of study. We found that survival and recovery rates varied by age class. Adult and juvenile annual survival was 0.30 (SE = 0.04) and 0.51 (SE = 0.10), whereas recovery rates were 0.28 (SE = 0.04) and 0.07 (SE = 0.02) respectively. Direct recovery rates of adults increased when season length increased to 30 days. Recovery rates were considerably lower than published estimates for public land in southeast Louisiana, suggesting that restricted hunter access on private land may lead to reduced hunting pressure and harvest. Recovery rates of juveniles were low, possibly due to hunters choosing not to harvest juveniles. Despite low recovery rates and restricted access of hunters on private lands, survival estimates were similar to public lands in Louisiana under similar season length and bag limits. Conversely, survival rates in our study were considerably lower than a parcel of public land in south-central Louisiana with a 9 day season and limited hunter access. We offer that the minimal harvest of juveniles on our study areas likely resulted from private land hunters selectively choosing to avoid harvest of juveniles, potentially serving to maintain quality hunting as a large portion of the juvenile cohort each year was recruited into the adult population. Our findings, coupled with earlier studies in the region, suggest that changes in season length are a viable option for managers to control harvest mortality of male wild turkeys.
2:00 pm - 2:20 pm Spring and Summer Movement Patterns of Rio Grande Wild Turkey Hens in Texas
Jesse G. Oetgen, Jennifer Barrow & Kevin Mote, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department; Mason D. Conley, Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences, Texas A&M University; Bret A. Collier, Institute of Renewable Natural Resources, Texas A&M University

Rio Grande wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo intermedia) population dynamics have been studied extensively across Texas, however, little is known about Rio Grande wild turkey wintering and pre-nesting movement patterns. We tracked Rio Grande turkeys on 3 study sites within the Cross Timbers and Prairies Ecoregion of Texas. Each site represented a unique set of habitat conditions ? burned by Possum Kingdom wildfire complex of 2011, unburned conditions typical of the region, and a fragmented landscape surrounding the Lyndon B. Johnson National Grasslands. GPS transmitters recorded the location of each turkey at least once an hour from February to October 2012 and March 2013 to present. Hens dispersed from winter flocks on approximately March 15 each year. Distance traveled from core fall\winter area to nesting area varied from less than 1 up to 10 miles, and hens often initiated nests in locations which were previously unvisited. Our results indicate that hens will travel long distances in search of suitable spring and summer habitat. Our data also suggests that nest site selection may be a function of something other than a hen?s comparison of suitable nest sites.
2:20 pm - 2:40 pm Nest Site Characteristics of Rio Grande Wild Turkey Hens in Texas
Jennifer Barrow, Jesse G. Oetgen & Kevin D. Mote, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department; Mason G. Conley, Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, Texas A&M University; Bret A. Collier, Institute of Renewable Natural Resources, Texas A&M University

Rio Grande wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo intermedia) nesting habitats and nest site characteristics have been studied in various regions of Texas, but little is known about nest site attributes in the Cross Timbers and Prairies region of the state. We tracked Rio Grande turkeys on 3 study sites within Cross Timbers and Prairies Ecoregion of Texas . Each site represented a unique set of habitat conditions – burned by Possum Kingdom wildfire complex of 2011, unburned conditions typical of the region, and a fragmented landscape of private land intermixed with public property of the Lyndon B. Johnson (LBJ) National Grasslands. GPS transmitters recorded the location of each turkey at least once an hour from February to October 2012 and March 2013 to present. Locations identify dates that hens began laying, incubating, when/if nests were abandoned, and, if nests were successful, dates at which brood-rearing began. Nests were inspected at least once during the incubation period. Data collected included number of eggs, diameter and height of nest cover, and dominant species of cover. Sixty-four nests were located, with 9.4 percent hatching success. Our results suggest that woody cover is important in nest site selection, although a particular species of woody cover does not appear to be selected for. Distance from water appears to be important. Our results also suggest that diameter and height of nest cover are not a determining factor for nest site selection.
2:40 pm - 3:00 pm Movement Ecology of Rio Grande Wild Turkey Broods in Texas
Mason D. Conley, Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences, Texas A&M University; Jesse G. Oetgen & Jennifer Barrow, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department; Bret A. Collier, Institute of Renewable Natural Resources, Texas A&M University

Quantifying space use represents a vital component in animal habitat selection studies and provides the foundation for a wide variety of research and management applications. Rio Grande wild turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo intermedia) are a gregarious, highly nomadic species with movements fluctuating during various life-history strategies. Of primary interest in habitat selection studies of brooding wild turkey hens is identifying habitats selected immediately post hatch as these location are likely represent optimal foraging and cover conditions. Here, we document movements of GPS tagged Rio Grande wild turkey hen movements during the 2 week brooding period when poults are in the pre-flight stage. Overall, female wild turkey movements were short (<200m per day), typically centered in and around the nesting site, and increased slightly as the number of days since hatch increased. Additionally, brooding hens showed an affinity for woody vegetation while poults are in the pre-flight stage (< 2 weeks) but as poults age, hen-poult group movements increasingly selected for more diverse vegetation types. Our results indicate that perhaps hen nest site selection may be driven by perceived brooding habitat within the surrounding areas.
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3:20 pm - 3:40 pm First Look at the Molecular Features in the Eye Worm (Oxyspirura petrowi) by a Small Scale Genome Sequence Survey
Lixin Xiang, Department of Veterinary Pathobiology, Texas A&M University; Dale Rollins, Texas A&M AgriLife Research, San Angelo, Texas and Rolling Plains Quail Research Ranch; Alan M. Fedynich, Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute, Texas A&M University-Kingsville; and Guan Zhu, Department of Veterinary Pathobiology, Texas A&M University

The eye worm Oxyspirura petrowi is prevalent and could negatively impact Northern Bobwhite quail within Texas and other regions of United States. However, little is known about the general biology and genome composition of O. petrowi. To fill the knowledge gap, we performed a small scale random genome sequence survey (GSS) and sequenced 18S rRNA and the intergenic region between 18S and 28S rRNA genes of O. petrowi. This study not only rapidly generated a large number of molecular sequence data for the first time for O. petrowi, but also provided a snapshot of the genome for the eye worm in quail. The survey also identified a large number of microsatellite sequences that may be employed in further genotyping and population genetics studies. Our phylogenetic reconstructions based on 18S rRNA sequences indicated that Spiruroidea was paraphyletic, while O. petrowi, Streptopharagus and Spirocerca formed a sister clade to the filarial nematodes. The obtained ITS sequence data also permitted us to design specific primers for molecular detection of O. petrowi in fecal samples, which may also be adapted to detect this nematode in insect intermediate hosts for surveillance and developing strategies to control the transmission of eye worms from intermediate hosts to quail. We also determined that ~28% - 33% of the birds were O. petrowi positive, suggesting that eye worm was a significant parasite in at least some quail ranches in Texas.
3:40 pm - 4:00 pm Comparative Ecology of Northern Bobwhite and Scaled Quail in a Sand Sagebrush Community
Evan P. Tanner, R. Dwayne Elmore, Craig A. Davis & Samuel D. Fuhlendorf, Department of Natural Resource Ecology and Management, Oklahoma State University 

The northern bobwhite (Colinus virginianus) and scaled quail (Callipepla squamata) have both experienced declines over the last century. These declines have been attributed largely to changes in land use and plant communities, yet climate is an important driver, particularly in the arid southwest. Areas of sympatric distribution offer the opportunity to evaluate differences in life history between these two quail species under similar plant communities and climate variation. Despite this, few studies have quantified these differences in a sympatric zone. In March of 2012, we began evaluating northern bobwhite and scaled quail populations on Beaver River WMA, which is located in a sand sagebrush plant community in western Oklahoma. Our objective was to identify differences in behavior and population dynamics between these sympatric species. We analyzed micro-habitat parameters at nest and random locations for both species. Micro-habitat parameters included angle of obstruction, shrub density, coverage of functional plant groups, and visual obstruction. To date, a total of 542 birds have been radio-marked and monitored, of which 430 were bobwhite and 112 were scaled quail. Nest initiations have been low, likely the result of a drought within the region. Initial vegetation results support the importance of vertical structure and coverage of usable nesting substrate such as grasses and leaf litter to support nesting efforts. There was no difference in these measures between species. Additional analyses will include estimating nest and adult bird survival rates between species using Program MARK, as well as comparing demographic parameters under varying weather patterns.
4:00 pm - 4:20 pm Bias in Population Estimates of White-tailed Deer from Camera Survey
M.T. Moore, A.M. Foley, C.A. DeYoung, D.G. Hewitt, T.E. Fulbright, D.A. Draeger Texas A&M Kingsville

Use of trail cameras to make population estimates of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) has increased since an estimator was developed in 1997.  We evaluated the accuracy of the camera estimator in six 81-ha enclosures with varying densities of deer replicated on two study areas.  Baited camera surveys were conducted for 14 days in autumn and winter.  We also tested the finding from previous studies that the probability of sighting bucks and does in photographs was equal.  Finally, we conducted an open range test by comparing a camera survey to a helicopter survey.  The camera estimator underestimated known populations of marked deer in the enclosures by a mean of 32.2%.  The underestimates were the result of photos/marked buck being 1.9 times greater than photos/marked doe.  However, based on the marked populations camera surveys estimated >90% of bucks.  Deer density and season did not affect population estimate bias but photos/deer were 1.8 times greater during winter versus autumn.   On the open range test, number of unique bucks identified during camera survey was double the number of bucks sighted during a 67% coverage helicopter survey of 2,299 ha that included the 607 ha camera survey site.  Estimates of doe:buck and fawn:doe ratios were 280% and 31% higher from helicopter survey than camera survey, respectively.  Population estimates from baited camera surveys, while negatively biased, are simple to conduct and calculate and, on average, estimate a relatively high (68%) portion of the adult population.
4:20 pm - 4:40 pm Impacts of Anthropogenic Disturbance on Lesser Prairie-Chicken Resource Selection and Survival in Oklahoma
Ashley Unger, Sam Fuhlendorf, Dwayne Elmore & Craig Davis, Natural Resources Ecology and Management, Oklahoma State University

Lesser prairie-chicken (LPC) populations have declined by greater than 90% from historic levels, and occupy only scattered portions of their historical range. A recent surge in energy development has raised concerns about the viability of the already fragmented population to increased anthropogenic disturbance. As energy companies expand throughout the region, roads, power lines, noise, and other forms of anthropogenic disturbance also increase. A limited number of studies have examined the effects of such development on LPCs and concluded that anthropogenic features can affect LPC home ranges, movement, and directly cause mortality. However it is also important to evaluate the effects of anthropogenic features on LPC at different scales and different structure densities. It is also unclear how different atttributes of a structure, such as height, movement, and sound affect LPCs. Sound related to energy development has been found to significantly affect movements and lek attendance of sage grouse, and may have similar affects on the LPC. We initiated a study in western Oklahoma to examine the relationship between development and LPCs in the spring of 2013. We trapped 43 individuals using walk-in funnel traps at 3 leks sites from March to May. We attached solar, GPS transmitters to 36 individuals, including 13 females and 23 males. In three months, we documented 15 mortalities including 7 females. We also found 6 nests, of which 2 were successful and 1 is still incubating.
4:40 pm - 5:00 pm Black-tailed Prairie Dog Response to Fire and Grazing Interactions
Amber D. Breland, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Oklahoma State University at time of study); R. Dwayne Elmore & Samuel D. Fuhlendorf, Oklahoma State University

Restoring historic fire-grazing interactions and the keystone species, the black-tailed prairie dog (Cynomys ludovicianus), are two management priorities in North America?s grasslands. To evaluate the response of prairie dogs to the fire-grazing interaction, plots of uncolonized mixed-grass prairie measuring 2 ha were burned directly adjacent to active prairie dog colonies on Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge. Fires were completed in 2009 and 2010 and prairie dog abundance and foraging activity was monitored throughout the summer of both years. Longhorn cattle (Bos taurus) and American bison (Bison bison) had access to the sites throughout the study thus replicating historic conditions where herbivores freely choose foraging patches. Prairie dogs responded positively to treatments by immediately colonizing all burned areas in both years, with the strongest response occurring in 2009, when precipitation during the growing season was lowest. There was no observed attempt to colonize any unburned (control) grasslands. When applied to appropriate sites, it appears that the fire-grazing interaction can create valuable habitat for dispersing prairie dogs which can aid in colony expansion and potentially improve conditions for colony establishment.

 

 

WILDLIFE TRACK III - Tuesday, October 15, 2013
10:15 am - 10:35 am Ecology of Mottled Ducks in Coastal South Carolina
James C. Shipes, Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, Mississippi State University; J. Brian Davis, Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, Mississippi State University; Ernie P. Wiggers, Nemours Wildlife Foundation; Molly R. Kneece, Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, Mississippi State University; Richard M. Kaminski, Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, Mississippi State University

The mottled duck (Anas fulvigula) is closely related to mallards (A. platyrhynchos) and endemic to parts of Florida, Mexico, and Gulf Coastal United States. From 1975-1983, mottled ducks were released on wetlands in coastal South Carolina. Unpublished banding data indicate a dispersing and increasing population of South Carolina mottled ducks since their initial release. We are investigating breeding ecology of mottled ducks in the Ashepoo, Combahee, and Edisto Rivers (ACE) Basin, South Carolina.

We radio-marked 80 and 36 female mottled ducks in August 2010 and 2011, respectively, and used aerial and ground reconnaissance to monitor movements and habitat use from fall-winter. Initially our goal was to use radio-marked females as our sample to study breeding ecology in subsequent springs. Because of significant transmitter failure in 2010, we conducted indicated breeding pair surveys (IBPs) from February to July 2011 and 2012 and located nests of unmarked hens in managed impoundments. 

Overall, we found 42 nests of unmarked females (n = 25 in 2011, n = 17 in 2012). Nest success rates were 18% (+ 0.08); (x ? + SE) in 2011, 21% (+ 0.10) in 2012, and 19% (+ 0.06) overall. Clutch size averaged 7.6 (+ 0.33); (x ? + SE) eggs in 2011, 9.4 (+ 0.50) in 2012, and 8.4 (+ 0.34) overall. For radio-marked females in 2012, we discovered 3 nests initiated by 2 different females; these nests were unsuccessful. Seven known mortalities of females occurred and apparent survival was (81% + 0.07) overall. Data analysis is ongoing at this time.
10:35 am - 10:55 am Hunter Effort and Success in Publicly Managed Mourning Dove Fields
Kelly E. Douglass, North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission; David T. Cobb, North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission; Phillip D. Doerr, North Carolina State University, Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology Program

We attempted to quantify hunter effort and success in five publicly managed mourning dove (Zenaida macroura) fields during the 2007 and 2008 dove hunting seasons on Conoho Farms (CF) in Martin County, North Carolina. Self-administered diary surveys (N = 845) were mailed to every individual receiving a special hunt (SH) and point-of-sale (PS) permit during both dove hunting seasons on CF. We used the modified Tailored Design method to collect hunter use, effort, and success data for each hunting season. Data were analyzed using the Kruskal-Wallis test to determine differences in hunter effort and success between seasons and permit types and among fields. The adjusted overall response rate for the survey was 74.7%. Only 141 (22.7%) respondents reported hunting doves at CF. Respondents reported expending 801.75 hours (x = 4.01, SE 0.13), firing 6782 shots (x = 33.91, SE 2.25), and harvesting 1331 doves (x = 6.66, SE 0.36) during the 2007-2008 dove hunting seasons. Hunters reported firing a mean of 5.68 (SE 0.33) shots per harvested dove. Hunter effort and success per hunting event did not differ between seasons, but were significantly greater for SH permittees than PS permittees. SH permittees harvested more doves than PS permittees, and hunter success differed among fields. The number of hours hunted, but not shots fired, differed among fields. The results of this study can be used to improve the permitting system and increase hunting opportunities for dove hunters in North Carolina, and may be used in the Atlantic Flyway to manage dove populations in the Eastern Management Unit through regulating harvest.
10:55 am - 11:15 am Seasonal Diurnal Habitat Use by Raccoons in an Agricultural Landscape
David Ferrell, University of Tennessee at Martin; Tanner Romsdal, University of Tennessee at Martin; Dr. Eric Pelren, University of Tennessee at Martin; Dr. Bradley Ray, University of Tennessee at Martin

We radio monitored 13 raccoons (Procyon lotor) from August 2010 through February 2012 in an agricultural region in Northwest Tennessee to ascertain seasonal and gender differences in diurnal habitat use. Males were located 66 times and females were located 114 times. All locations were in ground dens, tree cavities, or brush piles. Male raccoons exhibited no significant difference in diurnal habitat use among seasons. Trees were used more than other habitats during spring, summer and fall, and were used to the same degree as ground dens during winter. Female raccoons exhibited significantly different diurnal habitat use among seasons (X2=16.70, P=0.01). Ground dens represented 69% of female locations during spring, but were not used during summer, when tree cavities and brush piles represented 57% and 43% of locations, respectively. Limiting trees with cavities and brush piles may lower carrying capacity of this species where it can have significant effect on profitability of agricultural operations.
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1:00 pm - 1:20 pm Are Antler Restriction Regulations Influencing Breeding Chronology?
Micah Poteet, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department; Sean Willis, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department; Rusty Wood, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department; Gary Calkins, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

State mandated antler restrictions designed to improve both the number, and age structure of bucks in the population have been implemented in many (112) counties in TX. The objective of this study is to monitor the breeding chronology and reproductive potential of white-tailed deer (Odocoilius virginianis) during pre- and post-implementation of antler restriction regulations enacted in 2006. An unrelated statewide breeding chronology study was conducted in the early 1990s. This study indicated high conception rates and defined the breeding chronology for the Pineywoods ecological area. In order to acquire more recent and site specific breeding chronology data to be used as a pre-regulation baseline, another study was initiated in 2005. The study site was the Davy Crockett National Forest (DCNF) in Houston County, TX. During the period from 2005-2007 a total of 73 does were collected from the study site. Data/samples collected from harvested does included date of kill, age of doe, ovaries, and the number, sex, and crown-rump measurements of fetuses present. Analysis of conception dates indicated that the pre-regulation breeding chronology was similar to the 1990?s data. The documentation of post-regulation breeding chronology began in 2011 with the collection of 100 adult does from the DCNF and some adjacent private properties. Analysis of conception dates indicated that breeding activity peaked earlier in the breeding season than that observed in both the 1990s data and the pre-regulation baseline data. The data also indicated a better defined peak in breeding activity when compared to the previous data sets. This preliminary data suggests that antler restriction regulations may be positively influencing breeding chronology. However, it is difficult to ascertain if the antler restrictions were solely responsible for the differences. Additional data will be collected in 2016.
1:20 pm - 1:40 pm Biomass and Deer Forage Response to Intercropping Switchgrass as Bioenergy Feedstock in Mississippi
Bradley R. Wheat, Zachary G. Loman, Samuel K. Riffell & Steve Demarais, Department of Wildlife, Fisheries & Aquaculture, Mississippi State University; Darren A. Miller, Weyerhaeuser Company 

Intercropping switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) in recently established pine (Pinus taeda) plantations is a novel practice to generate lignocellulosic feedstocks for biofuels or co-firing. Because of ecological and economic importance of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), we investigated deer forage response to site preparation for intercropping on land owned and managed by Weyerhaeuser Company in Kemper County, MS. We sampled six pine stands in a randomized block design using 10-ha experimental plots of traditional pine and switchgrass intercropped established by Weyerhaeuser and Catchlight Energy LLC. We estimated biomass (kg/ha) of plant functional guilds and deer forages in July 2011 and 2012. Total biomass for traditional pine and switchgrass intercropped averaged 796 and 544 kg/ha in year one, respectively and 2193 and 1198 kg/ha in year two, respectively. Total biomass, biomass of graminoids, legumes, and vines were greater (p<0.10) on traditional pine versus intercropped by year two. Biomass of moderate-use deer forages for traditional pine and switchgrass intercropped averaged 112 and 62 kg/ha in year one, respectively and 321 and 204 kg/ha in year two, respectively. Biomass of high-use deer forages for traditional pine and switchgrass intercropped averaged 477 and 330 kg/ha in year one, respectively and 952 and 559 kg/ha in year two, respectively. Both moderate-use and high-use deer forage biomass was greater on traditional pine versus intercropped by year two. Establishment effects of intercropping may temporarily reduce biomass of deer forage, but post-establishment effects are unknown and should be further investigated.
1:40 pm - 2:00 pm Bait Comparison for Estimating White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus) Parameters with Infrared-triggered Cameras
Leah L. Dale, Department of Natural Resources Ecology and Management, Oklahoma State University; Adam Gourley, Range Research Station, Oklahoma State University; R. Dwayne Elmore, Department of Natural Resources Ecology and Management, Oklahoma State University

Reliable estimates for white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) including fawn production, adult sex ratio, and population size are critical to making appropriate management and harvest decisions (Jacobson et al., 1997). Population estimates derived from infrared triggered camera surveys at the Cross Timbers Experimental Range in Payne County, Oklahoma were compared for 2 bait types, milo and corn, in December 2010 and 2011. Data from feed stations yielded inconsistent sex and recruitment ratios resulting in differing population estimates. The differences in sex and recruitment ratios between the two bait types indicate unequal detectability among sex and age classes, introducing bias and reducing confidence in parameter estimates. Further, visitation to baited infrared trail cameras (ITCs) by non-target animals was significantly lower for milo than for corn [t(19) = -2.01, p = 0.06], resulting in a potential for reduced survey costs. Managers should recognize bait type as an influential factor when estimating population parameters of free-ranging white tailed deer from infrared triggered camera surveys.
2:00 pm - 2:20 pm A Comparative Study on the Effectiveness of Fixed Blade and Mechanical Broadheads
M. Andy Pedersen, Nanjemoy, MD (retired); Seth M. Berry, Natural Resources Office, Naval Support Facility Indian Head; Jeffery C. Bossart, Environmental Program Manager, Naval Support Activity South Potomac, Naval Support Facility Indian Head

We evaluated the performance metrics of bowhunters who hunted with either compound bows or crossbows, and used either fixed blade or mechanical broadheads to harvest white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus). Our retrospective study relied on the daily reports submitted by the 209 bowhunters who participated in part with the monitored hunting program at the Naval Support Facility Indian Head, at Indian Head, Maryland. Bowhunters were required to pass the International Bowhunter Education Program and an annual pre-season shooting proficiency test. Bowhunters hit 90.4% (1020 of 1128) of the deer they shot at over the 1994 – 2012 hunting seasons. We did not find any significant differences in shot accuracy for the stratified choices of bow type and broadhead. Bowhunters recovered 83.6% (1083 of 1296) of the deer they hit over the 1989 - 2012 hunting seasons. The choice of compound bow or crossbow did not affect the deer recovery rates of hunters. However, deer recovery rates were affected by the type of broadhead that bowhunters used. Bowhunters recovered 90.9% (209 of 230) of the deer they hit with mechanical broadheads vs. 82% (874 of 1066) of the deer they hit with fixed blade broadheads. We concluded that the use of mechanical broadheads improved the deer recovery rates for both compound bow users and crossbow users over their counterparts who had used fixed blade broadheads.
2:20 pm - 2:40 pm Evaluating Poaching Deterrents in the Southeast
Jessica E. Mayer, North Carolina State University, Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management; Tasha L. King, North Carolina State University, Forestry and Environmental Resources; Birendra KC, North Carolina State University, Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management; Bryan Will, North Carolina State University,Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology Program; M. Nils Peterson North Carolina State University, Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology Program

The illegal taking of wildlife (poaching) by hunters and anglers damages natural resources and negatively impacts both consumptive and non-consumptive wildlife users. This study explored deterrents to rule-breaking rooted in normative and traditional regulatory models, and evaluated factors influencing legitimacy of regulations. Hunters and anglers in North Carolina (n=60) who had broken regulations were asked to rate the importance of poaching deterrents including sanctions, enforcement and peer pressure. Respondents rated the known presence of game wardens as the most effective deterrent to poaching. Respondents regarded regulations intended to promote wildlife conservation as the most legitimate, and promoting fair chase and humane treatment of animals as among the least legitimate justifications for regulations. Our findings highlight the importance of visible law enforcement, large penalties, and forming a clear nexus between regulations and sustainable game populations. Similarly there is a need to frame fair chase and humane treatment of animals as legitimate reasons for regulations.
2:40 pm - 3:00 pm OPEN
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3:20 pm - 3:40 pm Effects of Opportunistic Shooting on Trap Visitation by Wild Pigs
Lindsey M. Phillips, School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences, Auburn University; Mark D. Smith, School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences, Auburn University; Dana K. Johnson, USDA Wildlife Services-Alabama, Auburn University

Although lethal removal by trapping is oftentimes the most cost- and time-effective means for removing wild pigs (Sus scrofa), many landowners and natural resource professionals implement non-trapping techniques such as opportunistic shooting to further enhance removal rates. However, these non-trapping techniques (hereafter disturbance) may alter the behavior of wild pigs leading to reduced trapping success. Our objective was to provide a preliminary assessment of the effects of disturbance on wild pig visitation to traps. During the summer of 2012, we monitored trap visitation of wild pigs using game cameras at 18 corral traps on 6 study sites in Alabama. We conditioned 3-4 sounders at each study site to freely enter and leave traps and used game cameras to monitor trap visits. We then implemented combinations of disturbance for 3-5 days on 3 study sites while continually monitoring pig visitation to traps on all 6 study sites. We used a Before-After-Control-Impact (BACI) design to test for interaction effects among the visitation metrics between treatment and control sites before and after disturbance. Total number of days (P=0.349) and total number of visits (P=0.130) 1-week before and after disturbance on treatment and control sites did not differ; however, total visit duration differed before and after disturbance on treatment and control sites (P=0.038), demonstrating a change in pig behavior in response to disturbance. Within the context of one year of data, we suggest non-trapping techniques be implemented cautiously, and strategically, when conducting wild pig removal as these techniques may reduce overall trapping success.
3:40 pm - 4:00 pm Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Strategies for Feral Hog Control
Rod Pinkston, JAGER PRO Hog Control Systems

In October 2011, the River Valley Regional Commission submitted a 319(h) Clean Water Act grant application to the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) with efforts to address the fecal coliform levels in Pennahatchee Creek (Dooly County, Georgia). It was the overall consensus of the stakeholders that feral hogs were the major source of the pollutant. After one year of targeted watershed monitoring, the source was tracked to an isolated area within the watershed. A private hog control company will remove the total population of feral hogs within the 4,000+ acre target area by removing entire sounders at one time. This innovative approach uses methods and technology which ensures removal of each family member is accomplished to prevent future reproduction and education of the animals. 

The Integrated Wildlife Damage Management (IWDM) model currently used by academia and government agencies for feral hogs only focuses on reducing damage; not their populations. The IWDM model balances concerns about the humane treatment of wildlife, societal values and legal limitations. This is noble when applied to wildlife species, but feral pigs are NOT wildlife. They are an invasive species and an agricultural pest producing 1.5 billion dollars in annual U.S. crop damage. The best model for feral hogs is the same approach used on termites, rats and cockroaches which is Integrated Pest Management (IPM). These methods and technologies focus on preventing reproduction of the species by eliminating the entire family group. This presentation will provide detailed results and video documentation of feral hog IPM strategies for the first half of the 18-month removal project.
4:00 pm - 4:20 pm Overview of the Chesapeake Bay Nutria Project
Margaret Pepper, USDA Wildlife Services; Steve Kendrot, USDA Wildlife Services; Robert Colona, United States Fish and Wildlife Service

Nutria (Myocaster coypus), an invasive non-native South American rodent was introduced to Dorchester County, Maryland in the early 1940?s. These large, semi-aquatic animals have since become firmly established and expanded their range; correspondingly destroying coastal wetlands, and resulting in negative environmental and economic impacts within the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Research conducted in the mid-1990s documented a causal relationship between marsh loss and nutria populations, and provided the impetus for passage of the Nutria Control and Eradication Act of 2003. A partnership of Federal, state, and private organizations then joined together to form the Nutria Control Partnership, later renamed Chesapeake Bay Nutria Eradication Project, and determined the feasibility of nutria eradication. In 2002 the systematic removal of nutria from Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge and surrounding areas was initiated. The Project expanded operations to adjacent counties after nutria were virtually eliminated from southern Dorchester County in 2006. Since then, nutria have been removed from 160,000 acres in five Maryland counties thus allowing the protection and/or recovery of large expanses of wetlands. Efforts to determine the distribution of nutria on the Delmarva Peninsula have recently led to the identification of populations in Delaware and the eastern shore of Virginia. Currently a systematic plan to remove remaining Delmarva populations is underway.
4:20 pm - 4:40 pm A Survey to Estimate Population Distribution of and Damage Caused by Feral Swine in Tennessee
W. Ryan Jerrolds, University of Tennessee at Martin, Department of Agriculture, Geosciences, and Natural Resources; Eric C. Pelren, University of Tennessee at Martin, Department of Agriculture, Geosciences, and Natural Resources; Barbara A. Darroch, University of Tennessee at Martin, Department of Agriculture, Geosciences, and Natural Resources; R. Gray Anderson, Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency

Feral swine (Sus scrofa) cause extensive damage to commercial agriculture, wildlife, and personal property throughout a growing number of states. There is a need to quantify the location and type of this damage in Tennessee. We surveyed four groups to identify how feral swine populations have dispersed across Tennessee and identify what type of damage they cause. Farm Bureau County Presidents, University of Tennessee Extension Agents, Natural Resources Conservation Service District Conservationists, and Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency Wildlife Officers were surveyed in each of the 95 Tennessee counties to identify counties that host feral swine populations and categorize the damage they cause. Results indicated that feral swine have become widespread throughout the state of Tennessee with reported populations in 89 of the 95 Tennessee counties. Although 35 counties (37%) reported less than five total complaints of damage caused by feral swine, 39 counties (41%) indicated that complaints occurred within the last five years (2008-2012). Additional studies are needed to further quantify expansion of feral swine populations and damage caused by feral swine.
4:40 pm - 5:00 pm Chesapeake Bay Nutria Eradication Project: Methods and devices for detecting Nutria (Myocastor coypus)
Margaret Pepper, USDA Wildlife Services; Steve Kendrot, USDA Wildlife Services; Robert Colona, United States Fish and Wildlife Service

The Chesapeake Bay Nutria Eradication Program was initiated in 2002 with the stated goal of eradicating nutria (Myocastor coypus) from Maryland. The Project has since expanded its operations and responsibilities to include the entire Delmarva Peninsula. A critical component of any successful eradication program is the ability to detect individuals when population densities are low. Additionally, effective monitoring of previously trapped areas requires discovery and removal of any residual animals before populations can become reestablished. We present several observer-based and device-based methods that we have developed for detecting nutria including: shoreline surveys, hair snares, detection rafts/platforms, detector dogs, lure development and remote triggered cameras. We discuss the need for evaluating method specific probabilities of detection and offer suggestions for reducing the likelihood of failing to detect nutria when they are present.

     

Fisheries Technical Sessions

Monday, October 14, 2013
Moderator: Greg Summers, Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation
1:00 pm – 1:20 pm Genetic confirmation and monitoring of an unauthorized fish introduction in Parksville Lake, Tennessee
Gregory R. Moyer & Ashantye S. Williams, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; Michael L. Jolley, Brandon J. Ragland & Timothy N. Churchill, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency

In 2001, Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency biologists sampled what morphologically appeared to be Alabama bass (Micropterus henshalli) in the Parksville Lake (Tennessee River basin). Alabama bass, which are morphologically similar to spotted bass (M. punctulatus) are endemic to the Mobile Basin; thus, they are nonnative to Parksville Lake. This study sought to confirm the identification of this nonnative fish species in Parksville Lake and assess the extent of hybridization with other black bass species within and the lake and surrounding water bodies (Chickamauga Reservoir and tributaries). We used five microsatellite loci known to be diagnostic between spotted bass and Alabama bass, as well as, known populations of Alabama, spotted, largemouth (M. salmoides), Florida (M. floridanus), smallmouth (M. dolomieu), and shoal (M. cataractae) bass to assess the taxonomic identity and extent of hybridization for putative Alabama bass samples (n = 63) collected from Parksville Lake and spotted bass collected from Chickamauga Reservoir and tributaries (n = 62). Of the 63 fish collected from Parksville Lake, 61 were classified as Alabama bass, one as a largemouth, and one as a putative Alabama x spotted hybrid (q-value = 0.688; 90% credibility value = 0.35-0.99). Three of 62 spotted bass collected from the Chickamauga Reservoir and tributaries were suspected Alabama x spotted hybrids. The apparent lack of observed Alabama bass hybridization in Parksville Lake and downstream indicates that this species is coexisting with other black bass species; however, whether competitive interactions are occurring and the demographic ramifications of these potential actions remains unknown.
1:20 pm - 1:40 pm Population Dynamics of Bowfin in a South Georgia Reservoir: Latitudinal Comparisons of Growth and Mortality
Nicholas J. Porter, Idaho Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Department of Fish and Wildlife Sciences, University of Idaho, Moscow, Idaho 83844, USA; Timothy F. Bonvechio, Georgia Department of Natural Resources; Joshua L. McCormick, Idaho Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Department of Fish and Wildlife Sciences, University of Idaho; Michael C. Quist, U.S. Geological Survey, Idaho Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Department of Fish and Wildlife Sciences, University of Idaho
1:40 pm – 2:00 pm Locating freshwater mussel beds in turbid prairie rivers using side-scan sonar
Jarrod Powers, Oklahoma Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Oklahoma State University; Shannon Brewer, U.S. Geological Survey, Oklahoma Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit; Jim Long, U.S. Geological Survey, Oklahoma Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit; Thomas Campbell, Oklahoma Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Oklahoma State University

Identifying the location of freshwater mussel beds in deep, turbid riverine conditions represents a significant impediment to conservation planning. Side-scan sonar is a valuable tool for mapping habitat features including dominant substrate types, and may be a useful tool for determining the location of freshwater mussel beds. The objective of this study was to determine if side-scan sonar could be used to identify mussel bed locations and under what environmental conditions. The Muddy Boggy River, located in southern Oklahoma, is a deep, turbid prairie river that makes use of traditional freshwater mussel sampling techniques difficult. We used side-scan sonar to map a 32-km reach that included a known freshwater mussel bed. We recorded sonar images while floating the river at a constant speed during early and late spring 2013 under elevated discharge conditions. Sonar images were georeferenced, mended using DrDepth software, and imported into ArcGIS for analyses. Only a few mussel beds were identified using sonar and all of them were located in habitat dominated by fine substrates. Mussel-bed locations were validated using two methods: SCUBA at a subset of sites and by recording images of mussel shells placed within different substrates at a nearby reservoir. This information confirmed that freshwater mussels are visible when at or above the substrate surface and located in fine substrates.
2:00 pm – 2:20 pm Status of Mussels and Mussel Habitat in the Poteau River, Oklahoma
William Ray, Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation; Don Groom, Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation; Curtis Tackett, Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation

The Poteau River in southeastern Oklahoma contains a diverse mussel community, including 11 identified as species of greatest conservation need. The river is impounded by Wister Reservoir, a 2970-ha impoundment. In an attempt to improve water quality in the reservoir, a proposal was submitted to siphon eutrophic water from the bottom over the dam into the Poteau River. The movement of suspended sediments is expected to pose a significant threat to mussel assemblages below Wister Reservoir. To assess project impacts on mussel assemblages, water quality and sediment analysis was conducted in the reservoir and in the river below the dam. Furthermore, a survey was conducted on mussels and potential host fishes in the first 27-km downstream of Wister Lake. Analysis of lake samples showed elevated levels in sediments of phosphorus (>300 mg/kg), nitrogen (>900 mg/kg) and arsenic (>10 mg/kg). Additionally, water discharged below the dam had dissolved oxygen levels below 4 mg/l for extended periods. A decline in both mussel abundance and diversity were documented. Of the 35 mussel species previously identified from the Poteau River, only 16 were collected during this study. None of the seven mussel species of greatest conservation need previously identified were collected. The proposed project poses a risk to mussel assemblages through a continued degradation of water quality.
2:20 pm - 2:40 pm Preliminary Results of Fish Community post-2011 Drought at Great Salt Plains Lake.
Evan C. Cartabiano, Natural Resource Ecology and Management, Oklahoma State University; James Long, Natural Resource Ecology and Management, Oklahoma State University

Great Salt Plains Lake (GSPL) has undergone substantial siltation since its construction in 1940, such that storage capacity in 1978 was decreased by 39,335,000 meters. The decreased storage capacity combined with the drought of 2011 caused a massive fish kill of tens of thousands of individuals, likely causing a restructuring of the fish community. In order to assess the fish species composition of GSPL post-2011 fish kill, we are currently sampling with a number of methods both in the lake and its tributaries. Preliminary results point toward highly decreased species richness over the entire system. The most abundant species also seems to have shifted from native to introduced species. Siltation and drought are not problems specific to GSPL; many other reservoirs around the country are also nearing the end of their useful lifespan and will also be faced with similar problems. An understanding of how species composition can change the life of a reservoir in crucial to future management of this important resource.
2:40 pm - 3:00 pm Increasing the Efficiency of Florida's Freshwater Fisheries Long-term Monitoring Program
Kimberly I. Bonvechio, R. Eric Sawyers, Erin Leone, Steve Crawford; Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

In an effort to evaluate the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC)’s long-term fisheries monitoring program for inland water bodies, we conducted a power analysis utilizing fish data from electrofishing, mini-fyke net, and gill net. We resampled data and simulated the effects of different combinations of gear and sample size for collecting presence–absence information. Our objective was to determine whether the use of either mini–fyke nets or gill nets could be eliminated or reduced in the monitoring program. Thirty fyke net/gill net gear combinations were evaluated to determine how many samples were needed to collect at least 80% of the known species when combined with FWC’s standard 25 fall electrofishing samples. The best option, i.e., the gear combination that would require the least amount of sampling effort to achieve our target detection, included an additional 16 mini–fyke net sets and three field days for a crew of two. Because some recreationally important species, in particular white catfish (Ameiurus catus) and channel catfish (Ictalurus punctatus) catfish, would not be well represented in the monitoring program without gill nets, it is recommended that all three gears be used in lakes where these fisheries occur. Using a simple resampling and simulation procedure, we demonstrate how fisheries managers can make informed decisions for improving the efficiency of a monitoring program.
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Moderator: Jim Burroughs, Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation
3:20 pm - 3:40 pm A Comparison of a Fixed vs. Stratified Random Sampling Design for Electofishing Largemouth Bass in Oklahoma
Chas P. Patterson

Two sampling designs were compared to evaluate Oklahoma’s standardized sampling procedures for electrofishing largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides) in reservoirs. Historical subjectively chosen fixed sites were sampled along with random sites stratified by habitat category (good, fair, and poor) at four reservoirs in central Oklahoma. The stratified categories were determined by a composite of the shape/structure of the bottom, substrate type, and type of cover available in 0.5 km transects. Using the stratified random design, three of the four reservoirs showed significantly different (P < 0.05) catch per unit effort (CPUE, fish/h) between the habitat categories. Good habitat at those three lakes exhibited the highest CPUE while poor habitat was the lowest. CPUE was significantly lower (P < 0.05) at the stratified random sites than the fixed sites at two of the four reservoirs. Furthermore, Kolmogorov-Smirnov tests and visual observations indicated length frequencies between the two sampling designs were similar. Although CPUE results were mixed between the two designs, the stratified random sampling design was recommended for largemouth bass electrofishing. This design strengthens standardized sampling procedures over the fixed site design by meeting the assumption of randomization in probability statistics which allows comparisons among reservoirs and years to be made. It also likely provides more representative estimates of the population without jeopardizing precision when compared to the fixed site design.
3:40 pm – 4:00 pm Aging Precision Between Whole-view and Cracked-view Otoliths in Largemouth Bass and Spotted Bass
Anthony V. Fernando, Aquaculture/Fisheries Center, University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff; Clint R. Peacock, Georgia Department of Natural Resources; Brandon W. Baker, Georgia Department of Natural Resources; Michael A. Eggleton, Aquaculture/Fisheries Center, University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff

The objectives of this study were to assess aging precision for largemouth bass and spotted bass. We used 2,155 largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides) collected from throughout the Arkansas River during 2004, 2005, and 2010; 833 spotted bass (M. punctulatus) collected during 2004 and 2005 also were used. Sagittal otoliths were extracted from each fish, with digital images taken of each whole otolith. For individuals aged 3+ years from whole views, otoliths were cracked with the cross-sectional surfaces also digitally imaged. Annuli were counted from each image by two independent readers. Precision between readers (i.e., within-method whether whole-view or cracked-view) and between methods (i.e., fish ages from whole-view vs. cracked-view) was determined for all ages of both species. Precision of whole-view otoliths across years ranged 93.2-95.2% for largemouth bass, and 90.1-96.0% for spotted bass. Precision of cracked-view otoliths from the same years ranged 85.5-95.8% for largemouth bass, and 90.6-97.1% for spotted bass. During 2004-2005, between-method precision ranged 91.4-91.5% for spotted bass, and 89.2-89.6% for largemouth bass. In 2010, between-method age precision decreased significantly for largemouth bass to 33.9% despite relatively high within-method agreement (86%). Between-method precision across ages suggested that the practice of cracking or sectioning otoliths from age 3+ black bass may be overly conservative for populations with average or above-average growth. In the case of populations exhibiting slower growth where annuli may be difficult to distinguish whole view, cracking of age 3+ individuals appears warranted. In addition, spotted bass may be reliably aged using procedures similar to those recommended for largemouth bass.
4:00 pm – 4:20 pm Exploitation and Length Limt Evaluation of Largemouth Bass in Three Georgia Small Impoundments.
Timothy F. Bonvechio, Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife Resources Division; Bryant R. Bowen, Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife Resources Division; Jeremy M. Wixson, Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife Resources Division; Micheal S. Allen, Program in Fisheries and Aquatic Science, School of Forest Resources and Conservation, University of Florida

Recent studies on Largemouth Bass Micropterus salmoides fisheries indicate fishing mortality has declined significantly due to voluntary catch-and- release practices by anglers. We evaluated the relative abundance, growth, mortality, and exploitation of largemouth bass in three Georgia small impoundments. To assess exploitation, 100 largemouth bass were tagged during the spring of 2010 in Lake Lindsay Grace and Hugh M. Gillis Public Fishing Area and during the spring of 2011 in Dodge County Public Fishing Area. Monetary rewards were either $5 or $105 per fish. Tag returns for the high reward tags ranged from 30 to 47% accross impoundments; whereas, tag returns on the low-reward tags ranged from 13 to 26%. Annual exploitation (u) based on the high-reward tags ranged from 0.13 -0.30 and total annual mortality (A) was estimated from catch-curve analysis and ranged from 0.38 to 0.55 across impoundments. Assuming mortalities were additive, annual natural mortality (v) estimates ranged from 0.008-0.42. Simulation modeling indicated that a protective slot limit could increase the number of trophy bass (i.e., 600 mm TL) available in all three impoundments, due to the estimated level of angler harvest. Despite high rates of voluntary catch-and-release documented across much of North America's black bass fisheries over recent decades, greater harvest rates were demonstrated in two of three Georgia small impoundments examined. To aid in less confusion for anglers and for ease of convience for law enforcement, the same slot limit of 381-559 mm TL is recommended for all three impoundments due to the increase in trophy-size bass predicted.
4:20 pm – 4:40 pm Comparison of Diploid and Triploid Largemouth Bass Growth and Maturation in Puerto Rico
J. Wesley Neal, Department of Wildlife, Fisheries & Aquaculture

Triploid largemouth bass may have potential in sport fish management and in food fish production as a means to eliminate reproduction and potentially increase somatic growth. To examine this potential, four cohorts of diploid and triploid largemouth bass were produced and tagged intramuscularly with coded wire tags. Bass were stocked into Lucchetti Reservoir, Puerto Rico, and recaptured during subsequent sampling events. The four stocking events occurred over a 10-year period. Growth rates, condition (relative weight, Wr), and reproductive investment (gonadosomatic index, GSI) were compared for diploid and triploid fish. Overall mean daily growth rate (MDG) did not differ (P  0.050) between diploids (MDG ± SE = 0.75 ± 0.02 mm/d) and triploids (0.74 ± 0.03), but was slightly greater for diploids age-1 and older than triploids of same age (0.71 ± 0.02 mm/d versus 0.67 ± 0.03, respectively; P = 0.002). Von Bertalanffy growth parameters were similar between ploidy groups (Diploid: L = 387.3, K = 1.23, t0 = -0.24; Triploid: L = 390.3, K = 1.20, t0 = -0.32). Diploid largemouth bass exhibited advanced reproductive development following maturation at age 1, while triploids did not. Mean GSI was greater for diploids versus triploids for both males (t43 = 2.76, P = 0.004) and females (t21 = 2.52, P = 0.010). Relative weight was consistently greater for diploid largemouth bass (P < 0.008), likely due to greater GSI. The lack of significant growth advantage in tropical environments precludes using triploid largemouth bass to enhance trophy bass potential in Puerto Rico reservoirs. However, triploid largemouth bass may have utility in systems where largemouth bass reproduction in unwanted.
4:40 pm - 5:00 pm Demographics, Behaviors, and Preferences of Urban Fishing Program Users and State-Wide Anglers Living in Urban and Rural Environments
Daniel E. Shoup, Department of Natural Resource Ecology and Management, Oklahoma State University; Dane M. Balsman, Department of Natural Resource Ecology and Management, Oklahoma State University; Greg L. Summers, Oklahoma Fisheries Research Laboratory, Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation

Angler demographics, behaviors, and attitudes were compared between urban- and rural-dwelling anglers in Oklahoma and those using the Close-to-Home-Fishing Program (CTHFP). Understanding how these groups differ is necessary to provide information for effectively managing urban fishing programs to recruit and retain urban anglers. Rural-dwelling anglers traveled shorter distances to fish than urban-dwelling anglers, suggesting a need for quality angling opportunities near urban centers. Anglers at the CTHFP typically traveled <10 miles to fish and they differed demographically from both the general population and statewide anglers. Trout anglers at the CTHFP further differed from the general anglers, demonstrating the potential to reach multiple user groups by providing different fishing opportunities at urban programs. Therefore, urban fishing programs provide an opportunity to target specific groups to recruit and retain to the sport, but they should be managed differently than statewide waters to accommodate the needs of their unique user groups.

 

 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013
Moderator: Buck Ray, Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation
10:20 am - 10:40 am Using Angler Diaries to Assess Catch and Harvest Trends for Blue catfish and Flathead catfish in a Missouri Reservoir
Kevin P. Sullivan, Missouri Department of Conservation

The Missouri Department of Conservation suspected that blue catfish (Ictalurus furcatus) and flathead catfish (Pylodictis olivaris) were being heavily exploited by anglers in 22,501-ha Harry S. Truman Reservoir in west-central Missouri. A volunteer catfish angler creel was conducted during 2003-2005 to assess catch, harvest trends and the proportional contribution of the two catfish species to the overall catfish fishery by reservoir catfish anglers. Following recruitment, a total of 308 volunteers were trained and then asked to fill out daily diary forms after each catfishing trip. Volunteers were asked to supply fish length and harvest information for their catch and the catch of all members of their fishing party as well as a trip rating. Anglers who actively participated in the program were entered into a random drawing at the end of each fishing season and received prizes ranging in value from US$15 to $100. A total of 138 anglers (45% of the volunteers) actively participated in the program by turning in at least one diary. Catch and harvest data were collected from 1,055 diary forms and 2,232 catfish angler trips. Anglers reported length and harvest information on 5,920 catfish (including channel catfish) and reported catching nearly 10 times more blue catfish (3,759) than flathead catfish (397). Anglers who targeted blue catfish caught 2.7 blue catfish per angler trip while anglers who targeted flathead catfish caught 0.3 flathead catfish per angler trip. Only 20% and 13% of blue catfish and flathead catfish, respectively, were caught with pole and line. Forty-one percent (41%) of volunteer anglers assigned a poor rating to their fishing trips. These results were used along with results from a concurrent exploitation study to recommended regulation changes to protect the blue catfish fishery at Truman Reservoir.
10:40 am - 11:00 am Diet Composition of Wild Brown Trout and Stocked Rainbow Trout in a Coldwater Tailwater Fishery in North Georgia
Patrick M. O'Rouke, Georgia Department of Natural Resources

The Lanier Tailwater section of the Chattahoochee River, Georgia, below Buford Dam has populations of wild brown trout (Salmo trutta) and stocked rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss). To better understand the ability of wild brown trout to recruit to the fishery, stomach contents of brown trout and rainbow trout were examined in the summer and fall of 2011 and the winter and spring of 2012 at four locations along the river. Midges (Diptera) were the most common category observed in the diets of both species throughout the study. Other common items included caddisflies (Ephemeroptera), stoneflies (Plecoptera), ants/termites (Formicidae/Termitoidae), worms (Annaelida), and scuds (Isopoda). While rainbow trout were more likely than brown trout to have empty stomachs, their diets were otherwise similar to one another. Midges were consumed more often by brown trout and rainbow trout than any other diet category regardless of site or season. Some categories were less prevalent at the most upstream site. Stoneflies were most common and caddisflies were least common in winter of the four seasons. Terrestrial insects were most common in summer. There was a lack of ontogenetic shift in brown trout when diet composition was analyzed, but size of brown trout also appeared to have an influence on feeding habits as larger fish were more likely to have empty stomachs. There may have been a greater occurrence of piscivory, particularly in larger brown trout, than the results of this study indicated.
BREAK
Moderator: Chas Patterson, Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation
1:00 pm - 1:20 pm Black Bass Tournament Characteristics and Economic Value at Sam Rayburn Reservoir, Texas
M. Todd Driscoll and Randall A. Myers, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

Recent studies have shown that black bass (Micropterus spp.) tournament angling continues to increase. The magnitude and implications of tournament-fish mortality has been studied often, however the economic value of tournament angling has rarely been assessed. We determined the economic value of black bass tournament angling at Sam Rayburn Reservoir, Texas. A total of 25,396 participants competed in 405 tournaments occurring from November 2007 to October 2008. The majority of tournaments (75%) had <50 participants and required an organization membership (bass club). Lower open tournaments (<$130/person entry fee and >50 participants) accounted for the plurality (40%) of tournament participants. Total tournament angler expenditures ($23.7 million) accounted for 74% of total angling expenditures ($31.9 million). One 3-day tournament with 3,892 participants was responsible for 27% of total tournament expenditures and 20% of total angler expenditures. The total economic value of the Sam Rayburn Reservoir fishery was estimated to be $46.7 million, of which 66% was due to tournament angling. Understanding the economic value of tournament angling allows fisheries managers to weigh economic consequences of management actions that could be detrimental to tournament angling (restrictive harvest regulations and tournament permitting). Furthermore, economic impact information for tournaments can be important to local municipalities for justifying local infrastructure improvement and tournament recruitment costs.
1:20 pm - 1:40 pm Population-level Impacts of Largemouth Bass Mortality Associated with Tournaments in a Texas Reservoir
Bruce T. Hysmith, Texas Parks & Wildlife Department; John H. Moczygemga, Texas Parks & Wildlife Department; Randy A. Myers, Texas Parks & Wildlife Department; M. T. Driscoll, Texas Parks & Wildlife Department; M.S. Allen, School of Forest Resources and Conservation,University of Florida

Previous studies of tournament-related impacts on black bass Micropterus spp. have often been investigated, but few studies have quantified population-level implications. Prompted by a decline in numbers of Largemouth Bass M. salmoides, ≥ 458 mm total length (TL), we assessed the impacts of tournament angling at Amon G. Carter Reservoir, Texas (623 ha). In 2007, we tagged 786 Largemouth Bass and estimated fishing mortality separately for tournament and non-tournament anglers. Instantaneous total fishing mortality was estimated to be 0.14, 36-93% of which was tournament mortality. Non-tournament angling mortality was calculated to be 4%. Given these values, if the number of tournament-retained fish was reduced by 50%, abundance of Largemouth Bass > 356 and > 457 mm was predicted to increase by 6% and 9%, respectively. Tournament angling impact on total fishing mortality and Largemouth Bass population abundance was greater at Amon G. Carter Reservoir than at previously investigated reservoirs.
1:40 pm - 2:00 pm Differences in Angler Catch and Exploitation of Walleye From Virginia Waters
Stephen J. Owens, George Palmer, Dan Wilson, Thomas Hampton, Johnathan Harris; Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries

Walleye (Sander vitreus) were collected during late winter – early spring in 2008-2011 at seven sites across Virginia to evaluate angler catch and exploitation. A total of 3,116 walleye were tagged with FD94 T-bar Floy tags at four small impoundments (< 200 ha), two large impoundments (> 200 ha), and the New River during the course of the study. Anglers were offered a US$20 reward for the return of each tag, and 530 tags (17 %) were returned. Adjusted annual catch rates ranged from 15-61%, with a mean of 29%. Annual exploitation ranged from 2-29% with a mean of 12%. Mean total length (TL) of angler-caught walleye was largest in large impoundments (489 mm), next largest in the New River (465 mm), and smallest in small impoundments (418 mm; P < 0.001). Mean TL of walleye harvested from small impoundments (462 mm) were smaller than those harvested from large impoundments (508 mm) or rivers (507 mm) (P < 0.001).
2:00 pm - 2:20 pm Comparison of Growth, Abundance, and Emigration of Two Morone Hybrids in a High Flow-Through Oklahoma Reservoir.
Kurt E. Kuklinski

Hybrid striped bass (Morone saxatilis x Morone chrysops) are commonly introduced in southeastern United States reservoirs to create a sport fishery and as a means of utilizing abundant shad (Dorosoma spp.) populations. The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation (ODWC) has historically stocked the common-cross hybrid (M. saxatilis female x M. chrysops male; hereafter, common HSB) rather than the less often stocked reciprocal-cross hybrid (M. saxatilis male x M. chrysops female; hereafter, reciprocal HSB). Due to concerns over downstream emigration of stocked fish from reservoirs, common HSB have mostly been stocked in reservoirs with low water exchange rates; whereas stockings in high flow-through reservoirs have been limited. Some evidence exists that reciprocal HSB have less tendency to emigrate from the reservoirs they are stocked in; however, a direct comparison of the two Morone hybrid crosses in Oklahoma reservoirs had never been done. Therefore, the objective of this study was to compare growth, abundance, and emigration of common HSB and reciprocal HSB in a high flow-through reservoir. Kaw Lake was stocked annually with equal numbers (85,000) of each hybrid cross from 2005-2008, with lesser, but approximately equal numbers of each hybrid cross stocked in 2009. Relative abundance of both hybrid crosses was similar (Chi Square analysis) in Kaw Lake and in the basin below Kaw Lake over the course of this study. Thus, emigration of both hybrid crosses appeared to be similar. However, growth of common HSB was greater than that of reciprocal HSB. Based upon the results of this study, ODWC modified its hybrid striped bass stocking protocol to allow for more stocking of common HSB into reservoirs with high water-exchange rates.
2:20 pm - 2:40 pm Characteristics of Two Self-Sustaining Reservoir Populations of Paddlefish in Northeast Oklahoma
Nealis, Ashley A. , Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation; James M. Long, U.S. Geological Survey, Oklahoma Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Oklahoma State University

Oklahoma has several self-sustaining populations of paddlefish (Polyodon spathula) that support sport fisheries. The most important of these is in Grand Lake O’ The Cherokees (Grand Lake).  The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation (ODWC) established the Paddlefish Research Center (PRC) on Grand Lake in 2008.  This installation increased communication with paddlefish anglers who complained of decreased fish size on Grand Lake.  Simultaneously, population monitoring on Keystone Reservoir (Keystone) showed that paddlefish there tended to be larger than from Grand Lake.  Our objectives for this study were to: 1) estimate and compare characteristics of these two paddlefish populations, and 2) determine differences in fishing pressure between reservoirs.  Paddlefish gillnetting data from winter 2010 and 2011 showed no significant difference in relative abundance between the populations however, differences in length frequencies, relative weights, growth and reproductive condition were observed.  Mean lengths (at age 12), relative weights and gonadal fat indices for both male and female fish from Keystone were significantly greater than those from Grand Lake, while gonadosomatic index values were significantly greater for Grand Lake. Post-season paddlefish angler surveys indicated that in both 2010 and 2011 there was no significant difference in per-angler effort between the two reservoirs however, Grand Lake had significantly higher per-angler harvest.
2:40 pm - 3:00 pm Population Trends and Regulatory Options for Oklahoma’s Grand Lake Stock of Paddlefish Polyodon spathula.
Jason D. Schooley, Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation; Dennis L. Scarnecchia, University of Idaho; Andrea Crews, Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation

Across its historical range, fisheries for the North American paddlefish (Polyodon spathula) have proven sensitive to overexploitation as its roe is a source of expensive caviar. Although Oklahoma paddlefish populations have historically remained abundant, recreational fishing (snagging) effort has increased in recent years as a result of fish population declines in other states, increased media attention, increased popularity, and advancements in angling sonar technology. In 2008, the Paddlefish Research Center (PRC) was developed near Miami, Oklahoma by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation to collect biological data on the Grand Lake stock, the state’s largest fishery, as part of a voluntary roe donation program. We used historical and current stock status and angler harvest information from the PRC along with angler survey data to assess stock trends and evaluate needs for additional harvest management regulations. Though the population was estimated in excess of 200,000 individuals in winter 2008, it consisted mainly of one cohort (1999) and has declined by 67% to approximately 68,000 individuals in five years. Under the statewide one-fish daily bag limit, most anglers (82.0 – 83.9%) harvested two or fewer fish annually, with 59.1 – 61.8% of anglers harvesting only a single fish. Because of observed highly variable recruitment, harvest management must preserve sufficient fish in the population to create future strong year-classes. The generalized options for reducing harvest considered included 1) reducing the number of paddlefish anglers, 2) instituting a stock-specific, biologically based annual harvest cap, and 3) reducing individual angler harvest. Four methods of reducing individual angler harvest were considered, but two preferred approaches emerged from existing data and fishing patterns: implementation of a harvest cap (total allowable catch) and an individual annual harvest limit of two fish. Implementation would largely require substantial changes in the Oklahoma paddlefish recreational fishery. Results for the Grand Lake stock will serve as a framework for statewide harvest management regulation.
BREAK
Moderator: Kurt Kuklinski, Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation
3:20 pm - 3:40 pm Molecular and Analytical Approaches to Evaluate Chromium Contamination of Estuarine Systems in Hampton Roads, Virginia
Brittany M. DiLillo, Department of Organismal and Environmental Biology, Christopher Newport University; Jessica S. Thompson, Ph. D., Department of Organismal and Environmental Biology, Christopher Newport University; Lisa S. Webb, Ph. D., Department of Molecular Biology and Chemistry, Christopher Newport University

Determining the water quality of estuarine ecosystems is difficult because of the environment's variable properties. Hexavalent chromium is a toxic metal found in estuarine ecosystems due to pollution from industrial surroundings, and methods are needed to determine biotic responses to chromium contamination. It is proposed that expression of the fatty-acid binding protein (FABP) gene in (Fundulus heteroclitus), a common estuarine inhabitant, and Inductively Coupled Plasma-Optical Emission Spectroscopy (ICP-OES) analytical techniques can be used as indicators of hexavalent chromium contamination. Using reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), FABP gene expression was analyzed to see if expression or non-expression occurs after contamination with hexavalent chromium. ICP-OES was used to confirm the presence of chromium at the experimental sites. Low levels of chromium contamination were detected across Hampton Roads, with significant differences between sites. FABP gene expression was variable across sites, suggesting further refinement of the method is needed to use gene expression as an indicator of contamination.
3:40 pm - 4:00 pm Influence of Predation-based Chemical Cues on Contaminant Sensitivity in Fathead Minnows (Pimephales promelas)
Amie L. Robison, Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation; Joseph R. Bidwell, University of Newcastle, Australia

Anthropogenic contaminants can have significant effects on organisms in aquatic ecosystems. Single-species bioassays used to evaluate effects of chemical toxicants, fail to incorporate “natural stressors”, such as predation. Aquatic animals sense predation through olfactory detection of chemical cues, released by predators or prey. Minnows possess epithelial cells that release alarm substance (Shreckstoff) when ruptured, to alert other prey fish of imminent danger. Predators also release chemical cues that can be detected by prey, in metabolic waste. Natural chemical cues associated with predation induce the same physiological stress response in an organism as chemical exposure. The combination of both natural and chemical stressors acting on an organism can potentially increase sensitivity to a contaminant. Laboratory bioassays were performed to determine effects of predatory chemical cues on sensitivity of Fathead minnows (Pimephales promelas) and Daphnia pulex to cadmium chloride (CdCl2) or sodium chloride (NaCl). Predatory chemicals, either fathead minnow alarm substance and/or water conditioned by a predatory fish, were added to bioassays as “natural stressors.” Our results suggest that species specific anti-predator behavior affects chemical exposure. Daphnia responded to fish predators by reducing swimming activity, reducing metabolism, and decreasing uptake of NaCl, decreasing sensitivity. Fathead minnows responded to predatory cues with increased metabolism, which may have increased NaCl uptake, increasing sensitivity. While adding predatory cues to CdCl2 solutions, did not increase sensitivity, vulnerability to predation may have increased. It is apparent that incorporating multiple abiotic and biotic stressors into future protocols for standardized toxicity testing is imperative.
4:00 pm - 4:20 pm Effect of Tyoe and Concentration of Water Hardness on the Fertilization and Hatching Success of Channel X Blue F1 Hybrid Catfish Eggs
Nagaraj G. Chatakondi, USDA ARS Warmwater Aquaculture Research Unit

Hybrid catfish fry are exclusively produced by hand stripping hormone-induced channel catfish female, fertilized with blue catfish sperm and hatch fertilized eggs. Even though hatchery production of hybrid catfish has been steadily increasing, hatching efficiency is generally lower compared to hatcheries propagating naturally pond spawned channel catfish eggs. Embryonic development is the most sensitive stage in the life cycle of a fish. As fertilized egg development takes outside the fish?s body, water hardness is one abiotic parameter, suggested to have a major effect on the egg?s development and embryo survival. Ca2+ and Mg2+ contribute to water hardness, and are important for ionic regulation of freshwater fish. These ions influence the permeability of egg membranes, preventing diffusive flow and high ionic loss to surrounding water. The aquifer used for hybrid catfish hatcheries has less than 10 mg/L of calcium hardness and 1- 25 mg/L of magnesium hardness. The effect of water hardness on fertilization and hatching success of hybrid catfish eggs is not known. 

Results of the five hatching trials conducted to assess the effect of water hardness on the hatching success of hybrid catfish eggs will be presented at the meeting. Effects of varying levels of magnesium hardness along with either fixed or varying levels of calcium hardness on the hatching success of hybrid catfish eggs was evaluated. Hatching trials were conducted to evaluate hybrid catfish eggs reared in natural vs. prepared hatching waters.
4:20 pm - 4:40 pm The Economic Significance of Fish and Wildlife Recreation in the Southeast
Rob Southwick, Southwick Associates, Inc.

From generating dollars for conservation to maintaining public support for fisheries and wildlife, economic information is an important tool for management agencies and natural resource advocates. The recent release of the new National Survey data gives us a broader picture of how activities related to hunting, fishing, and wildlife viewing have an effect on the state and local economies nationwide. This paper will present the economic significance of fish and wildlife-related recreation in the Southeastern U.S. and trends. Examples from specific states highlighting how resource agencies can apply economic information to increase public, legislative and media support will be included throughout the presentation. Economic figures will be compared to popular and well-known activities to help the listener comprehend the magnitude and importance of fish and wildlife recreation to state and national economies. Data to be presented have been compiled from recent research conducted for the American Sportfishing Association, the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, individual state resource agencies, and others.