Wildlife Technical Sessions

Wildlfe Technical Session Abstracts  

Please note: full abstracts will not be printed and are only available on this website. A detailed program agenda with presentation titles, authors, and scheduled times will be distributed onsite at the conference. 
 

Sunday, October 19, 2014
WILDLIFE SYMPOSIUM - Mottled Duck Ecology and Management in the Southeastern U.S.
8:20 am – 8:40 am Mottled Ducks in South Carolina: Is it the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly?
Mottled Ducks in South Carolina: Is it The Good, the Bad and the Ugly?
J. Brian Davis, Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, Mississippi State University; James C. Shipes* Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, Mississippi State University; Molly R. Kneece, Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture

Mottled ducks (Anas fulvigula) are endemic to Florida, Mexico, and Gulf Coastal United States. Birds from Florida, Louisiana, and Texas were released in coastal South Carolina from 1975-1983, and subsequent banding data suggest a dispersing and increasing population in the state. Translocations of wildlife can sometimes satisfy original intended objectives with minimal deleterious impacts. Alternatively, translocations may cause unforeseen consequences and disrupt the balance or composition of locally-endemic ecological communities, restructure or dilute genetic integrity of races or sub-species of the translocated organism, and cause other negative influences to a species? long-term fitness. We will briefly discuss mottled duck ecology relative to pristine and contemporary South Carolina landscapes, ecological communities before and after mottled duck introduction, and possible implications of translocations on mottled duck populations throughout its geographic range in United States. Our synthesis will briefly weave applicable themes of ecology and evolution, with subject examples including translocations, founder affects, invasion success, ecological communities, avian taxonomy (species and subspecies), hybridization, bottlenecks, gene flow, genetic drift, and others. Our synthesis will remain neutral as we discuss both positive and controversial or potentially negative consequences associated with this translocation.
8:40 am – 9:00 am Nesting Ecology of Mottled Ducks (Anas fulvigula) in Coastal South Carolina
Nesting Ecology of Mottled Ducks (Anas fulvigula) in Coastal South Carolina
James Shipes, Mississippi State University; Brian Davis, Mississippi State University; Ernie Wiggers, Nemours Wildlife Foundation; Molly Kneece, Mississippi State University; Richard Kaminski, Mississippi State University

Mottled ducks (Anas fulvigula) are endemic to Gulf Coastal United States and Mexico. Birds from Florida, Louisiana, and Texas were released in coastal South Carolina from 1975-1983, and subsequent banding data suggest an expanding population in the state. Because autecology of mottled ducks is little known in South Carolina, we radio-marked 116 females in August 2010-2011 in the Ashepoo, Combahee, and Edisto (ACE) Rivers Basin and began initial studies. We used aerial and ground reconnaissance to monitor movements and habitat use from fall-winter. Our goal was to use radio-marked females to study breeding ecology, but due to significant transmitter failure in 2010, we resorted to locating nests of unmarked hens in managed wetlands in spring 2011 and 2012. We found 42 nests of unmarked females (n = 25 in 2011, n = 17 in 2012). Mayfield nest success estimates were 18% + 0.08%; (SE) in 2011, 21% (+ 0.10%) in 2012, and 19% (+ 0.06%) overall. Estimated nest survival of mottled ducks in my study was comparable to results from studies elsewhere in the species range, and it also exceeded 15% success deemed important to maintaining midcontinent mallard populations. Clutch size averaged 7.6 (+ 0.33); ( + SE) eggs in 2011, 9.4 (+ 0.50) in 2012, and 8.4 (+ 0.34) overall. Modeling results indicated that the area of an island on which a nest was located was the only variable influencing nest success. Daily nest survival was two times more likely with every 1 m2 increase in island area. Seven known mortalities of females occurred and apparent survival was (81% + 0.07) overall.
9:00 am – 9:20 am Habitat Use and Apparent Survival of Mottled Duck Broods in South Carolina
Habitat Use and Apparent Survival of Mottled Duck Broods in South Carolina
Molly R. Kneece, Mississippi State University; J. Brian Davis, Mississippi State University; Ernie P. Wiggers, Nemours Wildlife Foundation; Richard M. Kaminski, Mississippi State University; James C. Shipes, Mississippi State University

Mottled ducks (Anas fulvigula) are endemic to Gulf Coastal United States and Mexico. Birds from Florida, Louisiana, and Texas were released on wetlands in coastal South Carolina from 1975-1983, and banding data suggest an expanding population in the state. Because autecology of mottled ducks is little known in South Carolina, we attempted to research brood ecology beginning in spring 2013. We used several methods including marking females with intra-abdominal transmitters during remigial molt, searching for nests of unmarked females, and capturing females in late incubation to outfit them with harness style radio transmitters. We monitored radiomarked females with broods daily to 30 days age or until we concluded total brood loss. We discovered 16 nests and followed 5 radiomarked females with broods for 62 days (n = 70 locations, = 14 per brood) in 2013. Apparent nest success was 0.375 and apparent brood survival was 0.60. In 2014, we had no females with intra-abdominal transmitters and we located 15 nests of unmarked females. However, all nests experienced complete clutch removal by an unknown predator. At least two important trends emerged from our collective studies: 1) There is value in long-term research as this was the first year in four that we observed complete clutch removal in a large portion of nests and loss of all nests, and 2) Estimating duckling or brood survival precisely in this species continues to be a challenge for various biological and logistical reasons.
9:20 am – 9:40 am Movements and Habitat Selection of Mottled Ducks (Anas fulvigula) in South Carolina
Movements and Habitat Selection of Mottled Ducks (Anas fulvigula) in South Carolina
James C. Shipes, Mississippi State University; J. Brian Davis, Mississippi State University; Ernie P. Wiggers, Nemours Widlife Foundation; Molly R. Kneece, Mississippi State University, Richard M. Kaminski, Mississippi State University

Mottled ducks (Anas fulvigula) are endemic to Gulf Coastal United States and Mexico. Birds from Florida, Louisiana, and Texas were released in coastal South Carolina from 1975-1983, and subsequent banding data suggest a dispersing and increasing population in the state. Because autecology of mottled ducks is little known in South Carolina, we radio-marked 116 females in August 2010-2011 in the Ashepoo, Combahee, and Edisto (ACE) Rivers Basin to begin initial studies. We monitored movements and habitat use by aircraft during fall-winter and via ground reconnaissance during spring-summer. Because of small sample size due to radio-transmitter failure and logistics, we pooled data across years to obtain 1,241 locations from 67 females. Average estimated home range size for females was 3,217 (SE = 608) ha. Selection ratios (wi) showed that females selected managed wetland impoundments (e.g., water depths and salinity; wi = 2.11 [2.06, 2.16]) but avoided unmanaged wetlands during fall-winter and spring-summer (wi = 0.14 [0.10, 0.18]). In fall-winter, females selected wetlands containing planted corn (wi = 1.92 [1.15, 2.70]) over wetlands with natural vegetation (wi = 0.946 [0.90, 0.99]). They also selected brackish (wi = 1.87 [1.68, 2.07]) over fresh/brackish (wi = 0.18 [0.08, 0.29]) and brackish/saline wetlands (wi = 0.65 [0.37, 0.92]). Our study suggests the importance of managed brackish wetland impoundments to mottled ducks in South Carolina and highlights differences between birds habitat use compared to elsewhere in birds? range.
9:40 am – 10:00 am Survival and Recovery Rates of Mottled Ducks in Georgia 2006-2013
Survival and Recovery Rates of Mottled Ducks in Georgia 2006-2013
Gregory D. Balkcom, Georgia Wildlife Resources Division; David Mixon, Georgia Wildlife Resources Division

The mottled duck (Anas fulvigula) naturally occurs in two populations: one in the coastal marsh of the western Gulf of Mexico, and another in peninsular Florida. A third, introduced population occurs on the southern Atlantic coast in South Carolina and Georgia. The Georgia portion of this population is centered at the Altamaha Wildlife Management Area in McIntosh County. In 2006, we began banding mottled ducks in Georgia using airboats at night. We collected banding and recovery data from 2006 through the spring of 2014. We used Program MARK to estimate survival and Seber recovery rates, which were then converted to the more common Brownie recovery rates. We captured 232 mottled ducks and received 44 band recoveries. Most of the model weight suggested that survival and recovery rates were constant across time and by age class. Averaged model results indicate that adult survival was 0.339, juvenile survival was 0.353, adult Brownie recovery rate was 0.154, and juvenile Brownie recovery rate was 0.134. Survival rates were lower and recovery rates were higher than those reported from Texas-Louisiana and Florida. Potential reasons may be that we banded in areas with the highest hunting pressure and the highest alligator densities, and we saw rapid tarnishing and discoloration of bands, which may have led to under-reporting.
10:20 am – 10:40 am Movements and Habitat Use of Mottled Ducks Along the Georgia Coast
Movements and Habitat Use of Mottled Ducks Along the Georgia Coast
Kaylee Pollander, University of Georgia; Michael Chamberlain, University of Georgia ; Greg Balkcom, Georgia Wildlife Resources Division

Mottled ducks were introduced to Georgia, and a small population is centered on the Altamaha Wildlife Management Area in McIntosh County. Little is known about movements and habitat use of mottled ducks, and no research has been conducted in coastal Georgia. In August 2014, we will initiate a field study to capture and fit mottled ducks with satellite GPS transmitters so that movement ecology and habitat use can be detailed. We will present initial trapping results and movement data, and discuss implications for wetland management that will stem from our findings.
10:40 am – 11:00 am Annual Survival, Recovery Rates, and Movements of Mottled Ducks Banded on the Western Gulf Coast
Annual Survival, Recovery Rates, and Movements of Mottled Ducks Banded on the Western Gulf Coast
David A. Haukos, U.S. Geological Survey, Kansas Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Unit, Kansas State University

Information from recoveries of banded waterfowl can be used to estimate annual survival, recovery rate as an index to harvest rate, and movements relative to banding location. Mottled ducks (Anas fulvigula) have been banded in Louisiana (since 1994) and Texas (since 1997) to increase knowledge of potential factors affecting the Western Gulf Coast Population. Mottled ducks were captured from June ? August primarily by nightlighting from airboats and secondarily by baited rocket nets. Captured birds were aged and gender determined by feather and bill characteristics with confirmation by cloacal examination. Greater than 55,000 and 5,500 mottled ducks were banded and recovered, respectively, in Texas and Louisiana from 1994 ? 2013. Since 2002, banding was primarily conducted on the Chenier Plain of Texas and Louisiana with >90% of bandings during most years. Annual recovery rates differed among states, years, gender, and age. Annual survival rates were similar between states but differed among years, gender, and age; juvenile females had the lowest annual survival rate. Hurricanes Rita (2005) and Ike (2008) as well as the record drought of 2011 affected annual recovery and survival rates. For all banded mottled ducks, the direct recovery rate for was >8%, which resulted in an estimated annual harvest rate of >12%. Movements between states prior to the hunting season were principally Texas to Louisiana. Approximately 50% of the mottled duck harvest for both Texas and Louisiana occurred by 1 December. Band recovery data from mottled ducks can provide an important source of information for managers.
11:00 am – 11:20 am Review and Current Status of a Range-wide Breeding Population Survey of Western Gulf Coast Mottled Ducks
Review and Current Status of a Range-wide Breeding Population Survey of Western Gulf Coast Mottled Ducks
Larry A. Reynolds, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries; Kevin M. Hartke, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department; Kathy Fleming, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

A 2006 workshop reviewed the population status, distribution, vital rates, and habitat requirements of mottled ducks and identified a range-wide aerial survey of the Western Gulf Coast (WGC) breeding population as a high-priority monitoring need. A survey was initiated in April, 2008 in Texas and Louisiana using established transect lines from annual mid-winter waterfowl surveys in each state and incorporated low-level, zig-zagging helicopter ?beat out? surveys of randomly-selected transect segments to estimate a visibility correction factor (VCF). In 2008, counts from airplanes were very low on transects, helicopter surveys generated suspiciously low VCFs, and population estimates were low with high variance. In 2009-2010, transect lines and helicopter segments were increased and reallocated based on a cost-precision analysis and to better represent the current range of breeding mottled ducks. Louisiana helicopter crews were trained by USFWS personnel experienced in the ?beat out? technique, and selected helicopter segments were resurveyed by airboat in Louisiana to evaluate VCFs. These modifications improved confidence in survey methodology and precision of population estimates. Survey design has been consistent since 2010, and coefficients of variation on total breeding population estimates have ranged from 15-20%. Population estimates are calculated for 2 habitat types in Louisiana: coastal marsh and other (mostly agricultural), and 5 in Texas: core marsh, core other, peripheral (mostly agricultural but further from the coast than core habitat), Laguna Madre marsh, and Laguna Madre peripheral. Total WGC breeding population estimates for 2010-2013 were: 129,207 ? 22,125 (SE), 171,684 ? 25,922 (SE), 164,745 ? 32,227 (SE), and 117,575 ? 22,270 (SE) respectively. (Laguna Madre habitats were not surveyed in 2010). Trends in population estimates, spatial distribution of breeding mottled ducks, and survey utility for population and harvest management will be discussed.
11:20 am – 11:40 am Hybridization and Population Structure of Western Gulf Coast Mottled Ducks
Hybridization and Population Structure of Western Gulf Coast Mottled Ducks
Robert Ford, Louisiana State University; Sabrina Taylor, Louisiana State University; Will Selman, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries

An emerging concern in the Gulf Coast region of the United States is the loss of the Mottled Duck (Anas fulvigula) genome resulting from hybridization with non-migratory Mallards (A. platyrhynchos). We will use population genetics to examine: a) the degree of hybridization between Mottled Ducks and Mallards in the western Gulf Coast, and b) the level of gene flow in populations of Mottled Ducks across the Gulf Coast. Additionally, we will verify that a field guide developed to distinguish Mottled Ducks from Mallards and hybrids in Florida works for Mottled Ducks in the western Gulf Coast. Mottled Duck and Mallard blood and tissue samples will be collected in Louisiana, Texas, Alabama, and Mississippi. DNA will be extracted, screened for amplification and polymorphism, and scored to produce individual genotypes to infer hybridization rates and to examine Mottled Duck population structure and genetic variation. Mitochondrial DNA sequences for Mottled Ducks will be compared to sequences from South Carolina and Florida populations, and to sequences from Mallards to assess hybrid parentage. Data on hybridization rates between Mottled Ducks and Mallards in the western Gulf Coast will clarify whether action is required to prevent hybridization; for example, restrictions on possession and releases of domesticated Mallards. Similarly, an understanding of Mottled Duck genetic structure should help managers make important conservation decisions in order to protect any distinct populations through hunting regulations or removal of barriers to gene flow by establishing suitable and contiguous Mottled Duck habitat.
11:40 am – 12:00 pm Prioritizing Mottled Duck Habitat for Management Along the Western Gulf Coast
Prioritizing Mottled Duck Habitat for Management Along the Western Gulf Coast
Anastasia Krainyk, Texas A&M University-Kingsville; Bart L. Ballard, Texas A&M University-Kingsville; Michael G. Brasher, Ducks Unlimited, Inc., Gulf Coast Joint Venture, Barry C. Wilson, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Gulf Coast Joint Venture, Mark W. Parr, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Gulf Coast Joint Venture, Jena A. Moon, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

The mottled duck (Anas fulvigula) has declined throughout its range in the Western Gulf Coast (WGC) and is currently a species of concern among state and federal agencies. Loss and degradation of nesting and brood-rearing habitat have been identified as the most important threats to WGC mottled ducks. We used available biological information about nesting and brood-rearing requirements of mottled ducks to develop Decision Support System models that will aid managers in targeting areas for conservation and management. We developed three spatially explicit models that identify 1) currently suitable mottled duck nesting and brood-rearing habitat prioritized for protection, 2) areas in the landscape where grassland establishment will produce suitable nesting habitat, and 3) wetland basins that if managed appropriately will provide suitable brood-rearing habitat. We estimated over 1.2 million hectares of potentially suitable nesting habitat currently available for mottled ducks throughout the WGC. We also estimated that there are currently about 275,300 hectares of suitable brood rearing habitat throughout the WGC. Approximately 34% of the currently suitable nesting habitat and 45% of the currently suitable brood-rearing habitat is located in the Chenier Plain Initiative Area. These results reflect the importance of preserving habitats, like those found in the Chenier Plain, for mottled duck conservation. These spatial datasets will be used to inform conservation efforts for mottled ducks in the Western Gulf Coast.
1:00 pm – 1:20 pm Duckling Survival and Habitat Selection for Mottled Ducks on the Upper Texas Gulf Coast
Duckling Survival and Habitat Selection for Mottled Ducks on the Upper Texas Gulf Coast
Elizabeth A. Rigby, University of Minnesota; David A. Haukos, Kansas State University

Mottled Ducks on the Western Gulf Coast have experienced a population decline since the 1980s, prompting increased interest in estimating survival throughout the species' life cycle. Band recovery data have been used to estimate adult Mottled Duck survival, but the intensive field research needed to estimate duckling survival has thus far not been reported. We attached radio-transmitters to 59 Mottled Duck ducklings and tracked them during 3 breeding seasons, 2006-2008 on Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge of the upper Texas Gulf Coast. We estimated daily duckling survival using the Known Fates procedure of Program MARK. Daily duckling survival was S = 0.987 (SE = 0.0094), which is moderately high compared to other dabbling duck species. We also performed a compositional analysis of habitat selection by Mottled Duck broods at 2 scales using telemetry locations and a spatial vegetation inventory for the refuge. The vegetation inventory was classified using multi-spectral ortho-rectified digital 0.5-m imagery and field observations of vegetation types to train the model. Within the study area, broods selected home ranges with more water cover and less upland and fresh marsh cover. Within home ranges, broods selected locations with more water cover and less road and non-vegetated cover. These habitat findings are consistent with a selection for hemi-marsh conditions, where land is covered by vegetation and water in roughly equal proportions.
1:20 pm – 1:40 pm Movements of Mottled Ducks in the Texas Chenier Plain Region
Movements of Mottled Ducks in the Texas Chenier Plain Region
Jena Moon, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; David Haukos, U.S. Geological Survey; Warren Conway, Texas Tech University

As a surrogate species for Strategic Habitat Conservation, the mottled duck (Anas fulgivula) has been established as an indicator species to coastal marsh health and function. Currently, regional movements and response to habitat management are poorly understood. We assessed movements among years and biological time periods, as related to available habitat at landscape levels and quantify movements in association with disturbance. ArcGIS was employed to measure distances traveled weekly, where distances traveled were examined among years, months, biological time periods, seasons, and their interactions. Kernel density estimates (KDE; 50% and 95%) of home ranges were also estimated. Weekly distances traveled by mottled ducks are short relative to other waterfowl, < 5,000 m on average, but movement occurrence and distance were linked to biological season, where greatest distances moved were during the remigial molt period. Movements also varied among years, where greater travel distances occurred during drought conditions. Home ranges were small with (x = 1,516 ha; x= 6,566 ha ) for 50% and 95% KDEs, respectively. Because habitat conditions are often most limited during the molt biological period, there should be a renewed focus on making molt habitats available for mottled ducks in the Texas Chenier Plain Region. Decreasing biological expenditures during this period will likely improve overall survival rates and could improve production of mottled ducks the following spring.
1:40 pm – 2:00 pm Habitat Selection by Adult Female Mottled Ducks in the Texas Chenier Plain Region
Habitat Selection by Adult Female Mottled Ducks in the Texas Chenier Plain Region
Jena Moon, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; David Haukos, U.S. Geological Survey; Warren Conway, Texas Tech University; Sarah Lehnen, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Mottled duck (Anas fulvigula) habitat use varies among wetland types, land management practices and salinity regimes. Loss and degradation of mottled duck coastal habitats is considered to be the leading cause for mottled duck decline in the Chenier Plain Region. Urbanization, erosion, subsidence, agricultural conversion, saltwater intrusion, invasive plant establishment, alteration of disturbance regimes, sea level rise, and heavy metal accumulation have played a role in declines of mottled duck habitats We measured habitat selection by mottled ducks within the Texas Chenier Plain Region (TCPR) at local and landscape scales, using solar satellite PTT tagged female mottled ducks, from 2009-2011. We used the Argos system to collect data on date, time, latitude, longitude, and location class for each tagged female. Habitats considered locally available were limited to a 95% kernel density estimate for each individual, and landscape scale availability was merged home ranges for all individuals. Habitat selection analyses were completed using a generalized linear mixed modeling approach. Seasonal habitat selection varied based on average salinity and vegetative class within home ranges, with greatest sensitivity to salinity during breeding and brooding periods. Within season habitat use was extrapolated to identify potential high quality habitats based on local-scale selection patterns in the TCPR. Models indicate that habitat may be limiting during the molt period; thus, fresh and intermediate habitats should be strategically placed on the landscape. Also, habitat selection by mottled ducks is driven by different parameters at different spatial scales, thus managers should plan habitat manipulations and management actions accordingly.
2:20 pm – 2:40 pm Blood Lead Exposure Concentrations in Mottled Ducks (Anas fulvigula) on the Upper Texas Coast
Blood Lead Exposure Concentrations in Mottled Ducks (Anas fulvigula) on the Upper Texas Coast
Stephen K. McDowell, Stephen F. Austin State University, Warren C. Conway, Stephen F. Austin State University, David A. Haukos, U.S. Geological Survey, Jena A. Moon, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Christopher E. Comer, Stephen F. Austin State University, I-Kuai Hung, Stephen F. Austin State University

Mottled ducks (Anas fulvigula) are a non-migratory waterfowl species dependent upon coastal marsh systems, including those on the Texas Chenier Plain National Wildlife Refuge Complex (TCPNWRC), and considered a regional indicator species of marsh habitat quality. Research from the early 1970s, 1990s, and mid-2000s indicated that mottled ducks continued to exhibit elevated wing-bone lead (Pb), decades after implementation of non-toxic shot regulations. We collected 260 blood samples from summer (n = 124) and winter (n = 136) mottled ducks during 2010-2012 on the TCPNWRC. Lead levels ranged from below detection limits to >12,000 µg L-1, where >500 µg L-1 was associated with adverse health effects in waterfowl. Male mottled ducks had the greatest blood lead concentrations, with male blood lead concentrations being 30 times greater than females. Likewise, AHY blood lead concentrations were 5 times greater than juvenile blood lead concentrations. We identified four plausible models for blood Pb levels where the interaction among age*sex*season, year, site and between age*season were included in the top-ranked models. Blood lead concentrations were greatest during winter, increasing from 12% in summer to 55% in winter, indicating a window of exposure to environmental lead exists between the nesting and hunting season. Identifying sources of environmental lead may contribute to minimizing threats to mottled ducks throughout the upper Texas coast.
2:40 pm – 3:00 pm A Body Condition Index for Non-breeding Mottled Ducks on the Upper Texas Gulf Coast
A Body Condition Index for Non-breeding Mottled Ducks on the Upper Texas Gulf Coast
Brian Kearns, Kansas Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Kansas State University; Patrick Walther, Chenier Plain National Wildlife Refuge Complex, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; Warren Conway, Arthur Temple College of Forestry, Stephen F. Austin State University; David Haukos, U.S. Geological Survey, Kansas Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Kansas State University

Body condition, or an individual's ability to address metabolic needs, is an important measure of organismic health. For waterfowl, body condition provides a useful index for assessing energy usage during different life history periods and potentially a measure of response to disturbed ecosystems. The mottled duck (Anas fulvigula), a waterfowl species native to the Texas Gulf Coast, is relatively poorly studied in respect to these dynamics and presents a unique case because of its non-migratory life-history strategy that does not impose the same metabolic costs as in many closely related waterfowl species. Additionally, as a species in decline and of conservation concern, traditional methods of fat content estimation (a common proxy for body condition) that involve destructive sampling are less viable. The goal of this study was to produce a body condition index for mottled ducks using a small number of birds (n=25) donated at hunter check stations or collected by law enforcement efforts on the Texas Chenier Plain National Wildlife Refuge Complex from 2005-2007. Morphometric measurements were taken, and ether extraction was used to determine fat content. A hierarchical multiple regression modeling approach was used to determine the external morphometrics that best represented fat content in this species and provided a predictive equation that represents this relationship. The mottled duck condition model created here can be used to better monitor population status and health without destructively sampling individuals, an important criterion for species at risk.
Sunday, October 19, 2014
WILDLIFE SYMPOSIUM - Shorebird 
8:20 am – 8:40 am The Resilience of Sand: A Strategy to Maintain Vital Intertidal Shorebird Habitats on the Atlantic Coast
The Resilience of Sand: A Strategy to Maintain Vital Intertidal Shorebird Habitats on the Atlantic Coast
Brad Winn, Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences

This presentation will discuss how state and federal agencies can work cooperatively to maintain and restore the sediments that support threatened shorebird populations on the US Atlantic Coast while fulfilling obligations to navigation and commerce.
8:40 am – 9:00 am Evidence-based Framework for Protecting Beach-nesting Bird Habitat in the Wake of Severe Coastal Storms
Evidence-based Framework for Protecting Beach-nesting Bird Habitat in the Wake of Severe Coastal Storms
Brooke Maslo, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey; Todd Pover, Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey

Persistence of beach-nesting bird (BNB) populations along the US Atlantic Coast is inhibited by a lack of suitable habitat due to dense coastal development, significant human disturbance, and beach stabilization practices. Additive effects of coastal regulations, public perceptions, and lack of appropriate funds limit opportunities to restore coastal habitat. Severe storms have the potential to redirect BNB population trajectories through habitat creation or restoration; however, relaxation of coastal zone management regulations as part of human storm recovery efforts, as well as an overall political push for greater stabilization of the coast driven can quickly close the window of opportunity for protecting storm-created habitat. In the 2-year period following Hurricane Sandy, we combined long-term BNB nesting data with species distribution modeling and field surveys to: catalogue landscape-scale breeding habitat criteria for NJ?s piping plovers (Charadrius melodus), least terns (Sterna antillarum), black skimmers (Rynchops niger) and American oystercatchers (Haematopus palliatus); quantify storm-induced habitat changes; and evaluate the impact of anthropogenic recovery efforts on BNB occupancy. We are transforming project outputs into an evidence-based rapid response protocol to identify newly created or enhanced potential breeding areas in the wake of severe coastal storms, and we are constructing a framework to allow for more structured and informed decisions by municipalities, land managers, regulators, policy makers, and wildlife professionals on how to better balance storm protection and natural resource needs in our coastal zone. These protocols can be applied along much of the US Atlantic Coast to maximize coastal habitat management on a regional scale.
9:00 am – 9:20 am Challenges Faced by Least Terns on an Inhabited and Eroding Barrier Island in Louisiana
Challenges Faced by Least Terns on an Inhabited and Eroding Barrier Island in Louisiana
Erik I. Johnson, National Audubon Society; Nicole Norelli, National Audubon Society, American Bird Conservancy; Heather Fraser, National Audubon Society, American Bird Conservancy; Jed Pitre, American Bird Conservancy; Kacy Ray, American Bird Conservancy

Louisiana's only inhabited barrier island, Grand Isle, provides important habitat for beach-nesting birds. Between 2012 and 2014, we protected beachfront Least Tern (Sternula antillarum) colonies from human disturbance and our public education campaign complemented up to 2.5 miles of symbolic fencing placed around colonies where we measured nesting and fledging success. We checked nests and resighted chicks every 2-5 days, and in 2013 and 2014 chicks were color-banded to better estimate fledging success. We determined 251 nest fates across three years (as of 30 June 2014) and 29% hatched, resulting in a daily survival rate (DSR) of 0.923 (95% CI 0.912 to 0.934). Only 18 nests (8%) failed as a result of humans, and an additional 26 nests (10%) were abandoned although not necessarily due to human pressure. In contrast, 74 nests (29%) were depredated primarily by coyotes, and another 60 nests (24%) were washed out from high tides or heavy rains. These multiple threats created unpredictable temporal variation DSR, ranging between 0.819 and 0.982 from week to week and 0.895 to 0.952 from year to year. In 2012, 133 pairs fledged 20 chicks and 173 pairs fledged 38 chicks in 2013, and a smaller beachfront colony in 2014 (approximately 25 pairs) is showing similar fledging rates. As Grand Isle recovers from Hurricane Isaac in 2012, planted and naturally recolonizing dune vegetation is pushing colonies into locations difficult to manage, like interior saltpans and gravel lots, where flooding rains and human pressures have resulted in nearly complete breeding failure.
9:20 am – 9:40 am Habitat Selection of Wintering American Oystercatchers in Cedar Key, Florida
Habitat Selection of Wintering American Oystercatchers in Cedar Key, Florida
Janell Brush, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission; Amy Schwarzer, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission; Peter Frederick, University of Florida

The American Oystercatcher (Haematopus palliates) is listed as threatened in Florida. The Cedar Key region of Florida supports the second largest wintering concentration of the species. Recent studies have found that oyster reefs, a critical food source for oystercatchers, are disappearing. This decline has generated an interest in habitat restoration initiatives in the region. We determined that food resources were not currently a limiting factor for this wintering population. In addition, most foraging areas used by oystercatchers were located on inshore and nearshore reefs rather than the rapidly declining offshore reefs. High tide roosting habitat was more limited than foraging habitat and was located on offshore reefs. Roosts were farther from woody vegetation, larger in area, higher in elevation, and closer to nearest human structure compared to randomly selected bars. Many roosts are already threatened by overwash and erosion during the normal tidal cycle. Restoration efforts should focus on maintaining and improving the already existing high tide roosts as well as potentially constructing new roosting habitat.
9:40 am – 10:00 am Beaches Heavily Inhabited by Ghost Crabs and Dense Dune Vegetation Generates an Increase in Reproductive Failure for Snowy Plovers (Charadrius nivosus) in the Florida Panhandle
Beaches Heavily Inhabited by Ghost Crabs and Dense Dune Vegetation Generates an Increase in Reproductive Failure for Snowy Plovers (Charadrius nivosus) in the Florida Panhandle
Raya Pruner, Florida Park Service; Marvin Friel, Florida Park Service; Beth Wright, Florida Park Service; Tyler Brown, Florida Park Service; John Bente, Florida Park Service

Despite a growing body of ghost crab (Ocypode quadrata) studies and concerns of increased crab predation of shorebird nests, there is limited knowledge of crab population biology or of their impact on imperiled shorebirds as a reproductive threat. Our research combined experimental crab density manipulation with quantitative comparisons between burrow densities and snowy plover (Charadrius nivosus) reproduction and observations of crab-plover interactions. We monitored 317 nests and 196 plover chicks from 117 successful nests in Florida in 2011-2013. We monitored 42 nests with cameras to document crab-plover interactions. Plover nests assigned to treatment groups containing crab removal had a higher daily survival rate (DSR) and increased success with greater crab removal. Nest DSR was also influenced by manipulated crab activity, vegetative cover and site. Chick DSR was age dependent and influenced by site, manipulated crab activity, human density and vegetative cover. Crab capture-rate varied from 30-55% (328 captured) and was influenced by vegetative and shell cover. We measured 4734 burrows, observed a mean density of 0.084 m2 and documented burrows around 97% of nests. Burrow density was correlated with seasonal occurrence, shell and vegetative cover and waterbody type. We concluded that ghost crabs clearly impacted shorebird productivity, the threat of predation increased as burrow densities increased on nesting beaches and burrow density increased in association with dune vegetation encroachment and temperature. Direct removal or indirect (vegetation removal, shell placement, overwash, etc.) management of crab populations may be necessary when nest/chick loss is excessively high.
10:20 am – 10:40 am American Oystercatcher Reproductive Success in Texas
American Oystercatcher Reproductive Success in Texas
Lianne M. Koczur, Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute, Department of Animal and Wildlife Sciences, Texas A&M University-Kingsville; Alexandra E. Munters, Wildlife Ecology Program, Department of Biology, Texas State University; Susan A. Heath, Gulf Coast Bird Observatory; Bart M. Ballard, Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute, Department of Animal and Wildlife Sciences, Texas A&M University-Kingsville; M.Clay Green, Wildlife Ecology Program, Department of Biology, Texas State University; Stephen J. Dinsmore, Department of Natural Resource Ecology and Management, Iowa State University; Fidel Hernandez, Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute, Department of Animal and Wildlife Sciences, Texas A&M University-Kingsville

The American Oystercatcher (Haematopus palliatus) is listed as a Species of High Concern in the U.S. Shorebird Conservation Plan due to a small population size and threats during the annual cycle. Previous studies of the American Oystercatcher have focused on Atlantic Coast populations; however, little is known about the reproductive success of the western Gulf Coast population. The objective of this study was to determine nest and brood survival of American Oystercatchers in Texas. We monitored 337 nests and 121 broods on the Texas coast during 2011?2013. The top model for nest survival in Program MARK included a linear decline in survival across the nesting season and as nests aged. Survival also declined as island size and foraging habitat near the nest site increased. The probability of a nest surviving from mean initiation date to hatching was 0.384 (95% CI = 0.317, 0.451). The top model for brood survival included a linear decline across the season and an increase as broods aged. Brood survival also varied among years and coastal region. The probability of a brood surviving from mean hatch date to 35 days after hatch ranged from 0.397 (95% CI = 0.204, 0.578) in 2013 to 0.887 (95% CI = 0.673, 0.964) in 2011. This study provides extensive baseline data on the reproductive success of the American Oystercatcher along the western Gulf Coast.
10:40 am – 11:00 am Assessing Predator Control Techniques for Nesting American Oystercatcher
Assessing Predator Control Techniques for Nesting American Oystercatcher
Timothy Keyes, Georgia DNR; Scott Coleman, Little St Simons Island; Jenifer Hilburn, St Catherines Island & Altamaha Riverkeeper; Dr Robert Cooper, UGA; Kimberly Hayes, USFWS; Chuck Hayes, USFWS

Predation is the major cause of American Oystercatcher nest failure on much of the east coast. Extensive predator control efforts, while effective, are expensive and potentially non-sustainable long term. This predator control project set within an adaptive management framework that used active predator control and Oystercatcher productivity monitoring to attempt to develop decision support 'triggers' allowing managers to determine when predator density/frequency levels require predator control efforts. The immediate result will be increased Oystercatcher productivity on 60% of the Georgia coast. The long term benefit could help managers develop similar tools throughout the range of the American Oystercatcher to maximize efficiency of trapping efforts.
11:00 am – 11:20 am Incubation Sex Roles of Wilson's Plovers and Their Implications to Foraging Success
Incubation Sex Roles of Wilson's Plovers and Their Implications to Foraging Success
Lauren Deaner, Georgia Southern University; C. Ray Chandler, Georgia Southern University

Patterns of incubation may constrain how each sex meets the energy demands required to reproduce. Wilson's Plovers (Charadrius wilsonia) partition incubation by daylight with females incubating during the day and males at night. Thus, each sex has differential foraging opportunities that may lead to differences in habitat use and foraging success. Between April and June of 2012 and 2013 diurnal and nocturnal foraging observations of adult Wilson's Plovers in beach and marsh habitat types were conducted. Male plovers were more frequently observed foraging in both habitats during the day. All plovers foraging on the beach were more likely to use pecking rather than the typical plover "run-and-grab" foraging strategy. Pecking rates did not differ between males and females in either habitat. Within marsh habitats, where fiddler crabs are the primary prey, plovers use the "run-and-grab" method more frequently than pecking. Despite making more attempts to capture prey during daylight hours, males were less successful than females foraging at night. This suggests that incubation roles may limit foraging opportunities, especially of male plovers that primarily foraging during prime human recreational hours. If male plovers are disturbed frequently while foraging, they may neglect their incubation duties, leaving nests vulnerable to predators. While additional study may be needed to determine a direct link between foraging disturbance and possible nest neglect, this study suggests the possibility that male and female Wilson's Plovers may face differential risks while incubating and foraging. This, in turn, could have implications to adult sex ratios in local populations, as well as parental care lending support to protect not only nesting areas for beach nesting birds, but core foraging areas as well.
11:20 am – 11:40 am Development of Objectives Hierarchy to Guide Avian Monitoring in the Northern Gulf of Mexico
Development of Objectives Hierarchy to Guide Avian Monitoring in the Northern Gulf of Mexico
Randy Wilson, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; Mark Woodrey, Mississippi State University - Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve

Birds are a conspicuous and remarkable natural resource of the Gulf of Mexico. Hundreds of species and millions of individual birds are supported by barrier islands, beaches, marshes, nearshore and offshore waters and coastal forests. Although many avian monitoring projects have been implemented, scientist and conservationist lack a comprehensive and coordinated approach to monitoring avian resources across the northern Gulf of Mexico. To address this need, a small team of researchers, managers, coordinators, and administrators representing a subset of state and federal agencies, NGOs, universities, and partnerships across the northern Gulf of Mexico have been working to define a vision and process for developing the role of bird monitoring in achieving integrated, efficient, and effective Gulf of Mexico management and recovery. Utilizing a structured decision making process, the team has developed an objectives hierarchy that reflects the goals, objectives, values and informational needs for an integrated Gulf bird monitoring strategy. The team anticipates using this objectives hierarchy to: (1) facilitate communication per avian monitoring needs; (2) guide develop of a comprehensive, coordinated monitoring strategy; and (3) utilize the objectives and value models to develop a prioritization tool to assist funding agencies.
1:00 pm – 1:20 pm From Survival of the Fittest to Survival of the Most Valued - The Ecological Force of Caring
From Survival of the Fittest to Survival of the Most Valued - The Ecological Force of Caring
Naomi Avissar, FWC

In a time of competing conservation demands on limited resources, species with a vocal advocacy are likely to fare better than the obscure. A little over a decade ago, the conservation plight of Florida's seabirds and shorebirds was virtually unknown to the state's conservation community. As the conservation needs of these species was brought to light, it also became evident that with over 1200 miles of rapidly developing coastline, the needs of these species far exceeded any one organization's capacity to address them. Capitalizing on a growing interest in these species, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission developed the Florida Shorebird Alliance (FSA) to better monitor and protect these vulnerable species in the absence of adequate funding and staff. Through networking of information and resources, and providing technical guidance in the form of standardized tools and practices, the FSA is building a constituency of partners to champion these species' needs. We hope that this caring constituency will be as powerful as any ecological force in recovering these species. This largely non-regulatory conservation model has proved to be effective and is one that might be considered by other states facing similar conservation challenges and inadequate agency resources. The vision of a region-wide conservation network, encompassing multiple southeastern states, presents an exciting opportunity for SEAFWA members to contemplate. The presentation will introduce the FSA and how it works; outline why we believe it is a successful conservation strategy; and hopefully stimulate interstate dialogue on managing these species at the regional level.
1:20 pm – 1:40 pm From Awareness to Advocacy: Cultivating a Vocal Constituency on Behalf of Coastal Birds
From Awareness to Advocacy: Cultivating a Vocal Constituency on Behalf of Coastal Birds
Julie Wraithmell, Audbon Florida

Engaging citizen scientists in collecting data and protecting coastal birds is a means to achieving these management needs…but it can also be so much more. By involving the public in these activities, they become more educated about the needs of and threats to the birds, and invested in their survival. Policy challenges to these birds and their habitat often present decision makers with conflicting interests and user groups, between which they must choose. In Florida, we have found that these invested volunteers gain the expertise and mettle needed to advocate successfully for the birds when the need arises. This presentation will cover examples of successful advocacy by citizen scientists on behalf of coastal birds, lessons learned, and recommendations for broader cultivation of this kind of conservation leadership.
1:40 pm – 2:00 pm American Bird Conservancy's Gulf Beach-nesting Bird Conservation Program
American Bird Conservancy's Gulf Beach-nesting Bird Conservation Program
Kacy Ray, American Bird Conservancy

Human disturbance is one of the leading causes of reproductive failure for beach-nesting birds. American Bird Conservancy's Gulf Beach-nesting Bird Conservation Program was established in 2011 and since then has worked with over 30 local, state, and federal agencies and other non-profit organizations to implement some combination of protection, monitoring, and public outreach for beach-nesting birds at over 50 locations Gulf-wide. By implementing such measures we can: 1. gain baseline reproductive data about these birds to successfully and adaptively manage for them, 2. increase public awareness and influence behavioral changes to reduce human disturbance at critical nesting locations, and 3. build reproductive data sets that contribute to setting conservation goals for these species. We use standardized protocol to successfully protect and monitor nesting birds in Texas, Louisiana, and Alabama. We have also participated in these same efforts in Florida where protocol is well-established by partners. Through on-the-ground stewardship efforts and public awareness campaigns, managers can reduce human disturbance impacts on nesting birds. In Louisiana in 2013, we observed twice as many Least Tern breeding pairs (2012=133; 2013=250) and fledglings (2012= 15; 2013=38) as we did in 2012. In Texas, we asked recreationists if groups of birds on the beach or islands influenced their decision of how close to recreate to those islands; 39% were influenced in 2012 (n=189) and 74% in 2013 (n=184), a marked increase between years. Such results illustrate the importance of using multiple management approaches to reduce human disturbance and promote successful reproduction.
2:20 pm – 2:40 pm Red Knot: Federal Listing, Proposed Critical Habitat and the Implications of Both
Red Knot: Federal Listing, Proposed Critical Habitat and the Implications of Both
Patty Kelly, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

The red knot is a shorebird that makes one of the longest distance migrations known, breeding in the central Canadian Arctic and wintering primarily at the southern tip of South America in Chile and Argentina, with a critical spring stopover in the Delaware Bay of the United States. The red knot migrates along the U.S. Atlantic coast from Maine to Florida and along the Gulf coast during the spring and fall. Approximately 5,000 red knot winter in the southeastern United States, primarily from the Carolinas to Louisiana, and in Texas. Red knot populations at South American wintering grounds and the Delaware Bay stop over area have shown an overall decline since the mid-1980s, and a marked decline of almost 80 percent since 2000. These population declines are primarily thought to be the result of habitat loss, including shoreline development and beach erosion, reduced forage at key migratory stop-over areas, possibly human disturbance, and impacts of climate change in the Arctic breeding grounds and sea level rise at coastal habitats. We, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, have proposed the Red Knot for federal protection under the Endangered Species Act. Proposed critical habitat is or will be proposed at the time of this presentation. We will explain the implications of Federal protection and critical habitat designations as well as challenges in protecting species that cross international boundaries.
2:40 pm – 3:00 pm Headstarting American Oystercatchers in Cape Romain, South Carolina
Headstarting American Oystercatchers in Cape Romain, South Carolina
Samantha Collins, Clemson University; Felicia Sanders, South Carolina Department of Natural Resources; Patrick Jodice, U.S. Geological Survey Clemson University

The Cape Romain Region is located along the coast of South Carolina and supports over half of the breeding pairs (approximately 200 pairs) of American Oystercatchers (Haematopus palliatus) in the state. The majority of oystercatchers in SC nest on shell rakes and productivity in this habitat type is low due to predation and over-wash. We assessed the feasibility of using artificial incubation or headstarting as a means of reducing nest loss during incubation in an attempt to enhance reproductive success. The headstart program included collecting eggs from the nest during incubation; replacing collected eggs with artificial eggs; incubating collected eggs in an incubator; and releasing incubated chicks into the nest immediately after hatch and retrieving artificial eggs. We also examined attributes of behavior and attendance rates of oystercatchers during low-tide foraging periods during incubation and chick-rearing. The probability of a control nest surviving to hatching was 21% and for headstarted nests (73%). Yet control pairs produced 0.4 chicks/pair compared to pairs with headstarted nests (0.3 chicks/pair). Although headstarting did not affect parental behavior and may improve nest success during the incubation stage, it did not appear to ultimately enhance productivity within this region because of high rates of chick loss. Investigating ways to reduce chick mortality is the next step in successful management of oystercatchers at this study site.
3:00 pm – 3:20 pm Recovering the American Oystercatcher: A Conservation Success Story in Progress
Recovering the American Oystercatcher: A Conservation Success Story in Progress
Shiloh A. Schulte, Manomet; American Oystercatcher Working Group

A decade ago a comprehensive aerial survey of wintering American Oystercatchers in the United States found only 11,000 birds. Facing pervasive threats from habitat loss, introduced predators, and climate change, Oystercatcher populations were in decline. In response to this challenge, Manomet brought together partners in coastal conservation from Texas to Maine in a collaborative and ambitious effort to reverse the decline of this unique shorebird. The result has been nothing short of remarkable; five straight years of increased nest and chick survival, and a thriving partnership that continues to grow and share the common goal of restoring Oystercatcher populations. The Oystercatcher Working Group took the unusual step of creating a business plan with different conservation outcomes tied to specific funding levels. A new aerial survey in 2013 found a population increase instead of the expected decline, validating the success of our collaborative approach.
Sunday, October 19, 2014
WILDLIFE SYMPOSIUM - Human-Wildlife Conflict
1:00 pm – 1:20 pm Identifying the Next Wildlife Conflict Species – Observations from Florida’s Southwest Region
Identifying the Next Wildlife Conflict Species – Observations from Florida’s Southwest Region
Angeline Scotten, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

The FWC recognizes that human-wildlife conflict is of increasing concern for Floridians. Calls to the FWC with questions and concerns on a multitude of species have increased dramatically statewide over the past decade; so much so that the agency has dedicated staff in each regional office to triage these issues. While the agency has data reflecting the amount of complaints regarding species such as alligators and bears, complaints on other species are less well documented. However, recent trends suggest that other species are generating a fair amount of complaints across the state. With new data becoming available, can the FWC better predict the next conflict species and proactively engage with Floridians to prevent a particular wildlife conflict issue? This presentation will outline current ways the agency is addressing wildlife conflict complaints from messaging, data collection, law enforcement and engagement of stakeholders. It will also cover data trends, geography of complaints and species the agency is focused on from a wildlife conflict perspective. Because of Florida’s growing resident and visiting population and the variety of wildlife species that thrive in the state, trends from Florida could foreshadow future wildlife conflict issues in other southeastern states. This presentation will focus on the FWC’s SW Region, home to the Tampa Bay and Ft Myers metropolitan areas and the most densely populated county in the state.
1:20 pm – 1:40 pm Engagement of the Public in Nonnative Species Management
Engagement of the Public in Nonnative Species Management
Kelly Irick, Jenny Novak, Liz Barraco, and Kristen Penney Sommers, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

Invasive, nonnative species pose significant threats to Florida’s native species. To maximize available resources, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) enlists public participation to help address invasive species. Four innovative approaches will be highlighted: the Exotic Pet Amnesty Program, the Exotic Species Reporting Hotline, the Python Patrol Program and the Tegu Task Force. Prevention efforts to reduce the number of unwanted exotic pets released in Florida include hosting organized pet amnesty events and providing year-round pet adoption assistance through an 888-Ive-Got1 call hotline. This provides legal no-cost options for pet owners that can no longer care for their exotic pets. Volunteer exotic pet adopters are recruited across the state, and provide homes for pets surrendered to FWC. Early Detection and Rapid Response (EDRR) is another strategy for exotic species management; FWC actively solicits and encourages the public to report observations of nonnative species via the Exotic Species Hotline. A network of volunteers, some of which are trained through the Python Patrol Program, can respond quickly to calls when warranted. Python Patrol trains participants in south Florida how to identify, find, capture and report Burmese pythons, and is an EDRR effort to keep pythons from expanding their range. Similarly, trained volunteers form the Tegu Task Force, who assist homeowners in southwest Florida with removing tegus and assist with other tegu surveys in order to keep the population from spreading. By engaging an informed proactive public, FWC is creating management tools to reduce the threat and impact of nonnative species.
1:40 pm – 2:00 pm Using Public Incentives to Address Non-native Species Management: The 2013 Python Challenge
Using Public Incentives to Address Non-native Species Management: The 2013 Python Challenge
Kristen Penney Sommers, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission; Frank J. Mazzotti, University of Florida; Rebecca Harvey, University of Florida

Over the last ten years, the Burmese python (Python molorus bivittatus) invasion in the Florida Everglades ecosystem has received extensive national and international attention. Public safety concerns, ecological impacts and potential economic impacts have driven regulation of this species and other large constrictors at both the state and federal levels. In 2013, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission in partnership with the University of Florida and others held the 2013 Python ChallengeTM. This month long public event had five primary objectives: to raise awareness about exotic wildlife in Florida, remove pythons and collect data; increase public participation and reporting of python sightings, examine the effectiveness of using an incentive-based model as a tool for invasive wildlife management, and to determine the level of training needed for effective citizen scientist programs. The event was developed as a public python removal competition that included two categories of participants: a General Competition for the public at large, and a Python Permit Holder Competition for experienced snake hunters already permitted to remove pythons on state-managed lands. Prizes for longest snakes and most snakes were offered in both competition categories as incentives. All pythons removed were sent to the University of Florida for study. In addition, a human dimensions study on public attitudes and understanding of the python invasion was also conducted. In this presentation we discuss outcomes and implications of this incentive program and the role of the public in managing pythons.
2:20 pm – 2:40 pm Citizen Science: A Management Solution to Human-Wildlife Conflict
Citizen Science: A Management Solution to Human-Wildlife Conflict
Sharon Tatem, Jess Rodriguez, Necia Godzisz, Brendan O’Connor and Joe Murphy - Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Tallahassee, FL

Using the talents and experience of committed volunteers, citizen science programs can be our first line of defense for many conservation concerns. In 2008, Florida Fish and Wildlife (FWC) began to formalize a citizen science strategy and invested in professional volunteer coordinators that focus volunteer efforts on agency strategic issues. Bear Aware Canvassing and the Tegu Task Force are two citizen science programs that exemplify the benefits of investing in a professional volunteer coordinator to reduce human-wildlife conflict. The goals of these citizen science programs are to listen and empower the public to change behavior that may reduce emerging human-wildlife conflict. Both programs also share the success and challenge of volunteers as the messenger. The challenge is finding volunteers comfortable with speaking to the public as well as those that can engage portions of the public that are not receptive to the bear or tegu message. However, indicators of success for these programs are that volunteer turnover is low, volunteers have increased the canvassing reach, and coordinators have established lead volunteers that work independently or lead other volunteers. An indicator of success for the Tegu Task Force is also increased manpower for field research. The investment in professional volunteer coordinators has also allowed the agency to expand current programs, proactively use volunteers to engage youth and provide a viable response to immediate human-wildlife concerns. However, are volunteers, as our first line of defense to human-wildlife conflict, enabling us to increase the efficiency of our conservation efforts? Our volunteer team is currently working to develop an agency-wide survey to address this question, as well as project surveys to determine how the current data collected by volunteers is impacting both public and agency actions. The key to FWC’s citizen science success is an infrastructure designed to not only engage volunteers, but help each evolve in their natural resources knowledge, personal stewardship, financial or in-kind support for FWC’s mission, and advocacy for Florida’s wildlife and habitats. Furthermore, the key to success is that these citizen science programs can be modeled throughout the state as a response to other human wildlife challenges.
2:40 pm – 3:00 pm Effects of Educational Strategies on Black Bear-Human Conflicts in Black Mountain, NC
Effects of Educational Strategies on Black Bear-Human Conflicts in Black Mountain, NC
Tanya Poole, NC Wildlife Resources Commission

The purpose of this study was to answer the following research questions: (1) Are educational strategies effective in supporting people's intent to change their behavior resulting in a decreased availability of anthropogenic foods for black bears? (2) What types of educational strategies are most effective in supporting people's intent to change behavior regarding anthropogenic food availability? Public service announcements (PSAs), brochures, stickers, a presentation and a website were developed and piloted in Black Mountain, North Carolina. One hundred and fifty-seven randomly selected residents completed a survey about the educational strategies. Fifty-three percent of respondents were exposed to at least one educational strategy, and according to respondents, the most effective strategies were articles written in the newspaper and broadcasting PSAs on the television. The results were split on whether bears were a problem in the Town of Black Mountain: 54% of respondents strongly or somewhat agreed and 46% strongly or somewhat disagreed. A majority of residents (69%) were willing to use bear proof trash cans. The results of this study are intended to support governing bodies in understanding what types of strategies might be effective in dealing with the challenges of coexisting with black bears.
3:00 pm – 3:20 pm Bear Response Training for Partner Agencies in Florida
Bear Response Training for Partner Agencies in Florida
Mike Orlando and David Telesco, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

As the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) works to reduce human-bear conflicts, partner agencies often assist with responses to these conflicts. Partner agencies are most commonly local law enforcement, animal services, or parks and recreation staff and may be the first on scene during a bear incident. FWC offers Bear Response Trainings to first responders, in addition to internal FWC biologists and law enforcement personnel. The four hour training has classroom and field exercises. The classroom presentation covers bear biology, behavior, causes of conflicts, hazing techniques, and long-term solutions to prevent future conflicts The presentation and discussion affords first responders a clear understanding of why a bear is exhibiting certain behaviors, how to deal with the situation at hand, and the steps needed to prevent bears from returning. This training is usually the first time partner agencies are exposed to FWC’s internal bear policies which is an important part of working together on a response to human-bear conflicts. For example, FWC policy suggests a bear that has climbed a tree in town should be allowed to leave on its own and no attempt to capture it is necessary. This training gives examples of why following the FWC’s bear policies are the best way to deal with human-bear conflicts. The Bear Response Training’s field exercises demonstrate non-lethal methods to scare bears away from people. Participants shoot paintball guns, slingshots, inert bear spray, and less-than-lethal shotgun rounds at a wooden bear target to experience the full range of tools available to deal with human-bear conflicts. To date, FWC has trained over 1,500 officers, biologists, park managers, and security guards. The most common feedback received from the participants is that they felt more comfortable responding to human-bear conflicts because now they understood bears and the causes of the conflict. The Bear Response Trainings are offered at no cost to partner agencies by FWC’s Bear Management Program; the only requirements of the partner agency are to provide access to a class room, firing range, and at least 10 participants.
3:20 pm – 3:40 pm Increasing Availability of Bear-Resistant Trashcans in Florida
Increasing Availability of Bear-Resistant Trashcans in Florida
David Telesco and Mike Orlando, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) strives to reduce or eliminate conflicts between people and wildlife. With growing human and bear populations in Florida, human-bear conflicts are on the rise. The majority of the bear-related calls FWC receives refer to bears entering neighborhoods to access garbage and other human-provided foods. The FWC has therefore focused efforts on encouraging residents and businesses to secure trash and other items that attract bears into communities. Many options are available to keep bears from accessing garbage, including cost-free alternatives such as storing garbage in a secure location like a garage or sturdy shed. Since 2008, FWC has been actively involved with increasing the availability of bear-resistant trashcans in Florida. FWC has provided grant-based incentive funding for seven of the 10 Florida counties where residents are offered bear-resistant trashcans by their waste service providers. Waste service providers are offering three options to residents at this time: an extra monthly fee to lease the can, an outright purchase of the can with no extra monthly fee, and an outright purchase of the can with extra monthly fees to service the can. FWC has found that waste service companies are more likely to offer bear-resistant trashcans at a reduced rate when the local government they are operating in has universal service, and/or the contract with the local government extends for several years. Equipment limitations, cost, and a lack of requirments to keep trash secure have presented challenges to FWC’s efforts to increase the availability of bear-resistant trashcans. Some equipment limitations FWC has experienced include adapting to fully-automated waste service systems and restrictions on can sizes and styles. Cost seems to be a factor in how much bear-resistant trashcans are use. There is a wide range of monthly lease fees ($5 to $15/month) and purchase prices ($180 to $200/can) that are at or close to retail cost. FWC has had difficulty being able to assist local governments effectively to try and mitigate cost through negotiations with their waste service providers. Only a few communities require their resdients to keep trash secured from wildlife. Therefore, most people are voluntarily using the bear-resistant trashcans, which results in continued bear presence in the community to visit neighbors with unsecure trash.
3:40 pm – 4:00 pm Florida Panther: Conservation, Conflict, and Coexistence
Florida Panther: Conservation, Conflict, and Coexistence
Kipp Frohlich, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commisison

The Florida panther (Puma concolor coryi) is a sub-species of puma listed as endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Panthers are Florida’s official state animal and enjoy strong public support. Seven decades of conservation efforts has resulted in population increases and range expansion. Panther numbers have increased from about 30 individuals in the 1980s to 100-180 today and may be near carrying capacity in portions of their range. Human/panther conflicts have escalated on ranchlands and in residential areas in part due to the panther population increases but also due to an increasing human population with concomitant habitat loss. . Panther depredations of hobby livestock, pets and calves in commercial operations increased from 5.3/year during 2004-2009, to 20/year in 2010-2013. Panthers are being seen with increasing frequency in suburban and exurban areas, in close proximity to people, which raises significant public safety concerns. The “take” of panthers is regulated by the Endangered Species Act and currently would only be an option for individuals deemed a threat to people, not livestock. Managers have the difficult task of finding solutions to reduce panther conflicts yet at the same time, promoting efforts to achieve Federal recovery goals that require larger panther populations.
Monday, October 20, 2014
WILDLIFE TRACK 1
1:00 pm – 1:20 pm Predator Exclusion Decreases White-tailed Deer Vigilance While Foraging
Predator Exclusion Decreases White-tailed Deer Vigilance While Foraging 
Michael J. Cherry, University of Georgia; L. Mike Conner, Joseph W. Jones Ecological Research Center; Robert J. Warren, University of Georgia

Costs associated with antipredator behavior can have profound effects on prey populations. We investigated the effects of predation risk on white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus; hereafter deer) foraging behavior by manipulating predator distributions through exclusion. In 2003, at the Jones Ecological Research Center, in Georgia, USA, we identified eight, approximately 40-ha plots, and randomly selected four to receive a predator exclusion treatment, while remaining plots served as controls. We examined the seasonal and sex-specific effects of predator exclusion and group size on the behavioral state (i.e., feeding or vigilant) of foraging deer at baited camera traps during spring, summer, and winter of 2011-2012. We used generalized linear mixed models to test for differences in behavior of deer foraging inside predator exclosures and control plots, while examining for the effects of season and group size. Vigilance was lowest in the spring followed by summer and winter and decreased with group size. Predator exclusion decreased vigilance of males during winter (Z=2.23, P=0.017), when males were in post-rut conditions, and vigilance of females during the summer (Z=4.5, P<0.001), concurrent with fawning and lactation. In general males were more vigilant than females and demonstrated a stronger response to predator exclusion. We demonstrated experimentally that predators can influence deer foraging behavior. We propose that the effects of predators on deer in the southeastern USA transcend predation on neonates and juveniles, and influence foraging behavior at the population level. Ignoring predation risk effects will result in a dramatic underestimation of the influence of coyotes on deer populations.
1:20 pm – 1:40 pm Is it Time to Consider Predator Exclusion as a Management Option for Increasing White-tailed Deer Recruitment?
Is it Time to Consider Predator Exclusion as a Management Option for Increasing White-tailed Deer Recruitment?
L. Mike Conner, Joseph W. Jones Ecological Research Cener; Michael J. Cherry, Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, University of Georgia; Brandon T. Rutledge, Joseph W. Jones Ecological Research Center; Charles H. Killmaster, Georgia Dept. Natural Resources, Wildlife Resources Division; Gail Morris, Joseph W. Jones Ecological Research Center; Lora L. Smith, Joseph W. Jones Ecological Research Center

Lethal control of coyotes (Canis latrans) may increase white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) recruitment, but lethal control can be difficult to implement and may be ineffective on small parcels of land. In 2003, we constructed 4, approximately 40 ha mesopredator exclosures to quantify the influence of mesopredators on select wildlife populations. We performed simulation analyses using parameter estimates obtained from white-tailed deer monitoring data collected following exclosure construction (2003 ? 2013) to estimate impact of predator exclosures on fawn recruitment assuming a 1600 ha study area (i.e., 10% of area has exclosures). After 5000 iterations, we estimated that predator exclosures provided an additional 23 ? 16 (mean ? SD) fawns/year above that expected without exclosures. Construction costs for exclosures were $20,026.00 ($25,892.00 when corrected for inflation). Annual maintenance costs were estimated at $5,878 in 2014 dollars and were similar to the estimated cost of a lethal control effort ($5,000 to trap 1600 ha for 3 weeks). Predator exclusion may be a cost effective mechanism for increasing fawn recruitment where fawns are heavily impacted by predation. Furthermore, predator exclosures may be the only viable option for reducing fawn predation rates on small parcels of land. Finally, fear associated with predation risk can significantly impact prey population dynamics, and predator exclusion also appears capable of mitigating these impacts. Additional research that incorporates variation in exclosure size and deer density is needed to better evaluate management efficacy of predator exclosures for creating fawn refugia.
1:40 pm – 2:00 pm Seasonal and Spatial Variation in Diets of Coyotes in Central Georgia
Seasonal and Spatial Variation in Diets of Coyotes in Central Georgia
James D. Kelly, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission; William D. Gulsby, University of Georgia; Charlie H. Killmaster, Georgia Department of Natural Resources; John W. Bowers, Georgia Department of Natural Resources; Karl V. Miller, University of Georgia

We used scat analysis to evaluate the foraging ecology and potential impacts of coyotes (Canis latrans) on white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) populations on two areas in central Georgia. From March 2010 - February 2011, we analyzed 146 and 207 coyote scats on Cedar Creek (CC) and B.F. Grant (BFG) Wildlife Management Areas, respectively. Although separated by only 8 km, habitat composition and therefore prey availability differed between sites. Early successional habitat was more common on BFG (28% of area vs 7% on CC), and therefore small mammal prey likely were more abundant. Similarly, estimated deer densities on BFG were approximately twice that of CC. Commonly occurring food items in scats on both areas included persimmon (Diospyros virginianus), muscadines (Vitis spp.), deer, Hispid cotton rats (Sigmodon hispidus), rabbits (Sylvilagus spp.), and insects. From July-October, soft mast was the most frequently occurring item on both sites. From January through October, small mammals appeared more frequently in scats collected on BFG except during the fawning season (May-June). During the fawning season, 61.5% and 26.7% of scats contained fawn remains on BFG and CC, respectively. Increased availability of fawns on BFG may have made them a more profitable prey choice than on CC, despite a greater availability of alternative prey on BFG. Management to increase the availability of small mammals as alternative prey for coyotes may not impact coyote depredation of white-tailed deer fawns.
2:00 pm – 2:20 pm Coyote and Bobcat Predation on White-tailed deer Fawns in a Longleaf Pine Ecosystem in Southwestern Georgia
Coyote and Bobcat Predation on White-tailed deer Fawns in a Longleaf Pine Ecosystem in Southwestern Georgia
Melinda A. Nelson, Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, University of Georgia; Michael J. Cherry, Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, University of Georgia; M. Brent Howze, Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife Resources Division; Robert J. Warren, Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, University of Georgia; L. Mike Conner, Joseph W. Jones Ecological Research Center

Managing white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) populations requires an understanding of fawn survival and cause-specific mortality. In the Southeast, coyotes (Canis latrans) and bobcats (Lynx rufus) can be considerable sources of fawn mortality and may limit some white-tailed deer populations. Therefore, we captured and radio-collared 47 fawns at the Joseph W. Jones Ecological Research Center in southwestern Georgia during 2007, 2008, 2011 and 2012 to quantify cause-specific mortality and survival. Fawn survival to 20 weeks of age (i.e., opening of firearms season) was 29.0%. Coyote predation accounted for 52.4% of all fawn mortalities and 68.7% of all fawn predation events, while bobcat predation accounted for only 9.5% of all mortalities. Research that was conducted concurrently on site quantified the percentage of coyote scats (in 2007 and 2008) and bobcat scats (in 2007 and 2008) that contained deer remains during the fawning season. Deer remains were detected in 41% of 167 coyote scats and 15% of 71 bobcat scats. These results suggest that in spite of forest management practices on our site providing abundant alternative food items and concealment cover, predation has profound effects on fawn survival in our system. Also similar to studies of this kind, our results suggest that in areas where bobcats and coyotes are sympatric, white-tailed deer are not a major component of bobcat diets. Finally, our study provides further evidence that coyote predation can be a substantial source of fawn mortality and may influence population dynamics of white-tailed deer in the southeastern U.S.
3:00 pm – 3:20 pm Using Online Mapping Applications to Survey Wildlife Populations: Florida Wild Turkey Distribution Map
Using Online Mapping Applications to Survey Wildlife Populations: Florida Wild Turkey Distribution Map
Ryan S. Butryn, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Fish and Wildlife Research Institute Center for Spatial Analysis; Danny Caudill, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Fish and Wildlife Research Institute Gamebird Research; Roger Shields, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Division of Hunting and Game Management

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Division of Hunting and Game Management creates a new wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) distribution map every 10-15 years to inform stakeholders where they can expect to encounter wild turkey throughout the State. Ideally, the map would also allow biologists to detect wild turkey range expansion or contraction. Previous versions of the distribution map were created by mailing paper maps to respondents who used colored pencils to indicate where they had knowledge of wild turkey occupancy and relative abundance. The returned maps were then digitized into a GIS where the distribution map was created. A more recent effort (2011) used online mapping technology to collect responses from biologists and land managers who had knowledge of wild turkey prevalence in their regions and properties. There were 310 respondents covering 52% of the State. Areas with no response received an estimation of turkey presence based on proximity to known areas of presence and available habitat. A field survey of seven large wildlife management areas located throughout the State conducted in winter of 2013 was used to provide validation of the online responses. The 2011 wild turkey mapping effort introduced an easily executable and repeatable survey that saved considerable time and personnel resources, and provided valuable insight into online mapping survey methodology. Online collection of wildlife sightings from both professionals and the public is becoming very common (especially in Florida) and it is important to understand the efficacy of these quick, affordable, and engaging data collection methods.
3:20 pm – 3:40 pm Space Use, Daily Movements, and Roosting Behavior of Male Wild Turkeys During Spring Hunting Seasons in Louisiana and Texas
Space Use, Daily Movements, and Roosting Behavior of Male Wild Turkeys During Spring Hunting Seasons in Louisiana and Texas 
John T. Gross, University of Georgia; Michael J. Chamberlain, University of Georgia

Because wild turkeys are an important game species and turkey hunter numbers are increasing, the need for better information on how they use their environment is critical. With the recent advent of micro-GPS technology suitable for use on wild turkeys, we are now able to collect data on a scale not previously possible. Therefore, we used micro-GPS units to detail the home range and core area sizes, daily movement distances, and roosting characteristics of male eastern (Meleagris gallopavo silvestris) and Rio Grande (M. g. intermedia) wild turkeys in Louisiana and Texas. Mean home range size was 383 ha in Louisiana and 270 ha in Texas and average daily distance traveled was 3725 m and 4608 m, respectively. The mean distance between consecutive roost sites was 803m in Louisiana and 211m in Texas.
3:40 pm – 4:00 pm Habitat Characteristics of Eastern Wild Turkey Nest and Ground-Roost Sites in 2 Longleaf Pine Forests
Habitat Characteristics of Eastern Wild Turkey Nest and Ground-Roost Sites in 2 Longleaf Pine Forests
Mary M. Streich, Andrew R. Little, Michael J. Chamberlain - Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, University of Georgia; L. Mike Conner, Joseph W. Jones Ecological Research Center; Robert J. Warren, Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, University of Georgia

Managing longleaf pine forests throughout the southeastern U.S. is an increasingly common practice as natural resource professionals recognize the importance of restoring these ecologically diverse ecosystems. Prescribed fire is an important tool used to restore longleaf pine ecosystems through control of hardwood encroachment and maintenance of native groundcover. Nest site selection of eastern wild turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo silvestris) has not been well studied in longleaf pine systems, nor is ground-roost site selection by broods well understood in any forest type. Our objective was to determine habitat characteristics associated with nests and ground-roosts of female wild turkeys in 2 longleaf pine forests in southwestern Georgia. We radio-tagged 45 female turkeys and evaluated microhabitat and landscape-level habitat characteristics, and time-since-prescribed fire associated with 84 nests and 51 preflight ground-roosts during the 2011-2013 nesting seasons. Nests were farther from mature pine and mature pine-hardwood stands, and closer to shrub/scrub habitats than expected. Nests were also negatively associated with percent canopy closure, and positively associated with percent woody ground cover and vegetation height. Ground-roosts were closer to mature pine-hardwood stands and open water relative to random sites. These results suggest that management of longleaf pine forests should focus on maintaining open-canopied forests and mature pine-hardwood stands for nesting and brood-rearing cover. Frequent prescribed fire (? 2 years) should be used to maintain early successional habitat for wild turkey nest and ground-roost cover in longleaf pine forests.
4:00 pm – 4:20 pm Movements of Wild Turkey Hunters During Spring on Public Areas in Louisiana and South Carolina
Movements of Wild Turkey Hunters During Spring on Public Areas in Louisiana and South Carolina
John Gross, University of Georgia; Bradley Cohen, University of Georgia; Jacob White, Louisiana State University; Bret Collier, Louisiana State University; Michael J. Chamberlain, University of Georgia

As interest in turkey hunting continues to increase, it is necessary for state agencies to understand behavior of wild turkey hunters. We evaluated movements of wild turkey hunters using 2 public hunting areas in Louisiana and South Carolina. We provided hunters with hand-held GPS units that collected a location every minute, and used those locations to evaluate hunter movements. We collected 189 hunter movement tracks in South Carolina and 350 in Louisiana. We are currently completing analyses to describe distances traveled by hunters, how far hunters traveled from primary and secondary roads, and distances among hunters on particular hunting days. Our findings will inform agencies interested in understanding how turkey hunters use public hunting areas.
4:20 pm – 4:40 pm Predicting Effects of Harvest Strategies on Eastern Wild Turkey Populations
Predicting Effects of Harvest Strategies on Eastern Wild Turkey Populations
James B. Grand, U.S. Geological Survey, Auburn University, Alabama Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences; Amy L. Silvano, Auburn University, Alabama Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit; Steve Barnett, Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries

Eastern Wild Turkey (Melagris gallapavo silvestris) is arguably the most important game bird in many southern states in terms of economic value, hunter interest, and harvest. Because of the obvious importance of turkeys to Alabama hunters and perceived declines in population size and productivity, we developed a model for comparing the expected utility of harvest regulations and their predicted effects on the size and structure of Alabama turkey populations. Because little recently published information exists for the demographics of turkey populations in Alabama, we parameterized the model using survival and productivity rates from published research conducted in neighboring states and expert opinion. We also used expert opinion to estimate the effects of changes to seasons and bag limits on turkey productivity and survival. We calculated expected utility based on several different functions. Regardless of the current population structure, when we placed the most value on the number of gobblers in the population the greatest expected utility was attained by closing the spring season. When we placed the most value on the gobbler harvest the greatest utility was attained by retaining the current season and decreasing the bag limit. Going forward, we propose to develop a density-dependent population model, incorporate desired population levels in the utility function, and conduct applied research to reduce uncertainty around experts? estimates of regional survival and productivity of turkeys in Alabama.
Monday, October 20, 2014
WILDLIFE TRACK 2
1:00 pm – 1:20 pm Diet of Female Northern Pintails along the Texas Coast
Diet of Female Northern Pintails along the Texas Coast
Nathaniel R. Huck, Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute; Bart M. Ballard, Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute; Kevin Kraai, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department; Matt R. Kaminski, Ducks Unlimited

Northern pintails were historically one of the most common ducks in North America. However, currently pintails are 40% below the population goal set in the North American Waterfowl Management Plan. The Texas Coast consistently winters up to 78% of pintails in the central flyway, but habitats used by pintails in this region have declined due to changes in land use. A reduction in availability of wintering habitat has been shown to be correlated to decreased body condition, survival, and subsequent reproductive success of northern pintails. Our goal is to estimate the composition and energy content of the diet of female pintails foraging in freshwater and saltwater habitats along the Texas Coast. We collected 228 female pintails in our first two years of field work; 176 of which had diet items in the upper digestive tract. Shoalgrass (Halodule wrightii) and Bittium spp. were the most common foods found in diets of female pintails foraging in saltwater, whereas wetland plants seeds, particularly Polygonum spp. and Paspalum spp, were most common in diets of female pintails foraging in freshwater habitats. True metabolizable energy of an average gram of diet was significantly higher in diets of individuals from freshwater habitats than saltwater habitats. Understanding the relationships among habitat availability, energy availability, and pintail populations will be critical in our efforts to manage wintering northern pintail populations.
1:20 pm – 1:40 pm Diel Use of a Wildlife Management Area Amid Experimental Hunt Regimes by Radio-marked Female Mallards
Diel Use of a Wildlife Management Area Amid Experimental Hunt Regimes by Radio-marked Female Mallards
Joseph D. Lancaster, Mississippi State University; J. Brian Davis, Mississippi State University; Richard M Kaminski, Mississippi State University; Alan D. Afton, U.S.G.S Louisiana Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit; Edward J. Penny, Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks

Wildlife managers of public lands affording waterfowl hunting are expected to provide quality hunting opportunities while supporting biological needs of birds during winter. Understanding diurnal and nocturnal responses by mallards (Anas platyrhynchos) and other waterfowl amid hunting activities would help ascertain hunt regimes that best meet bird needs and hunter expectations. Accordingly, we examined diel use of a wildlife management area (WMA) in western Mississippi by 28 radio-marked female mallards when hunting season was closed and during hunting season when none, half, or all of the WMA was hunted during winters 2010-2012. The proportion of 24-hour daily periods that mallards occupied the WMA was best explained by an interaction of date within winter and winter itself (wi = 0.33). Presence-absence of females on the WMA was best explained by date plus an interaction of hour of day and extent to which the WMA was hunted (wi = 0.65). Females were 1.32 times more likely to be present on the WMA when half of it was hunted (0.094 ? 0.033 [SE]) than when the entire WMA was hunted (0.073 ? 0.026; P < 0.001). However, 85% confidence intervals of females? presence overlapped from 2000 to 0800 hours when either half or all of the WMA was hunted. Therefore, we concluded that females used the WMA nocturnally, perhaps to fulfill their biological needs, regardless of the extent of morning hunting on the area. If managers desire to increase hunting opportunity, they may consider allowing hunting on the entire WMA during morning hours.
1:40 pm – 2:00 pm Waste Rice and Natural Seed Abundances in Rice Fields of the Louisiana and Texas Coastal Prairies
Waste Rice and Natural Seed Abundances in Rice Fields of the Louisiana and Texas Coastal Prairies
Joseph R. Marty, Mississippi State University; J. Brian Davis, Mississippi State University; Richard M. Kaminski, Mississippi State University; Guiming Wang, Mississippi State University; Michael G. Brasher, Gulf Coast Joint Venture, Ducks Unlimited

Rice and natural seeds are important foods for waterfowl in rice growing regions, such as the Gulf Coast Prairies of Louisiana and Texas. We conducted a study from August-November 2010 and collected 2,250 soil cores in 50 farmed and 50 idle rice fields in the Louisiana Chenier Plain (LCP) and Texas Mid-Coast (TMC) to estimate biomass of waste rice and natural seeds. Estimates are necessary to assess carrying capacity for waterfowl in this region by the Gulf Coast Joint Venture. Waste rice abundance was greatest in LCP farmed fields that produced a second crop of rice (i.e., ratoon) and were not harvested in November (1,014.0 kg/ha; CV = 8.3%). Natural seed abundance was greatest in TMC fall disked idle rice fields in October (957.4 kg/ha; CV = 17.2%). Variation in rice and natural seed abundance in farmed and idled rice fields ranged from CV = 0.3- 97.9% in the LCP and TMC, perhaps attributable to the variety of farming practices encountered. We did not observe a significant decline in waste rice and natural seed abundance in farmed rice fields from August-November as demonstrated in the Mississippi Alluvial Valley (MAV). We estimated an additional 6,000 soil cores would need to be collected and analyzed to achieve our goal for precision (i.e., CV ? 15%) and be comparable with rice and natural seed estimates from MAV. Ratoon crops of rice may make additional seed available for waterfowl and other waterbirds and lessens effects of seed loss from decomposition, germination, and depredation.
2:00 pm – 2:20 pm Winter Habitat Selection and Functional Use of Dabbling Duck Communities in Western Tennessee
Winter Habitat Selection and Functional Use of Dabbling Duck Communities in Western Tennessee
Matthew D. McClanahan, The University of Tennessee Wetlands Program; Joshua M. Osborn, Illinois Natural History Survey-Bellrose Research Center; Matthew J. Gray, The University of Tennessee Wetlands Program; Heath M. Hagy, Illinois Natural History Survey-Bellrose Research Center

Western Tennessee is an important wintering region for waterfowl, but research is lacking on habitat use and selection. As regional wetlands decline, effective management must target key habitats, identify potential predictors of use and selection, and infer functional use of waterfowl. During winters 2011 and 2012, we measured and compared diurnal densities and activities of mallards (Anas platyrhynchos), northern pintails (Anas acuta), gadwall (Anas strepera), and green-winged teal (Anas carolinensis) among six common habitat types at the Duck River Unit of Tennessee National Wildlife Refuge and Cross Creeks National Wildlife Refuge in western Tennessee. Waterfowl densities were greatest in flooded corn and moist-soil wetlands; foraging was most frequently observed. In moist-soil wetlands, loafing was also common. Northern pintails commonly used moist-soil wetlands, and foraging was most frequently observed. Although densities were lower on shallowly flooded mudflats, these areas were important foraging sites for mallards, gadwall, and green-winged teal; loafing was also common. Forested backwater areas were also important foraging sites for green-winged teal and gadwall, especially where moist-soil vegetation was abundant. Gadwall were common in deeper areas with submersed aquatic vegetation, and behaviors other than foraging were frequently observed. Large areas of open water were avoided by waterfowl. Our results indicate that managers should provide a complex of natural wetlands and flooded corn to meet energetic requirements and life history needs of wintering waterfowl in western Tennessee. Future research needs to quantify the amount of habitat necessary to meet life cycle needs during winter given expected waterfowl densities.
3:00 pm – 3:20 pm Thermal Environment as a Constraint on Movement and Habitat Use of Northern Bobwhite (Colinus virginianus) Broods on the Western Periphery of Their Distribution
Thermal Environment as a Constraint on Movement and Habitat Use of Northern Bobwhite (Colinus virginianus) Broods on the Western Periphery of Their Distribution
J. Matthew Carroll , Department of Natural Resource Ecology and Management, Oklahoma State University; Craig A. Davis, Department of Natural Resource Ecology and Management, Oklahoma State University; Dwayne R. Elmore, Department of Natural Resource Ecology and Management, Oklahoma State University; Samuel D. Fuhlendorf, Department of Natural Resource Ecology and Management, Oklahoma State University

Northern bobwhite (Colinus virginianus; hereafter bobwhite) in western Oklahoma exist on the western and semiarid periphery of their distribution. During hot conditions, bobwhites in this region are near their physiological limits, and seek thermal refuges to mitigate thermal stress. We investigated bobwhite brood habitat use from a thermal perspective by measuring brood movement and site-specific operative temperatures across brood locations during summer 2013 at Packsaddle Wildlife Management Area in western Oklahoma. Bobwhite brood locations were collected at 2-hour intervals via radio telemetry from 0700-1900 (n=27 tracking days). Mean (?SE) brood movement was greatest from 1700-1900 (98.84 ?12.69 m) and 0700-0900 (86.16 ?12.96 m), and least from 1300-1500 (21.78 ?5.0 m). We found that brood locations exhibited thermal variability, and that a large portion brood locations reach and exceed detrimental and even potentially lethal temperatures during summer. Specifically, mean temperatures at the 0700, 0900, 1100, 1300, 1500, 1700, and 1900 brood locations exceeded the temperature considered to be lethal to bobwhites (47?C) for 39.50%, 40.50%, 27.74%, 2.50%, 0%, 10.12%, and 43.55% of the 12 hour sampling period, respectively. These results suggest that during midday and afternoon broods consistently selected sites that were cooler which allowed them to be subjected to less extreme temperatures for shorter durations relative to other locations selected throughout the day. Moreover, operative temperatures differed across brood locations (F=13.05, df= 6, p < 0.001) and operative temperatures at 1300 and 1500 locations were cooler than those from 0700, 0900, and 1900 locations. Additionally, we found that operative temperature differences were more than 5.67?C (95%CI: 3.02-8.33) hotter at points where broods were located at 1900 than those where broods were located at 1500 (p < 0.001). In 2014, we will continue to examine micro-climates at brood locations throughout daily periods. We will also quantify the distribution of potential thermal refugia across the landscape, relevant to management of thermal space for bobwhites.
3:20 pm – 3:40 pm Effects of Habitat Configuration and Composition on Grassland Bird Occupancy in the Upper East Gulf Coastal Plain
Effects of Habitat Configuration and Composition on Grassland Bird Occupancy in the Upper East Gulf Coastal Plain
Patrick Farrell, School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences, Auburn University; James B. Grand, U.S. Geological Survey, Alabama Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit; Conor P. McGowan, U.S. Geological Survey, Alabama Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit; Eric V. Lonsdorf, Department of Biology, Franklin and Marshall College

Grassland birds are among the most imperiled groups of avian species in North America and declining population trends have been observed in the Southeastern U.S. Important local and landscape scale habitat associations important for grassland birds in this region are unknown and these may be important issues for conserving these declining populations. We estimated the relationship between occupancy rates and land cover composition for several grassland bird species within the East Gulf Coastal Plain Joint Venture region using single-season and multi-season occupancy modeling in the Unmarked package within program R. We utilized roadside point count surveys at 104 sites in Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee. Agricultural patch size (ha2) had a positive effect on bobwhite (Colinus virginianus) occurrence. The extent of agricultural land cover (%) had a negative effect on bobwhite but a positive effect on eastern meadowlark (Sturnella magna) occurrence. Hay and pasture land cover extent (%) also showed positive effects for eastern meadowlark occurrence. The extent of agriculture, grasslands, hay, and pasture land covers (%) showed positive effects on dickcissel (Spiza americana) occurrence. Other early successional birds showed mixed relationships with habitat attributes. Our findings suggest that managing the landscape configuration and composition of agriculture, hay, pasture, and grassland land cover types can benefit grassland bird populations in the Southeastern U.S.
3:40 pm – 4:00 pm Parasitism, Paternity, and Brood Mixing in Two Sympatric Quail Species
Parasitism, Paternity, and Brood Mixing in Two Sympatric Quail Species
Jeremy P. Orange, Department of Natural Resource Ecology and Management, Oklahoma State University; Craig A. Davis, Department of Natural Resource Ecology and Management, Oklahoma State University; Ronald A. Van Den Bussche, Department of Zoology, Oklahoma State University; R. D. Elmore, Department of Natural Resource Ecology and Management, Oklahoma State University; Samuel D. Fuhlendorf, Department of Natural Resource Ecology and Management, Oklahoma State University; J. Matthew Carroll, Department of Natural Resource Ecology and Management, Oklahoma State University; Evan P. Tanner, Department of Natural Resource Ecology and Management, Oklahoma State University

Breeding behavior in quail is complex with individuals commonly engaging in three alternative reproductive behaviors: nest parasitism (NP), extra-pair paternity (EPP), and post-hatch brood mixing. Research investigating these alternative breeding behaviors may provide insight into mechanisms that can influence populations of two quail species: northern bobwhite (Colinus virginianus) and scaled quail (Callipepla squamata). The objective of this study is to determine the rates of occurrence of these alternative breeding behaviors and the environmental factors that may be influencing them. As part of a larger project, adults were monitored daily during nesting and brood rearing periods at two field sites in western Oklahoma to collect egg shells and feathers. Following hatching, we collected all hatched and unhatched eggshells. During capture of young chicks at 8-12 days (chicks) and 33-40 days old (youths) for a survival study, we collected contour and down feathers. All samples were genotyped at 10 species-specific microsatellite loci. During the first year of this study, we genotyped a total of 487 samples (147 scaled quail, 340 bobwhite) that included hatched and unhatched egg shells (n=341) from 26 nests, adult feathers (n=29), chick feathers (n=59), and youth feathers (n=58). Programs Colony and Coancestry were used to estimate parentage and relatedness. We will present the rates of occurrence of EPP and NP along with the intra-brood relatedness at these life stages (hatch, chick, and youth). Results from this study will provide meaningful insights into quail reproductive behavior that may assist managers in understanding population regulation of these two quail species on the edge of their distribution.
4:00 pm – 4:20 pm Impacts of Artificial Water Sources on Northern Bobwhite and Scaled Quail Habitat Use
Impacts of Artificial Water Sources on Northern Bobwhite and Scaled Quail Habitat Use
Evan Tanner, Department of Natural Resource Ecology and Management, Oklahoma State University; R. Dwayne Elmore, Department of Natural Resource Ecology and Management, Oklahoma State University

The necessity of surface water sources for wildlife species has long been a subject of debate, particularly when considering species that occur in semi-arid and arid environments. To better understand if northern bobwhite (Colinus virginianus) and scaled quail (Callipepla squamata) associate with artificial surface water sources, we conducted an analysis of radio-telemetry data collected at Beaver River WMA in the panhandle of Oklahoma. Radio-telemetry was conducted during the breeding (Apr 1 - Sep 30) and non-breeding (Oct 1 - Mar 31) seasons from 2012-2014. We used a continuous selection function to determine selection-avoidance behavior of northern bobwhite and scaled quail at adult and nest locations compared to random (n = 500) locations. During the breeding season, northern bobwhite selected for locations <750m in distance from surface water sources and scaled quail selected for locations <450m. During the non-breeding season, northern bobwhite selected for locations <750m from surface water sources while scaled quail selected for locations <350m. Northern bobwhite nest locations were closer to surface water sources (x ? = 673.42m, SE = 54.37m) compared to random locations (x ? = 879.81m, SE = 16.79m), where-as scaled quail nest locations (x ? = 1099.08m, SE = 221.83m) were not different from random locations. Our data suggests that artificial surface water sources may influence locations during both breeding and non-breeding seasons for northern bobwhite and scaled quail. Results may be confounded by distribution of surface water sources and vegetation cover associated with such water sources.
4:20 pm – 4:40 pm Northern Bobwhite Seasonal Habitat Selection on a Reclaimed Surface Mine in Western Kentucky
Northern Bobwhite Seasonal Habitat Selection on a Reclaimed Surface Mine in Western Kentucky
Ashley M. Unger, Department of Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries, University of Tennessee; Evan P. Tanner, Department of Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries, University of Tennessee; Craig A. Harper, Department of Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries, University of Tennessee; Patrick D. Keyser, Department of Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries, University of Tennessee; Frank T. Van Manen, Department of Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries, University of Tennessee; John J. Morgan, Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources

Reclaimed mines present 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 bobwhite. There have been no studies documenting how bobwhites use various vegetation types common to reclaimed mine land. Habitat use studies can provide information on selected vegetation types on these unique landscapes and help direct future management decisions. We radio-marked 841 bobwhite, October 2009 to September 2011 on Peabody Wildlife Management Area (PWMA), a 3,330 ha reclaimed mine in Kentucky, USA, to investigate how bobwhite used vegetation types and responded 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). Bobwhite used shrubs and firebreaks planted to winter wheat more than any other vegetation types during the breeding season (P < 0.05), and avoided dense, planted native warm-season grasses (NWSG) and WMA roads. During the non-breeding season, woody edge density was used more than would be expected at random, however the relationship was weak (parameter estimate ? 0.017). Our results suggest that despite plant composition that has traditionally been defined as undesirable, reclaimed lands can provide usable space for bobwhite populations. Reclaimed mine lands should be considered when designating focus areas for bobwhite management.
4:40 pm – 5:00 pm Ruffed Grouse Reproductive Ecology and Nesting Habitat in Western North Carolina
Ruffed Grouse Reproductive Ecology and Nesting Habitat in Western North Carolina
Benjamin C. Jones, Pennsylvania Game Commission; Jennifer L. Fettinger, Michigan Department of Natural Resources; Craig A. Harper, University of Tennessee, Dept. Forestry, Wildlife & Fisheries; David A. Buehler, University of Tennessee, Dept. Forestry, Wildlife & Fisheries

Relatively low fecundity may be responsible for lower Ruffed Grouse (Bonasa umbellus) populations in the southern Appalachians compared to those in more northern areas of the species' range. Nutritional stress imposed by poor-quality habitat and greater nest predation have been cited as negative influences on reproduction in the region. We studied ruffed grouse reproductive ecology in the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina1999-2004. Female grouse (n = 138) were radio-transmittered and monitored through the year. Nests (n = 44) were located to determine fate and habitat characteristics. Mayfield estimated nest survival was 0.83 (+ 0.084 SE) and the proportion of successful nests was 81%, among the greatest reported across ruffed grouse range. However, nesting rate (73%) was lower than many reports. Only 1 female (1/9) renested following an initial nest failure. Mean first nest clutch size of 10.1 eggs was within the range reported for the Appalachians, but less than that reported for the Great Lakes states. Females nested in various forest types, and microhabitat at nests did not differ from paired, random locations. Cover for nesting was not limiting. However, improvements in winter and early spring habitat quality could improve nutritional availability and physical condition of females prior to nesting, and potentially improve nesting rate.
Tuesday, October 21, 2014
WILDLIFE TRACK 3
1:00 pm – 1:20 pm Epizootiology of Pseudorabies Virus in the Florida Panther
Epizootiology of Pseudorabies Virus in the Florida Panther
Mark W. Cunningham, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission; Ken Conley, Wildlife Conservation Society; Daniel G. Mead, Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study; David Onorato, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission; Scott P. Terrell, Disney's Animal Kingdom; David S. Shindle, Conservancy of Southwest Florida; Samantha M. Wisely, Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, University of Florida; Deborah Jansen, National Park Service, Big Cypress National Preserve; Bambi C. Clemons, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission; Gretchen E. Caudill, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission; Roger K. Maes, Diagnostic Center for Population and Animal Heath; Matti Kiupel, Diagnostic Center for Population and Animal Heath

Feral swine (Sus scrofa) are an important prey species for the endangered Florida panther (Puma concolor coryi); however, swine also are the natural host for pseudorabies virus (PRV) which is rapidly fatal to panthers and other secondary hosts. Retrospective analyses of mortality data combined with testing of archived tissues collected at necropsy suggest PRV is a significant mortality factor for panthers. Based on preliminary data from virus isolation, quantitative polymerase chain reaction, immunohistochemistry, histology, clinical signs, and history we categorized mortalities as either Confirmed, Probable, Suspect, or Possible. Among 148 radio-collared panthers (> 1 yr of age) necropsied, PRV was the cause of mortality (Confirmed or Probable) in a minimum of seven (5%) and may have been responsible for as many as 20 (Suspect and Possible, 14%). The case-fatality rate appears to approach 100% as no serological evidence of prior exposure was seen in live-captured panthers. Geographic location was an important risk factor with seven of the eight (88%) Confirmed/Probable cases occurring in the northern and/or western portion of panther range – likely associated with higher feral swine densities. Management to decrease the risk of PRV may be directed at 1) protecting Florida pumas through vaccination and/or 2) decreasing prevalence and/or virus shedding in feral swine.
1:20 pm – 1:40 pm Development of Sodium Nitrite Baits for Control of Feral Pigs
Development of Sodium Nitrite Baits for Control of Feral Pigs
Justin A. Foster, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department; Kurt VerCauteren, USDA APHIS Wildlife Services National Wildlife Research Center; Donnie Frels, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department; Greg Phillips, USDA APHIS Wildlife Services National Wildlife Research Center; John Eisemann, USDA APHIS Wildlife Services National Wildlife Research Center

Toxicants offer promise for cost-effective lethal control of feral pigs. Although some pig toxicants are registered in Australia and New Zealand, there are no toxicants registered for legal use in the United States. Our team is developing and evaluating sodium nitrite and bait formulations for registry in the U.S. We are assessing and comparing acceptance and lethality of novel formulations in captive feral pigs. Each formulation is presented to 3 independent groups of 7 pigs which are acclimatized to captive settings with non-toxic placebo baits. Toxic versions are then substituted for placebo versions and offered to test groups. Mortality rates and quantity of bait consumed are averaged for each formulation and means are compared. Here we present a summary of our findings and plans for further development.
1:40 pm – 2:00 pm Resident Attitudes toward Wild Pigs: Georgia vs. Illinois
Resident Attitudes toward Wild Pigs: Georgia vs. Illinois
Erin E. Harper, Illinois Natural History Survey; Craig A. Miller, Illinois Natural History Survey; Michael T. Mengak, University of Georgia; Susan Bruno, University of Georgia

Wild pigs have an established population in Georgia and have recently populated nearly 25% of Illinois. Problems associated with these animals include transfer of infectious diseases to livestock and humans, habitat destruction, and property damage. To better understand landowner attitudes toward wild pigs and preferences for management approaches, we conducted a mail survey of 5,320 Illinois landowners who possess greater than one acre (0.4 ha) of land from the 23 counties in which feral hogs had previously been reported to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and an additional 22 counties connected to these counties through riparian zones. We received 3,061 (58%) usable questionnaires in the Illinois study. In addition, a mail survey of 1337 residents was conducted in southwest Georgia. We received 471 usable questionnaires from the Georgia surveys (39% response rate). Survey participants in both states were asked if wild pigs were present on their land and belief questions about wild pigs. Responses were analyzed using Chi-Square tests and a Potential for Conflict Index (PCI2) was calculated. Though no significant differences were found between states, high PCI values were found indicating a lack of consensus within each state. The majority of respondents, from both Illinois and Georgia, disagreed with positive statements about wild pigs and agreed with negative statements. Overall, Georgia and Illinois residents and landowners exhibited similar beliefs about wild pigs.
2:00 pm – 2:20 pm Integrated Wild Pig Control: Results from the EPD Pennahatchee Creek Project
Integrated Wild Pig Control: Results from the EPD Pennahatchee Creek Project
Rod Pinkston, JAGER PRO

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 wild pigs were the source of the pollutant. After one year of targeted monitoring, the source was tracked to an isolated area within the watershed. A private wildlife control company (JAGER PRO?) was hired to remove the total wild pig population within the 5,000+ acre target area by employing their Integrated Wild Pig Control? (IWPC) model. IWPC is a strategic approach using a series of innovative control methods and technologies implemented in a specific sequence based on seasonal food sources. Emphasis is placed on efficient removal of entire sounders at one time to eliminate escapes and education. The JAGER PRO? IWPC model was adapted to wild pigs from the Integrated Pest Management (IPM) model developed for termite, rat and cockroach eradication. This presentation will provide final detailed results (capture percentages, camera to kill ratios, etc) and video documentation of the intel gathering strategies and control sequences used to eliminate the total wild pig population within the target area. It will also cover four innovative methods and technologies known as an Ambush Trap, QRF Bait Hole?, Dumbing The Sounder? and a Fatal Funnel?.
3:00 pm – 3:20 pm Nutritional Quality of Forage Plants Important to White-tailed Deer in Louisiana
Nutritional Quality of Forage Plants Important to White-tailed Deer in Louisiana
Levi B. Horrell, Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, University of Georgia; Karl V. Miller, Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, University of Georgia; Michael J. Chamberlain, Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, University of Georgia

Land managers and researchers strive to understand factors influencing white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) populations and develop methods to improve habitat. Evaluating forage quality across variable habitat types could prove valuable to land managers interested in improving habitat quality. We placed 570 plant sampling exclosures across 9 primary habitat types in Louisiana during January-March of 2011. We collected plant samples representing consumable forage from each exclosure during summer 2011 and 2012. Each sample was dried and those with ?10 g of dry matter were analyzed for crude protein, total digestible nutrients, and trace minerals. We used these data to assess the quality of forage within each major habitat type across Louisiana. Nutritional content of forage species appeared to be negatively influenced by drought in 2011, and varied considerably across habitat types as well as within species. Protein content of some species in the same year ranged by several orders of magnitude across samples tested [e.g., common ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia) tested near 5% for 1 sample to as high as 16% for another]. The longleaf flatwoods habitats exhibited the poorest nutritional quality, whereas forage in the bottomland hardwood habitats generally had greater protein and mineral levels.
3:20 pm – 3:40 pm Estimating Age and Antler Traits of Photographed White-tailed Deer
Estimating Age and Antler Traits of Photographed White-tailed Deer
Jeremy J. Flinn, Mississippi State University; Stephen Demarais, Mississippi State University; Bronson K. Strickland, Mississippi State University; Kenneth L. Gee, The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation; Stephen L. Webb, Mississippi State University; Phillip D. Jones, University of Wisconsin-Madison; Harry A. Jacobson, Mississippi State University

Antler measurements are sometimes used to set harvest restrictions for deer (Odocoileus spp.) and to evaluate response to management. Remotely-triggered trail cameras have become popular research and management tools, but have not been used to estimate antler size or age of white-tailed deer (O. virginianus). We developed methods to estimate selected antler measurements and age of male deer ?1 year old from photographs. We developed predictive equations for individual antler measurements using photographs of mounted deer heads, and evaluated 5 anatomical features for potential use as a known-sized scaling reference in field photos. Mean estimation error for individual antler characteristics of free-ranging deer ranged from 6.7% for tine length to 19.3% for length of non-typical points. Mean estimation error for gross Boone and Crockett antler score from a single photograph was ?5.9%, and was improved by using multiple angles. To develop age-predicting models, we evaluated 64 morphometric ratios derived from photographed, captive, known-age males, retaining 12 ratios to develop multi-step models for pre- and post-breeding application. Accuracy of the multi-step models for assigning 1-, 2-, 3-, 4-, and ?5-year-old age classes during pre-breeding was 75%, 86%, 40%, 0%, and 71%, respectively, and 88%, 71%, 53%, 14%, and 85%, respectively, during post-breeding. Accuracy of many age group combinations may be sufficient for management application. Remotely-triggered cameras paired with antler- and age-estimating software could allow non-lethal collection of data from un-harvested deer with acceptable accuracy and less bias than hunter-harvested or visual observation samples.
3:40 pm – 4:00 pm Influence of a Quality Deer Management Program on Hunter Knowledge, Perceptions and Satisfaction
Influence of a Quality Deer Management Program on Hunter Knowledge, Perceptions and Satisfaction
Jordan S. Nanney, Department of Forestry, Wildlife, and Fisheries, University of Tennessee; Craig A. Harper, Department of Forestry, Wildlife, and Fisheries, University of Tennessee; Allan E. Houston, Department of Forestry, Wildlife, and Fisheries, University of Tennessee, Ames Plantation; Adam S. Willcox, Department of Forestry, Wildlife, and Fisheries, University of Tennessee

It is well accepted that habitat management, herd management, and herd monitoring are necessary to best manage for white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus). A fourth component that must be considered is hunter participation. Hunter knowledge, perceptions, and satisfaction influence the success of a deer management program, as hunters play a key role in meeting harvest objectives. We surveyed hunters involved in a Quality Deer Management (QDM) program at Ames Plantation in western Tennessee from 2005?2013 to determine how prior experience in a QDM program influenced hunter knowledge and perceptions of deer management. We divided our survey data into two groups to measure program influence: new members (137), who had not hunted or experienced any QDM outreach at Ames and experienced members (395) who had at least one year of hunting experience and exposure to QDM outreach materials. Experienced members were more confident (28%) in their knowledge of QDM than new members (17%). Both new and experienced members (> 97%) believed collecting biological, habitat, observation, and hunter satisfaction data were important for a successful QDM program. Experienced members showed more support (96%) for antlerless deer harvest than new members (91%). Experienced members (84%) were more inclined to think QDM could influence the rut compared to new members (69%). A larger proportion of experienced members thought prescribed burning (84%) as well as timber harvesting (77%) was beneficial for deer habitat, versus new members (74% fire, 74% timber). When asked which factor was most important to QDM success, 71% of experienced members indicated age, whereas new members were split between age (50%), nutrition (24%), and genetics (22%). Our survey results suggest educational programming and experience hunting in a deer management program can positively influence hunters? perceptions and increase their knowledge of deer and deer management.
4:00 pm – 4:20 pm Estimating Effects of White-tailed Deer Management Strategies on Hunter Satisfaction Using a Bayesian Belief Network
Estimating Effects of White-tailed Deer Management Strategies on Hunter Satisfaction Using a Bayesian Belief Network
Amy L. Silvano, School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences, Auburn University; Wayde C. Morse, School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences, Auburn University; James B. Grand, U.S. Geological Survey, Alabama Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit

State wildlife agency mandates commonly include an objective to improve or provide management of resources for the benefit of public users. However, management decisions are often made without a clear understanding of expected outcomes. In 2012 the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources initiated an effort to develop a transparent science-based framework for making annual decisions regarding white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) management based on analytical techniques. This effort was triggered by public dissatisfaction with harvests of buck and does. We developed a Bayesian belief network to examine the relationship between hunter satisfaction with overall hunting experience, the number and sex of deer observed while hunting, and harvest. We utilized data from a statewide hunter mail survey and machine learning to estimate these relationships and evaluate changes in overall satisfaction levels give changes in white-tailed deer population size, structure, and harvest. Our results indicate management strategies focused on improving both population density and structure would have a greater effect on the number of satisfied hunters than those focused on increasing harvest per hunter or density and structure alone. This model could be used to predict effects of potential management strategies on hunter satisfaction in an adaptive framework for making decision regarding white-tailed deer management in Alabama.
4:20 pm – 4:40 pm Using Deer-vehicle Collision Data to Map White-tailed Deer Breeding Activity in Georgia
Using Deer-vehicle Collision Data to Map White-tailed Deer Breeding Activity in Georgia
James H. Stickles, Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources; Charles S. Evans, Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources; David B. Stone, Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources; Karl V. Miller, Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources; Robert J. Warren, Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources; David A. Osborn, Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources; Charles H. Killmaster, Georgia Department of Natural Resources

The most commonly used method to determine the timing of the breeding season for white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) is to measure fetuses from deceased pregnant animals. However, this method is resource intensive and can only provide data over relatively limited geographic areas. Numerous studies have reported that deer vehicle collisions (DVCs) increase during the breeding season due to increased deer movements associated with breeding activity. Based on these observations, we obtained records of DVCs in Georgia from 2005-2012 (n=45,811) to determine when peaks in DVCs occurred for each county in Georgia. We compared the timing of DVC peaks with (1) conception data from a number of counties, (2) deer movement data from a sample of GPS-instrumented male and female deer, and (3) a popularized ?rut map? for the state that was based on Georgia Department of Natural Resources fetal data as well as hunter observations. We observed very strong associations among timing of peak conception, peak rut movement, and peak DVCs. At the regional level, there were strong similarities between peak DVCs and peak rut. At the county level, peak DVCs were in high concordance with the popular rut map. However, the county based map of DVCs appeared to provide greater local specificity. For assessing the timing of the breeding season at a county or regional scale, DVC data are more cost effective, more precise, and less susceptible to measurement biases compared to traditional methods employing fetal measurement. In addition, mapping the peak occurrences of DVCs can be used to warn motorists of increased risk associated with deer activity at the local level.
Tuesday, October 21, 2014
WILDLIFE TRACK 4
1:00 pm – 1:20 pm Using Public Participation Geographic Information Systems (PPGIS) as a Tool to Facilitate Wading Bird Conservation
Using Public Participation Geographic Information Systems (PPGIS) as a Tool to Facilitate Wading Bird Conservation
Cody Cox, University of Georgia; Wayde Morse, Auburn University; Christopher Anderson, Auburn University

Research has demonstrated that incorporating stakeholder participation in wildlife conservation planning can reduce conflict between stakeholders and managers and increase support for management decisions. Public Participation Geographic Information Systems (PPGIS) is a tool that allows participants to directly identify their preferences and opinions on natural resource topics by locating them on a map. However, little previous research has examined how PPGIS can be used to inform wildlife conservation. We mailed 988 surveys to randomly selected residents of Mobile and Baldwin counties, Alabama, which asked participants to place stickers on a map of the region identifying places that they think are important for wading bird conservation. The stickers were digitized as points in a GIS database. We performed a kernel density analysis to determine where the points clustered at significant densities, called hotspots, which represent areas with significant participant support for wading bird conservation. We overlaid the points and hotspots with a map of suitable wading bird habitat and found high participant spatial accuracy. Areas of hotspot and habitat overlap represent low hanging fruits for conservation. We assessed the land cover and wading bird species richness of the hotspots to determine whether participants underrepresented critical areas. This information can be used to develop outreach education programs designed to target stakeholder knowledge gaps. These analyses demonstrate that PPGIS is a valuable tool for informing education programs and for understanding and incorporating stakeholder wildlife conservation preferences, and allows direct comparisons with spatial biological data to produce conservation plans that account for public preferences.
1:20 pm – 1:40 pm Evaluation of Remote Camera Surveys to Estimate White-tailed Deer Population Density
Evaluation of Remote Camera Surveys to Estimate White-tailed Deer Population Density
Jared T. Beaver, Department of Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries, University of Tennessee; Craig A. Harper, Department of Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries, University of Tennessee; Lisa I. Muller, Department of Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries, University of Tennessee; P. Seth Basinger, Department of Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries, University of Tennessee; Matthew J. Goode , Department of Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries, University of Tennessee; Frank T. Van manen, U.S. Geological Survey, Southern Appalachian Research Branch, University of Tennessee

Population monitoring requires techniques that produce estimates with low bias and adequate precision. Use of infrared-triggered camera (hereafter; camera) surveys for white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus; deer) population density estimation is popular among land managers. However, current use of camera surveys does not provide detection probability critical for accurate density estimation. Also, it is believed that camera surveys provide a biased sample of the population. We conducted camera surveys for deer in Units 1 (1,385 ha) and 2 (1,488 ha) at Arnold Air Force Base, Tennessee, USA, August 2010. We used 1 camera per 53 and 62 ha in Units 1 and 2, respectively, and identified individual male deer based on antler criteria. We used spatially explicit capture-recapture (SECR) data with Program DENSITY to fit a spatial detection function (g0; probability of detection at a single detector at a distance from the center of the home range) and estimate antlered male density. Density estimates differed between camera surveys using traditional sampling techniques (abundance estimated based on recaptures of recognizable antlered males from camera images) and spatially explicit density estimation. Mean antlered male density estimates obtained via traditional sampling for Units 1 and 2 were 1.95 males/km2 and 2.56 males/km2, respectively. Density estimates based on SECR models were 1.63 males/km2 (SE = 0.33, g0 = 0.24) for Unit 1 and 2.53 males/km2 (SE = 0.56, g0 = 0.14) for Unit 2. Both estimation methods indicated lower deer density in Unit 1 versus 2. Using movement data from 3 deer fitted with Argos satellite GPS collars, we detected potential changes in behavior associated with baiting. Analysis of camera surveys using spatial modeling uses the data from the spatial distribution of cameras and does not require the assumption of equal detectability. Use of spatial modeling can provide estimates of male deer density and variability and enhance our understanding of potential biases associated with camera surveys for deer.
1:40 pm – 2:00 pm Development and Application of Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) for Natural Resources: Logistics, Legalities and Lessons Learned
Development and Application of Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) for Natural Resources: Logistics, Legalities and Lessons Learned
Raymond Carthy, U.S. Geological Survey- Florida Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit; Matthew Burgess, Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation- University of Florida; Peter Ifju, Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering- University of Florida; Benjamin Wilkinson, School of Forest Resources and Conservation- University of Florida; Franklin Percival, U.S. Geological Survey- Florida Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit

Small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS) and their associated imagery have become the focus of widespread application-based research, gaining momentum in anticipation of defined regulation by the Federal Aviation Administration. There are those who are clamoring to use this apparently attractive technology; there are those who are demanding to sell the technology. Between the two exists both a need for application research to assure that the results of the use of technology are scientifically valid and useful, and multiple levels of bureaucratic hurdles and popular misconceptions. Researchers at the University of Florida have explored UAS for ecological applications with an interdisciplinary team of wildlife ecologists, aerospace engineers, statisticians, and remote sensing specialists for the last 15 years. The University of Florida Unmanned Aircraft Systems Research Program (UFUASRP) has developed a small, electric powered, fully automous, amphibious, fixed-wing platform designed specifically for natural resources-based data collection. It was designed to autonomously collect high-resolution digital imagery up to 366 m above ground level. An onboard autopilot and ground control station allow for pre-planned flight path execution, as well as instantaneous remote control ability by a pilot or on-the-fly path modifications. The UFUASRP is now beginning to test practical natural resource applications with statistically valid data collection designs. This presentation will outline the evolution of the UFUASRP over the past 15 years, and describe how we are effectively dealing with major bureaucratic hurdles and perhaps not as effectively dealing with public misconceptions of small unmanned systems for non-militaristic uses.
2:00 pm – 2:20 pm An Automated Method for Reducing Manual Review Time of Camera Trap Photos in Wildlife Surveys
An Automated Method for Reducing Manual Review Time of Camera Trap Photos in Wildlife Surveys
Jennifer L. Price, Auburn University, School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences; Brian S. West, Auburn University, Ginn College of Engineering; Conor P. McGowan, Alabama Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Unit, US Geological Survey; Stephen S. Ditchkoff, Auburn University, School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences; Stanley J. Reeves, Auburn University, Ginn College of Engineering; Allison C. Keever, Auburn University, School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences; James B. Grand, Alabama Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Unit, US Geological Survey

The use of game cameras in collecting wildlife data has become increasingly popular in recent years and is an important tool for estimating deer abundance, sex ratio, and age ratio. With emerging repeated counts statistical analyses, time-lapse photographic monitoring of unmarked deer populations is gaining efficiency and statistical precision. Although the use of cameras in wildlife management is well established, technologies to cope with image processing have been much slower in development, despite their potential to drastically reduce man hours and cost required to review photos. We have developed software to sort time-lapse images and produce a directory of photos likely to contain deer. Some manual processing is needed to remove false positives and collect other relevant data (number of deer, sex, etc.), however compared to manual methods, this automated system drastically reduces manual processing time. While it takes a trained observer 8 hours to sort through 10,000 images searching for deer, our program can process the same number under an hour and leave a small fraction of photos for manual review. Our results show that the program significantly reduced data processing time and can reduce costs to deer managers. While this is only a first step in tapping the potential of technological capabilities, we anticipate that our system will lead to greater advances in game camera image processing software for wildlife professionals.
3:00 pm – 3:20 pm An The Florida Beaches Habitat Conservation Plan: A Collaborative Effort
The Florida Beaches Habitat Conservation Plan: A Collaborative Effort 
Jennifer L. McGee, Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission; Thomas E. Ostertag, Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission; Lisa Robertson, Florida Department of Environmental Protection; Brian Powell, United States Fish and Wildlife Service

Beaches are home to a wide variety of wildlife, including many species that are protected by the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA). They are also utilized by a large and growing population of seasonal and year-round residents, who place an increasing burden on coastal resources. Construction and other activities that may impact the beach-dune system typically require a Coastal Construction Control Line (CCCL) permit. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) endeavors to condition these permits to avoid harm to listed species, but unintentional (incidental) impacts may still occur. For this reason, FDEP is preparing a Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) in order to apply for an Incidental Take Permit (ITP) that will ensure full compliance with the ESA. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has been tasked with coordinating the development of this HCP. The purpose of the habitat conservation planning process associated with a permit is to ensure the impacts to protected species resulting from authorized activities are minimized and mitigated to the maximum extent practicable. The Florida Beaches HCP (FBHCP) integrates development and land use activities with conservation by providing a framework for the preservation and management of the states critically important but spatially limited natural resources. Its development is being funded by a Habitat Conservation Planning Assistance Grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), as provided under Section 6 of the ESA. This statewide beaches HCP is the first of its kind and covers approximately 825 miles of sandy beaches in Florida.
3:20 pm – 3:40 pm Using Multiple Species Models to Identify Priority Areas for Conservation and Management
Using Multiple Species Models to Identify Priority Areas for Conservation and Management
Mark Barrett, FWC; James Beerens, FWC; Jennifer Bock, FWC; Ryan Butryn, FWC; Robert Kawula, FWC; Beth Stys, FWC; Shannon Whaley, FWC

To help develop research and management strategies for rare and imperiled species, staff from Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) produced species distribution models for upland, freshwater and coastal areas across Florida. Models were created using various methods (e.g., maximum entropy, resource selection functions, random forest, etc.). Output from single species models were used in a GIS to create a composite map to identify areas where potential habitat overlapped among multiple species. Because species habitat occurred in different ecosystems, sub-basins (HUC 12) were used to accumulate potential habitat within FWC Management Regions across the state. Several metrics were calculated per HUC 12, including area of potential habitat, occurrence of number of species and general taxa, occurrence of species with limited ranges, percentage of public land, and habitat patch dynamics. Furthermore, threat assessments (e.g., percent urban, roads, impaired waters, etc.) were conducted within the sub-basins to identify potential impacts to species and their habitat. The sub-basins can be used at a statewide scale to identify priority areas for conservation efforts, management or research needs. Model layers can be explored at the parcel scale within the sub-basins to identify specific areas for these efforts. This work is ongoing as new species models are developed and accumulated.
3:40 pm - 4:00 pm Influence of Roller Chopping and Prescribed Burning on Insect Communities of Florida Pine Flatwoods
Influence of Roller Chopping and Prescribed Burning on Insect Communities of Florida Pine Flatwoods
Emma V. Wilcox, Department of Forestry, Wildlife, and Fisheries, University of Tennessee; William M. Giuliano, Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, University of Florida

Roller chopping and prescribed burning are treatments frequently applied to many southeastern rangeland systems, including Florida's pine flatwoods. These treatments can improve rangeland condition by reducing the cover of shrubs and promoting the growth of herbaceous species. However, they have the potential to affect numerous taxa, including insects, which provide important ecosystem services as pollinators and predators and serve as a food source for numerous rangeland-associated wildlife species. We compared insect familial richness and abundance at sampling sites randomly located within treated (e.g., dormant season burned) and untreated (control) areas. Generally, total insect abundance and richness in Florida flatwoods was lower following roller chopping and prescribed burning treatments, at least in the short-term. Dormant season roller chopping led to a prolonged decrease in total insect familial richness and abundance that lasted throughout the 2 years of this study, with Hemiptera particularly affected. Growing season roller chopping had little impact on total insect familial richness and abundance, although declines were observed in Blattodea abundance. However, responses were short-lived occurring the first year following treatment only. Dormant and growing season burning resulted in lower total insect familial richness and abundance. Reductions in abundance were more prolonged on growing season burn sites, lasting throughout the 2 years of the study. Particularly affected on dormant season burn sites were the Orthoptera, Hemiptera, and Hymenoptera and on growing season burn sites the Hemiptera. These findings may help managers tailor prescribed burning and roller-chopping activities to benefit desired insect orders.
4:00 pm – 4:20 pm Reaching Range-wide Consensus on Minimum Viable Population (MVP) Parameters for the Gopher Tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus)
Reaching Range-wide Consensus on Minimum Viable Population (MVP) Parameters for the Gopher Tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus)
Deborah Burr, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service published the 12-month finding for the gopher tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus) in July 2011 and found the species to be warranted for federal listing under the Endangered Species Act but precluded due to species of higher risk. The finding identified inconsistencies across the species? range in defining a viable population. To address this inconsistency, a group of experts met in March 2013 to define the parameters for a minimum viable population (MVP) for the gopher tortoise using the best available scientific information. The purpose of establishing MVP for gopher tortoises is to provide an acceptable threshold for conservation and recovery efforts. The group was tasked to reach consensus regarding the following objectives:
  1. Define a minimum viable gopher tortoise population size based on the best scientific information available.
  2. Identify the minimum reserve size needed to support a viable gopher tortoise population.
  3. Identify the number and distribution of viable gopher tortoise populations necessary to ensure the long-term viability of the species.
Consensus was reached on objectives 1 and 2 and participants agreed to a follow-up workshop to address the third objective. The report was published and significant feedback was received by Gopher Tortoise Council meeting participants in regard to smaller populations populations not meeting the minimum threshold as defined by the group. In March 2014, workshop participants convened and were tasked to address smaller populations and to reach consensus on objective 3. The presentation will discuss the findings of the workshops and group reports.
4:20 pm – 4:40 pm A Common Cause: Changes in Tessessee's Wild Hog Program Brings Solidarity from Diverse Partners
A Common Cause: Changes in Tessessee's Wild Hog Program Brings Solidarity from Diverse Partners
Chuck Yoest, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency; Gray Anderson,Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency

In 2010 the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) acknowledged the failure of harvest based management to control wild hog populations and the need to shift focus to a more aggressive statewide wild hog eradication program. Recognizing the problem was beyond the scope of the TWRA, organizations were invited to partner in the development of Tennessee?s future wild hog management. This nascent group focused on proven methods used in states with much smaller hog populations that were based on three tenants: 1) eliminating incentives to illegally transport and release wild hogs, 2) creating practical means of control for landowners, 3) and outreach. Implementing these methods led to great success with hog populations lowered or eliminated in areas across the state. These accomplishments would not be possible by any entity acting alone. Success is due to the partnership known as the Wild Hog Eradication Action Team (WHEAT) which grew from four original partners to the now 22 member organization that leads wild hog management in Tennessee. Including governmental, hunting, conservation, agricultural and health organizations, WHEAT brings great value to the eradication effort through the development of hog management regulations, collaborative outreach, and lobbying. Management of the WHEAT partnership is challenging. Establishing cohesiveness has taken years to accomplish, but has improved relationships between often contentious organizations. Amidst all success, WHEAT?s wild hog management continues to be challenged. A very vocal minority of the general public remains skeptical indicating WHEAT?s messaging is less than ideal. As a result, WHEAT is reevaluating communication efforts and working to develop more effective messaging. WHEAT?s collaborative approach to wild hog management is essential as it removes the burden from any one entity. Program success is due to the diversity of the partnership and its ability to guide effort, remove obstacles, and educate. Recent shifts in Tennessee?s wild hog management likely would have failed without the contributions of WHEAT. As a result, we recommend any agencies considering major shifts in wild hog management develop similar guiding partnerships.
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
WILDLIFE TRACK 5
8:00 am – 8:20 am Successful Reclamation of Kentucky Minelands Using Wildlife-friendly Mixes: Implications for Appalachian Pollinator and Wildlife Corridors
Successful Reclamation of Kentucky Minelands Using Wildlife-friendly Mixes: Implications for Appalachian Pollinator and Wildlife Corridors
Danna Baxley, Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources; John Yeiser, Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources; Ben Robinson, Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources; John Morgan, Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources; Jacob Stewart, Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources; Jim Barnard, Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources

Between 1992 and 2012, a projected 6.8% of the Southern Appalachian region was converted from forest habitat to surface coal mineland (US EPA 2005). Despite this period of growth, U.S. coal production in 2012 was more than 7% below the 2011 total, and current market projections for U.S. coal production have become uncertain (U.S. Department of Energy, 2014). With millions of acres coming out of coal production, opportunity exists to optimize reclamation of these areas to benefit wildlife and pollinator populations. Our primary study objective was to experimentally assess the efficacy of hydro seeding wildlife-friendly seed mixes to meet Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act (SMCRA) bond requirements for fish and wildlife habitat (80% vegetative cover) on Kentucky mine sites. To our knowledge, this is the first study aimed at bridging the scientific gap between subjective and quantitative management recommendations regarding grassland mineland reclamation efforts. We studied mineland re-vegetation success of three different seed mixes (typical, wildlife-friendly, and a hybrid mix) at 27 plots across three sampling sites located in Perry, Knot, and Breathitt Counties, Kentucky. Within five years of establishment, the wildlife-friendly seed mix successfully met SMCRA requirements (mean cover of wildlife-friendly plots = 86.07%, 95% CI [75.94, 96.20]). There is vast potential for implementing native grassland habitat on abandoned and reclaimed minelands in Appalachia. Habitat structure and heterogeneity are vital to maintaining healthy grassland bird and pollinator populations, and converting minelands to diverse, predominately native grasslands has potential to provide these populations with large areas of diverse habitat.
8:20 am – 8:40 am Efficiency of Three Post-emergent Herbicides in the Management of an Invasive Annual Grass, Microstegium vimineum
Efficiency of Three Post-emergent Herbicides in the Management of an Invasive Annual Grass, Microstegium vimineum
Jarred M Brooke, University of Tennessee; P Seth Basinger, Dream Lake Lodge; Jordan S Nanney, University of Tennessee; Craig A Harper, University of Tennessee

Effective japangrass (Microstegium vimineum) control methods are of interest to land managers in the southeast because invasions can suppress the colonization and regeneration of native vegetation, thus decreasing the quality of sites for wildlife food and cover. We evaluated the efficiency of herbicides with varying selectivity (glyphosate, imazapic, and clethodim) at full rates and half rates (based on labeled rates for annual grass control) on the control of japangrass and the effects on non-target vegetation. We conducted our experiment within 3 forested areas on a private property in East Tennessee. We measured species coverage using point transects before treatment, 60 days after treatment (60DAT), and 1 year after treatment (1YAT) to determine the effects on japangrass and non-target species. Japangrass coverage 60DAT was similar for all 6 treatments (0-8%), but differed from coverage in control plots (69%). The coverage of japangrass in all treatments was less than control plots, 1YAT (10-35% vs. 70%), however the recommended rates of glyphosate (2qt/ac) and imazapic (8oz/ac) were most effective in controlling japangrass 1YAT, 17% and 10%, respectively. All treatments reduced non-target vegetation 60DAT (10-15%) compared to control (40%), but non-target vegetation coverage within all treated plots 1YAT (24-62%) was similar to control plots (35%). Our results suggest glyphosate (2qt/ac) and imazapic (8oz/ac) are the most effective post emergent options to control japangrass within 1 year after treatment. However, multiple applications must be made across years to successfully control japangrass infestations. Further research is needed to investigate the long-term control of japangrass and the response of native plant communities.
8:40 am – 9:00 am A Management Approach to Creating Nocturnal Woodcock Habitat on the Wintering Grounds
A Management Approach to Creating Nocturnal Woodcock Habitat on the Wintering Grounds
Jeffrey P. Duguay, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries; J. Cody Haynes, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries; Kim M. Tolson, University of Louisiana at Monroe

Woodcock have experienced long term population declines (1968-2011). Nocturnal habitat availability on the wintering grounds is believed to be critically important to wintering woodcock survival. We examined Nocturnal habitat selection of American woodcock (Scolopax minor) on the wintering grounds in Louisiana using four popular land management techniques: bush hogging, burning, disking, and a bush hog/burn combination. From 2011 ? 2013, we captured 316 woodcock with an additional 350 woodcock flushed from within the study plots. For the 2011 ? 2012 field season woodcock demonstrated high affinity for the bush hog treatment (52.8% of all data points), with juvenile males showing significant preference for the bush hog treatment (P = 0.0059). Adult female woodcock showed differences in selection by treatment for 2012 ? 2013 (P = 0.0356) and flushed woodcock showed significant preference for the burn treatment (P = 0.0020). Woodcock selection of vegetative parameters within nocturnal habitats was most strongly represented by models containing the height of woody vegetation with the best model including the height of woody vegetation and percent of standing woody vegetation given the data and candidate models. In order to create nocturnal habitat for woodcock, land managers can bush hog at a height of 30 to 45 cm or burn to set back succession.
9:00 am - 9:20 am If You Build It, They Will Come: Restoring & Creating Wetlands for Amphibians
If You Build It, They Will Come: Restoring & Creating Wetlands for Amphibians
Jeff Hall, NC Wildlife Resources Commission; Jeff Humphries, NC Wildlife Resources Commission; Mike Sisson, NC Wildlife Resources Commission

The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission has been working on restoring and creating wetlands at several locations across the Sandhills and Coastal Plain. Wetland work has been primarily aimed at benefitting several amphibian species including the Carolina gopher frog, ornate chorus frog, tiger salamander, and Pine Barrens treefrog. Projects from Sandhills and Holly Shelter game lands, as well as Croatan National Forest will be discussed.
9:20 am - 9:40 am Florida's Cooperative Conservation Blueprint
Florida's Cooperative Conservation Blueprint
Brian Branciforte, FWC; Tom Hoctor, UF; Julie Morris, Wildlands Conservation

Current limitations on conservation funding for fee simple and easement acquisition at the state, federal and local levels have been a driver for pursuing alternative conservation funding. The Cooperative Conservation Blueprint is a multi-partner strategic conservation process developed by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC) and partners. The Blueprint is dedicated to the creation and use of voluntary and non-regulatory conservation incentives that can be applied to a comprehensive vision of wildlife habitat and connectivity priorities across Florida. The Blueprint Regional Pilot Project (Pilot) was instituted in 2010 to focus application of incentives-based conservation landscape planning in south central and southwest Florida. The homogeneity of the landscape, high level of on-going conservation activities in the region and large tracts of open and working lands made this geographic area particularly useful for on the ground application of the Blueprint process.
9:40 am - 10:00 am Hydroperiod in Isolated Ephemeral Sinkhole Ponds: Predictive Models under Climate Change Scenarios and Implications for Amphibians
Hydroperiod in Isolated Ephemeral Sinkhole Ponds: Predictive Models under Climate Change Scenarios and Implications for Amphibians
Cathryn H. Greenberg, USDA Forest Service, Southern Research Station; Scott Goodrick, USDA Forest Service, Southern Research Station; Bernard S. Parresol, USDA Forest Service, Southern Research Station (deceased); James D. Austin, Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, University of Florida; George W. Tanner, Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, University of Florida (retired)

Small, isolated, ephemeral wetlands are critical in sustaining biological diversity of ecosystems. Many amphibians require these fish-free depressions with intermittent hydroperiods for breeding, where eggs and larvae are subject to fewer predators. Because the hydrology of ephemeral wetlands is strongly affected by precipitation, they are sensitive to changes in weather patterns associated with climate change. Changes to hydroperiod frequency, timing, and length has important implications for amphibian reproduction, and affect species differently because breeding seasons and rates of larval development to metamorphosis vary among species. We used 17 years of weekly temperature, rainfall, and water depth measurements of eight small (0.1 to 0.4 ha) isolated sinkhole ponds in north-central Florida longleaf pine-wiregrass sandhills, to develop predictive models of pond depth and hydroperiod. We then applied our models to forecast weekly pond depths (2012-2060) based on downscaled climate data for our study area using an ENSEMBLE General Circulation Model (GCM) forced by each of three climate change scenarios (A2, B1, and A1B), based on different assumptions about greenhouse gas emissions and population growth. We also compared hydroperiod characteristics forecasted by our models using three GCMs (ENSEMBLE, CSIROmk35, and MIROC32) forced by a single scenario (A1B), to illustrate how different GCMs could potentially affect isolated pond hydrology. We examined how forecasted changes in frequency, timing, and duration of hydroperiods could potentially affect local populations and relative abundance of five common anuran species by altering reproductive success in relation to their respective life histories, breeding seasons, and rates of larval development.
10:20 am - 10:40 am Persistence of Large American Alligators (Alligator mississippiensis) in Harvested Populations
Persistence of Large American Alligators (Alligator mississippiensis) in Harvested Populations
Arnold Brunnell, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

Wild populations of American alligators (Alligator mississippiensis) have been harvested commercially and recreationally in Florida since 1988. Although these annual harvests were preceded by and modeled after experimental harvests on a limited number of lakes, much of the public remained skeptical about the ability of wild populations to sustain harvests over time. The presence of large alligators is of particular interest because of the aesthetic appeal of seeing a large predator in its natural environment. Population surveys are conducted annually and serve as an important tool for evaluating trends and managing harvest levels. Harvest levels are most commonly influenced by the status of the adult (≥ 1.8 m) segment of the population. Although large bull (≥ 2.7 m) alligators are a part of the adult segment, their trends are rarely used as a basis for management decisions. Given the slow growth rate and the tendency of hunters to target the largest alligators, the persistence of bull alligators in a hunted population might seem unlikely after more than 20 years of harvest. We assessed survey and harvest data to determine the presence of bull alligators in hunted populations and trends in the number that are harvested. We compare the occurrence of bull alligators in hunted and unhunted populations. Although declines have been detected on some areas, statewide trend assessment of bull alligators indicates that this segment is stable. Large alligators continue to be removed from hunted populations, but it appears that the bull segment has not been depleted on most areas. The perception expressed by some that all of the bull alligators have been harvested is likely a result of greater wariness by alligators during and for a period after the hunting season.
10:40 am - 11:00 am Toward an Integrated Population Model for Support of American Alligator Harvest Decision-making
Toward an Integrated Population Model for Support of American Alligator Harvest Decision-making
Tara Gancos Crawford, Georgia Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, University of Georgia; Clinton T. Moore, U.S. Geological Survey, Georgia Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, University of Georgia

American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) harvest management is a quintessential example of multi-objective wildlife conservation. State agencies responsible for setting annual hunting regulations are negotiating tradeoffs among different stakeholder interests, including consumptive and non-consumptive uses, nuisance control, and public safety. As interest in recreational hunting has increased following the alligator?s delisting from the Endangered Species Act, wildlife managers have struggled to set regulations that ensure this long-lived, slow-growing game species is sustained into the future. Among the challenges are the difficulty in monitoring due to the alligator?s semi-aquatic nature and the lack of a population dynamics framework on which to base harvest decisions. Our project examines harvest programs in the eastern portion of the species? range and explores how public alligator harvest programs can more effectively incorporate biology into decision making while respecting agency-specific objectives and regulatory policies. A critical component of an adaptive harvest management approach is the development of a population and harvest model, particularly one that can capitalize on existing isolated data sources regarding survival, reproduction, and response to harvest. We demonstrate use of an integrated population model for a studied wetland to bring these pieces of information together with annual monitoring surveys. The model provides inference on underlying demographic parameters and survey characteristics, such as detection probability. Future work will characterize the biological importance and variability in these parameters with respect to key habitat types for broader regional applicability.
11:00 am - 11:20 am Implications of Coyote Spatial Dispersion for Depredation Rates on White-tailed Deer Fawns
Implications of Coyote Spatial Dispersion for Depredation Rates on White-tailed Deer Fawns
John E. Hickman, Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources; William D. Gulsby, Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources; Charlie H. Killmaster, Georgia Wildlife Resources Division; John W. Bowers, Georgia Wildlife Resources Division; Michael J. Chamberlain, Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources; Michael E. Byrne, Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources; Karl V. Miller, Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources

Coyote (Canis latrans) depredation rates on white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) fawns are variable across the southeastern United States, perhaps due to varying dispersion of coyotes as related to social behavior and habitat preferences. To evaluate fawn predation risk related to coyote distribution, we studied home range patterns and habitat use of 15 female coyotes during the 2012 and 2013 fawning periods. Seasonal home range sizes were highly variable but generally followed 2 patterns. Small home range coyotes (SHR; likely breeding females) had a mean home range size of 7.4 km2 (range = 3.0-11.8 km2), whereas large home range coyotes (LHR; transients) had a mean home range size of 47.1 km2 (range = 22.8-73.1 km2). We measured consistency of space use as a gauge for predation risk by examining revisitation rates of core areas, and quantified movements by calculating residence time along paths. Coyotes avoided pine habitats within core use areas, avoided developed areas during the day, and selected open areas at night. Diel movements of SHR and LHR coyotes did not differ. SHR coyotes had greater core area revisitation rates than LHR coyotes. Residence time estimates suggested considerable variation in patterns of patch residence. Because of greater intensity of use, SHR females may have disproportionate impacts on fawn survival within their respective home ranges. Future research addressing interactions between coyote and fawns should focus on indices of coyote use rather than abundance in an area.
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
WILDLIFE TRACK 6
8:00 am – 8:20 am Data from a Rapid Inventory of Bats Provides Insight for Forest Habitat Management
Data from a Rapid Inventory of Bats Provides Insight for Forest Habitat Management
Holly K. Ober, University of Florida; Sarah E. Friedl, University of Florida; Melissa P. Tucker, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

The need to understand habitat requirements for bats is becoming more urgent as new risks pose unprecedented challenges to these unique mammals. We undertook a brief, intensive survey to investigate bat habitat use in and around the Apalachicola National Forest during May 2012. Making use of volunteer labor provided by experienced biologists representing many agencies and organizations, we assessed 31 survey sites during 3 nights of mist netting, capturing 245 bats representing 8 species. Although data collected during such a brief period have limited power, trends suggest that vegetation characteristics at a small spatial scale surrounding capture sites (100m) were more influential to the occurrence of bat species than vegetation characteristics at a larger spatial scale (500m), and that the type of anthropogenic roost structure at the capture site was more influential than the type of water body present. Assessment of bat guano revealed that Hemiptera (true bugs) were the dominant order of invertebrates consumed by bats; bats grouped into two categories based on secondary diet preferences for Lepidoptera (moths) or Coleoptera (beetles). Results suggest that land managers wanting to enhance habitat for bats should carefully plan management activities that influence water features in upland and disturbed habitats. Water crossing structures should incorporate design features consistent with known preferences of local bat species. Lastly, given the wealth of data that can be obtained through these brief events that utilize expert volunteers, we recommend repeating efforts such as this to efficiently assess changes in habitat use and diet over time.
8:20 am – 8:40 am Importance of Limiting Vehicle Access on Wildlife Management Areas in Middle Georgia for Black Bear Management
Importance of Limiting Vehicle Access on Wildlife Management Areas in Middle Georgia for Black Bear Management
Bobby T. Bond, Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife Resources Division; Gregory D. Balkcom, Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife Resources Division

In Georgia, there are three geographically separated black bear (Ursus americanus) populations (North, Middle and South). The middle population is the smallest and most isolated. Recent land purchases were made in part to conserve habitat for this population of bears. Our objectives were to determine: 1) Does bear use of WMAs change when the area is open or closed to hunting (i.e., small game, deer and turkey hunting)? and 2) Do bears? visitation rates to bear bait stations differ if roads are open to vehicular traffic? Both male and female bears used WMAs more during closed periods (males = 56.8% and females = 76.4%) than during open periods (males = 31.0% and females = 66.5%). Visitation rates to bear bait stations differed between closed roads (53.8%) versus open roads (23.2%). From our research and reviewing the literature, it is important that agencies managing public lands for black bears to consider temporal and/or spatial regulation of human access to such areas, or parts thereof. We recommend more research be designed and conducted to evaluate the use of spatial and/or temporal regulation of access on public lands to determine the proper balance between human access for recreational use and management for black bears.
8:40 am – 9:00 am Reintroduction of the Endangered Perdido Key Beach Mouse Using Captive-born Individuals
Reintroduction of the Endangered Perdido Key Beach Mouse Using Captive-born Individuals
Jeffery A. Gore, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission; Daniel U. Greene, University of Florida; James Austin, University of Florida

The Perdido Key beach mouse (Peromyscus polionotus trissyllepsis) occurs only in dune habitat on Perdido Key, along the Florida-Alabama border, and multiple translocations have been conducted to prevent its extinction. Captive mice have been maintained since 2004, but never used for reintroductions. In March 2010, we released 48 beach mice from 2 Florida zoos into twelve 2-m diameter pens constructed in vacant habitat at Gulf State Park. The pens provided cover and food, but mice could readily burrow out. We fitted 28 mice with radiocollars, established tracking stations, and trapped mice at 2-, 4-, 8-, 12-, 24-, 52-, and 110-weeks post-release. Fifteen collared mice were killed by red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) within 5 days and 2 others died in a collapsed burrow. Of 48 mice released, only 13 were known alive after 2 weeks, but at least 5 captive-born mice were pregnant 4 weeks after release and 5 wild-born mice were captured at 8 weeks. Despite the inauspicious start, we captured 73 mice at the site 1 year post release and 74 mice after 2 years, and the population persisted into 2014. The reintroduced population exhibited lower genetic diversity than wild populations, but that may be mitigated by immigration from wild populations. Wild mice are preferred for reintroductions, but wild populations of Perdido Key beach mice are often too small to serve as donors. This project showed that captive mice, even after multiple generations in zoos, can be used to re-establish populations in the wild if needed.
9:00 am – 9:20 am The Demography of Decline: Gleaning Vital Rates from the Florida Grasshopper Sparrow
The Demography of Decline: Gleaning Vital Rates from the Florida Grasshopper Sparrow
Erin Ragheb, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission; Karl Miller, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

The Florida grasshopper sparrow (Ammodramus savannarum floridanus) is a non-migratory subspecies endemic to dry prairie habitats of south-central Florida. It is critically endangered with fewer than 200 individuals remaining. In 2013, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) launched a research project to examine critical demographic and disease factors of the Three Lakes Wildlife Management Area (TLWMA) population. This presentation will highlight some of the project?s preliminary findings for adult survival, nest survival, recruitment, dispersal, habitat selection and disease prevalence. We will then discuss how these results are being incorporated into current dry prairie management and range-wide conservation initiatives.
9:20 am – 9:40 am Camera Trap Success Among Carnivores and Prey Animals in Tazewell County, Virginia
Camera Trap Success Among Carnivores and Prey Animals in Tazewell County, Virginia
James Vance, The University of Virginia's College at Wise; David Chambers, Longwood University

Obtaining basic ecological information on occurrence and activity levels in cryptic and elusive species is often difficult. Camera trapping provides a relatively inexpensive opportunity to acquire such data. We used infrared triggered cameras to assess trap success and activity levels of several species across four consecutive seasons, including: Ursus americanus (black bear), Lynx rufus (bobcat), Canis latrans (coyote), Vulpes vulpes (red fox), Urocyon cinereoargenteus (gray fox), Procyon lotor (raccoon), Odocoileus virginianus (white-tailed deer), Didelphis virginiana (opossum), Sciurus carolinensis (gray squirrel), and Meleagris gallopavo (wild turkey). With a total of 396 trap nights (TN) at one station over the span of four consecutive seasons, overall trap success rate was 86.87 captures per 100 TN. Trap success was highest in wild turkeys (31.57/100 TN), followed by raccoons (15.66/100 TN), gray squirrels (10.86/100 TN), gray foxes (8.59/100 TN), white-tailed deer (8.08/100 TN), opossums (5.56/100 TN), coyotes (1.52/100 TN), red foxes (1.26/100 TN), and bobcats (0.76/100 TN). Overall trap success significantly varied across all target species combined (Kruskal Wallis Chi-Square = 349, d.f. = 10, p < 0.0001). However, trap success did not vary across all seasons for all target species combined (Kruskal Wallis Chi-Square = 0.99, d.f. = 3, p = 0.78). This study is the first to use camera trapping to examine species presence and activity levels in a longitudinal manner for cryptic and elusive species of southwest Virginia.
9:40 am – 10:00 am Elk Habitat Suitability Map for North Carolina
Elk Habitat Suitability Map for North Carolina
Steven G. Williams, North Carolina State University; David T. Cobb, N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission; Jaime A. Collazo, USGS NC Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit

Although eastern elk (Cervus elaphus canadensis) were extirpated from the eastern United States in the 19th century, they were successfully reintroduced in the North Carolina portion of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in the early 2000?s. To evaluate opportunities to expand elk populations, the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC) has considered reintroducing the species in other locations in the State. As a first step in the planning and decision process, we created an elk habitat suitability map for the State. We used fine scale data sets and a two-stage approach to remove areas where elk-human conflicts were more likely, while retaining areas of ecological value to elk. Habitats in North Carolina were categorized as 41% unsuitable, 30% low suitability, 29% medium suitability, and <1% high suitability for elk. The coastal plain and Piedmont offered the best suitability ecologically, but prospective reintroduction sites were largely excluded from consideration due to extensive agricultural activities and pervasiveness of secondary roads in the regions. High value forest and open habitats are prevalent throughout the state, but its quality for elk was undermined by limited presence of successional scrub and shrub. We identified the top five sites with high potential for reintroduction. Our work underscored that any population expansion, be it in the mountains or piedmont, will lead to elk-human interactions. Our work provides a benchmark for decision makers to evaluate trade-offs and potential consequences associated with selection of prospective reintroduction sites.
10:20 am – 10:40 am Conservation Options for Species and Natural Communities Threatened by Sea-level Rise: An Analysis for Florida
Conservation Options for Species and Natural Communities Threatened by Sea-level Rise: An Analysis for Florida
Reece, Joshua S; Valdosta State University

We evaluated plant, vertebrate, and invertebrate species in Florida with coastal or near-coastal distributions, in terms of their vulnerability to sea-level rise and other stressors. We developed a novel assessment tool and applied it to >300 species and infraspecific taxa identified as being at risk of extinction or substantial reduction in population or distribution over the next century. For taxa for which sufficient information existed on distribution and life history, we evaluated potential options for adaptation and conservation in the face of sea-level rise and interacting threats. The taxa most vulnerable to sea-level rise and interacting threats in Florida are primarily range-restricted (endemic) taxa on islands, especially the Florida Keys, such as the Florida semaphore cactus, Miami blue butterfly, mangrove terrapin, and Key deer. For most island species, the only alternative to extinction is ex situ conservation. Many mainland coastal taxa, such as aboriginal prickly pear and loggerhead turtle are also highly vulnerable. For mainland taxa restricted to largely developed coastlines, conservation options include (1) protect and manage existing habitat for as long as possible; (2) protect projected future habitat landward of coastal development; and (3) provide assisted colonization to recipient habitat. The coastal regions with the greatest adaptation potential are those with the least human development. Additional conservation options for these regions include (4) protect and manage existing habitat corridors to projected future habitat; and (5) restore/create corridors to recipient habitat. Landward movement of natural communities, such as salt marshes and mangroves, should be facilitated where possible.
10:40 am – 11:00 am Entanglement in and Ingestion of Fishing Gear and other Anthropogenic Debris by Florida Manatees
Entanglement in and Ingestion of Fishing Gear and other Anthropogenic Debris by Florida Manatees
Thomas Reinert, Ann Spellman, and Brandon Bassett, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

The Florida manatee shares its habitat with a steadily increasing human population which often puts it in direct conflict with human-related hazards. Chief among these hazards is watercraft collision, but other direct threats include crushing in water control structures and interaction with fishing gear or other debris in the aquatic environment. Entanglement in and ingestion of various types of fishing gear and other marine debris has thus become a leading cause for manatee rescue. Manatee rescue and mortality records from 1993 through 2012 were examined for entanglements or ingestions involving anthropogenic objects. Over 1200 rescues were documented with approximately 25% attributed to entanglement or ingestion of foreign objects, making it the top reason for rescue. Fishing gear, primarily crab trap lines and monofilament fishing line, was a factor in over 75% of the cases. During the same period, over 6000 manatee mortalities were documented. Of these, around 10% showed either internal or external evidence of interaction with foreign objects. About two-thirds of the cases were related to commercial or recreational fisheries (gear attribution is not always definitive). Fifty-one manatees died as a direct result of entanglement or, most commonly, ingestion of foreign objects. Fishery-interactions accounted for nearly 70% of those mortalities. Additionally, female manatees appeared more likely to become entangled or ingest foreign objects than males. Although not a major contributor to overall mortality, entanglement is a common and ongoing occurrence, the impacts of which likely are mitigated by an intense and effective rescue program.
11:00 am – 11:20 am Current Assessment and Impacts of Argentine Black and White Tegus (Salvator merianae) in Florida
Current Assessment and Impacts of Argentine Black and White Tegus (Salvator merianae) in Florida
Jenny Ketterlin Eckles, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission; Liz A. Barraco, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission; Tessie Offner, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission; Joy Vinci, University of Florida; Frank M. Mazzotti, University of Florida

The Argentine black and white tegu, Salvator merianae, is a large-bodied teiid native to South America. In the past decade, two separate populations have become established in Hillsborough/Polk counties and Miami-Dade county, Florida. Tegus have shown adaptability to a variety of habitat types and are able to overwinter as far north as Panama City by taking refuge in underground burrows. Tegus occur primarily in wetland and ruderal habitats in the southeast population and upland and ruderal habitats in central Florida. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and its partners are removing and studying tegus from the two populations. Track surveys, standardized and opportunistic surveys, and wildlife cameras are being use to determine tegu presence. FWC has also made use of citizen reports to web- and phone-based exotic species reporting tools. Live animal traps were deployed to remove tegus and the reproductive status and stomach contents of captured tegus are being analyzed. In 2014 over 150 tegus were removed using live traps. Tegus are omnivorous and stomach content analyses from tegus collected in 2012 and 2013 revealed consumption of many native plant and animal taxa, including protected species. Radio telemetry is also being conducted to monitor female tegu activity and detect nests. Results of these efforts have shown that tegus are highly adaptable and that long-term, management will be needed to control the two established populations. Due to their tolerance of low temperatures, states with mild winter climates should be aware of their potential impacts. FWC and partners continue to improve on detection and control efforts as we work to understand the long term impacts of this new invader.
11:20 am – 11:40 am Mapping the Distribution of Wild Pigs in Alabama
Mapping the Distribution of Wild Pigs in Alabama
Mark D. Smith, Auburn University; James B. Armstrong, Auburn University

Wild pigs (Sus scrofa) are a non-native species causing >$1.5 billion/year in agricultural damage in the U.S. and >$55 million/year in crop and forest damage in Alabama. Effective management of wild pigs will require a determination of their distribution and relative abundance with characterization of the extent and breadth of damage. In 2001, we surveyed Alabama Cooperative Extension System agents and Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR) biologists to determine the distribution and relative abundance of wild pigs in Alabama. However, given the increase in wild pig damage complaints and anecdotal data since 2001, we conducted a 2013 statewide mail survey of ADCNR Law Enforcement Officers (LEO?s) to develop an updated wild pig distribution map. Additionally, we classified Alabama counties into three crop production categories of low (<1,000), medium (1,000-9,999), and high (>10,000) acreage planted in corn, soybeans, and peanuts, respectively, from the 2012 USDA National Agriculture Statistics Service database. Since 2007, ADCNR-LEOs received >6,000 wild pig complaints with 1,460 complaints in 2012 alone and issued 962 wild pig damage management permits in 2012. Wild pigs were present in 64 of 67 counties with 36 counties reporting increases in complaints since 2007. Currently wild pigs occupy 30% of Alabama, an increase from 9.5% in 2001. Pigs occupied 51.6% of high peanut production counties. Given this updated distribution, we can better characterize future growth and spread of wild pig populations throughout Alabama to more effectively target extension programs and control efforts to address damage issues.

Fisheries Technical Sessions

Please note: full abstracts will not be printed and are only available on this website. A detailed program agenda with presentation titles, authors, and scheduled times will be distributed onsite at the conference. 
{subject to change; as of 10/8/2014}  

Sunday, October 19, 2014
FISHERIES SYMPOSIUM - Components of Catch-and-Release Fisheries that Influence Management Actions
1:00 pm – 1:20 pm Fishing for Conservation
Fishing for Conservation
Rich Abrams and Katie Williams, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

Fishing pressure has an impact on fish targeted by saltwater anglers, but anglers can mitigate some of the negative impacts to give the fish the best chance for survival when released. Whether a fish is released because it is too small or by angler's choice, effective catch-and-release techniques allow anglers to directly participate in the management of Florida's marine fisheries. The most common causes of post-release mortality include physiological stress on the fish resulting from struggle during capture, injuries caused by the hook, long durations spent out of the water and handling of the fish by the angler. Current catch and release information including gear, handling techniques, and release methods will be presented by FWC staff. The presentation will also include the collaborative efforts used to promote this information consistently by throughout the state. Anglers actively engaged in the management of Florida's marine fisheries play a vital role in ensuring future generations will experience Florida's exceptional fishing opportunities.
1:20 pm – 1:40 pm Evaluating the Practicality of Fish Descending Gear in Florida: A Florida Sea Grant Outreach Project
Evaluating the Practicality of Fish Descending Gear in Florida: A Florida Sea Grant Outreach Project
Bryan Fluech, UF/IFAS Florida Sea Grant College Program;Betty Staugler, UF/IFAS Florida Sea Grant College Program; John Stevely, UF/IFAS Florida Sea Grant College Program; Holly Abeels, UF/IFAS Florida Sea Grant College Program; Joy Hazell, UF/IFAS Florida Sea Grant College Program; Brooke Saari, UF/IFAS Florida Sea Grant College Program; Dr. Lisa Krimsly, UF/IFAS Florida Sea Grant College Program; Dr. Charles Adams, UF/IFAS Florida Sea Grant College Program

Research from the U.S. west coast has indicated that the post-release survival rates of several rockfish species can be significantly increased using rapid recompression practices and fish descending gear. To date venting has primarily been used to treat barotrauma-stricken fish in the region; however, with the onset of new devices as a viable conservation option, Florida Sea Grant funded an extension project to evaluate the practicality of using fish descending gear with Florida's reef fish species. Sea Grant Agents in collaboration with charter captains and anglers conducted 26 field trials and released over 500 reef fish using a number of commercially available and homemade fish descending devices between 2011 and 2013. Feedback about the devices was generally positive, although some gear types received more favorable ratings than others. The purpose of the project was not to endorse one product over another, but to identify potential barriers that might prevent anglers from adopting these practices. Agents have been sharing this input with key stakeholders, as well as working with other Sea Grant programs to train anglers on the use of descending gear. Due in part to Sea Grant's efforts, new regulations in the Gulf allow the use of descending gear. Agents continue educating anglers about the devices as well as proper venting methods. Currently we are working on a survey to assess Florida angler's knowledge and attitudes about barotrauma and release options as well as working with outdoor writers to maximize the extent of educating anglers about successful deepwater release practices.
1:40 pm – 2:00 pm Experimental Assessment of Circle Hook Performance and Selectivity in the Northern Gulf of Mexico Recreational Reef Fish Fishery
Experimental Assessment of Circle Hook Performance and Selectivity in the Northern Gulf of Mexico Recreational Reef Fish Fishery
William F. Patterson III

Circle hooks are required in Gulf of Mexico reef fish fishery but little data exist to evaluate their performance (e.g., catch rate, hooking location) and selectivity. Therefore, fishing experiments were conducted to test the performance of different circle hook sizes (2/0 to 15/0) in the recreational fishery, as well to estimate hook selectivity directly for red snapper. Reef fish communities were surveyed using a micro ROV equipped with a laser scaler and then fished using one of five circle hook sizes. Hooking location typically was in the jaw for all hooks examined, with the mean percentage of jaw hooking being 95.1% for all reef fishes and 93.2% for red snapper. Fish size generally increased with hook size but at the cost of reduced catch rate. The percentage of the catch constituted by red snapper decreased from 74% for 2/0 hooks to 60% for 9/0 hooks, but then increased to 96% for 15/0 hooks. Dome-shaped selectivity functions resulted when fitting candidate models to hook-specific red snapper size-at-catch and ROV laser-scaled size distribution data. While red snapper median size at full selectivity increased with circle hook size, the difference in that parameter between the smallest and largest hooks was only 88 mm. Results of this study suggest that mandating the use of large circle hooks would have relatively little effect on red snapper catch rate or selectivity but would decrease catch rates for other fishes, which would be problematic during closed red snapper seasons when fishermen attempt to target other species.
2:20 pm – 2:40 pm Estimating Capture, Release, and Mortality Rates of Largemouth Bass at Guntersville and Wheeler Reservoirs, Alabama
Estimating Capture, Release, and Mortality Rates of Largemouth Bass at Guntersville and Wheeler Reservoirs, Alabama
Jeffrey Buckingham, Auburn University; Matt Catalano, Auburn University

Catch-and-release angling for largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides) has substantially increased since the 1980s, yet few studies have assessed the population-level consequences of these activities. Guntersville and Wheeler Reservoirs, Alabama are nationally known largemouth bass fishing destinations with high levels of angling effort and high rates of release (~90%). We used a variable reward tagging study to estimate rates of capture, release, mortality, and angler reporting of tagged largemouth bass at these reservoirs. Separate estimates were obtained for non-tournament release, tournament release, and harvest fisheries to evaluate the relative magnitude of potential population impacts among these fishery sectors. Preliminary results suggest that 34.6% of largemouth bass are captured annually. Reporting rates for harvest, non-tournament release, and tournament release were 37.5%, 57%, and 26% respectively. Our results could improve management strategies at heavily fished reservoirs with high rates of voluntary release.
2:40 pm – 3:00 pm Improving the Survival of Tournament-caught Bass: Past Efforts and Future Opportunities
Improving the Survival of Tournament-caught Bass: Past Efforts and Future Opportunities
Hal Schramm, U.S. Geological Survey Mississippi Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit; Gene Gilliland, B.A.S.S. LLC

Rapid growth of bass tournaments in the 1960s and 1970s caused concern among fisheries managers and tournament organizers about the impact of fish harvest on black bass Micropterus spp. populations. Tournament organizers voluntarily implemented live-release events, and fisheries managers became interested in the effectiveness of live-release procedures. As the catch-and-release ethic grew and many anglers and tournament organizers made conscientious efforts to achieve high survival of fish, it was apparent that procedures for handling black bass, well established among fisheries biologists and hatchery personnel, needed to be transmitted to anglers and tournament organizers. Since 1985, multiple information products have been developed and distributed to anglers, and several research projects have evaluated effectiveness of the recommended black bass handling procedures. Impact of these educational efforts has not been quantified, but angler and tournament organizer behavior has changed, as has the survival of tournament-caught-and-released black bass. Further changes in anglers? and tournament organizers? fish handling procedures conducive to even higher survival of tournament-caught fish may benefit from more effective communication, endorsement by leaders in the tournament industry, and state agency incentives to implement better fish handling procedures.
3:00 pm – 3:20 pm Discard Fate: Using Acoustic Telemetry to Assess Behavior and Survival of Groupers After Recreational Catch and Release on the West Florida Shelf
Discard Fate: Using Acoustic Telemetry to Assess Behavior and Survival of Groupers After Recreational Catch and Release on the West Florida Shelf
Angela Collins, FWC Fish and Wildlife Research Institute

Groupers are aggressive predators and are regularly targeted by recreational marine anglers in the southeastern United States. Release mortality due to recreational discards is an important component of stock assessment; however, much uncertainty exists regarding current estimates of discard mortality. Acoustic telemetry offers a relatively non-invasive method of monitoring fish survival and behavior over extended time frames and allows researchers to closely mimic the reality of a recreational discard event. Goliath grouper Epinephelus itajara and gag grouper Mycteroperca microlepis were caught on hook and line and monitored continuously via acoustic telemetry at reef habitats on the west Florida shelf. Capture depths ranged 10 ? 40 m and fish were tagged during all seasons of the year. Immediate mortality was not observed after a catch and release event, although both species exhibited reduced activity during the first 24 hours after release. Both species displayed strong site fidelity and small core areas of use for weeks ? months. Goliath grouper (n = 39; 1050 ? 2060 mm TL) were vented and were monitored for 18 ? 950 days (mean = 443 d). Gag grouper (n = 34; 473 ? 803 mm TL) were vented or released via a weighted descending device. Monitoring of Gag grouper is currently ongoing, but to date, Gag have been tracked for periods of 10 ? 126 days (mean = 61 d). Although chronic effects of catch and release remain unclear, acoustic telemetry indicates that acute mortality after discard is uncommon for both of these species at depths less than 40 m on the west Florida shelf.
3:20 pm – 3:40 pm Condition and Estimated Survival of Reef Fishes Discarded Within a Recreational Fishery in the Gulf of Mexico
Condition and Estimated Survival of Reef Fishes Discarded Within a Recreational Fishery in the Gulf of Mexico
Beverly Sauls, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Fish and Wildlife Research Institute

A large portion of reef fishes caught by recreational anglers in the Gulf of Mexico must be released due to harvest restrictions; however, the proportion of live discarded fish that suffer latent mortality is largely unknown. When estimating removals attributed to mortality of discards, stock assessments often must rely on studies that are not directly applicable to large-scale and highly diverse marine fisheries. This study addresses the need for data that both characterize how the recreational fishery operates and directly measures the condition and survival of discards within the fishery. The approach was to collect high resolution data from the recreational hook-and-line fishery utilizing observers on for-hire fishing vessels operating from the west coast of Florida. The study was designed to collect detailed information on depth and area fished, size composition of discards, and release condition measures for the most important recreational target species. Prior to release, fish were marked with conventional tags and recapture events were used to develop a predictive model for survival of discards observed in the recreational fishery. The estimated proportion of discards that suffer mortality increased with increasing capture depths. This functional relationship was used to estimate overall proportions of fish that suffer mortality within the fishery under observation, and may also be applied to discards in other fisheries if capture depths are known.
3:40 pm – 4:00 pm Importance of Assessing Population-level Impact of Cath-and-Release Mortality
Importance of Assessing Population-level Impact of Cath-and-Release Mortality 
Mike S. Allen, Janice Kerns, University of Florida; Julianne Harris, North Carolina State University

Many studies have measured the mortality of fish that are recreationally caught and released (i.e., catch-and-release (CR) mortality); however, little work has explored methods to understand the population-level impacts of CR mortality on fish stocks. Here we outline critical needs in understanding population-level impacts and quantifying fishing mortality rates that result from death of caught and released fish (Fcr). In our experience, many fisheries professionals report CR mortality as if high values are harmful and low values are not a concern. However, the ultimate impact of CR mortality on fish populations is known only through estimates of Fcr, because low CR mortality can have large population impacts . Only by estimating Fcr will we understand the impacts of CR mortality on fish stocks. Methods for this estimation are outlined.
Monday, October 20, 2014
FISHERIES TRACK 1
1:00 pm – 1:20 pm Reservoir Water-levels, Littoral Habitat, and Recreational Access: A Partnership to Maintain Quality Fisheries in Brazos River Reservoirs
Reservoir Water-levels, Littoral Habitat, and Recreational Access: A Partnership to Maintain Quality Fisheries in Brazos River Reservoirs
Daniel J. Daugherty, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department; Daniel L. Bennett, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department; Brian VanZee, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department; Tiffany Morgan, Brazos River Authority; John Tibbs, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

In addition to water supplies, flood control, and hydroelectricity, reservoirs provide recreational opportunities. Despite desires to incorporate recreational values into water management plans, reservoir authorities often lack the expertise to evaluate the impacts of operations on fish habitat and recreational access. Partnerships between reservoir authorities and natural resource agencies can help integrate fishery needs into water management processes. In collaboration with the Brazos River Authority (BRA), we used reservoir bathymetry and side-imaging sonar data in a geographic information system to investigate the effects of reservoir water level changes on littoral habitat characteristics and boat access in BRA reservoirs. Herein, we present the methodology we developed to examine these relationships, and the specific results from three of the reservoirs examined. Relationships varied greatly among reservoirs. Percent change in littoral area ranged from +12 to -72% with a 5-m reduction in reservoir water level; coarse substrate availability followed a similar trend. Large woody debris availability was robust to changes in reservoir water level, whereas aquatic vegetation was eliminated within 2 m of water loss from conservation pool. Boat access effects were also reservoir specific; complete loss of access occurred with less than 3 m of water loss from one reservoir, while 100% of access remained useable through 5 m of water loss from another. In cooperation with the BRA, results were used to identify reservoir-specific water levels that maintain quality fish habitat and recreational access. Results will also be used to prioritize future habitat and access enhancement efforts.
1:20 pm - 1:40 pm Influences of Flow Regime Alteration on the Abiotic and Biotic Components of Streams
Influences of Flow Regime Alteration on the Abiotic and Biotic Components of Streams
Nicole A. Farless, Oklahoma State University; Shannon K. Brewer, U.S. Geological Survey Oklahoma Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit

Streams are altered by a variety of human-induced landscape changes (e.g., groundwater pumping, damming, and climate change). One of the most notable instream changes associated with these alterations is change in the long-term pattern of flow or the natural flow regime. Native fish species have adapted to the natural flow regime and rely on specific flow components (e.g., magnitude and duration of high flows during spawning) to successfully complete their life-history. The objective of this study was to develop and test several flow-ecology hypotheses for reproductive guilds of fishes to determine the relationship among abiotic components of streams and level of flow alteration. We assessed the structure of the current fish assemblage by sampling 15 streams of the Arbuckle Mountains and Ozark Highlands ecoregion. The abiotic structure (i.e., width-depth ratio, deposited sediment, channel unit heterogeneity, and residual-pool depth) of the 15 streams was measured and multivariate analyses were used to determine how flow regime alteration related to the physical structure of streams. The results of this study will be used to develop improved environmental-flow standards based on the needs of reproductive guilds and changes to the abiotic structure of streams.
1:40 pm – 2:00 pm Minimum Flows and Levels on River Systems in Central Florida Within the Boundaries of Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD)
Minimum Flows and Levels on River Systems in Central Florida Within the Boundaries of Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD)
Tammy Hinkle, Southwest Florida Water Management District

The Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD) is directed by the Florida Legislature to establish minimum flows and levels for streams and rivers within its jurisdiction. Minimum flows are defined in Florida Statures (373.042) as 'the limit at which further withdrawals would be significantly harmful to the water resources or ecology of the area'. Minimum flows are based on technical evaluations that use the best available information to determine the amount of water that can be withdrawn from a stream or watercourse without causing unacceptable environmental impacts. Minimum flows can be established for freshwater streams and tidal estuaries and are important regulatory rules that affect natural systems protection, water supply planning, and water use regulations. Guidance regarding the establishment of minimum flows and levels is provided in the Florida Water Resource Implementation Rule (specifically Rule 62-40.473, Florida Administrative Code), which states that ""consideration shall be given to natural seasonal fluctuations in water flows or levels, nonconsumptive uses, and environmental values associated with coastal, estuarine, riverine, spring, aquatic and wetlands ecology, including:
  1. Recreation in and on the water;
  2. Fish and wildlife habitats and the passage of fish;
  3. Estuarine resources;
  4. Transfer of detrital material;
  5. Maintenance of freshwater storage and supply;
  6. Aesthetic and scenic attributes;
  7. Filtration and absorption of nutrients and other pollutants;
  8. Sediment loads;
  9. Water quality; and
  10. Navigation.
SWFWMD has been developing MFLs for over a decade to provide its resources with protection while including advances or changes in methodology to the ecology of these unique systems. Our tools utilized in the development of the MFL are a crucial component to understand the ecosystems in order to identify the most restrictive evaluation. Model development, habitats and flows are evaluated in all types of ecosystems from black water flashy systems to spring dominated base flows. Identifying the proper tools to evaluate each system is a necessary component. At this point in our agencies, there has not been any proven success or failures to the MFLs adopted. However, our continued re-evaluations will support the designations in future reports. Therefore, our management efforts of implementing MFLs ensure the sustainability of the ecosystems through our evaluations and determinations.
2:00 pm – 2:20 pm Fish Ecology in the Rivers of Florida and Implications for Freshwater Inflow Management
Fish Ecology in the Rivers of Florida and Implications for Freshwater Inflow Management
Philip W. Stevens, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Fish and Wildlife Research Institute; Gregg R. Poulakis, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Fish and Wildlife Research Institute; David A. Blewett, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Fish and Wildlife Research Institute; Tim C. MacDonald, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Fish and Wildlife Research Institute; Robert H. McMichael, Jr., Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Fish and Wildlife Research Institute

The establishment of minimum flows and levels for the coastal rivers of Florida has prompted substantial research on the effects of freshwater inflow into estuaries. One of the goals was to determine the appropriate freshwater inflow needed to maintain fish habitat for Florida's inshore sport fisheries. Examples of studies addressing fish ecology are given for the Peace River, Florida. Sampling for the endangered smalltooth sawfish occurred throughout the Charlotte Harbor estuary; however, specific locations near river mouths had the greatest catch rates. Acoustic tracking of tagged sawfish in an array of 100 listening stations is detailing habitat use within a recognized sawfish nursery. Currently, the primary management target for freshwater inflow to the lower river is to maintain the position of the oligohaline zone (<5 ppt), so this section of the river was sampled intensively for juvenile fishes to better understand how it functions as fish habitat. During a severe drought, the oligohaline fish assemblages became more similar to assemblages of the lower river mouth, and the abundances of the species that define the oligohaline zone were reduced. This demonstrates that dramatic changes in the position of the freshwater-saline interface can indeed lead to measurable biological changes. Electrofishing studies in the freshwater portions of the river found that the abundance and condition of common snook was well correlated with freshwater inflow; common snook were up to three times more abundant and 15% heavier during periods of high inflow compared to a period of severe drought. The increased condition was likely the result of greater production of the floodplain species known to be the top prey items for common snook. Collectively, the results of these studies will be incorporated into freshwater inflow and floodplain inundation targets for the river. Similar work has been conducted in other rivers throughout Florida.
3:00 pm - 3:20 pm The Barrier Prioritization Tool: A GIS Tool Prioritizing Dams for Removal Within the State of North Carolina
The Barrier Prioritization Tool: A GIS Tool Prioritizing Dams for Removal Within the State of North Carolina
Kathleen Hoenke, SARP; Mukesh Kumar, Duke University

Dam removal has proven to be an effective mechanism for quickly restoring in-stream habitat and returning stream systems to a free flowing state in a wide range of settings. Identification of dam removal projects can be a tedious task that often accounts for multiple social, ecological and hydrologic criteria. Here, a GIS based approach for prioritizing dams for removal based on eco-hydrologic and social metrics is presented. The tool uses a hierarchical decision-support framework to rank dams for removal based on criteria such as good habitat and water quality connectivity, larger stream flow at the dam, improved dam safety and longer stream mile connectivity. The tool is applied for three commonly considered prioritization scenarios that rank dams based on their suitability for removal using: ecological criteria, both social and ecological criteria together, and habitability of anadromous fish criteria. Results show that highest ranking dams from an ecological prioritization are located on reaches of high habitat quality and longer connected river miles. In contrast, social plus ecological prioritization yields higher ranks to dams that are primarily used for recreation, but are also in areas of high habitat quality. Dams in close proximity to anadromous fish spawning areas with high river mileage and few downstream dams are ranked higher by anadromous fish prioritization. The top 20 ranked dams, as predicted by the tool, includes dams that had been pre-identified by resource managers as potential dam removal projects, indicating that the tool is performing as intended. The tool and presented results should be used as a screening tool in conjunction with the expert knowledge of resource managers to further investigate the influence of site-specific factors, thereby determining the final priority of projects.
3:20 pm - 3:40 pm Southeast Aquatic Connectivity Assessment Project
Southeast Aquatic Connectivity Assessment Project 
John Kauffman, SARP; Scott Robinson, SARP; Emily Granstaff SARP; Kat Hoenke, SARP; Erik Martin, Nature Conservancy; Analie Barnett, Nature Conservancy; Colin Apse, Nature Conservancy

Fragmentation of river habitats by dams is one of the primary threats to aquatic species in the United States. Barriers limit the ability of sea-run fish species to reach preferred freshwater spawning habitats and prevent resident fish populations from moving among habitats critical to their life requirements. To help address this problem, The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and the Southeast Aquatic Resources Partnership (SARP) are undertaking an assessment of dams in the Southeast US. The project with funding from the South Atlantic Landscape Conservation Cooperative (SALCC) helps support planners and managers in their efforts to target fish passage and other aquatic connectivity projects where they have the most benefit. The Southeast Aquatic Connectivity Project (SEACAP) will identify opportunities to improve aquatic connectivity by prioritizing dams based on their potential ecological benefits if removed or bypassed within watersheds that intersect the SALCC area. The project area is approximately 250,000 square miles with over 350,000 miles of mapped streams. Approximately 14,000 dams were snapped to streams in the GIS. Dams are evaluated on a suite of metrics in a Geographic Information System including the number of river miles that opened, number of downstream dams, presence of diadromous or resident fish species and metrics which assess watershed and stream ecological conditions. Metrics are combined to produce a relative prioritization and displayed in an interactive web map with a custom analysis tool for running user-defined scenarios. Biological metrics are developed from the Multistate Aquatic Resource Information System (MARIS) and Nature Serve as well as state stream health assessments.
3:40 pm – 4:00 pm The Mapping of Aquatic Habitat in Lake Talquin, FL using Side-Scan Sonar
The Mapping of Aquatic Habitat in Lake Talquin, FL using Side-Scan Sonar
Ted Alfermann, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission; Jennifer Bock, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission; Phong Nguyen, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission; Andy Strickland, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

The use of side-scan sonar to expose aquatic habitat has its roots in ocean mapping, but has since expanded to freshwater rivers. A logical progression in the use of side-scan sonar would include lentic systems. As the country's lentic systems age, habitat degradation and subsequent enhancement activities will continue to be an important part of any fishery manager's responsibilities. The National Fish Habitat Partnership highlights and stresses this importance. A first step in habitat enhancement should include a thorough habitat assessment, which provides manager's with the knowledge of where and what type of enhancement actions are needed. We used Humminbird side-scan sonar to assess aquatic habitat in a portion of Lake Talquin, FL, a hydropower reservoir created in 1927. Overlapping sonar images were collected along pre-determined transects, pieced together, and interpreted using ArcGIS 9.3. Using this information we created ArcMap and Google Earth habitat layer files that managers can easily use during the planning phase of enhancement projects. Side-scan sonar provides a relatively quick and thorough means to assess aquatic habitat prior to restoration or enhancement activities that simplifies decision making and leads to the improvement of our aquatic resources.
4:00 pm – 4:20 pm From Mussels to Sturgeon, Side Scan Sonar Helps Advance the Conservation Mission
From Mussels to Sturgeon, Side Scan Sonar Helps Advance the Conservation Mission
Adam J. Kaeser, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Panama City, Florida Reuben Smit, Auburn University, Alabama

With access to low-cost, side imaging sonar and the development of tools and techniques for processing and analyzing data within a GIS framework, the opportunity to investigate and develop applications that address pressing conservation needs in navigable aquatic systems has never been greater. Across the Florida Panhandle the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is investigating the use of side scan sonar to detect and enumerate large sturgeons as an alternative approach for monitoring long-term trends in abundance as the species recovers. Within a meandering portion of the Apalachicola River, we have demonstrated the use of this technology to define suitable mussel habitat and assess changes in habitat over time, and have used easily derived habitat metrics to model the distribution and abundance of an endangered species of mussel. In these cases, side scan sonar provided highly detailed, meso-scale level information about the subsurface environment; such information is critical to advancing our aquatic conservation mission in the 21st century.
4:20 pm – 4:40 pm Applications of Low-Cost Unmanned Aerial Systems in Fish and Wildlife Management
Applications of Low-Cost Unmanned Aerial Systems in Fish and Wildlife Management
Timothy Birdsong, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department; Thomas Hardy, Texas State University; Kristy Kollaus, Texas State University; Kristina Tolman, Texas State University; Thomas Heard, Texas State University

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) and Texas State University recently completed a multidisciplinary study to evaluate potential applications of low-cost unmanned aerial systems (UAS) in fish and wildlife management. Specific UAS applications evaluated through this study included (1) characterization of instream and riparian habitats to guide fish habitat improvements in rivers and streams; (2) delineation of enduring pools in streams during drought and low-flow conditions to guide native fish conservation efforts; (3) pressure counts of anglers in rivers and bay systems; (4) assessments of vegetative coverage of restored intertidal wetlands to evaluate restoration success; (5) counts of colonial waterbird nesting sites; (6) delineation of seagrass beds and detection of boat propeller scars; (7) terrestrial habitat surveys to guide habitat management at wildlife management areas; and (8) delineation of riparian invasive vegetation to guide eradication efforts. Overall, the study provided valuable information regarding the advantages and limitations of low-cost UAS, demonstrating their utility in collection of high-resolution, temporally-specific geospatial data and offering a cost-effective alternative to current monitoring and assessment approaches utilized by TPWD. This presentation will discuss the effectiveness of the UAS in addressing the geospatial data and information requirements of the fish and wildlife management projects referenced above. Additionally, this presentation will compare and contrast applications of UAS to traditional survey methods, including comparisons of data collection and processing times, data quality, and associated commitments of staff, funding, and other resources.
4:40 pm - 5:00 pm Aligning Habitat and Land Use Planning for Sustainable Conservation
Aligning Habitat and Land Use Planning for Sustainable Conservation
Christine Olsenius, Executive Director, Southeast Watershed Forum; Lindsay Gardner, Program and Communications Manager, Southeast Aquatic Resources Partnership

A major challenge to implementing State Wildlife Action Plans is having input on land use decisions made at a city or county level that can impact habitat. To better align habitat protection with land use planning and to build closer working relationships between state agencies and local communities, the Southeast Watershed Forum and Southeast Aquatic Resources Partnership worked collaboratively with the City of Tampa and other community stakeholders to preserve Ulele Springs and other prime habitat through the strategic implementation of best land use practices. 

Nearly $650,000 was spent on the restoration of Ulele Springs, a former community water supply and manatee habitat adjacent to the Hillsborough River in downtown Tampa. Through years of development, the spring was channeled underground and the habitat was lost. The restoration effort re-connected the spring with the river and restored the riparian habitat enabling fish, shorebirds and manatees to enjoy the resource.

But with new development planned along the Hillsborough River and downtown Tampa, Ulele Springs and other habitat could be threatened again. SARP and the Southeast Watershed Forum worked with the City to develop a process for city agencies and developers, as well as state, regional and federal water and wildlife agencies to explore the application of low impact development and other best practices at areas of prime habitat along the Hillsborough River. The collaborative process promoted consensus on specific conservation measures to protect Ulele Springs, manatee habitat and other regional restoration sites for many years to come.
Monday, October 20, 2014
FISHERIES TRACK 2
1:00 pm - 1:20 pm Survey of an Offshore Recreational Boat-Based Fishery During Compressed Fishing Seasons for Red Snapper, Lutjanus campechanus, off the Atlantic Coast of Florida
Survey of an Offshore Recreational Boat-Based Fishery During Compressed Fishing Seasons for Red Snapper, Lutjanus campechanus, off the Atlantic Coast of Florida
Beverly Sauls, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Fish and Wildlife Research Institute; Richard Cody, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Fish and Wildlife Research Institute; Jessica Caroll, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Fish and Wildlife Research Institute; Andy Strelcheck, National Marine Fisheries Service, Southeast Region Office

In recent years, federally-managed reef fishes have become increasingly regulated, and specialized surveys are needed to precisely measure landings from open-access recreational fisheries with small quotas over highly compressed harvest seasons. Boat-based offshore effort is recognized as a unique sub-set within marine recreational fisheries, and managers of fisheries-dependent monitoring programs have realized the need for more flexible approaches and specialized sampling designs to handle the unique circumstances of scale and context within recreational fisheries. We designed complementary catch and effort surveys to directly sample the boat-based offshore fishery operating off the Atlantic coast of Florida when recreational harvest of red snapper (Lutjanus campechanus) was briefly permitted over three three-day weekends. The sampling methods were designed to take advantage of the compressed nature of the harvest seasons and geographic bottlenecks that together serve to concentrate offshore fishing effort both temporally and spatially. Point estimates for private recreational landings from this specialized survey were more precise compared to the general saltwater fishing survey that has been used historically to monitor the fishery. Estimates from this survey also proved useful for monitoring small harvest quotas within an open-access fishery. This study highlights the necessity of customized data collection methods as an important tool for balancing the goals of managing resources responsibly and maximizing fishing opportunities.
1:20 pm - 1:40 pm Habitat-specific Density and Diet of Rapidly Expanding Invasive Red Lionfish, Pterois volitans, Populations in the Northern Gulf of Mexico
Habitat-specific Density and Diet of Rapidly Expanding Invasive Red Lionfish, Pterois volitans, Populations in the Northern Gulf of Mexico
Kristen Dahl, PhD Student University of South Alabama; William F. Patterson III

Invasive Indo-Pacific red lionfish, Pterois volitans, were first reported in the northern Gulf of Mexico (nGOM) in summer 2010. To examine potential impacts on native reef fish communities, lionfish density and size distributions were estimated from fall 2010 to fall 2013 with a remotely operated vehicle at natural (n = 16) and artificial (n = 22) reef sites. Lionfish (n = 934) also were sampled via spearfishing to examine effects of habitat type, season, and fish size on their diet and trophic ecology. There was an exponential increase in lionfish density at both natural and artificial reefs over the study period. By fall 2013, mean lionfish density at artificial reefs (14.7 fish 100 m-2) was two orders of magnitude higher than at natural reefs (0.49 fish 100 m-2), and already was among the highest reported in the western Atlantic. Lionfish diet was significantly different among habitats, seasons, and size classes, with smaller (<250 mm total length) fish consuming more benthic invertebrates and the diet of lionfish sampled from artificial reefs being composed predominantly of non-reef associated prey. The ontogenetic shift in lionfish feeding ecology was consistent with δ15N values of white muscle tissue that were positively related to total length. Overall, diet results indicate lionfish are generalist mesopredators in the nGOM that become more piscivorous at larger size. However, lionfish diet was much more varied at artificial reef sites where they clearly were foraging on open substrates away from reef structure. These results have important implications for tracking the lionfish invasion in the nGOM, as well as estimating potential direct and indirect impacts on native reef fish communities in this region.
1:40 pm - 2:00 pm Effective Management of Lionfish on Select Habitats in the Florida Keys
Effective Management of Lionfish on Select Habitats in the Florida Keys
Benjamin Binder, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Fish and Wildlife Research Institute; Jeffrey Renchen, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Fish and Wildlife Research Institute; Alejandro Acosta, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Fish and Wildlife Research Institute; John Hunt, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Fish and Wildlife Research Institute

Scientific findings have shown that eradication of the lionfish population is unattainable due to both financial and logistical limitations. Nevertheless there is considerable interest in developing management strategies to mitigate the ecological impacts of lionfish on native coral reef ecosystems. Consequently, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has initiated targeted removal efforts to detect recolonization rates on six different hard-bottom habitat types representative of the Florida Keys. The habitats include Gulf of Mexico reefs, solution holes in near-shore hard-bottom, near-shore patch reefs, Hawks Channel patch reefs, the offshore forereef and artificial habitat (30-40m). In order to detect recolonization rate and estimate carrying capacities, three removal treatments were applied to the sample locations (continuous removal, one-time removal and no removal). At one-time removal sites, lionfish abundance rebounded to pre-removal levels in approximately three months, but has not exceeded pre-removal abundance. Additionally, abundance at non-removal locations has been stable since November. These results along with observations from continuous removal sites indicate that monthly removals have the capability to considerably decrease and control local lionfish populations in the habitats sampled. An acoustic tracking and video monitoring experiment was also implemented to observe lionfish behavior and movement patterns on selected sites during June 2014. Data collected provided movement and residence patterns that aided in identifying habitats affected by lionfish. Results from these experiments will provide managers and stakeholders with guidelines to prioritize locations for lionfish management.
2:00 pm - 2:20 pm Hard Bottom Habitat Mapping in the Northeast Gulf of Mexico Using Side Scan Sonar
Hard Bottom Habitat Mapping in the Northeast Gulf of Mexico Using Side Scan Sonar
Patrick Raley, NOAA Fisheries; Chris Gardner, NOAA Fisheries; Doug DeVries, NOAA Fisheries

The west Florida shelf (WFS) supports some of the most valuable reef fish fisheries in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico. However, very little of its area has been mapped with sufficient resolution to accurately locate and quantify the hard/live bottom habitat these fisheries are so strongly tied to. Such maps are essential for designing an efficient fishery independent survey of reef fishes, enabling pre-stratification by habitat, and thereby minimizing variance and optimizing survey resources. In support of a recently expanded fishery independent reef fish survey, the Panama City NMFS lab began mapping cross-shelf transects on the northern WFS using side scan sonar. An inexpensive geo-referenced live video drop camera, stationary video camera array, and occasionally an ROV were used for visual ground truthing. Over three thousand new reef sites have been discovered and analyzed in detail from cross-shelf side scan sonar transects totaling 276 km2. Physical attributes (area, relief, rugosity, and proximity to neighboring reefs) of each reef were measured and categorized into a relative, standardized score to provide a repeatable, quantifiable measure to use in a weighting scheme when randomly selecting sites for sampling. Information on habitat associations will be invaluable for increasing precision and accuracy of survey abundance estimates by revealing important strata for both survey design and data analysis.
3:00 pm - 3:20 pm Assessing Reef Fish Aggregations in the Florida Keys
Assessing Reef Fish Aggregations in the Florida Keys
Danielle Morley, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Fish and Wildlife Research Institute, Todd Kellison, National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, National Marine Fisheries Service, Chris Taylor, Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, National Ocean Service, Alejandro Acosta, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Fish and Wildlife Research Institute, Benjamin Binder, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Fish and Wildlife Research Institute

Fish spawning aggregations (FSAs) are a vital part of the life cycle of many important reef fish species. Assessing FSAs presents a unique challenge for managers and fishermen as aggregation fishing can be economically worthwhile but makes the resource vulnerable to over-exploitation. A dearth of knowledge regarding the location of FSA sites and how they are utilized by both reef fishes and resource users prevents the effective management of these sites. In the Florida Keys, a multi-agency cooperative effort has been underway for 5 years to assess reef fish aggregations using a multi-tiered approach to determine reef fish utilization patterns and geomorphological characteristics of FSA sites, as well as temporal fishing patterns. Aerial surveys, together with fisheries dependent observations and sample collections are used to identify increased areas of fishing activity and temporal fishing patterns. Multi-beam equipment is deployed to survey aggregation sites and creates benthic maps while diver surveys verify acoustic signals detected with the multi-beam. For example, at Western Dry Rocks, we observed high numbers of mutton snapper (Lutjanis analis) during a predicted spawning moon with our diver surveys. Simultaneously, high fishing pressure was recorded from the aerial surveys. At another location, we documented the presence of a large aggregation of gray snapper (Lutjanus griseus) during the predicted spawning moon from multi-beam backscatter and diver observations. Our information will enhance the opportunity for fishery and ecosystem managers to make informed decisions ensuring the successful continuation of reef fish aggregations in the Florida Keys.
3:20 pm - 3:40 pm Movement Patterns of Gray Triggerfish, Balistes capriscus, Around Artificial Reefs in the Northern Gulf of Mexico
Movement Patterns of Gray Triggerfish, Balistes capriscus, Around Artificial Reefs in the Northern Gulf of Mexico
Jennifer Herbig, Auburn University; Stephen Szedlmayer, Auburn University

Little is known about the life history of gray triggerfish, Balistes capriscus, despite its growing importance as both a commercial and recreational species in the Gulf of Mexico. The use of acoustic telemetry on gray triggerfish can be used to provide important information about their general ecology by assessing the importance of structured habitat for this species. To date, no data exists on acoustically tagged gray triggerfish. The present study tagged gray triggerfish (n= 17) in 2012 and 2013 on two private artificial reefs with the VR2W Positioning System (VPS, Vemco Ltd, Nova Scotia) to determine if this species could be successfully tagged and tracked. Most (84.2 %) tagged fish successfully survived and were tracked for extended periods (1 to 57 weeks), with only three fish lost within 24 hours of tagging (considered a tagging artifact). Tagged gray triggerfish showed diel movement patterns with home ranges (95 % KDE) and core areas (50 % KDE) significantly larger during the day than night. Fish also showed seasonal movement patterns that were positively correlated with water temperature. Gray triggerfish showed high site fidelity (mean distance from reef = 46.3 ? 1.3 m) and residency (79 % still present after 100 days) to release site reefs. This high site fidelity to artificial reefs emphasizes the importance of structured habitat for gray triggerfish, and this new VPS tracking method provided an important advancement for gray triggerfish movement studies.
3:40 pm - 4:00 pm Seasonal Movements of Muskellunge in North Bend Lake, West Virginia
Seasonal Movements of Muskellunge in North Bend Lake, West Virginia
Scott F. Morrison, West Virginia Division of Natural Resources; Lila H. Warren, West Virginia Division of Natural Resources

Muskellunge (Esox masquinongy) movement was monitored from 26 March 2010 through 2 January 2014 in North Bend Lake, a 123 ha small impoundment of the North Fork of the Hughes River in West Virginia that has a length of 12.4 km. Study objectives were to monitor seasonal movements and to verify Muskellunge migration through the dam. North Fork Hughes River is a native Muskellunge stream managed as a trophy fishery, and the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources collects Muskellunge brood stock annually from North Bend Lake. Twenty-four fish were collected using pDC boat-mounted electrofishing equipment and surgically implanted with acoustic transmitters (48 month estimated battery life). Six submersible data loggers were stationed at strategic locations throughout the lake. Logger data were downloaded monthly, and water quality data were collected monthly in 2010. Microsoft Access was used to analyze seasonal movement based on 1,256,046 records from implanted fish. Seasonal movement of marked fish was consistent during the four years of the study. Fish spent the early spring in the upper third of North Bend Lake and spent the summer, fall, and winter in the lower third of the lake. Based on their upstream movements in early spring, Muskellunge appear to use the upper areas of the lake for spawning purposes. During fall destratification, marked fish moved upstream where dissolved oxygen concentrations were higher at that time of year. Most fish moved throughout the entire length of the lake. At least five implanted fish left the lake through the dam.
4:00 pm - 4:20 pm Fishery Independent Estimates of Red Snapper, Lutjanus campechanus, Mortality Using Ultrasonic Telemetry in the Northern Gulf of Mexico
Fishery Independent Estimates of Red Snapper, Lutjanus campechanus, Mortality Using Ultrasonic Telemetry in the Northern Gulf of Mexico
Laura Jay Williams, Auburn University; Stephen Szedlmayer, Auburn University

Red snapper, Lutjanus campechanus, are a commercially and recreationally important fishery in the Gulf of Mexico. To properly manage a species, it is important to obtain accurate mortality estimates (i.e. fishing and natural) however, these estimates are often difficult to obtain. In the present study, we used acoustic telemetry, VR2W Positioning System (VPS, Vemco Ltd, Nova Scotia) to examine the fine-scale movements (~1 m accuracy) of red snapper on unpublished artificial reef sites in the northern Gulf of Mexico. We used telemetry detection data to independently estimate fishing mortality rates of red snapper in the 2012, 2013, and 2014 federal recreational red snapper seasons. In 2012, a high instantaneous mortality rate of the transmitter tagged red snapper (n = 14) was observed (Z = 0.57). During the recreational fishing season anglers reported catching 5 fish and 2 fisher captures were identified based on VPS data but not reported. In 2013, additional red snapper were tagged (n = 36) and a lower instantaneous mortality rate was observed (Z = 0.15) with 4 fish being reported by anglers and 1 fish being identified as caught using the VPS data. At the start of the short (9 day) federal recreational red snapper fishing season in 2014 we were actively tracking 36 red snapper. We did observe fishing mortality during the shortened 2014 season and we are in the process of analyzing the data to determine the extent of this fishing mortality.
4:20 pm - 4:40 pm Fundulus grandis otolith Microchemistry as a Metric of Oil Exposure and Estuarine Discrimination
Fundulus grandis otolith Microchemistry as a Metric of Oil Exposure and Estuarine Discrimination
Thomas (Reid) Nelson; Dennis R. Devries; Russell A. Wright, School of Fisheries, Aquaculture, & Aquatic Sciences, Auburn University, Alabama ; Joel E. Gagnon, Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research, University of Windsor, Windsor Ontario, Canada

The Gulf Killifish Fundulus grandis is an important component of saltmarsh ecosystems and an ideal indicator species for environmental change, because of strong site fidelity. Also, their otoliths may provide a record of environmental conditions because they are metabolically inert, grow continuously with the fish, and incorporate trace elements from the environment. LA-ICPMS was used to determine whether otoliths of F. grandis along the N. Gulf of Mexico coast that had been exposed to oil (either from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill or because of close proximity to an oil refinery) contained trace elemental markers that could be attributed to oil exposure. Otolith chemical signatures between paired oiled and non-oiled sites did not differ in trace metals associated with oil, and relative condition of F. grandis also did not differ between paired sites. Given previous published evidence that fish otoliths incorporate elements specific to oil exposure in the lab, our results support a minimal effect of the DHOS spill on F. grandis. Although evidence of oil exposure was not observed, concentrations of Mn55, Sr86, Sr88, and Ba137 varied among sites and allowed for discrimination of estuaries in Louisiana (elevated Ba137 concentrations) and the west side of Mobile Bay Alabama (elevated Mn55 concentrations). However, sites in Mississippi, Florida, and the east side of Alabama could not be discriminated from one another. Regional otolith differences in Louisiana and west Alabama may provide unique chemical tags for these waters, and have utility for nursery habitat determination for species with estuarine dependent juveniles.
Monday, October 20, 2014
FISHERIES TRACK 3
1:00 pm - 1:20 pm Do you Hear What I Hear? Sounds of Gulf Sturgeon in Seasonal Holding Areas
Do you Hear What I Hear? Sounds of Gulf Sturgeon in Seasonal Holding Areas
Catherine T. Phillips, USFWS; Kenneth J. Sulak, USGS; Michael T. Randall, USGS

Sound production is described in the Gulf sturgeon Acipenser oxyrinchus desotoi. This study documented acoustic signals produced by Gulf sturgeon while aggregated in spring to fall seasonal holding areas in the Yellow and Suwannee rivers, Florida, USA. Signals were monophasic consisting of one principal call type ("clicks"). All sounds were non-harmonic, low frequency, and frequently occurred in trains. Two genetically-distinct populations, from the Suwannee and Yellow rivers, Florida, were examined. Populations exhibited slight, but significant differences, in acoustic structure, with differences in dominant frequency and a unique river-specific temporal patterning. Endogenously-produced ?click? sounds frequently occurred in association with jumping behavior. More than half of all jumps and resulting splashes recorded contained a unique impact acoustic profile that was significantly longer than the click call type in duration, but not significantly different in dominant frequency. It has previously been hypothesized that jumping may play a role in communication in the holding areas, and the similarity of the acoustic profile of these jump sounds support that hypothesis. Contexts and evolution of sound production are discussed.
1:20 pm - 1:40 pm Comparison of Selected Life History Attributes of the Nonnative Bullseye Snakehead (Channa marulius) and the Co-occurring Native Bowfin (Amia calva) in southeast Florida
Comparison of Selected Life History Attributes of the Nonnative Bullseye Snakehead (Channa marulius) and the Co-occurring Native Bowfin (Amia calva) in southeast Florida
Kelly Gestring, Florida Fish and Wildife Conservation Commission; Murray Stanford, Florida Fish and Wildife Conservation Commission

Bullseye snakehead (Channa marulius), one of the largest members of the Channidae family, were discovered in Florida in 2000 and are currently found in six urban canal systems in southeast Florida. As of this time, this species has not been documented in the adjacent marsh habitat of the everglades ecosystem. Native bowfin (Amia calva) co-occur with bullseye snakehead and are a morphologically similar predator. Little is known about the interactions between bullseye snakehead and bowfin. A 12-month study was conducted on bowfin collected from marsh habitat for selected life history attributes, and both species from urban canals to assess potential interactions. Based on these findings, both species are generalized predators that opportunistically prey on a wide range of invertebrates and vertebrates. The length and width of identified prey fishes were similar between predators suggesting a similar gape/total length relationship. There was a high dietary similarity between species with biologically significant overlap indices at all sizes of fish examined. An observed temporal difference in spawning may reduce negative feeding associations between young-of-year fish. In standardized electrofishing, there were no significant negative correlations in catch rates between the two species. Bullseye snakehead have lower lethal temperature of 10oC which would likely result in periodic winter-kills. Based on these data, we conclude that despite their ecomorphological similarities, bullseye snakehead do not appear to be having a deleterious impact on bowfin.
1:40 pm - 2:00 pm Host Fish Identification to Benefit the Conservation of Imperiled Freshwater Mussels in Northwest Florida
Host Fish Identification to Benefit the Conservation of Imperiled Freshwater Mussels in Northwest Florida
Kate Harriger, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission; John Knight, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission; Matt Wegener, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission 

Freshwater mussels (Unionidae) undergo a parasitic stage in their life cycle when glochidia (larval mussels) must attach to the gills or fins of an appropriate fish to transform into juvenile mussels. Knowledge of a mussel?s host fish requirements is therefore critical to its conservation. Host fish requirements are unknown for many imperiled freshwater mussels in northwest Florida, so we designed a facility for conducting mussel-host fish research at a state hatchery in Holt, Florida. Host fish trials were conducted by introducing glochidia to potential host fish and determining which fish species produced juvenile mussels. Since 2012, host fish have been identified for a common mussel species, the southern fatmucket (Lampsilis straminea), and a mussel species of special concern, the purple pigtoe (Quadrula succissa). Current research will focus on identifying hosts for the federally threatened narrow pigtoe (Fusconaia escambia). Findings from this research will be valuable for future propagation that may be needed for these mussel species. Our research will also allow biologists to understand whether reproduction for these mussel species is threatened by declining host populations.
2:00 pm - 2:20 pm Plasma Cortisol Stress Response in Channel Catfish, Ictalurus punctatus, Influences Susceptibility to Edwardseilla ictaluri
Plasma Cortisol Stress Response in Channel Catfish, Ictalurus punctatus, Influences Susceptibility to Edwardseilla ictaluri
Nagaraj G. Chatakondi and Brian C. Peterson, USDA ARS Warmwater Aquaculture Research Unit

Cortisol is a primary stress hormone in fish as its plasma variations correlate with the occurrence of various stressful situations. Past studies have demonstrated that fish subjected to handling stress or poor water quality had a reduced ability to resist pathogens. Channel catfish fingerlings of a select strain, developed at our facility were subject to standardized hypoxia stress test. We classified the fish either as ""low responders (LR)"" or ""high responders (HR)"" based on their cortisol stress response, and were pit-tagged for identification. HR and LR fish were held either in separate or co-cultured in replicated aquaria, supplied with flow-through water and diffused air. We evaluated the susceptibility of LR and HR channel catfish fingerlings to Edwardseilla ictaluri disease challenge under controlled conditions. At the end of 21 days post-challenge, mean percent of mortalities of LR were 15 percent lower (P<0.05) than mean HR group. The difference in mortalities were more pronounced, when the two groups of fish were co-cultured. However, the mean days to death between the groups was similar, suggesting the mode of the action of the pathogen is similar in channel catfish with varying cortisol stress response. Quantitative genetic studies in channel catfish have revealed a moderate to high degree of heritability of the cortisol stress response trait, and the validity of this trait for genetic improvement is presently being evaluated. Stress is unavoidable in aquaculture or stock enhancement programs in natural waters, hence LR fish would be resilient and adaptable for handling and associated stressful conditions.
3:00 pm - 3:20 pm Effects of Introduced Blueback Herring (Alosa aestivalis) on Adult Largemouth Bass (Micropterus salmoides), Alabama Bass (Micropterus henshalli), and Striped Bass (Morone saxatilis) in Lewis Smith Lake, Alabama
Effects of Introduced Blueback Herring (Alosa aestivalis) on Adult Largemouth Bass (Micropterus salmoides), Alabama Bass (Micropterus henshalli), and Striped Bass (Morone saxatilis) in Lewis Smith Lake, Alabama
Gary (Lee) Grove, Dennis R. DeVries, and Russell A. Wright, School of Fisheries, Aquaculture & Aquatic Sciences, Auburn University, Alabama 

Reservoir food webs are complex, making prediction of the influence of introducing new species difficult. Invasive species can potentially have both positive and negative effects, depending on the species and life stages being examined. In the case of prey fish introductions, effects can range from competitive interactions at early life stage to predator-prey interactions in adults. We are studying the effects of introduced Blueback Herring Alosa aestivalis on multiple trophic levels in Lewis Smith Lake, Alabama. Here we report on their effects on recruitment and relative condition of Largemouth Bass Micropterus salmoides, Alabama Bass Micropterus henshalli, and Striped Bass Morone saxatilis. We collected length, weight, and age data from four regions of the lake during 2013-2014 for comparison with two pre-introduction data sets. We found relative weights of both black bass species and Striped Bass to increase after Blueback Herring were introduced. Largemouth Bass relative weight across the entire system has increased significantly following the introduction. Recruitment of Largemouth Bass may also be affected by the introduction of Blueback Herring. Although there were no missing year classes, recruitment of Largemouth Bass has been more variable post-Blueback Herring versus before the introduction. Despite some positive effects on adult fishes, data on all life stages are required for making a lake-wide assessment of the effects of the Blueback Herring introduction.
3:20 pm - 3:40 pm Evaluating the Effects of Threadfin Shad on Largemouth Bass and Bluegill Populations in Small Alabama Impoundments
Evaluating the Effects of Threadfin Shad on Largemouth Bass and Bluegill Populations in Small Alabama Impoundments
Sean Lusk, School of Fisheries, Aquaculture, and Aquatic Sciences, Auburn University, Auburn University, AL; Matthew Catalano, School of Fisheries, Aquaculture, and Aquatic Sciences, Auburn University, Auburn University, AL

Threadfin shad are commonly stocked into small impoundments (less than 4.2 surface acres) to increase the growth and condition of largemouth bass, ultimately to enhance recreational fishing. However, the effects of threadfin shad on largemouth bass and bluegill recruitment, growth, and condition are not fully understood. To date, much threadfin shad research has focused on large reservoirs with few studies conducted on small impoundments. With over 250,000 small impoundments in Alabama alone, understanding the role of threadfin shad in these systems is paramount to providing best management advice. We evaluated the impacts of threadfin shad on largemouth bass and bluegill size structure, growth, condition and diets, as well as zooplankton and phytoplankton abundance at five recently-stocked and 16 established small impoundments in central Alabama. Preliminary results from the first summer of pond surveys suggest that threadfin shad may be associated with higher largemouth bass condition, but other population metrics did not differ between ponds with and without threadfin shad. This study will provide a better understanding of interactions between threadfin shad, largemouth bass, and bluegill and provide managers with insight on how to better manage small impoundments.
3:40 pm - 4:00 pm Stocking Threadfin Shad to Enhance Largemouth Bass Populations in Two Alabama Ponds
Stocking Threadfin Shad to Enhance Largemouth Bass Populations in Two Alabama Ponds
Michael J. Maceina, School of Fisheries, Aquaculture, and Aquatic Sciences, Auburn University; Steven M. Sammons, School of Fisheries, Aquaculture, and Aquatic Sciences, Auburn University

Increasingly, new innovative approaches are being used in small ponds that contain largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides) and bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus) to increase the quality of largemouth bass fisheries. One approach is to stock additional forage fish. Threadfin shad (Dorosoma petenense) were stocked into two small Alabama ponds (1.9 and 5.3 ha) in 2007 four yrs after renovation and restocking with largemouth bass and bluegill (1:15 stocking ratio) to improve largemouth bass relative weight (Wr) and length distributions. Threadfin shad inhabited these two ponds for about 2.5 yrs, before being eliminated by severe winter temperatures in January 2010. After threadfin shad became established, Wr increased for stock- and quality-length (203 - 380 mm) largemouth bass, but not for preferred-length and larger (> 380 mm) fish. Proportional size distributions (PSD, PSD-P), which declined prior to threadfin shad stocking, increased as largemouth recruitment to stock length declined and possibly growth rates increased. Following winterkill of threadfin shad, Wr of all sizes of largemouth bass and PSD indices declined as largemouth bass recruitment increased. Relative weights of quality-length (> 151 mm) bluegill declined during threadfin shad presence and we speculate this was due to higher bluegill densities as largemouth bass predation on bluegill was likely less. Stocking threadfin shad into two established largemouth bass-bluegill ponds provided for improved largemouth bass populations, but may sacrifice quality bluegill fisheries.
4:00 pm - 4:20 pm An Evaluation of Crappie Supplemental Stocking in Arkansas Reservoirs
An Evaluation of Crappie Supplemental Stocking in Arkansas Reservoirs
Lynn D. Wright, Arkansas Tech University, Department of Biological Sciene; John R. Jackson, Arkansas Tech University, Department of Biological Scienec; Steve E. Lochmann, Aquaculture/Fisheries Center, University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff

Supplemental stocking of sport fish has been an important management tool used by fisheries management agencies. However, the success of stockings has infrequently been evaluated. Both Black Crappie (Pomoxis nigromaculatus) and White Crappie (P. annularis) are commonly stocked throughout the southeast United States with over one million stocked annually in Arkansas alone. Stocking contribution was determined for six reservoirs that ranged in size from 58 to 503 ha. In October 2010 and 2011, Crappie were marked with oxytetracycline hydrochloride and stocked at rates that ranged from 53 to 145 fish/ha. Average crappie lengths at stocking ranged from 39 ? 0.4 to 81 ? 1.2 mm. Three to four months following the 2010 stocking age-0 crappie were collected using trap nets. Total stocking contribution of White Crappie and Black Crappie ranged from 1.4 to 3.0% and 0.0 to 1.4%, respectively. However, trap net collections in 2011 and 2012 produced no marked crappie in any reservoir 1 year following stocking. Low stocking contribution may be related to a combination of a strong natural year-class, high mortality associated with the stocking process, naivety to predators, or a competitive disadvantage of stocked crappie due, in part, to small size at time of stocking. Results from this study indicate that supplemental stocking of crappie had a negligible benefit to the year-class. Based on these findings, further evaluation of crappie stocking techniques, fate of stocked crappie, and management strategies for improving crappie year-class strength are warranted.
Tuesday, October 21, 2014
FISHERIES TRACK 4
1:00 pm - 1:20 pm Adaptive Management of the Neosho/Grand River Paddlefish Snag Fishery in Northeast Oklahoma in Response to Changes in Participation and Harvest Patterns
Adaptive Management of the Neosho/Grand River Paddlefish Snag Fishery in Northeast Oklahoma in Response to Changes in Participation and Harvest Patterns
Jason D. Schooley, Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation; Dennis Scarnecchia, University of Idaho

Fishing for paddlefish in the Neosho/Grand River, Oklahoma and its impoundments (Grand, Hudson, Fort Gibson) has been important to the region since the 1950's. Traditionally a commercial netting and recreational snag fishery was centered on Grand Lake, but angler concerns of overharvest resulted in bag limit restrictions in the 1970's and prohibition of commercial fishing in 1992. As a result of advances in consumer-grade sonar technology, a recreational fishery that was traditionally dominated by bank angling and subject to changing river conditions has transitioned to a predominately boat angling fishery where snag anglers can more actively pursue fish in the rivers and reservoirs. The consequences of this evolution include expansion of fishing areas, fewer limitations on seasonal availability of fish, and therefore enhanced catch per unit effort. In 2008, Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation established the Paddlefish Research Center near Miami supported by roe-donations from wild-caught fish. Harvest management of paddlefish in Oklahoma has become more proactive since then, with specific goals and objectives outlined in a Statewide Management Plan based on harvest and recruitment monitoring feedbacks and information from snag angler surveys in an adaptive management framework. Closure of the Spring River fishery in 2010 and a two-fish annual bag limit in 2014 exemplify conservation-minded regulations in response to fishery changes and increased snagging effort. Future efforts aim to preserve these popular and economically important recreational fisheries through sustainable harvest within management units and flexible conservation actions to maintain or enhance the reproduction and recruitment capacity of the stocks.
1:20 pm - 1:40 pm Changing Largemouth Bass Regulations from a Minimum to a Maximum on Lake Jackson, Florida
Changing Largemouth Bass Regulations from a Minimum to a Maximum on Lake Jackson, Florida
Katie L. Woodside, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission; Christopher J. Paxton, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission; Patrick A. Strickland, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

Lake Jackson is a 1620 ha lake located near Tallahassee, Florida. Length frequency analysis and an age and growth study in 2010 indicated that approximately 90% of the largemouth bass population was less than 18 inches and 60% of the population was male. The black bass regulation on Lake Jackson was changed from an 18-inch minimum to a 16-inch maximum (with one bass greater than 16 inches permitted) in September 2013. The bag limit for both regulations was five fish per person, per day. The 2013 regulation was intended to encourage harvest of smaller surplus bass and limit harvest of large females. Roving peak season creel surveys were conducted in 2011 and 2014 to obtain effort, catch, and success estimates and angler opinions. Angler satisfaction regarding regulations increased from 39% (2011) to 83% (2014). In 2011, 73% of anglers reported they would harvest bass under a new regulation; only 27% of anglers harvested bass in 2014. Effort directed at bass increased from 4903 hours to 8763 hours. Estimated harvest increased from 4% to 32%. Although anglers began harvesting bass less than 16 inches, no harvest of bass less than 12 inches was reported. Many anglers reported confusion regarding the new regulation. Confusion was partially attributed to the Florida Panhandle 12-inch minimum size. Insight from implementation of the 2013 regulation may be beneficial to management if Florida adopts a proposed statewide regulation allowing harvest of five largemouth bass, one of which could be 16 inches or greater in total length.
1:40 pm - 2:00 pm Surveys of Texas Bow Anglers, With Implications for Managing Alligator Gar
Surveys of Texas Bow Anglers, With Implications for Managing Alligator Gar
Daniel L. Bennett, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department; Richard A. Ott, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department; C. Craig Bonds, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

Increasing interest in the conservation and management of Alligator Gar, a species considered at risk of imperilment by the American Fisheries Society, has made it necessary to ascertain angling effort and harvest. Bowfishing is believed to represent high harvest rates of some species, and a majority of the recreational harvest of Alligator Gar. Yet, little is known about bow anglers and their fishing practices. To obtain baseline demographic information and fishing habits from bow anglers, we distributed surveys to 173 participants at three Trinity River bowfishing tournaments in 2011. We received 15 completed surveys for a response rate of 9%. In addition, we conducted an online survey of Texas Bowfishing Association members in 2012 and received 82 returned surveys, resulting in a 46% response rate. Responses were pooled for a total sample size of 97 bow anglers. Bow anglers were similar to statewide Texas? anglers with the exception of age and gender. Respondents were primarily male (97%), and exhibited a younger mean age of 34 years (range 10 to 67). Bow anglers fished an average of 46 days in the past 12 months and predominately bowfished in Texas reservoirs. Fifty-seven percent of bow anglers reported harvesting an Alligator Gar in the last year. The average number of Alligator Gar harvested per bow angler in the last year was three (range 0 to 40). Managers should consider this small but important angling constituency when proposing regulations, and monitor trends in bowfishing participation where species of concern exist.
2:00 pm - 2:20 pm The Stocking of Advanced-Size Fingerling Florida Largemouth Bass in Lake Talquin, FL? A Recipe for Enhancing a Trophy Bass Population
The Stocking of Advanced-Size Fingerling Florida Largemouth Bass in Lake Talquin, FL? A Recipe for Enhancing a Trophy Bass Population
Andy Strickland, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission; Charles Mesing Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (retired)

There has always been interest in the supplemental stocking of largemouth bass Micropterus salmoides in the Southeast. Many previous largemouth bass supplemental stockings used high numbers of small individuals or lower numbers of larger individuals reared on artificial (pellet) feed. Since 2000, Florida Fish and Wildlife biologists stocked variable numbers of advanced size fingerling (65-100 mm TL) Florida largemouth bass Micropterus salmoides floridanus reared on live prey (fairy shrimp and zooplankton) into Lake Talquin, a 3,561 hectare eutrophic reservoir in Northwest Florida. Numbers of stocked fish ranged from five to 60 fish/ha annually. In 2008, we reported that the highest stocking density (60 fish/ha) resulted in a 40% hatchery contribution to electrofishing samples at age 0 in the fall and a 37% contribution to electrofishing samples at age 3. From 2010-2012, fifteen trophy-sized hatchery coded wire tag (CWT) bass weighing 8-12.5 lbs were recaptured during FWC long term monitoring samples or largemouth bass angler tournaments. Furthermore, 77 largemouth bass weighing 8-15 lbs were collected in 2013, of which only two were not identified as pure Floridanus based on genetic micro-satellite analysis of fin clips. Most of these are likely hatchery reared fish as prior to any stocking, the percentage of pure Floridanus in Lake Talquin was reported at 12%. These long-term data suggest that the stocking of advanced fingerling Florida largemouth bass reared on live prey into a recruitment limited system with abundant, appropriate size forage improved trophy largemouth bass abundance and enhanced the quality of a trophy bass fishery.
3:00 pm - 3:20 pm Angler Attitudes and Preferences Towards Fishery Management at Marben Public Fishing Area, Georgia
Angler Attitudes and Preferences Towards Fishery Management at Marben Public Fishing Area, Georgia
Hunter J. Roop, University of Georgia; Cecil A. Jennings, University of Georgia; Neelam C. Poudyal, University of Georgia

Understanding anglers’ characteristics, preferences, and attitudes towards fishery management is important for improving angler satisfaction and securing public support for management. A non-uniform roving creel survey was conducted at the Marben Public Fishing Area in Mansfield, Georgia during 2013 to collect information to characterize the angling population and examine anglers’ fishing preferences and attitudes towards various aspects of fisheries management. A two-sample t-test (t = 5.79, df = 803, p = 4.87E-09) indicated that anglers rated the quality of fishing at Maben PFA significantly above the expected average and significantly higher than other comparable fishing sites. Analysis of variance did not show significant differences in anglers’ perception of quality of fishing among different fishing seasons (F = 1.32; df = 3, 12; p = 0.31), which indicated that seasons characterized by relatively high fishing activity (i.e., effort, catch, and harvest) did not influence anglers’ perceptions of fishing quality. Differences between anglers' primary target species and quality of fishing ranks were not statistically significant (F = 0.93; df = 4, 542; p = 0.44), which suggests that anglers' perceptions of fishing quality were unaffected by species they were targeting. Factors that were negatively related to angler's fishing satisfaction were primarily poor catch, operating hours, and fluctuating water levels. Most anglers were satisfied with creel limits for all sport fish species and a 14” minimum size limit for Largemouth Bass Micropterus salmoides. These results suggest that anglers were generally satisfied with the current management of the fishery; and on average, had a positive opinion regarding the quality of fishing at Marben PFA. However, anglers may benefit from educational efforts to provide information regarding specific management efforts or administrative actions (e.g., winter drawdown, reduced operating hours) that reportedly take away from angler satisfaction.
3:20 pm - 3:40 pm Using Angler Motivations, Preferences, and Satisfactions for Developing Best Management Practices Within the Alabama State Lakes Program
Using Angler Motivations, Preferences, and Satisfactions for Developing Best Management Practices Within the Alabama State Lakes Program
Jessica Quintana, School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences, Auburn University; Dr. Wayde Morse, School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences, Auburn University

Incorporating human dimensions into fisheries management has been recognized as a key element to effective management of fisheries resources. By soliciting data on angler motivations, specialization, and setting preferences (social, managerial, physical, biological), managers can make informed decisions designed to satisfy the ecological and social requirements of the system. Alabama's Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries (ADWFF) manages twenty-three public state lakes that were originally established to provide a low cost opportunity for anglers in areas where few exist. ADWFF is interested in increasing angler use of the state lakes and estimates that only fifteen percent of licensed anglers use them. Five-hundred surveys, one-hundred at each location, were hand delivered to anglers at five of the twenty-three state lakes to solicit angler information on current lake users. The five lakes were selected based on location to investigate the lake's locality effect has on stated lake preferences. Three-thousand surveys were mailed out to randomly selected licensed anglers to solicit angler information on non-lake users. Analysis will compare setting preferences and number of fishing trips taken by different angler groups (state lake users/non-users, catch/release orientation, specialization, and motivations). Results will be presented that link specific setting attributes to potential increases in number of trips taken and the management implications for the state lakes program.
3:40 pm - 4:00 pm Stakeholder Influenced Development of Florida's Black Bass Management Plan
Stakeholder Influenced Development of Florida's Black Bass Management Plan
Bob Wattendorf, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) officially approved Florida's Black Bass Management Plan (BBMP) in June 2011. The FWC continually sought public input via surveys, public events, active media support, meetings, and a citizen's Technical Assistance Group (TAG). FWC staff from multiple divisions and offices helped to ensure the plan was actionable and science-informed. An agreed goal was to create a plan to ensure Florida is the undisputed "Bass Fishing Capital of the World." The FWC has used the plan to gain impetus for dedicating and acquiring resources to ensure we fulfill the goal and realize the vision. Although the management plan period is 2010-2030, this "living" document will allow adaptive management, public input and new scientific breakthroughs to help to improve results on an ongoing basis. In the first several years, numerous action items have been implemented and reported to the public, from each of the four sections of the plan: New Opportunities, Habitat Management, Fish Management and People Management. Examples include a new Position Statement on Hydrilla Management, interactions with the tournament community including evaluating e-tournaments, review of black bass management rules, developing enhanced fishing opportunities at Fellsmere, creation of the TrophyCatch program, bass stocking studies and genetic policies. The BBMP remains an excellent and evolving example of engaging the public in resource management decisions.
4:00 pm - 4:20 pm Growth and Trends of Florida's TrophyCatch program
Growth and Trends of Florida's TrophyCatch program
Christopher Wiley, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Division of Freshwater Fisheries Management; Andrew C. Dutterer, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Fish and Wildlife Research; Bob Wattendorf, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Division of Freshwater Fisheries Management; William F. Pouder, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Division of Freshwater Fisheries Management; Jason Dotson, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Fish and Wildlife Research

Florida Bass (Micropterus floridanus) fisheries have high recreational, economic, and social value. Anglers in Florida place a high value on trophy-sized bass, thus the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) emphasized a commitment to research and management practices that enhance opportunities for angler catch of these rare and valuable individuals during adoption of the state's comprehensive Black Bass Management Plan in 2011. In October 2012, the FWC launched TrophyCatch, an angler-based citizen-science program that documents angler-caught trophy-sized bass (? 3.63 kg). One of the primary goals of the program is to establish a long-term record of spatial and temporal characteristics of trophy bass catches, relying on the state?s numerous anglers to alleviate difficulties associated with the collection of these data using traditional sampling techniques. Through 1 1/2 years of operation, anglers have documented 694 trophy-sized bass with the TrophyCatch program. Initial trends suggest that TrophyCatch is experiencing substantial growth with a 250% increase in approved submissions from year 1 to year 2. Increases in submissions during year two are likely linked to increased awareness of the program within the angling community and simplification of the submission process following year one. TrophyCatch has utilized an adaptive management approach, altering submission guidelines and advertisement strategies based on feedback from program users. Feedback from stakeholders will continue to be utilized to help guide the program into the future. Information gathered via TrophyCatch will help identify long-term and landscape-level patterns in the catch of trophy-sized Florida Bass, aiding in future management of the species.
4:20 pm - 4:40 pm Evaluation of Florida's TrophyCatch program
Evaluation of Florida's TrophyCatch program
Andrew C. Dutterer, Fish and Wildlife Research Institute, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission; Jason R. Dotson, Fish and Wildlife Research Institute, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

TrophyCatch is a new fishery-dependent, citizen-science program for documenting catch and release of trophy-sized bass (?8 lbs; Micropterus floridanus, M. salmoides, and intergrades) in Florida. One of the program goals has been to promote catch and release for trophy-sized bass, reducing fishing mortality on this population segment. To evaluate the efficacy of TrophyCatch to meet this objective, a multi-year, reward-based tagging study was initiated in 2011 (one year prior to TrophyCatch) to estimate mean annual state-wide catch and exploitation rates of trophy-sized bass before and during the operation of the program. The tagging study also provides an angler-survey mechanism, which has been used to measure awareness and participation levels of TrophyCatch among Florida?s anglers. Through three years of operating the tagging study, Florida biologists have tagged over 500 trophy-sized bass, across more than 90 waterbodies within the state. During the first two years (with year-3 ongoing), we estimated that mean annual catch of trophy-sized bass ranged from 11 ? 24% and annual exploitation ranged from 3 ? 5%. Low annual exploitation rates were due to high voluntary release rates (75 - 80%), suggesting that catch and release for trophy bass was widely practiced among most of Florida?s bass anglers. We measured low participation rate for TrophyCatch during year-1 (6%), but it showed improvement during the first half of year-2 (16%), suggesting that the program is gaining support among anglers. The tagging study has been useful for understanding the effects and potential for growth of TrophyCatch and will be continued for at least five years in tandem with the program.
4:40 pm - 5:00 pm History of Paddlefish Management in Kansas
History of Paddlefish Management in Kansas
Ben C. Neely, Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism; Susan F. Steffen, Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism; Sean T. Lynott, Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism; Jeff D. Koch, Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism

Paddlefish (Polyodon spathula) contribute to recreational fisheries in 14 U.S. states, including Kansas. They occur in six major river basins (Arkansas, Kansas, Marais des Cygnes, Missouri, Neosho and Verdigris) in southern and eastern Kansas during spring spawning migrations and are thought to occur in three of those (Kansas, Missouri and Neosho) throughout the year. However, limited data about the species in Kansas has resulted in a need to consolidate available information to formulate a statewide paddlefish management plan. Recreational paddlefish snagging was first recognized as a season in Kansas in 1972 on a short stretch of the Neosho River below Chetopa Dam. Snagging seasons were initially unregulated, but have since evolved to address various management considerations. Notable changes have included development of new snagging opportunities, stocking programs, and harvest regulations. Beginning in 1992, Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism implemented mandatory check stations for harvested fish. These stations ultimately resulted in collection of important fishery data including number, size and sex of harvested fish. Logistic concerns eliminated check stations beginning in 2007 and a permit system was thereafter implemented. Each paddlefish angler was required to purchase a permit that allowed harvest of six fish each season. The permit system has remained through the 2013 season. This document summarizes paddlefish management history in Kansas from 1972-2013.
Tuesday, October 21, 2014
FISHERIES TRACK 5
1:00 pm - 1:20 pm A Description and History of the NMFS Panama City Laboratory Fishery-independent Trap and Video Reef Fish Survey
A Description and History of the NMFS Panama City Laboratory Fishery-independent Trap and Video Reef Fish Survey
Chris Gardner,, NOAA Fisheries; Patrick Raley, NOAA Fisheries; Doug DeVries, NOAA Fisheries

The Panama City NMFS lab has conducted an annual fishery independent trap and video survey of reef fishes on natural reefs on the inner and mid shelf of the Gulf of Mexico off the Florida panhandle and Big Bend region since 2005. The main objective of the survey is to generate indices of relative abundance of exploited reef fishes- red snapper; red grouper; gag; scamp; vermilion, gray, and lane snappers; gray triggerfish; red porgy; white grunt; black seabass; and hogfish for stock assessments and to inform fishery managers. Other objectives include examining: 1) spatial and temporal patterns in community structure as well as in catch, recruitment, demographics, and distribution of both exploited and unexploited species; 2) relationships between habitat and all the aforementioned metrics; and 3) the distribution, characteristics, and extent of reef habitat. The chevron trap is efficient at capturing a broad size range of several, but not all, species of reef fish. Camera arrays are less selective and provide abundance estimates for many more species than traps, and those estimates are usually much less biased; however, traps provide invaluable age and sex data. Stereo cameras, first used in 2009, allow collection of accurate length data. Sampling design was systematic through 2009, but after a major expansion of the sampling universe, was switched to stratified random, with proportional allocation by depth and area to ensure uniform coverage over the entire region. Survey data have been contributed to assessments on red grouper, black seabass, red snapper, greater amberjack, and gag.
1:20 pm - 1:40 pm No-Take Marine Reserves in Dry Tortugas, Florida: A Fisheries and Ecosystem Management Success Story
No-Take Marine Reserves in Dry Tortugas, Florida: A Fisheries and Ecosystem Management Success Story
John H. Hunt, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Fish and Wildlife Research Institute, Alejandro Acosta, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Fish and Wildlife Research Institute, Danielle Morley, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Fish and Wildlife Research Institute

In 2007, a Research Natural Area (RNA) was implemented in the Dry Tortugas region of the Florida Keys. The RNA complemented two no-take reserves that had been established in 2001, the Tortugas North Ecological Reserve and the Tortugas South Ecological Reserve (TSER). The same year as the RNA implementation, the National Park Service and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission developed a science plan to assess the effectiveness of this area, especially in regards to changes in fish populations. These changes were assessed between 2008 and 2012 by a cooperative effort between state, federal and academic institutions that included surveying fish populations, conducting acoustic tagging studies of fish movement, and modeling larval transport. The fish surveys showed that the abundance and occupancy of exploited fish species substantially rebounded inside and adjacent to these reserves following their implementation. Acoustic tagging of mutton snapper demonstrated that they reside during most of the year in the RNA and nearby areas and conduct spawning migrations to and from Riley’s Hump (inside the TSER) multiple times during their summer reproductive period. Mutton snapper were observed spawning there for the first time during the full moon of June 2009. Finally, models predicting the movement of fish larvae from Riley’s Hump suggest that this recovered aggregation supplies recruits to much of the coast of Southeast Florida. These no-take reserves are now an integral part of fishery and ecosystem management in south Florida.
1:40 pm - 2:00 pm So you want to start a monitoring program? The Development of Florida's Freshwater Fisheries Long-term Monitoring Program
So you want to start a monitoring program? The Development of Florida's Freshwater Fisheries Long-term Monitoring Program
Steve Crawford, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission; Kimberly Bonvechio, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission; Eric Sawyers, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

Historic fisheries data was typically collected with varying sampling and recording methodologies and is often inaccessible to contemporary biologists. Therefore, beginning in 2003, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) created standard protocols for sampling fresh water fishes, the first step in developing its Long-term Monitoring program (LTM). Initial development included reviewing current literature and other states? monitoring manuals, interviewing sample gear experts, and surveying FWC biologists about monitoring needs. Data coding was developed to facilitate data sharing with other agencies. Feedback from all sampling personnel was obtained throughout development, which helped increase ownership. In collaboration with the University of Florida?s Lakewatch and with Wallop-Breaux funding, the LTM program was officially launched on 52 lakes throughout Florida in the fall of 2006. A state-wide coordinator was appointed and a designated sampling crew was hired to assist projects with monitoring sampling. A database manager and database liaison were brought in to complete an electronic form for data entry, create an accessible, central database, develop a SharePoint file management and training site, design query tools for personnel to output data, and to increase the utility and sharing of collected data. Since the inception of the LTM, science based analyses have been used to evaluate different aspects of the monitoring program and develop statistically valid sampling protocol that reflected reduced funding and manpower allocation. The LTM program can be a model of how to develop an adaptive, state-wide or regional standardized monitoring program and central database when utilizing previously established field projects.
3:00 pm - 3:20 pm Population Structure, and Habitat Use of the Ornate Diamondback Terrapin (Malaclemys terrapin macrospilota) on a Small Gulf Coast Island while Investigating the Impacts of Crab Traps on this Marked Population
Population Structure, and Habitat Use of the Ornate Diamondback Terrapin (Malaclemys terrapin macrospilota) on a Small Gulf Coast Island while Investigating the Impacts of Crab Traps on this Marked Population
Eric Suarez, Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, University of Florida and the Fish and Wildlife Research Institute, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission; Ryan L. Gandy, Fish and Wildlife Research Institute, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission; William M. Turner, Department of Biological Sciences, Florida State University

Diamondback terrapins are the only species of turtle in North America that occur exclusively in brackish water habitats ranging from Massachusetts to Texas and Florida's coastline accounts for 20% of their total range. Range wide, researchers have reported declines in local terrapin populations. In this study we used mark-recapture techniques to assess this population?s size and structure while developing an effective search methodology for finding terrapins in similar barrier island habitats. We also designed and deployed modified crab traps to investigate trap and terrapin interactions in Lanark Reef located in Franklin County, Florida. During our surveys we captured 442 individuals (800 total) in eight months of sampling, which yielded a catch per unit effort of 0.21 or 1 terrapin every 4.9 minutes. During these surveys we determined that the best time to search for terrapins is during low tide, on clear or partly cloudy days, and within patches of vegetation with tidal wrack (if available). We captured only two terrapins captured during this time. Once these traps were set in areas where we had hand captured terrapins (intertidal zone of island), our captures got significantly higher (65 captures in 330 trap days). Lanark Reef currently has one of the largest reported populations of terrapins range wide. This population also does not seem to enter crab traps or there may be a large amount of trespass occurring in this site. Our next step in this study is to modify the internal structure of the standard blue crab trap that will increase the likelihood that terrapins will escape, while maintaining normal crab capture rates.
3:20 pm - 3:40 pm Developing Monitoring Techniques and Management Tools to Understand the Conflict Between the Blue Crab (Callinectes sapidus) Fishery and Diamondback Terrapin (Malaclemys terrapin macrospilota) Populations in Florida
Developing Monitoring Techniques and Management Tools to Understand the Conflict Between the Blue Crab (Callinectes sapidus) Fishery and Diamondback Terrapin (Malaclemys terrapin macrospilota) Populations in Florida
Ryan Gandy, Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute; Eric Suarez, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission; Bill Turner, Florida State University

The diamondback terrapin (Malaclemys terrapin macrospilota) shares Florida's coastal zone with the blue crab (Callinectes sapidus) and its associated fishery. Several subspecies of diamondback terrapin collectively inhabit coastal zones throughout Florida, three are endemic and all share the potential for interaction with blue crab traps. Population data is lacking for all terrapins in Florida. Pressure to impose regulations, which would limit terrapin bycatch in blue crab traps, continues to increase. Several states along the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic have implemented or are considering regulations on the blue crab trap fishery to reduce the terrapin portion of crab trap bycatch. To date, no comprehensive population assessment or comprehensive impact studies for terrapins have been performed prior to regulation of blue crab fisheries. Determining the population level impacts of terrapin caught as bycatch in blue crab traps is essential to well vetted management decisions. Seasonal terrapin behaviors and commercial crab fishing patterns vary spatially and temporally in Florida and necessitate the development of a science-based mechanism for informed management decisions. Data from recent and ongoing investigations into the development of standardized and habitat specific population survey methods, trap mortality, and maps of blue crab fishery effort within terrapin population ?hot spots? in Florida will be presented.
3:40 pm - 4:00 pm Developing a Fisheries Data Exchange Standard
Developing a Fisheries Data Exchange Standard
Thomas Litts, Georgia Department of Natural Resources; Jennifer Bayer, US Geological Survey; Andrew Loftus, Andrew Loftus Consulting; Andrea Ostroff, US Geological Survey

Many agencies and organizations conduct fisheries and aquatic ecology surveys that result in a wealth of data. These data could significantly advance the goals of local, state, regional and national scale initiatives if information was more readily exchanged between research, management and other interested communities. Past efforts to justify the need for a fisheries data exchange standard have been generally accepted, but the proposed solutions to derive and implement a standard focused primarily on database structure and have not been universally endorsed. The American Fisheries Society and the U.S. Geological Survey have brought together a team of aquatic biological data specialists to investigate and develop phase one of a national fisheries data exchange standard. This collaboration has included a series virtual and face-to-face meetings, a symposium in Quebec, Canada and has focused on the preliminary review of methods and protocols currently employed by fisheries data and information managers; the identification of desirable measurements, elements, metrics and indicators; and the development of options for moving forward with a broad scale data exchange initiative. These proposed standards must be presented to a broader audience of fisheries professionals for refinement and additional input before going forward. Ultimately, the results will provide a foundation for developing a national data exchange standard, leading to more effective management of fisheries and aquatic resources. This session will present the work of the team over the last year and provide state fish agencies with an overview of the initial phase of fisheries data exchange standard development.
4:00 pm - 4:20 pm Using Changes in Occupancy to Detect Population Declines in Aquatic Species
Using Changes in Occupancy to Detect Population Declines in Aquatic Species
Todd Ewing, North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission; Michael Gangloff, Appalachian State University

Determining population trend for many species is problematic for most fisheries agencies because little or no historical information is available on population size nor are resources available for contemporary population estimates. The data often available to managers is presence-absence data compiled by qualitative surveys conducted at intermittent intervals. It has long been known that changes in occupancy can be used to detect a change in population trend. However, there is little guidance in the literature on how to conduct such analyses. We present ways to conduct analyses for measuring changes in occupancy using presence/absence data from multiple sources and give examples using a fish species. Required elements include showing measures of uncertainty, power analysis, and statistical analysis. This type of data can effectively be used to determine population trends for many species in a cost effective and statistically rigorous manner.
4:20 pm - 4:40 pm Comparison of an Active and a Passive Young-of-Year Fish Sampling Gear in a Tropical Reservoir
Comparison of an Active and a Passive Young-of-Year Fish Sampling Gear in a Tropical Reservoir
M. Clint Lloyd, Department of Wildlife, Fisheries & Aquaculture, Mississippi State University; J. Wesley Neal, Department of Wildlife, Fisheries & Aquaculture, Mississippi State University

Young-of-year fish sampling is an important tool for predicting recruitment success and year-class strength of cohorts within managed fish populations. In Puerto Rico, limited research has been conducted on young-of-year sampling with no studies addressing reservoir systems. In this study, we compared the efficacy of passively-fished light traps and actively-fished push nets for determination of diversity and relative abundance of limnetic fishes in tropical reservoirs. Diversity of catch between push nets and light traps were similar, although species composition of catches differed between gears (F = 33.42; P < 0.001) and among seasons (F = 4.29; P < 0.006). Push net catches were dominated by threadfin shad, comprising 94.2% of total catch. Conversely, light traps collected primarily channel catfish (76.8%), with threadfin shad a distant second (13.8%). Light trap catches had greater species evenness in comparison to push nets, although their efficiency may be limited to presence/absence of species. Thus, gear selection should be based on research goals, with push nets an ideal gear for threadfin shad YOY sampling, and light traps more appropriate for community presence/absence sampling. The use of both gears concurrently would give a more complete picture of young-of-year fish communities, as well as help to alleviate existing selectivity biases.
4:40 pm - 5:00 pm Variability in Haul Seine Retention Rates and its Effects on Abundance and Size Structure Estimates of Black Crappie and Sunfish
Variability in Haul Seine Retention Rates and its Effects on Abundance and Size Structure Estimates of Black Crappie and Sunfish
Travis Tuten, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission; Andrew C. Dutterer, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission; Kevin G. Johnson, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission; Eric J. Nagid, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission; Matthew V. Lauretta, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Marine Fisheries Service 

Gear catch efficiencies can have a large effect on data collected to describe fish populations and communities used by managers to make informative decisions. We measured the retention rate of Black Crappie (Pomoxis nigromaculatus) and sunfish (Lepomis spp.) from a seeding experiment comprised of 10 haul seines pulled at three lakes. Approximately 50 individuals of each group were marked and placed into a closed haul seines, and fish recovery rate was measured. Retention rates ranged between 0.34 and 0.94 for Black Crappie, and 0.38 and 0.89 for sunfish. Akaike?s Information Criterion was used to select between alternative generalized linear models of recapture probability (assuming binomial error and logit link model), using various covariates, including fish size and site environmental covariates. Our top ranked model incorporated heterogeneity in fish retention across individual sites and included the effect of species and size of the fish. Nonparametric bootstrap (with replacement) estimates of mean retention rate were 0.57 (95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.47-0.68) for Black Crappie and 0.63 (95% CI = 0.53-0.73) for sunfish. We observed increased retention rates with an increase in fish size for both groups, indicating higher capture probabilities for larger fish. This information can be useful for future projects that use haul seines to collect absolute abundance and size structure information on Black Crappie and sunfish.
Tuesday, October 21, 2014
FISHERIES TRACK 6
1:00 pm - 1:20 pm Population Characteristics of Spotted Bass (Micropterus punctulatus) Inhabiting Wadeable and Nonwadeable Streams of the Lake Pontchartrain Basin, Louisiana
Population Characteristics of Spotted Bass (Micropterus punctulatus) Inhabiting Wadeable and Nonwadeable Streams of the Lake Pontchartrain Basin, Louisiana
J. Brian Alford, The University of Tennessee; Brian Heimann, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries

Since Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the north shore of the Lake Pontchartrain Basin, Louisiana, has been experiencing rapid development and human population growth. Spotted Bass (Micropterus punctulatus) provides the dominant freshwater recreational fishery resource in this region; however, no stock assessments have been conducted to help facilitate management of this relatively unexploited fishery. During 2009-2012, 672 fish were collected from 53 sample sites in wadeable and nonwadeable streams using boat-mounted electrofishing, hook-and-line and seines to assess individual growth, mortality, size-structure, maturation rates, and diet. Metrics describing these population characteristics were similar between wadeable and nonwadeable streams. Von Bertalanffy growth parameters (from sagittal otoliths) were similar (k=0.52 and 0.55; L-inf=302 mm TL and 303 mm TL, respectively), and suggested that these fish grow relatively fast but reach a small theoretical maximum length compared to other stream populations. Total mortality estimates from catch-curve analyses suggested very low mortality for age-3 to age 12 fish (A=5% and 8%, respectively, from hook-and-line gear only). Relative weights were adequate (86% and 89%, respectively), but proportional stock distribution values were low (PSD= 25% and 22%, respectively). Sexual maturation rates (M50=length at 50% mature) were also similar (M50=200 mm TL and 194 mm TL, respectively). Diet was only slightly different, where a larger proportion of small fish (<100 mm TL) from wadeable streams ate more fish instead of crayfish for nonwadeable-stream fish of the same size. Regardless, crayfish, fish, and aquatic insects were the most dominant prey category eaten, across all size groups.
1:20 pm - 1:40 pm Population Dynamics of Alligator Gar in Choke Canyon Reservoir, Texas: Implications for Management
Population Dynamics of Alligator Gar in Choke Canyon Reservoir, Texas: Implications for Management
Greg, R. Binion, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Inland Fisheries District; Daniel, J. Daugherty, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Heart of the Hills Fisheries Science Center; Bodine, Kristopher, A. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

Historic eradication efforts, increasing fishing pressure, and growing anthropogenic impacts have resulted in decreased abundance or extirpation of the Alligator Gar Atractosteus spatula throughout much of its distribution. Current population status has prompted states to actively manage stocks; however, efforts are hindered by a lack of data necessary to make informed management decisions. To begin addressing these data needs, we investigated Alligator Gar population dynamics in Choke Canyon Reservoir, Texas. A total of 754 fish (total length [TL] range, 678 to 2,275 mm) were collected with multifilament gill nets from 2008 through 2013; 656 individuals collected from 2011 through 2013 were tagged and released as part of a mark:recapture study to estimate abundance and exploitation. Adult Alligator Gar (TL ? 1,100 mm) abundance was estimated at 5,437 (95% CI, 3,215 to 9,195) individuals. Annual exploitation based on tag returns was less than 3%; bowfishing tournament data indicated a bow angler harvest rate of about 0.01 fish per angler hour. Alligator Gar age ranged from 0 to 27 yrs. The von Bertalanffy growth in length was greatest through age 5; however, growth slowed considerably among older age classes. Length-at-age of females was consistently greater than predicted by the growth model, whereas male length-at-age was commonly less. Growth in weight, per unit length, was greatest in fish ? 1,700-mm TL. Results of this study provide important information for the management of alligator gar populations in Texas and throughout its distribution.
1:40 pm - 2:00 pm Population Dynamics of White Crappie Pomoxis Annularis Occurring in a Georgia Small Impoundment with Low Predator Densities
Population Dynamics of White Crappie Pomoxis Annularis Occurring in a Georgia Small Impoundment with Low Predator Densities
Timothy F. Bonvechio, Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife Resources Division; Brandon W. Baker, Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife Resources Division; Bryant R. Bowen, Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife Resources Division

Crappies Pomoxis spp. are popular sportfish, but can be difficult to manage due to erratic recruitment and variable growth. Here, we document the population dynamics of a white crappie P. annularis population subjected to low predators in combination with several rough or forage species present in a small impoundment. White crappies were collected by electrofishing in October of 2012. Relative abundance as indexed through electrofishing catch per unit effort of crappie was high (103.3 fish/h + 18.7 SD). Initially, a length frequency distribution was constructed and it was assumed that both juveniles and adults were collected (N = 310) since the distribution was bimodal. A sub-sample was aged (N = 153) and mean total length (TL) at age was described by a von Bertalanffy growth curve as TL = 379.6 (1-e-0.341[age + 0.769]). Growth was considered moderate with crappie reaching 254 mm in 2.49 years. The age distribution revealed that 92.6% of the population was comprised of age-2 fish. Several year-classes were completely missing from the age distribution. Ages 1, 3, 7, and 9 made up < 3% of the age distribution, respectively. White crappie total annual mortality (A) was 49% (r2 = 0.99). Mean TL of age-2 crappie was 231 mm TL, but surprisingly ranged in size from 85 to 365 mm TL. Both stunting and rapid growth were apparent in the same year-class. Growth and recruitment variations for white crappie could be linked to whether or not the fish made a piscivorous switch to threadfin shad Dorosoma pretense.
2:00 pm - 2:20 pm Is Growth of Reservoir Largemouth Bass Density-Dependent?
Is Growth of Reservoir Largemouth Bass Density-Dependent?
Matthew J. Catalano, School of Fisheries, Aquaculture, and Aquatic Sciences, Auburn University; Kim I. Bonvechio, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Fish and Wildlife Research Institute; and Micheal S. Allen, Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, University of Florida

Density-dependent somatic growth in post-recruit life stages has been observed for many exploited fish populations. In small (< 40-ha) freshwater impoundments, strong density-dependent growth responses have been reported for largemouth bass and bluegill populations. However, few studies have evaluated density-dependent post-recruit growth in freshwater fish populations at larger spatial scales, such as large lakes and reservoirs. With increased management restrictions and adoption of voluntary release by anglers over the past 30 years, largemouth bass populations of North America have experienced declining mortality rates. If reduced mortality rates have resulted in increased abundance of largemouth bass, then these changes have the potential to influence growth dynamics via density-dependent growth responses. We used historical data from eight Alabama reservoirs to assess the relationship between largemouth bass growth and abundance indices through time. In general, mean length-at-age was not related to age-specific catch per effort (CPE) across lakes, although some positive relationships did exist. Temporal trends in CPE and mean length-at-age were also weak. As expected, CPE data were highly variable, which likely masked any relationships that may have existed. Our findings imply that imposition of length and bag limits are unlikely to cause substantial reductions in largemouth bass growth at Alabama reservoirs, insofar that densities remain within the ranges we evaluated.
3:00 pm - 3:20 pm Largemouth Bass Recruitment and Mortality at Wheeler and Guntersville Reservoirs Estimated With Catch-at-age Analysis
Largemouth Bass Recruitment and Mortality at Wheeler and Guntersville Reservoirs Estimated With Catch-at-age Analysis
Nicholas Feltz, Auburn University; Matthew Catalano, Auburn University

Obtaining reliable estimates of recruitment and fishing mortality is essential to understanding factors affecting temporal variability in stock abundance, anticipating population trends, and helping managers make informed decisions. Statistical catch-at-age analysis (SCAA) is a useful tool for reconstructing recruitment and fishing mortality rates from historical data. This method has yet to be applied to largemouth bass stocks. We used survey age/length composition and catch-per-effort data from largemouth bass at Wheeler and Guntersville Reservoirs, Alabama, within the framework of SCAA to reconstruct a time series of relative recruitment strengths, annual fishing mortality rates, and sampling vulnerability schedules. Recruitment estimates were then correlated between lakes and with habitat variables. Recruitment was weakly correlated between lakes and with macrophyte coverage. Age based vulnerability differed between lakes, which was most likely attributable to differences in length-at-age. Our novel application of SCAA to agency survey datasets for largemouth bass potentially provides a more comprehensive analysis and better understanding of these stocks without increasing sampling efforts.
3:20 pm - 3:40 pm Effects of Hurricane-Induced Hydrilla Reduction on the Largemouth Bass Fishery at Two Central Florida Lakes
Effects of Hurricane-Induced Hydrilla Reduction on the Largemouth Bass Fishery at Two Central Florida Lakes
Kevin Johnson, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission; Jason Dotson, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission; William Pouder, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission; Nicholas Trippel, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission; Robert Eisenhauer, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

Lakes Weohyakapka and St. Johns Water Management Area, Florida, experienced severe impacts from multiple hurricanes in August and September 2004, resulting in the loss of all submersed aquatic vegetation, primarily hydrilla (Hydrilla verticillata). We assessed at both lakes changes in largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides) population size distribution, recreational fishing effort and success, angler expenditures, and catches of trophy fish in relation to disparate levels of hydrilla coverage for prehurricane (1999-2004) and posthurricane (2005-2009) periods. Tests revealed significant differences at both lakes in the population size distribution between prehurricane (high percentage coverage of hydrilla) and posthurricane (no hydrilla) periods. At both lakes, the population size distribution comprised more juvenile (age-1) largemouth bass before the hurricanes, indicating that a decline in recruitment strength coincided with the absence of hydrilla posthurricanes. Declines in directed fishing effort, angler expenditures, and angler catches of trophy-sized fish also occurred following the absence of hydrilla posthurricanes. These findings demonstrate an important link between radical changes in hydrilla coverage with recruitment of juvenile largemouth bass and the strength of the largemouth bass fishery. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission recently adopted a new agency position on hydrilla management that allows flexibility regarding waterbodies with limited or absent native submersed vegetation, recognizing that hydrilla at a low to moderate coverage can be beneficial to fish and wildlife.
3:40 pm - 4:00 pm Population Characteristics of Flathead Catfish in the Lower Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway
Population Characteristics of Flathead Catfish in the Lower Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway
Tyler Stubbs, Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks; Jason Olive, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission; Nathan Martin, Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks; Charles Watts, Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks

Flathead Catfish (Pylodictus olivaris) populations were sampled in 3 Northeast Mississippi reservoirs (Aberdeen, Columbus, and Aliceville) along the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway to evaluate stock characteristics. Specifically, data were collected on fish condition, relative abundance, growth, mortality, recruitment, and size structure. These samples were part of a statewide effort to document current population status in reservoirs and to develop population parameter criteria. Sampling was conducted during late summer (July-August) from 2011-2013 using low-frequency pulsed DC electrofishing operated in low range (170-340 V) at 15 pps, with percent of range manually adjusted to achieve 1-2 A output. Total length (mm) and weight (g) were recorded for each fish. A pectoral spine was extracted from each fish and was sectioned through the articulating process using a low-speed saw for all fish ? 250mm TL for aging. Population characteristics for all three lakes were similar and were similar to other lakes in the Southeastern United States. Time to reach quality length (510 mm) was nearly identical for all three lakes; however, it took flathead catfish on Aberdeen Lake approximately 1 year longer to reach stock size (350 mm) than on Columbus or Aliceville. There was no significant difference in length frequency distributions, growth rates, or recruitment variation. All three populations appear to contain robust flathead catfish populations, however, habitat degradation continues to be a concern for these populations due to major sedimentation and aging of Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway.
4:00 pm - 4:20 pm Community Responses of Larval and Juvenile Fishes to Created Shallow-water Habitats in the Missouri River
Community Responses of Larval and Juvenile Fishes to Created Shallow-water Habitats in the Missouri River
Trevor Starks, Oklahoma Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit Department of Natural Resources Ecology and Management Oklahoma State Universit; Jim Long, U.S. Geological Survey, Oklahoma Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Oklahoma State University

Anthropogenic alteration of aquatic habitat has greatly reduced and homogenized habitat, especially for larval and juvenile fishes. Creation of shallow-water habitats has been used as a restoration technique in response to altered conditions in several studies but has only recently been attempted in the United States. In the summer of 2012, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers sampled for larval and juvenile fishes at six paired sites (main stem and created shallow-water) along a stretch of the Missouri River between Kansas City and St. Louis. From those samples, we enumerated and identified a total of 11,038 fishes representing 12 families. Community responses of fishes to created shallow-water habitats were assessed by comparisons of species richness and diversity measures between paired sites. Shannon entropy measures were transformed and ? diversity (total diversity) was partitioned into two components, ? (within community) and ? (between community) diversity using a multiplicative decomposition method. Percent similarity measures, along with Mantel test results suggest site location along a longitudinal gradient as a driver of larval/juvenile community structure. Paired t-test results indicate little to no differences in community turnover between habitat types.
4:20 pm - 4:40 pm Estimates of Spotted Seatrout (Cynoscion nebulosus) Age, Growth, and Mortality in Coastal Alabama
Estimates of Spotted Seatrout (Cynoscion nebulosus) Age, Growth, and Mortality in Coastal Alabama
William F. Patterson III

Estimated inshore fishing effort has increased approximately 3-fold in coastal Alabama since the early 2000s, as have estimates of landed catch and discards for spotted seatrout, Cynoscion nebulosus, an iconic sportfish in the region. In response to these increases in catch and effort, we began a study to examine spotted seatrout age, growth, and mortality in summer 2013. Fish (n = 669) were sampled at the Alabama Deepsea Fishing Rodeo in 2013 with a plan to repeat this sampling in summer 2014. Individuals were weighed to the nearest 0.01 kg, measured to the nearest mm total length, sex determined by examination of gonads, and both saggital otoliths extracted. Otoliths were sectioned with a diamond bladed saw and annual opaque zones counted with a dissecting microscope. Age ranged from 1 to 8 years and females grew significantly faster and reached larger sizes than males; the ratio of females to males in the sample was 4.2:1. Total instantaneous mortality (Z) was estimated by catch curve analysis and ranged from 0.71 to 0.94 y-1 among sex-specific and joint-sex models. Assuming natural mortality (M) equals 0.3 y-1, then the ratio of fishing mortality (F) to M ranged from 1.4 to 2.1, indicating the stock is fully exploited and overfishing may be occurring. Given the ecological and economic importance of spotted seatrout, as well as the existence of fishery-independent data to estimate abundance trends, a more sophisticated stock assessment should be conducted to evaluate stock status in Alabama waters.
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
FISHERIES TRACK 7
8:00 am - 8:20 am Tag Retention of Hallprint Dart Tags by Riverine Smallmouth Bass
Tag Retention of Hallprint Dart Tags by Riverine Smallmouth Bass
Jim Burroughs; Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, Porter, Oklahoma; Shannon K. Brewer; U.S. Geological Survey, Oklahoma Cooperative Fish & Wildlife Research Unit, Oklahoma State University

Mark-recapture studies are useful for the management of aquatic resources and the availability of additional tag options has increased their application and effectiveness. Population estimates, growth, survival, movement and sampling efficiency have all been estimated from the recaptures of marked fish. New technologies, such as pit tags, genetic finger printing, elastomer tags, and dart tags have increased recapture rates and subsequently increased accuracy of these parameter estimates. Dart tags can be particularly useful because they allow unique identification of individuals, are easy to read and highly visible, can be used to batch mark fish, are easy to apply, and they come in a range of sizes and styles to accommodate tagging fishes of various sizes. The retention of these tags has been evaluated on many marine species but on only a few freshwater species. The objective of this study was to examine tag retention of dart tags on riverine smallmouth bass. Fish were captured using a variety of methods, anesthetized, and tagged. Fish < 305mm were tagged with PDS (1.6 X 83mm) tags and fish > 305mm were tagged using PDAT (2 x 110mm) tags. In addition, each fish was double tagged with a 12-mm PIT tag. Preliminary results (three months since tagging) indicate high tag retention, particularly with use of larger tags. Most of the tag loss was associated with smaller fish. Overall, dart tags appear to be a useful tagging procedure for moderately-sized sportfish in stream environments.
8:20 am - 8:40 am Assessing Fishing Pressure and Angler Harvest from Marben Public Fishing Area in Middle Georgia
Assessing Fishing Pressure and Angler Harvest from Marben Public Fishing Area in Middle Georgia
Hunter J. Roop, University of Georgia; Neelam C. Poudyal, University of Georgia; Cecil A. Jennings, University of Georgia

Creel surveys are valuable tools that fishery managers use to gather information about angler effort and harvest from water bodies of interest. A non-uniform roving creel survey was conducted at the Marben Public Fishing Area in Mansfield, Georgia during 2013 to obtain baseline estimates of fishery characteristics relating to fishing effort, catch, release, and fish harvest at the multiple-lake fishery. Fishing effort averaged 7,803 angler hours monthly (s.d. = 6,307) and ranged from 23,629 h in May to 1,638 h in December. Overall mean catch rate was 1.22 fish/h (s.d. = 1.97), harvest rate was 0.57 fish/h (s.d. = 1.09), and release rate was 1.22 fish/h (s.d. = 1.31). The most highly sought-after sport fish species also had the highest species-specific catch rates, which were 2.11 fish/hr (s.d. =2.46) for sunfish Lepomis spp., 0.42 fish/hr (s.d. = 0.68) for Largemouth Bass Micropterus salmoides, 0.29 fish/hr (s.d. = 0.52) for Channel Catfish Ictalurus punctatus, and 0.27 fish/hr (s.d. = 0.66) for Black Crappie Pomoxis nigromaculatus. Linear regression indicated a strong positive relationship between estimates of mean total monthly catch and mean harvest (r2=0.87). Sunfish dominated catch and harvest compositions year-round, whereas other species (e.g., Black Crappie) were seasonally present in the creel. Compared to results from other comparable fisheries, fishing pressure in Marben Public Fishing Area is moderate and catch rates of sunfish are good; however, catch and harvest rates for Black Crappie and Channel Catfish were relatively low. These results provide key fishery characteristics that should aid management in improving or maintaining the current quality of fishing at this PFA.
8:40 am - 9:00 am Comparison of Early Season Catch Rates for Bass in Three Alabama Reservoirs
Comparison of Early Season Catch Rates for Bass in Three Alabama Reservoirs
Dalton Robinson, Shorter University; Michael K. Crosby, Shorter University

Bass fishing is an important recreational activity in Alabama reservoirs and a variety of factors (e.g., management activities, weather conditions, etc.) can influence angler success. Therefore, it is important to determine locations that allow anglers to make a decision regarding likelihood of success (i.e., catching fish) or the potential to catch larger fish (trophy fishing). Data collected from bass tournaments held on Alabama reservoirs via the Bass Anglers Information Team (B.A.I.T.) program were collected and analyzed for early season (April) catch rates for three reservoirs (Lake Guntersville, Lake Eufaula, and Weiss Lake). A significant difference was found between catch rates (using catch per unit effort, CPUE) and average bass size. Weiss Lake had a higher average CPUE and smaller average fish size and Lake Guntersville had higher average fish size but the lowest catch rate. Additionally, a positive correlation was found between CPUE and the number of days with minimum temperature at or below freezing. These results indicate that managers and tournament hosts should consider the severity of the previous winter and fishery when planning early season tournaments or angling activities.
9:00 am - 9:20 am The Proposal of a New Statewide Largemouth Bass Regulation for the State of Florida
The Proposal of a New Statewide Largemouth Bass Regulation for the State of Florida
Andy Strickland, FL Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission; Allen Martin, FL Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission; Brandon Thompson, FL Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

Harvest regulations for largemouth bass in Florida have not been comprehensively reviewed in over 20 years. As a result of implementing the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission?s Black Bass Management Plan, a team was established to conduct a thorough review of bass regulations in Florida and make a recommendation on whether to keep the current regulations or propose a change. Current bass regulations were reviewed and the team investigated potential regulation changes by considering biological and social components of the regulations. Biological information such as size structure, growth rates and exploitation rates were analyzed to guide discussion and potential regulations in the review process. Stakeholder input was gathered via angler surveys and open house meetings across the state. Given the known biological data and the perception and attitude of anglers, a recommendation for change of existing largemouth bass regulations was warranted. The proposed statewide regulation for largemouth bass is five per day, only one of which can be 16 inches or greater in total length. The process to have this regulation implemented is currently ongoing.
9:20 am - 9:40 am Estimating Delaware Bay Horseshoe Crab Abundance Using Mark-Recapture
Estimating Delaware Bay Horseshoe Crab Abundance Using Mark-Recapture
Emily Merritt, Auburn University; Conor McGowan, Auburn University; David Smith, United States Geological Survey; Matthew Catalano, Auburn University

The Limulus polyphemus species of horseshoe is heavily relied upon by many different and competing stakeholders in Delaware Bay. A lack of coordinated research, management, and monitoring efforts up until the 1990s has made management of this multiple-use resource very challenging. Effective, reliable, and sustainable monitoring of horseshoe crab abundance in the Bay is a key component of managing this species. In this study, we evaluated the efficacy of the mark-recapture approach for estimating Delaware Bay horseshoe crab abundance. Our objectives were (1) to explore what percent of the population needs to be tagged in order to generate precise estimates of abundance; and, (2) to evaluate what level of resight effort gives sufficient precision in the estimates. We collected horseshoe crab tagging and recapture data in 2013 and used that information to vary the percent of the population tagged and number of crabs recaptured in different effort scenarios. The recapture data were simulated using Monte Carlo simulations and abundance was estimated using the Seber method. Our results show that over 7.5% of the population needs to be tagged in order for the coefficient of variation of the abundance estimate to be less than 20%. In addition, resight effort must be more than tripled to lower the coefficient of variation to a useful level. Our results indicate that a massive increase in the number of tags or resighting effort would be required for mark-recapture abundance estimation to sufficiently support the adaptive management of horseshoe crab harvests.
10:20 am - 10:40 am Factors Influencing Interannual Variations in Catch Rates in Florida Lakes
Factors Influencing Interannual Variations in Catch Rates in Florida Lakes
Earl Lundy, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission; David Gandy, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

Catch per unit effort (CPUE) is often used as an indirect index for abundance of sportfishes. However, CPUE can be influenced by fish size, water conductivity, habitat, and other factors. Determining aspects that influence catchability and their effects on the catch rate of target species is vital in assessing whether changes in CPUE are a result of changing population size, species catchability, or other factors. This in turn gives managers the ability to assess the efficacy of regulations management actions, sources of perceived population fluctuations, and factors that can minimize sampling variability. Largemouth Bass Micropterus salmoides catch rates were examined in relation to physicochemical and environmental variables for lakes of the Lower St. Johns River system in Florida. Our data indicated that Largemouth Bass catch rates on lakes with narrow (<20m) littoral zones were influenced primarily by sample timing relative to spawning onset and cessation. Lakes with water level fluctuations that greatly increased or reduced habitat available during the spawn had greater variance as water levels rose and fell. Catch rates for lakes that were characterized by stable water levels and with wide littoral zones (up to 1,500m in some areas) were much harder to characterize.
10:40 am - 11:00 am Yellow River Basin Stream Reach Analysis and Prioritization for Restoration Activities
Yellow River Basin Stream Reach Analysis and Prioritization for Restoration Activities
Jennifer Bock, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

Habitat degradation is a primary factor in the decline of biodiversity in aquatic ecosystems of the Southeastern United States. The streams in this region contain some of the highest aquatic biodiversity in North America. Although the Florida?s legacy program identifies the Yellow River Basin as a priority preservation area, limited resources necessitate the identification of high priority stream reaches for restoration. A hydro-network was created to allow for the delineation of drainage areas for each stream reach within the Yellow River Basin, and for the aggregation of multiple attributes by individual drainage area and by cumulative drainage area, as well as the calculation of total stream kilometers downstream from each reach. Unpaved stream crossings and impoundment area were digitized and consolidated both by individual drainage area and by cumulative drainage area. Erosion potential, land-cover within a 90m riparian buffer zone and number of freshwater obligate Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN) located within the stream reach catchments were calculated by individual drainage areas. These factors were ranked and summed to create an index, with the highest values reflecting reaches with the greatest predicted need for restoration. The length of stream downstream from each reach was used to prioritize areas where restoration work will impact the greatest length of stream kilometers in the case of tied rankings. The results of this work identified very small areas that tend affect much larger areas through downstream connectivity.
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
FISHERIES TRACK 8
8:00 am - 8:20 am Taking a Second Look at the Spotted Bass Inhabiting Gulf Coastal Plain Streams: Native Biodiversity Rediscovered After 70 Years
Taking a Second Look at the Spotted Bass Inhabiting Gulf Coastal Plain Streams: Native Biodiversity Rediscovered After 70 Years
Brandon Barthel, Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute; Mike Tringali, Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute; John Knight, Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute

More than seventy years ago, Hubbs and Bailey reported that ?spotted bass? inhabiting Gulf coastal plain streams were morphologically different than Micropterus punctulatus found in the Mississippi River and its tributaries. They concluded that fish in southeastern Louisiana, east-central Mississippi, and western Florida/southern Alabama streams (excluding the Mobile drainage) were likely to be intergrades between spotted bass and Alabama bass M. henshalli. The possibility of hybrid ancestry appears to have been ignored or forgotten, as these fish have been considered spotted bass by natural resource agencies and anglers in recent times. Recently, Florida Fish and Wildlife commission biologists have determined that fish in the streams of western Florida/southern Alabama represent a distinct species, not hybrids (the species has been provisionally named Choctaw bass M. haiaka). FWC geneticists analyzed samples from the Pearl and Pascagoula Rivers and found that microsatellite genotypes indicate that these fish are not Choctaw bass. While microsatellites also show they are the not the product of recent hybridization between spotted bass and Alabama bass, nuclear introns sequences suggest that there may have been some degree of intermixing in the past. Phylogenetic analysis of COI haplotypes shows that Pearl and Pascagoula fish have closer mitochondrial relationships to Guadalupe bass M. treculii and Choctaw bass than to spotted bass or Alabama bass. Taken as a whole, this work confirms that fish from the East Gulf Coastal Plain are not typical M. punctulatus, but future work will be required to determine just where they fit into the black bass phylogeny.
8:20 am - 8:40 am Nuclear Identification and Parentage-Based Tagging (PBT) of Largemouth Bass Stocked into Lake Allatoona, Georgia
Nuclear Identification and Parentage-Based Tagging (PBT) of Largemouth Bass Stocked into Lake Allatoona, Georgia
Bryant R. Bowen, Georgia Department of Natural Resources; Jim Hakala, Georgia Department of Natural Resources; Brandon Barthel, Fish and Wildlife Research Institute

Black bass are the most sought after sport fish in the country. Many states, including Georgia, have black bass management at the top of their priority list. Largemouth bass are a common native black bass species found throughout Georgia?s lakes, ponds and rivers and anglers in the state spend more days fishing for largemouth bass than any other freshwater species. Largemouth bass are found in Lake Allatoona, but currently, are less abundant than Alabama bass. Both largemouth and Alabama bass are native to the impoundment, but the population balance has shifted towards Alabama bass dominance over time. Over the last decade there has been a growing call from consumptive users on this lake to enhance fishing quality by increasing largemouth bass abundance. As such, an experimental supplemental largemouth bass stocking program was initiated in 2012. Georgia ?intergrade? largemouth bass are being produced and stocked for the study from different brood sources across the state. Our goal is to utilize 18 microsatellite markers to determine the genetic composition of these hatchery production stocks. These data will then be available for Parentage-Based Tagging (PBT) to enable us to track stocking success of the different alleles over time. These data will provide useful, innovative techniques to aid fisheries biologist in managing the largemouth bass fishery in Lake Allatoona, GA.
8:40 am - 9:00 am Evaluation of Phenotypic-Guadalupe Bass (Micropterus treculii) in the Colorado River Below the City of Austin, Texas
Evaluation of Phenotypic-Guadalupe Bass (Micropterus treculii) in the Colorado River Below the City of Austin, Texas
Marcos J. De Jesus, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department; Dijar Lutz-Carrillo, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

The native ranges of Guadalupe Bass (Micropterus treculii) and Spotted Bass (M. punctulatus) converge at the Colorado River drainage in Texas. Abundant and large phenotypic-Guadalupe Bass are commonly reported by anglers fishing these sympatric waters, and recently (February 2014) the new state-record Guadalupe Bass was angled here. While there is little evidence of hybridization in the literature we hypothesized that large phenotypic-Guadalupe Bass were the result of introgression with Spotted Bass given that Spotted Bass are noted to attain a larger overall size. Phenotypic-Guadalupe Bass were angled from seven sites on the Colorado River (n = 85) between July 2012 and April 2014. Sites were distributed along a 250 km river-stretch between the city of Austin and the city of Columbus, TX. Lengths and a fin-clip were obtained from each angled fish, and subsequently isolated DNA was used as a template to sequence a nuclear and mitochondrial gene in a representative subset of samples (n = 46). Sequencing indicated 12% and 10% introgression at the nuclear and mitochondrial markers, respectively, with 72% of samples exhibiting no signs of hybridization. Introgression generally increased downstream; but by length, non-introgressed Guadalupe Bass were significantly larger (P = 0.002) than introgressed samples in the collection. No fish ? 305 mm showed signs of introgression, including the new state-record fish. This suggests that hybridization occurs in the Guadalupe drainage but is not the basis for the large size of Guadalupe Bass in the system. Enhanced size among resident Guadalupe Bass may instead be the result of high trophic productivity, which departs dramatically from the clear Texas Hill Country streams that serve as the main biotope for Guadalupe Bass.
9:00 am - 9:20 am SNP Marker Resources for Largemouth and Florida Bass: Assessing Introgression in Natural and Stocked Populations in Alabama
SNP Marker Resources for Largemouth and Florida Bass: Assessing Introgression in Natural and Stocked Populations in Alabama
Spencer Gowan, Aquatic Genetics and Genomics Laboratory, School of Fisheries, Aquaculture, and Aquatic Sciences, Auburn University; Chao Li, Aquatic Genetics and Genomics Laboratory, School of Fisheries, Aquaculture, and Aquatic Sciences, Auburn University; Ammu Anil, Aquatic Genetics and Genomics Laboratory, School of Fisheries, Aquaculture, and Aquatic Sciences, Auburn University; Wilawan Thongda, Aquatic Genetics and Genomics Laboratory, School of Fisheries, Aquaculture, and Aquatic Sciences, Auburn University; Ludmilla Kaltenboeck, Aquatic Genetics and Genomics Laboratory, School of Fisheries, Aquaculture, and Aquatic Sciences, Auburn University; Huseyin Kucuktas, Aquatic Genetics and Genomics Laboratory, School of Fisheries, Aquaculture, and Aquatic Sciences, Auburn University; and Eric Peatman, Aquatic Genetics and Genomics Laboratory, School of Fisheries, Aquaculture, and Aquatic Sciences, Auburn University

Hybridization of Florida bass (Micropterus floridanus) with largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides) has dramatically expanded beyond a naturally-occurring intergrade zone in the Southeast U.S. Efforts to improve recreational fisheries have included widespread stocking of M. floridanus outside its native range of peninsular Florida. In recent years there has been growing interest in protecting the genetic integrity of native basses and assessing the impact and nature of M. salmoides/M. floridanus introgression from the standpoint of hatchery managers, fish biologists, ecologists, evolutionary biologists, and sport-fishery managers. The field of conservation genetics, harnessing the power of next-generation sequencing, is rapidly adapting SNP technology due the advantages of SNP markers including abundance, even genome distribution, ease of multiplexing and lab-to-lab reproducibility. Here we sequenced the transcriptomes of M. salmoides, M. floridanus and their F1 hybrid and identified a set of 3,674 SNP markers with putative fixed allelic differences between species from 2,112 unique genes. We have developed two multiplex panels of 62 SNP markers for the MassARRAY platform and validated their capacity for assessing integrity and hybridization in hatchery and wild populations of bass (n=700). Our data indicates a complexity in natural intergrade populations overlooked with previous marker systems. Data from several Alabama reservoirs and the Mobile Delta will be presented.
9:20 am - 9:40 am Genetically Inferred Reproductive Behavior in Captive Guadalupe Bass
Genetically Inferred Reproductive Behavior in Captive Guadalupe Bass
Dijar Lutz-Carrillo, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department; Carl Kittel, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department; Chris Thibodeaux, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department; Janaye Williamson, Texas State University

Guadalupe Bass (Micropterus treculii), a Texas endemic and species of special concern, were collected from the South Llano River (n = 281) for use as broodfish in a restoration effort. Reproductive behavior in captivity was monitored by typing production offspring with 17 microsatellite loci and resolving parentage. The first two spawning seasons (2011, 2012) indicated low levels of male participation (34%, 28%), a highly asymmetric sex ratio (M:F; 1:2.33, 1:1.93), and high levels of polygyny (90%, 80% of spawning males), resulting in a relatively small effective number of breeders (Nb; 32.2, 41.7). These observations departed from the documented mating systems of wild congeners and prompted modifications to the spawning environments. The third spawning season (2013) resulted in greater levels of male participation (52%), a more symmetric sex ratio (1:1.55), and decreased levels of polygyny (69% of spawning males), resulting in a dramatic increase in Nb (91.6). Behavioral differences over time were associated with greater numbers of penned fish, increased broodfish size, reduced broodfish size variance, modifications to spawning compartments, and supplementation of the broodstock with wild individuals, but acclimation time and increased age appear to account for most of the changes in reproductive behavior and the resultant increase in Nb.
10:20 am - 10:40 am Population Characteristics of White Bass and an Evaluation of Minimum Length Limits in Kentucky Lake, Tennessee
Population Characteristics of White Bass and an Evaluation of Minimum Length Limits in Kentucky Lake, Tennessee
J. Eric Ganus, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency; Timothy N. Churchill, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency; William P. Black, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency

Relatively few studies have been conducted for white bass (Morone chrysops) populations in large river impoundments. Our study focused on population characteristics of white bass in Kentucky Lake, a mainstem impoundment of the Tennessee River. A total of 994 fish were collected using electrofishing during April of 2006 and 2007. Age, growth, and mortality were evaluated. Kentucky Lake white bass exhibited relatively fast growth compared to previously studied populations. Females were larger than males at age-1 and both genders were sexually mature by age-2 when complete recruitment to the fishery occurred. Mortality did not differ between males and females and the pooled annual mortality rate (A) was 45-46% each year. Beverton-Holt equilibrium yield models and mortality caps were used to evaluate the potential for minimum-length limits (MLL) to increase yield, harvest potential, and mean harvest length in the population. Yield models for 4 MLL scenarios [254 mm (no MLL), 279 mm, 305 mm, and 330 mm] were run at 2 conditional natural mortalities (0.35 and 0.45) and varying exploitation. These models did not predict appreciable changes in yield or number of fish available for harvest across MLLs. Similarly, mortality caps did not indicate the potential to increase mean harvest length white bass by implementing an MLL. Although Kentucky Lake white bass grew rapidly, a MLL for white bass was not recommended because the models predicted only nominal benefits. Future evaluations of size limit feasibility should include a concurrent exploitation study to better determine the relative influence of natural and fishing mortalities in the yield models.
10:40 am - 11:00 am An Assessment of the Stock Characteristics of Tennessee River Sauger Populations
An Assessment of the Stock Characteristics of Tennessee River Sauger Populations
Timothy N. Churchill, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency; Christy L. Graham, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission; Phillip W. Bettoli, U.S. Geological Survey, Tennessee Cooperative Fishery Research Unit

Minimum length limits were established in 1992 for sauger (Sander canadensis) populations in the Tennessee River to reduce exploitation and improve their size structure. The objectives of this study were to describe trends in stock characteristics since the early 1990s and assess the likelihood of overfishing in recent years. Otoliths were removed from saugers collected from late winter to early spring in 1993-1997 and 2008-2009 in Kentucky Lake and Watts Bar Lake, two mainstem reservoirs on the Tennessee River. Each fish was aged by examining its otoliths, yields were simulated using the Beverton-Holt yield per-recruit model, and spawning potential ratios were calculated to assess the likelihood of recruitment overfishing. Mean ages and mean total lengths (TL) did not exhibit any trends between 1993 and 2009 in Watts Bar Lake. No trend in mean ages was detected over time in Kentucky Lake but mean lengths increased ~ 3.2 mm/year. The Kentucky Lake sauger population in 2008-2009 did not exhibit signs of growth overfishing or recruitment overfishing under the current minimum length limit of 356 mm TL. The Watts Bar Lake sauger population did not exhibit signs of growth overfishing under the current limit of 381 mm TL, but was susceptible to recruitment overfishing at high (> 40%) exploitation rates when natural mortality was low. Eliminating the size limits in either reservoir would increase the likelihood of both types of overfishing, but the extent of risk would depend on the level of exploitation and natural mortality in each reservoir.
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
FISHERIES TRACK 9
8:00 am - 8:20 am Co-management of a Unique Commercial Fishery: Florida's Saltwater Aquarium Trade
Co-management of a Unique Commercial Fishery: Florida's Saltwater Aquarium Trade
Melissa Recks, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Division of Marine Fisheries Management; Jessica McCawley, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Division of Marine Fisheries Management

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has actively managed the state's fishery for tropical ornamental marine fish, corals, invertebrates, and plants (collectively known as "marine life") since 1990. The state currently regulates collection of more than 60 different types of marine life organisms, prohibiting harvest of 7 species and species groups as well as the collection of "live rock." Current regulations govern both recreational and commercial collection, with the commercial fishery managed through a limited access program, along with a series of other traditional fisheries management strategies, including recreational and commercial bag limits, size limits, and large areas closed to collection of marine life species. As the market and demand for various species shifts, so does the nature of the pressure on Florida's natural resources, requiring continued attention be paid to the nuances of this changing fishery. New and modified regulations are developed as needed to address industry concerns and biological/ecological needs. The state has worked closely with commercial participants in the fishery from the beginning, with many of the initial regulations requested by the fishery participants. This long-standing relationship with the industry has helped develop a sense of trust between managers and collectors, which contributes to the success of the management program and to the sustainability of the resources and the fishery that depends on them. The presentation will cover the co-management nature of the relationship between the FWC and marine life collectors and explain the management system.
8:20 am - 8:40 am Research and Management Efforts Addressing Trap Impacts in Florida's Spiny Lobster Trap Fishery
Research and Management Efforts Addressing Trap Impacts in Florida's Spiny Lobster Trap Fishery
Gabrielle F. Renchen, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Fish and Wildlife Research Institute; Thomas R. Matthews, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Fish and Wildlife Research Institute

The spiny lobster trap fishery is one of Florida?s most valuable commercial fisheries. The majority of trap fishing occurs in the Florida Keys where it is important to the cultural history and economy. Fishermen report that approximately 18% of traps used in the fishery are lost annually, with increased loss during hurricanes. Trap loss is an unintended consequence of fishing that causes lost income, marine debris, and environmental harm. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has attempted to address the environmental impacts of traps through three management efforts: the Lobster Trap Certificate Program, derelict trap retrieval, and gear modifications. The Certificate Program has reduced the number of traps from 939,000 in 1991 to ~483,000 in 2013. The derelict trap retrieval program removes lost or abandoned traps from state waters annually. Gear modification research was implemented to determine if alternative trap designs can reduce environmental impacts. Throughout the management process, FWC researchers have conducted extensive cooperative research to understand the nature of trap interactions with the environment. Research completed thus far indicates that: 1) trap gear is the most prevalent type of submerged debris in the Florida Keys, 2) many lost traps remain intact for extended time periods and ghost fish, killing lobsters and fish, and 3) wind driven trap movement is a source of coral loss. When complete, this research will be presented to our managers for consideration regarding mechanisms to improve the management of trap impacts and ensure the continued viability of this important fishery in Florida.
8:40 am - 9:00 am Potential Fishery Induced Reproductive Changes to the Florida Stone Crab (Menippe sp.)
Potential Fishery Induced Reproductive Changes to the Florida Stone Crab (Menippe sp.)
Claire Crowley, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission-Fish and Wildlife Research Institute

The Florida stone crab fishery has evolved from small owner-operated ventures with direct sales to market to a highly capitalized system of harvesters that supply a consolidated wholesale network. Stone crab claw landings generate more than $20 million annually throughout Florida. The high demand for stone crab and limited supply from a resource where all available claws are harvested each season has stressed the resiliency of the species and challenges scientists and managers to assess and manage this valuable resource in a sustainable manner. Previous assessments utilized effort based indices, through the use of surplus production models and recruitment trends, to affirm overfishing is ongoing. Implementation of these effort based models is necessary because the fishery only harvests claws larger than 70mm PL and returns the crab to the water, where it is capable of regenerating legal claws and returning to the fishery. Biological information from the catch such as, mortality, age, growth, and reproductive potential is therefore unavailable and must be extrapolated from claw landings for any assessment performed. The lack of specific biological data for stock assessments limits our understanding of the impact of the fishery on stone crab population dynamics and may have long term evolutionary consequences to the stone crab population. Long term concerns for this fishery involve fishery induced changes to the reproductive stock, including age and size at sexual maturity, changes to potential fecundity, and shorter reproductive life span. Potential fishery induced changes to the reproductive capacity of stone crabs in Florida, population level impacts and impact on future fisheries sustainability will be discussed.
9:00 am - 9:20 am Removal of Derelict Spiny Lobster, Stone Crab, and Blue Crab Traps from Florida Waters
Removal of Derelict Spiny Lobster, Stone Crab, and Blue Crab Traps from Florida Waters
Kyle P. Miller, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Division of Marine Fisheries Management

Approximately 2.2 million commercial spiny lobster, stone crab, and blue crab traps were licensed to be used in Florida waters during the most recent 2013-2014 license year. Annual trap loss estimates vary for each fishery, but can increase dramatically in areas that are impacted by tropical storms or hurricanes that occur during the fishing season. Traps that are lost or abandoned can damage sensitive marine habitats, become hazards to navigation, and continue to catch and kill marine life until they degrade. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) conducts annual trap retrieval programs, and also provides authorization to volunteer groups to remove derelict spiny lobster, stone crab, and blue crab traps. Under FWC trap retrieval programs, commercial fishers are contracted to find, remove, and dispose of traps that are left in the water during the closed fishing season. Owners of commercial traps removed by these programs are assessed a $10 retrieval fee for each trap removed. The trap retrieval programs are funded by a dedicated portion of license fees paid for each commercial spiny lobster, stone crab, and blue crab trapping license issued, as well as retrieval fees collected from the prior year. Volunteer trap cleanup events remove derelict traps and trap debris from shallow estuaries, bays, and other coastal waterways during the open or closed fishing season(s), and focus on specific areas. On average, approximately 5,000 derelict traps are removed annually, and approximately 25,000 traps have been removed since 2009, when the first blue crab trap fishery closures were implemented.
9:20 am - 9:40 am Comparison of Largemouth Bass Population Characteristics in Two Differently Managed Systems in East Central Florida
Comparison of Largemouth Bass Population Characteristics in Two Differently Managed Systems in East Central Florida
Brad Fontaine, Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission

Largemouth bass population characteristics were collected in the spring of 2013 in two differently managed systems. Biological data suggests one of the systems, Goodwin Lake, has a stunted bass population (5.26 years to reach legal size; 356-mm). Goodwin Lake is a special opportunity fishery which requires a free permit, and is limited to two boats, two days per week. The amount of effort in Goodwin Lake has consistently been about 25% of full potential (104 boat trips) since 2008. Data collected from the other lake, Tucker Lake suggests a quality bass fishery exists, with much better growth rates (2.99 years to reach legal size). Goodwin Lake, along with the limited access has a catch-and-release regulation for largemouth bass. Tucker Lake operates under the statewide regulation for largemouth bass (356-mm minimum size limit; 5-fish bag, only one of which may be >558-mm) with unrestricted access. While recognizing that different management strategies provide anglers with unique opportunities, the ultimate goal for fishery managers is to improve effort for both lakes, while maintaining high angler catch rates. Data collected has led resource managers to make a change in management actions. Goodwin Lake will undergo large-scale habitat enhancements, reconnecting adjacent wetlands to increase productivity, offer more opportunities to anglers, and provide fish with more diverse habitat. Future work is needed to determine if the habitat enhancement will have a positive influence on the largemouth bass population characteristics for Goodwin Lake.
10:20 am - 10:40 am Effectiveness of a Protective Slot Regulation for Florida Bass Over a 13-year Period at Lake Istokpoga, Florida
Effectiveness of a Protective Slot Regulation for Florida Bass Over a 13-year Period at Lake Istokpoga, Florida
Bill Pouder, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Division of Freshwater Fisheries Management; Brandon Simcox, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Division of Freshwater Fisheries Management; Beacham Furse, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Division of Habitat and Species Conservation, Aquatic Restortation and Habitat Enhancement Section; Larry Davis, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Division of Habitat and Species Conservation, Aquatic Restortation and Habitat Enhancement Section; Chris Wiley, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Division of Freshwater Fisheries Management; Steve Gornak,Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Division of Habitat and Species Conservation, Aquatic Restortation and Habitat Enhancement Section

A 381-610mm protective slot limit, three fish bag limit was established 1 July 2000 for Florida Bass (Micropterus Floridanus) on Lake Istokpoga (11,331ha). The goal of the regulation was to provide a high-quality Florida Bass fishery by increasing the availability of bass > 457mm. Data was compared over three periods to capture the influence of the harvest regulation on the bass population: Statewide (1997 to June 2000; statewide regulations; 355mm size limit, five fish bag limit with only one fish > 558mm); Transition (July 2000 through 2005; slot regulation); and Slot (2006 through June 2013). Following slot implementation, Florida Bass harvest declined significantly (P < 0.001). Growth, total annual mortality (A) and directed effort (hrs) were not significantly different (P>0.05) between the three periods; however, permitted tournaments significantly increased (6.74 ? 2.67) over time. Tournament and electrofishing data better explain changes in the size structure of the Florida Bass fishery as a result of the regulation. Logit transformation of tournament measured bass (N = 10,328) showed a significant increase (P < 0.05) in number of fish 457mm and 610mm measured at weigh-ins following the regulation change. Tournament anglers caught 1.54 times as many bass > 457mm and 2.46 bass > 610mm compared to statewide regulations. The slot regulation was successful in increasing (P< 0.001) the relative abundance and size structure (Relative Stock Density; RSD 457) of Florida Bass > 457mm. Thus, the harvest regulation implemented 1 July 2000 accomplished the goal of increasing the availability of Florida Bass > 457 mm.
10:40 am - 11:00 am Alabama's Recently Opened Commercial Paddlefish Fishery after 25 Years of Closure
Alabama's Recently Opened Commercial Paddlefish Fishery after 25 Years of Closure
Steven J. Rider, Travis R. Powell, and Thomas W. Ringenberg, Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries, River and Stream Fisheries Program

In the early 1980?s, increased commercial fishing pressure occurred on paddlefish populations in Alabama. This was due to commercial fishers directing their effort to Alabama after depleting the Tennessee River paddlefish populations in Kentucky and Tennessee. This increased fishing effort resulted in a decline of paddlefish abundance and size in Alabama. As a result, the Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries (ALDWFF) placed a moratorium on the capture and possession of paddlefish in Alabama waters in 1988. Due to the increase in market prices and worldwide demand for caviar (circa 2002), the ALDWFF received numerous inquiries into the status of paddlefish in Alabama and the potential to open the fishery. After determining the paddlefish population was viable to sustain harvest and developing a Paddlefish Management Plan for the Alabama River (Mobile River Basin), a provisional fishery was opened in 2013 and 2014. In 2013 and 2014, 192 and 590 gravid females were harvested, respectively. A total of 878 lbs. of eggs were processed in 2013 and 2,235 lbs. of eggs were processed in 2014. Through the use of a provisional fishery along with Paddlefish Management Areas (PMA?s), the ALDWFF has been able to appropriately adjust regulations as needed in the first 2 years of commercial harvest. Results from these provisional seasons will serve as a framework for other PMA's in Alabama.
11:00 am - 11:20 am Adaptation Planning for Florida’s Fish and Wildlife Resources
Adaptation Planning for Florida’s Fish and Wildlife Resources
Robert Glazer and Beth Stys, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

In about 500 BC, Heraclitus observed that “The only thing that is constant is change”, an observation that is perhaps no more true than it is today. Species and habitats are under threats from rising sea levels, changes in patterns of precipitation, an increasingly acidic ocean, and land-use conflicts arising from development and urbanization. The FWC is responding to these threats by developing programs and projects that can anticipate the changes, identify species that are most vulnerable, and by devising adaptation strategies that increase the adaptive capacity of terrestrial and marine resources. FWC and its partners have now completed a project that examined vulnerability in a suite of 26 terrestrial species. A subset of 6 species was further scrutinized under possible alternative future scenarios that incorporated rising seas and changes to the landscape associated with land use in order to visualize the impacts the threats may portend. The same scenario-planning approach was applied to the coastal and marine environments of the Florida Keys to anticipate the impacts on three species and the habitats upon which they depend. Adaptation strategies were developed by scientists and managers for managers. By incorporating the lessons learned from these projects, as well as the best available science, we are now finalizing an adaptation guide that will provide the framework and guidance to managers agency-wide on how best to develop and incorporate adaptation strategies within existing and new programs and initiatives.
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
FISHERIES SYMPOSIUM - Aquatic Habitat Restoration
8:00 am - 8:20 am Conservation of Fish Habitats in Southern U.S. Rivers: Managing for Resiliency and Adaptability
Conservation of Fish Habitats in Southern U.S. Rivers: Managing for Resiliency and Adaptability
Timothy Birdsong, Southeast Aquatic Resources Partnership

Rivers of the southern US support more than 1,800 aquatic species, 500 of which are regionally endemic. In addition to their high biological diversity and ecological value, southern US rivers are also recognized as high-quality recreational resources, offering paddling, fishing, birding and other forms of conservation-oriented recreation. Through conservation initiatives such as the Southeast Aquatic Resources Partnership and other regional and national conservation programs, project funding directed at river conservation in the southern US has surged over the past decade. These initiatives have raised the profile of southern US rivers, promoting their ecological, recreational, and economic values. They have also contributed to improved habitat conditions through a variety of regulatory, policy, and voluntary-based conservation initiatives, primarily focused on restoring and preserving natural watershed conditions (e.g., natural land cover, natural flow regimes) and related physical processes (e.g., groundwater recharge and spring flows, sediment transport) that in turn influence the condition of fish habitats in aquatic systems. Conservation actions have included large-scale, cooperative conservation on private lands (e.g., landowner incentives to implement watershed best management practices); flow agreements with dam operators and water authorities (that attempt to mimic natural flow regimes); dam removal (to restore fish passage and connectivity); instream structural habitat improvements; and riparian habitat restoration, among others. This presentation will provide case studies of river conservation projects recently completed or underway in rivers throughout the region, highlighting specific restoration techniques and approaches, partnerships, challenges, outcomes for fish and wildlife populations, and lessons-learned.
8:20 am - 8:40 am Partnering to Improve Fisheries Habitat in Southeast Reservoirs
Partnering to Improve Fisheries Habitat in Southeast Reservoirs
Jeff Boxrucker, Reservoir Fisheries Habitat Partnership

The task of restoring habitat in the nation's reservoirs is a multijurisdictional challenge and cost prohibitive for a federal and/or state agency to accomplish without partnering with other public and private organizations or individuals. The Reservoir Fisheries Habitat Partnership (RFHP) recognizes that reservoir fisheries habitat impairments are often extensions of poor land-use practices in the respective watersheds. RFHP works to bring agencies and local organizations and individuals together to address habitat impairments at the local scale. RFHP and the Friends of Reservoirs Foundation have a membership and grant program that encourages local groups to work with state fisheries biologists to ensure that projects enhance fisheries management plans. RFHP has conducted a habitat impairment assessment of reservoirs nationwide to help prioritize activities. Funded projects in the southeast have focused on native vegetation restoration, structure addition and shoreline stabilization. Future projects look to partner with organizations to address watershed impairments to improve water quality and habitat in downstream impoundments.
8:40 am - 9:00 am Lake Restoration and Enhancement in the Southeastern United States
Lake Restoration and Enhancement in the Southeastern United States
J. Beacham Furse, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

Natural lakes throughout the southeastern United States have experienced habitat changes resulting from anthropogenic influences, which impact fish and wildlife populations. State, federal, and local natural resources agencies, in cooperation with stakeholders and non-governmental entities, utilize various lake management techniques to improve freshwater aquatic habitat on public resources. Current techniques include, but are not limited to, use or modification of water control devices for hydrologic restoration, dredging of limnetic habitat and scraping of littoral habitat to remove organic sediments, control of exotic, noxious, and invasive aquatic and wetland plants through mechanical treatment and herbicide application, and re-establishment of native aquatic plants through transplanting. This multi-disciplinary, team-oriented approach to aquatic habitat enhancement provides the agencies with a broader, more holistic approach toward enhancing degraded aquatic fish and wildlife habitat. This presentation will (1) discuss the threats facing southeastern lakes; (2) provide a summary of habitat restoration techniques and expected benefits; (3) discuss challenges faced in lake restoration and enhancement; and (4) discuss the importance of developing partnerships to complete restoration projects.
9:00 am - 9:20 am Using Remote Sensing and GIS to Identify Fish and Wildlife Habitat in Orange Lake, Florida
Using Remote Sensing and GIS to Identify Fish and Wildlife Habitat in Orange Lake, Florida
Craig Mallison, Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission; Eric Nagid, Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission

Since the mid 1970s, Orange Lake, Florida (5,400 ha) has been subjected to drastic aquatic macrophyte changes, eutrophication, and record high and low water levels. Natural processes such as fire and flow regime that historically maintained ecosystem functions have been severely altered as a result of changes within the Orange Creek Basin. This has led to an imbalance of habitat conditions that traditionally supported healthy populations of fish and wildlife, and future conditions depend on habitat management practices that mimic those processes. Our goal is to create and maintain a diverse and healthy ecosystem within Orange Lake that balances needs for healthy fish and wildlife populations with sustainable public use. Our approach is to manage the ecosystem to provide habitat requirements for focal taxa (key fish and wildlife species or groups). Because different species have different habitat requirements, this requires a balance of tradeoffs and compromises to attain conditions suitable to fully support all focal taxa at any given time. We used photo-interpretation of aerial imagery along with ground truthing to map aquatic vegetation communities in Orange Lake during 2007, 2010, and 2013. We developed a Geographic-Information-Systems (GIS) analysis of vegetation maps based on habitat guidelines that were created by fish and wildlife biologists to identify the location and total area of usable habitat for focal taxa. Observed habitat conditions were compared to target conditions to evaluate the habitat status in Orange Lake. We identified potential lake management objectives based on results and trends from three years of lake mapping data. Results indicated that much variation in habitat conditions resulted from varying water levels in Orange Lake, but all three years exhibited an excess of shrub swamp habitat (400-481 ha) and a shortage of shallow marsh habitat (65-160 ha). Other habitat types (open water, submersed aquatic vegetation, floating marsh, deep marsh, floating island, and tree island) were within target ranges for at least one of the three years. We concluded that primary management objectives should aim to reduce shrub swamp habitat and increase shallow marsh habitat in order to attain lake-wide habitat targets for focal taxa on Orange Lake.
9:20 am - 9:40 am A Unique Landscape-Level Restoration Approach for the Okaloosa Darter
A Unique Landscape-Level Restoration Approach for the Okaloosa Darter 
Christopher Metcalf, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

The Okaloosa darter was added to the endangered species list in 1973 due to its small range and the suspected severe impacts to the population as a result of historical land use practices. Threats to the population such as artificial impoundments and habitat degradation caused by erosion and siltation are among the most important reasons for its endangered status. More than 98.7% of the habitat occupied by the darter is located on Eglin Air Force Base (Eglin) in northwest Florida. Eglin environmental managers along with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have been at work to reduce land use impacts and rehabilitate the impaired streams for more than 20 years. Erosion occurring at road crossings, railroad beds and sand/clay pits on Eglin?s reservation have shown to contribute an estimated 70,000 tons of sediment per year entering Okaloosa darter streams. Since 1994, Eglin has reduced that load to just 1,000 tons per year. Eglin has restored 356 sites that rehabilitated 534 acres of Okaloosa darter habitat. More than 30 projects have been conducted to re-construct habitat which includes removing or replacing road crossing structures (i.e., culverts and/or bridges), dam removals, and stream restoration projects. The Anderson Branch Project will be discussed as an example of reconnecting stream habitat restoration for Okaloosa darters. Through the restoration efforts and population monitoring, darter numbers have improved dramatically in the recent past. Eglin and the Service have made great strides in achieving recovery actions detailed in the recovery plan (1981) which led to the recommendation for downlisting the darter from endangered to threatened status in 2010.
9:40 am - 10:00 am Collaborative Restoration of Coastal Wetlands: Salt Marshes and Mangroves
Collaborative Restoration of Coastal Wetlands: Salt Marshes and Mangroves
Ronald E. Brockmeyer, Jr., St. Johns River Water Management District

Since European colonization, coastal wetlands in southeastern U.S. have been degraded by agriculture, development, navigational dredging, oil exploration, and mosquito control. Impacts include filling, impounding, ditching of many types, and combinations of these practices. As an example, approximately 75% of coastal wetland on the central east coast of Florida (nearly 40,000 acres) were impounded for mosquito control with most of the impacts occurring from the late 1950s through the early 1970s. Rehabilitation of these wetlands in collaboration with mosquito control and wildlife management agencies has taken a variety of forms, from reconnection with culverts to full restoration by removal of the dike. A second example is the dragline-constructed mosquito ditching that has been used throughout coastal Florida with approximately 2,000 acres impacted just in east central Florida. The method currently used to restore these habitats involves placing the spoil back into the ditches, which is a method developed cooperatively at Canaveral National Seashore by staff of the National Park Service, Volusia County Mosquito Control and water management district. The last example is wetland filling associated with navigational dredging. Such impacts can be seen almost anywhere a reach of the intra-coastal waterway intersects a coastal wetland. Recent collaboration between public and private partners has developed methods for removing the spoil and restoring these impacted wetlands. The universal theme that runs through all of these efforts is the need for collaboration, and a recently developed planning guide for Florida coastal habitat restoration efforts may be useful.
10:20 am - 10:40 am Where’s the Reef? Extent, Methods and Outcomes from Oyster Reef Restoration in the Southeast
Where’s the Reef? Extent, Methods and Outcomes from Oyster Reef Restoration in the Southeast
Megan La Peyre, U.S. Geological Survey, Louisiana Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, School of Renewable Natural Resources, Louisiana State University Agricultural Center, Baton Rouge, LA; Loren Coen, Florida Atlantic University, Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute, Fort Meyers, FL; Lindsay Schwarting Miller, School of Renewable Natural Resources, Louisiana State University Agricultural Center, Baton Rouge, LA

Shellfish reef restoration to support ecological services has become more common in recent decades, driven by increasing awareness of the functional decline of shellfish systems. In the southeast U.S., reefs built by the dominant reef-building organism, the eastern oyster (Crassostrea virginica), provide critical habitat within shallow estuaries, and significant efforts have focused on restoring or creating reefs to benefit nekton and benthic macroinvertebrate communities. Efforts involve use of recycled oyster shell, but due to low shell availability, diverse alternative substrates ranging from other bivalve shell, limestone and concrete debris, to artificial bio-engineered products have been used extensively. Restored and created reefs range in size, height and depth, and may be subtidal or intertidal providing a diversity of potential habitats and enhancement of fish productivity within estuaries. A review of oyster reef restoration efforts in the northern Gulf of Mexico found that the provision of structural material to support and sustain development of benthic and mobile reef communities may be the most important factor in determining reef habitat. While the use of bioengineered or non-biological materials for base material provides an initial substrate, appropriately locating reefs in order to maintain sustainable oyster populations is thus critical for long-term reef restoration success. Site selection, permitting, construction and monitoring to inform adaptive management require partnerships among agencies, scientists and engineering or contracting companies. The maintenance of reef creation information data, development of standard reef performance measures, and inclusion of material and reef design testing within reef creation projects would be highly beneficial in helping guide future oyster reef restoration efforts.
10:40 am - 11:00 am Coral Reef Ecosystem Restoration and Conservation: An Overview of Research to Guide the Development of a Comprehensive Management Strategy to Restore Florida's Coral Reef Ecosystem
Coral Reef Ecosystem Restoration and Conservation: An Overview of Research to Guide the Development of a Comprehensive Management Strategy to Restore Florida's Coral Reef Ecosystem
William C. Sharp, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Fish and Wildlife Research Institute; Gabriel A. Delgado, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Fish and Wildlife Research Institute

The progressive degradation of Florida's coral reef ecosystem has resulted in an increasing acceptance by researchers and resource managers that direct intervention through active conservation measures is now necessary to restore resiliency and function to this ecosystem. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission?s Coral Reef Ecosystem Restoration Research Program, in collaboration with numerous partners, conducts ecologically-based applied and experimental research and monitoring to guide the long-term success of coral reef ecosystem restoration efforts. Our current projects include the development of an in situ coral nursery. This nursery is one of a network of such nurseries that has been established along the Florida Reef tract from southeast peninsular Florida to the Dry Tortugas. We use corals propagated in this nursery to develop techniques to re-establish ecologically functional colonies along the Florida Keys reef tract. We are also evaluating the feasibility of restoring ecologically functional population of the long-spined urchin (Diadema antillarum) along the reef tract. It is recognized by resource managers that the re-establishment of this keystone herbivore is vital to restore the resiliency of the coral reef ecosystem. We have also begun investigating the trophodynamics between corallivorous snails and a common gastropod predator. Corallivorous snails have greatly impacted attempts to establish coral colonies along the reef tract and a better understanding of this predator/prey relationship could enhance the survival of corals used in restoration efforts. Our vision is to conduct progressively more complex ecological studies to guide the development of a holistic approach to coral reef ecosystem restoration.
11:00 am - 11:20 am Habitat Quality and Artificial Reef Design Considerations
Habitat Quality and Artificial Reef Design Considerations
Stephen A. Bortone, Osprey Aquatic Sciences, Inc.; Keith Mille, Division of Marine Fisheries Management - Artificial Reef Program, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

Artificial reefs of various designs, composition, and configurations have been deployed throughout most SEAFWA member states and entities. While much is known about the economic benefits of artificial reefs, little of the information currently available allows the prescriptive use of artificial reefs in fisheries or habitat management, especially as to how they may improve habitat quality. This is due to several limitations inherent to aquatic research. However, to make the most efficient use of artificial reefs in environmental management, it will be necessary to overcome these limitations. Some of the environmental issues that inhibit the prescriptive application of artificial reefs are: extreme variance in population abundance and assemblage composition and species-specific features (e.g., identification, behavior etc.) as well as assessment difficulties owing to depth and visibility. Moreover, there is currently little information on the influence a reef placement has on the ecosystem and its species. Current scientific, socio-economic and political circumstances inhibit overcoming information inadequacies. Among these are a miss-understanding by managers and the public of the role that artificial reefs can play in management, poorly established project objectives for deployments, and incompatible sampling methodologies. SEAFWA can provide the appropriate platform to facilitate the inter-jurisdictional cooperation that will be essential to allow the effective application of artificial reefs in environmental management. The ability to standardize and compare artificial reef efforts and results among all the agencies and various geographical locations will go far leading to an environmental management future in which artificial reefs play an integral role.
11:20 am - 11:40 am Conserving Aquatic Habitat for Resilience at a Landscape Scale: Looking Forward
Conserving Aquatic Habitat for Resilience at a Landscape Scale: Looking Forward
Scott Robinson, Georgia Department of Natural Resources; Tim Birdsong, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department; Lindsay Gardner, Southeast Aquatic Resource Partnership; Emily Granstaff, US Fish and Wildlife Service

The southeastern United States contains a diversity of aquatic species and habitats unparalleled in North America, including more than 500 species endemic to the region. Threats to these species and their habitats include hydrologic alteration, loss of watershed connectivity, physical habitat and water quality degradation, and non-native species. Aquatic habitat conservation across the southeast region of the United States involves many different aspects of restoration, enhancement, and protection and requires a significant commitment of time, resources, expertise, funding, and collaboration to be effective. However, we believe habitat is a critical component of management for resilient populations and sustainable aquatic species. This presentation will review our collective capacity for habitat conservation as a region and as individual states, and examine methods and approaches for the future of aquatic habitat conservation. We will discuss the application of national, regional, and statewide scale planning, research, and information development to the science and practice of habitat conservation in the southeast, and new and developing tools that can aid managers in their efforts to conserve habitats and species.

Outreach & Education Technical Sessions

Tuesday, October 21, 2014
1:00 pm – 1:20 pm Increasing Community Participation in Sea Turtle Conservation
Increasing Community Participation in Sea Turtle Conservation
Jane Kepler, North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission; Karen Clark, North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission; Karen Fitzgerald, Network for Endangered Sea Turtles; Matthew Godfrey, North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission

Located in Corolla, NC, the Outer Banks Center for Wildlife Education (OBCWE) serves as an educational field site for the NC Wildlife Resources Commission (WRC). The center's mission is to extend existing WRC programs through education to create greater public understanding and support for wildlife conservation and management. The NC Sea Turtle Project, managed by WRC?s Division of Wildlife Management, is committed to monitoring NC's sea turtle populations. The Network for Endangered Sea Turtles (NEST) is an all-volunteer organization permitted by WRC to carry out the monitoring and conservation efforts of the project in the Outer Banks. Volunteers assist with nest monitoring, stranding response, education, and rescue and rehabilitation of stranded sea turtles. OBCWE began working with NEST in 2006 with the goal of increasing participation in the research and conservation goals of the agency. Staff support NEST volunteers by providing citizen-science trainings from natural history to data collection techniques, offering consultation support, and by frequently joining volunteers in the field to model educational techniques, support management practices, and provide a sense of accessibility to the biologists. Since OBCWE's partnership with NEST, the organization has seen increases in the number of volunteers, the contribution of volunteer hours, the variety of project involvement, the amount and quality of data provided to biologists, and collaborations within the community. Surveys of NEST volunteers indicated a more sustainable, engaged, diverse membership with increased level of trust between the volunteers and the scientific community producing more consistent response and increased investment in the management process.
1:20 pm – 1:40 pm Citizen scientists, and volunteers, and interns, oh my!
Citizen scientists, and volunteers, and interns, oh my!
Alexandra Perryman, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

Now, more than ever, conservation and technology are crossing paths. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) launched a new, one-of-a-kind citizen science portal to help with statewide gopher tortoise conservation. With the ?Florida Gopher Tortoise? smartphone app, Florida residents and visitors can play an important role in species conservation. App users can help by locating gopher tortoises that occur in urban areas. With the app, users can take and submit photos of gopher tortoises, with location data, to FWC directly from their smartphone. FWC has received an overwhelming amount of positive feedback from users and the media throughout Florida. The Florida Gopher Tortoise app?s success fueled the development of additional citizen science initiatives that include volunteer and student intern programs. The Gopher Tortoise Conservation Program utilizes student interns who are assigned projects identified in the Gopher Tortoise Management Plan. A multi-semester project that recruits volunteers who help collect gopher tortoise mortality data has recently been implemented. Volunteers upload observation data using a web-based form on MyFWC.com or by submitting the information via email. With the help of citizen scientists, volunteers, and interns, FWC is working to fill several data gaps that will help accomplish the goal of the management plan. This presentation will highlight current citizen science programs and resources, and how Florida residents and visitors can become involved in gopher tortoise conservation.
1:40 pm – 2:00 pm Evaluating the role of diversity focused natural resource internships on minority perceptions of career barriers and opportunities.
Evaluating the role of diversity focused natural resource internships on minority perceptions of career barriers and opportunities.
Nia Haynes, University of Florida; Susan K. Jacobson, University of Florida

Minorities continue to be underrepresented in natural resource careers. We used social cognitive career theory (SCCT) to understand the effects of three diversity internship programs on minority students' self-efficacy, outcome expectations, and career goals. We conducted a pre and post-internship survey with over 85 youth participating in The US Fish and Wildlife Service's Career Discovery Internship Program, The Nature Conservancy's Leaders in Environmental Action for the Future, and the Doris Duke Conservation Scholars Program. We measured: motivations to participate in the programs and the influence of internships on interns' knowledge of natural resource careers, interest in these careers, self-efficacy, perceptions of career-related barriers and their outcome expectancy. We also conducted 4 focus groups with interns to gain further contextual information about these factors. We interviewed program staff and program supervisors to understand staff perceptions of program goals and objectives, their interactions with the interns, and changes in cultural competency as a result of the program. Results are expected to show an increase in knowledge about natural resource careers, more positive attitudes towards this career field, increased interested in pursuing a natural resource career, higher self-efficacy related to career skills, and a more positive overall outcome expectation about interns' ability to be successful in a natural resource career after participation in the programs. This research applies SCCT to natural resource careers. Results will provide recommendations to agencies interested in enhancing programs to increase minority recruitment in the wildlife and natural resources field and to address barriers faced by underrepresented groups.
2:00 pm – 2:20 pm Florida Adapts: Sharing Research and Information about Sea Level Rise and Florida's Coastal Habitats and Species with FWC Staff
Florida Adapts: Sharing Research and Information about Sea Level Rise and Florida's Coastal Habitats and Species with FWC Staff
Whitney Gray, FWC

Florida Adapts is an educational lunch ?n? learn series offered as a follow-up to the 2011 FWC Climate Change Certification of Completion Course which focused on the basics of climate change science, its impacts, and communication of the issue. The Florida Adapts series features FWC and guest presenters who address the effects of long-term environmental change to Florida?s ecosystems and species and introduce climate change tools available to biologists and managers. The program is appropriate for all FWC wildlife biologists and natural resource managers who wish to gain a better understanding of how long-term environmental changes are impacting Florida?s natural resources. The goal of Florida Adapts is to support the development of climate change literacy and an improved understanding of the impacts of long-term environmental changes to Florida's wildlife and habitats as well as knowledge of tools available to help conserve, restore, and manage Florida?s natural resources impacted by the threat of a changing environment.
3:00 pm – 3:20 pm Overview of Fish and Wildlife Agency Marketing Efforts in the Southeast US
Overview of Fish and Wildlife Agency Marketing Efforts in the Southeast US
Micah Holmes, Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation

Fish and wildlife agencies across the southeast United States are working hard to reach out to constituents through a variety of different marketing efforts. This presentation will examine the range of different strategies and personnel that agencies are using to sell licenses, promote participation and change public opinion. The differences between marketing, sales, advertising and public relations will be reviewed as well as a look at potential best practices from states.
3:20 pm – 3:40 pm Florida's Conservation Adventures Curriculum
Florida's Conservation Adventures Curriculum
3:40 pm – 4:00 pm Fishing Is Fun, But Can Be Educational Too!
Fishing Is Fun, But Can Be Educational Too!
Benjamin Wunderly, North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources

In the process of designing a new recreational fishing exhibit and associated educational programming, Museum staff realized there was an opportunity to include an important message about conservation and ethical angling. When you pick up a rod and reel and set out for a day of fishing it is important to know how your actions are directly related to a healthy fishery. The intended audiences of these efforts include students of all ages and the general public. The educational opportunities are suitable for any non-traditional education setting such as museums, aquariums, parks and visitor centers. This presentation will highlight the new Museum exhibit, existing educational programs including those under development and anticipated goals of the overall project.
4:00 pm – 4:20 pm Using Social Media to Promote Shooting Sports in Georgia
Using Social Media to Promote Shooting Sports in Georgia
David Allen, Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division; Walter Lane, Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division

In 2013, Georgia Department of Natural Resources' Wildlife Resources Division (WRD) partnered with The Council to Advance Hunting and the Shooting Sports in listing our firearms and archery ranges on the location-based social networking app Foursquare. After listing the ranges on Foursquare, Wildlife Resources Division?s Hunter Development Program staff worked with the Public Affairs staff to cross promote ranges, recreational target shooting and WRD shooting sports programs in an effort to increase awareness and participation in shooting sports and DNR?s firearms and archery ranges across Georgia. By using a variety of social media channels, including: Facebook, Foursquare, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube, and targeted email messaging, WRD worked to introduce shooting sports to a larger and younger audience. By drawing interest to shooting sports, we reached a new audience, and attempted to drive those individuals to purchase licenses needed to use DNR shooting ranges, and strove to increase participation in WRD programs and events. Our goal was use social media tools to communicate with individuals who were beginning to take an interest in shooting sports and use Foursquare as a tool to increase their visits to WRD shooting ranges. This presentation will touch on the challenges, successes, what we?ve learned and how we hope to continue effectively promoting shooting sports moving forward.
4:20 pm – 4:40 pm Living with Lionfish
Living with Lionfish
Rick O'Connor, Florida Sea Grant

Divers first reported lionfish (Pterois volitans, and P. miles) in the Pensacola area in 2010. Since that time they have spread to most of offshore artificial reefs and natural bottom. These invasive fish have voracious appetites and feed on anything they can get into their mouths. In good conditions they can spawn every 4 days and produce 20,000 ? 30,000 drifting eggs. In the last two years local divers and fishermen who target reef fish have noticed the increase of these fish and have expressed concern. In response, Florida Sea Grant Extension Agents have provided educational materials and presentations to educate residents on the status and possible impact of the new invaders. The outreach efforts have included PowerPoints, fact sheets, articles on websites and social media. These efforts have targeted fishermen, divers, restaurants, seafood wholesalers, politicians, resource managers, concerned citizens, and youth at public and private events. During this time Sea Grant has had to address issues such as liability and ciguatera toxin. Since 2013 10 educational programs have been presented educating 363 residents, two non-profit lionfish organizations have formed in the Pensacola Bay area, 2 lionfish derbies have been conducted and 2107 lionfish removed during these events, one non-profit has trained 9 divers on how to remove lionfish, Santa Rosa County Commissioners agreed to sign a document supporting the ban of selling lionfish in Florida, volunteers are reporting inshore lionfish to Sea Grant, and the Sea Grant Agent is working with stakeholders and the county to develop a management plan.

Law Enforcement Technical Sessions

Monday, October 20, 2014
2:00 pm – 2:45 pm The Y City Flood — The Loss of Wildlife Officer Joel Campora and Sheriff Cody Carpenter
The Y City Flood — The Loss of Wildlife Officer Joel Campora and Sheriff Cody Carpenter
Arkansas Sgt. Bobby Barger
3:15 pm – 4:00 pm Bullies in the Woods- A Short Synopsis of a Covert Operation on the Ouachita National Forest
Bullies in the Woods- A Short Synopsis of a Covert Operation on the Ouachita National Forest
Arkansas Lt. Glenn Tucker
4:15 pm – 5:00 pm Fish and Wildlife Port Investigations
Fish and Wildlife Port Investigations
Investigator Steve Wayne, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

Fish and wildlife are currently being shipped both legally and illegally through Central Florida airports, seaports and common carriers. Inspections and investigations of fish and wildlife at these ports and commercial carriers have contributed to the successful interception of illegal fish and wildlife. This presntation will focus on setting up sucessful port and commercial carrier inspections.
Tuesday, October 21, 2014
1:00 pm – 1:45 pm Louisiana's Shark Illegal Shark Finning Case of 2012: Intentional Concealment the Ultimate Motive
Louisiana's Shark Illegal Shark Finning Case of 2012: Intentional Concealment the Ultimate Motive
Sgt. Adam Young

In April 2012 LDWF Enforcement Division Agents on a JEA patrol in Venice, Louisiana received illegal shark finning information which resulted in a hidden compartment being found on a vessel and holding 2,023 individual fins and accounting for over 450 illegally fined sharks. Subjects were arrested and cited for state and federal fisheries violations. The violation uncovered a massive finning operation in Venice, and showed the monumental lengths illegal fishermen will go to conceal their violations from law enforcement. Because of previous cases these fishermen are part of an ongoing illegal finning operation involving certain members of their family, and have been for numerous years. With continued successful prosecution rates LDWF will hopefully curb this illegal operation.
2:15 pm – 3:00 pm Chronic Illness and Law Enforcement: A Holistic Analysis
Chronic Illness and Law Enforcement: A Holistic Analysis
Darrell Jones Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

The devastating effects of chronic disease and stress on personnel serving in public safety positions, law enforcement especially, has been well documented over the years. Studies have shown increased incidences of hypertension, stroke, diabetes, obesity and a host of cardiovascular issues such as heart attacks. There is little doubt that issues such as a lack of stress management, sedentary lifestyles and poor eating habits contribute handily to the higher rate of morbidity and mortality in law enforcement personnel. Stress and metabolic disease conditions cost the US a combined $447 billion annually in health care and lost productivity and few professional careers are as affected by the burden of this cost like law enforcement and corrections personnel and their agencies. But what can be done about it? Are fitness programs enough? Is there a need for a more holistic approach? Mitigation or outright prevention is certainly key. This presentation will address some common and not-so-common aspects of cause, effect, prevention and mitigation.
4:00 pm – 4:30 pm Social Media for Conservation Law Enforcement
Social Media for Conservation Law Enforcement
Lt. Judd Smith, Georgia Department of Natural Resources