Poster Abstracts

The Poster Session & Social will be on Monday, October 30 from 5:30pm - 7:00pm. Please join us during this time to meet with poster authors! 


P-01. Analysis of Water Quality in Minor Clark Fish Hatchery Esox masquinongy Rearing Ponds

Joshua L. Jackson, Morehead State University; Brian C. Reeder, Morehead State University; Roderick J. Middleton, Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife

Minor E. Clark Hatchery is known for success rearing Esox masquinongy (aka Muskellunge or Muskie); however, some ponds still have low survival and growth. We took detailed measurements of water quality in six 0.6 ha (1-acre) ponds to determine if any physiochemical factors could explain why some ponds performed better than others. Ponds were stocked with 11,600 fish. For over two months, we took weekly water samples and analyzed them for total macronutrients (N and P), readily bioavailable nutrients (inorganic C, NO3, NH3, soluble reactive P, SO4, Fe), and total suspended solids. We took weekly dawn-dusk-dawn measurements of DO, pH, temperature, and conductivity. Harvest from three ponds was exceptional (producing >4000 fish), one pond performed “average” producing ~2900 fish, and the final 2 ponds were below expectations (1161 and 161 survivors). No obvious differences were found in the water chemistry between the ponds. Daily changes in DO, a proxy for whole system metabolism, suggest greater daily change in DO was more common in low producing ponds, especially during the mid-to-late part of June. Pond-water oxygen concentrations were driven mostly by biological processes (respiration and photosynthesis), not water temperature. Low night-time DO (  < 20% saturation) appeared to be the factor most associated with poor fish survival. This suggests early aeration and careful fertilization are keys keeping hatchery-raised muskie alive in ponds.  

Key Words: Esox masquinongy, Hatchery Ponds, Water Quality

P-02. Predator Responses to Stocking Age-0 Crappie in Arkansas Reservoirs

Andrew Porterfield,  John R. Jackson - Arkansas Tech University

Supplemental stocking has been widely used by state agencies as a management tool for White Crappie Pomoxis annularis and Black Crappie P. nigromaculatus. While previous studies have quantified contribution of stocked crappie to wild populations, little information exists on factors impacting survival of stocked crappie. Our goal was to evaluate post-stocking mortality due to predation and changes in spatiotemporal predator relative abundance. Seven medium-sized (113-223 ha) reservoirs throughout Arkansas were stocked once during November or December 2015. Three reservoirs were stocked with Black Crappie and four reservoirs were stocked with White Crappie. Fish were marked with calcein in the hatchery and were identified with a BlueStar light. Each reservoir was sampled once 13-23 days prior to stocking, once 4-9 hours post-stocking, and once 10-14 days post-stocking using a boat-mounted electrofisher at night. Four consecutive 200 m shoreline segments on both sides of the stocking point were sampled. All observed predation losses occurred the night of stocking primarily by Largemouth Bass Micropterus salmoides and Spotted Bass M. punctulatus. Estimated predation loss ranged from 0-4.6% among reservoirs. Of the bass with crappie in their stomachs, 76.7% were collected within 200 m of the stocking point. Frequency of bass in this section that had consumed crappie ranged from 0-100% among reservoirs. Analysis of bass catch per unit effort revealed no interaction between sample date and shoreline segment, indicating that stocking events did not influence predator movements beyond 200 m from the stocking points.

Key Words: Fisheries, Crappie, Stocking


P-03. Synchrony of Biotic and Abiotic Factors Influence on the Phenology of Larval Fish Within Kentucky Lake

Spencer J. Phillips, Murray State University; Nathan A. Tillotson, Murray State University; Ben B. Tumolo, Montana State University; Dr. Michael B. Flinn, Murray State University

Understanding larval fish phenology in dynamic systems provides managers with important indicators of sensitive fish life history patterns. Abiotic and biotic factors are important for success of larval fish by influencing spawning and development. Water levels and temperature have been shown to influence the timing of the spawn in Kentucky Lake. Ichthyoplankton samples were taken within the southern 30 km of Kentucky Lake April-May of 2014, 2015, and 2016 to assess the community. Samples were collected using tandem larval pushnets (net=0.5m^2, mesh=1mm), fish were enumerated in the lab and identified to family. The timing of first detection occurred around the same period (April 17-April 25) in 2014, 2015, and 2016 for most taxa. Using Kentucky Long Term Monitoring Program data from the last 30 years, we examined the patterns of water levels and temperature to detect changes in environmental variables. Biotic factors such as the emergence of phytoplankton and zooplankton species are also important for larval fish development as their main energy source. Changes in the abiotic and biotic variables over long term periods could result in changes in fish behavior and larval phenology. Phenology can be used as a harbinger of climate change and may be important for managing future adult fish populations and the potential effects of invasive species.

Key Words: Phenology Fish Aquatic-Ecology

P-04. Effects of Chitosan Applied as Drench on the Growth of Bell Pepper in a Greenhouse

Shirley Fritzsching,  Julia Swaby, Ebonee Williams, Laura Carson, Ph.D., Peter Ampin, Ph.D. - College of Agriculture and Human Sciences

Chitosan is known to play a role in boosting plant defense and yield.  The goal of this study was to investigate the effect of chitosan applied as a drench treatment at transplanting on the growth and development of bell pepper (California Wonder) grown in a greenhouse. The plants were treated with 100 ml of 20ppm, 40ppm, and 60ppm chitosan with tap water and 1% acetic acid as controls and arranged in a completely randomized design.  The plants were watered as needed with the same amount of water and fertilized weekly with 200 ml of Miracle-Gro All Purpose Plant Food (24-8-16) solution prepared at the label rate. The 60 ppm chitosan significantly increased bell pepper root biomass (p < 0.05) as well as pepper height and shoot biomass (p < 0.10). This treatment also produced higher numerical values for chlorophyll content and leaf area index for pepper than the other treatments. The results for the other chitosan treatments were mixed but all the chitosan treatments also produced more flowers. The acetic acid treatments died within 36 hours indicating the treatment had a lethal effect on the bell pepper plants. The results suggest that drench application of chitosan could be a viable approach to promoting plant growth and ultimately yield. It also suggests that applying chitosan solution directly to plant roots could potential lead to fertilizer use efficiency given the significant impact on root biomass observed in this study. 

Key Words: Chitosan, Root Biomass, Drench Treatment

P-05. Effects of Fire Severity on Community Recovery in a Mixed Grass Prairie Ecosystem

Laura E. Jardine, Anthony J. Stancampiano - Oklahoma City University Department of Biology

We assessed the recovery and current community status of six mixed grass prairie sites 5 years post burn in the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, Oklahoma. These sites represent three burn histories: moderate burn, severe burn, and unburned at each of two habitat types: grassland and woodland. We sampled 37 habitat variables at 280 points along three transects at each site. We established a small mammal trapping array at each site and sampled for a total of 5400 trapnights, collecting 8 mammal species (Peromyscus maniculatus, P. leucopus, P. attwateri, Sigmodon hispidus, Chaetodipus hispidus, Neotoma floridana, Blarina sp. and Cryptotis parva). These data were subjected to community ordination analyses to assess trends in habitat structure and small mammal presence and abundance.  Cryptotis parva and P. maniculatus were found in areas with medium to tall forbs and grasses and ungulate disturbance. Chaetodipus hispidus were found in areas where the ground is covered with short forbs, mosses, lichens, and cobble and S. hispidus in similar areas but with medium height grasses and high amounts of herbaceous litter. Additionally, S. hispidus which is typically associated with grasslands, had a greater abundance in severely burned woodlands than in any grassland site. P. leucopus occurred in areas with water and short grasses. Canonical correspondence analysis indicated more specific preferences with reference to burn severity. We interpreted these results as supporting a relationship between high severity fire and more complete nutrient cycling from accumulated litter, leading initially post fire to dense grass cover followed by increasing forb cover.

Key Words: fire severity, community recovery, small mammals

P-06. Estimating Density and Abundance of the Central Georgia Black Bear Population Using Spatially Explicit Capture-Mark-Recapture

Annaliese Ashley, University of Georgia; Michael Hooker, University of Georgia; Richard Chandler, University of Georgia; Jared Laufenberg, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Services; Bobby Bond, Georgia Department of Natural Resources; Michael Chamberlain, University of Georgia

Of the 3 bear populations in Georgia, the population in the central portion of the state is the smallest, and is presumably geographically isolated from other Georgia populations.  We used DNA capture-recapture hair-snare techniques to estimate density and derive abundance for the central Georgia black bear population. We analyzed 4 years of data (2012-2015) collected over 4, 8-week sampling periods, to determine bear density across a 1,126.97 km2 region.  Using spatially explicit methods (SECR), we estimated female densities to be 0.194 bears/km2 in upland areas and 0.066 bears/km2 in bottomland areas.  We found male densities to be 0.117 bears/km2 in upland areas and 0.040 bears/km2 in bottomland areas.  We derived overall abundance of the bear population to be 428.20, 412.49, 439.84, and 458.23 bears for 2012-2015, respectively.  The estimates of female detection probability from 2012-2015 were: 0.017 (SE=0.002), 0.018 (SE=0.002), 0.013 (SE=0.001), and 0.014 (SE=0.002).  The estimates of male detection probability from 2012-2015 were: 0.012 (SE=0.00), 0.018 (SE=0.002), 0.013 (SE=0.001), and 0.014 (SE=0.001).  We recommend continued population and harvest monitoring, with particular attention to female recruitment and mortality, as females drive reproductive rates and population numbers.*Edits still being performed, which could be reflected at conference time.

Key Words: Black bear, Ursus americanus, capture-recapture, secr, population estimation, hair-snare sampling, Georgia, spatially explicit-capture-recapture 

P-07. Hiking Trails: Conduits for Non-Native Predators in Urban Parks?

Wade LaHue, Omar Attum, Susan Reigler - Department of Biology, Indiana University Southeast

Hiking trails in urban parks, while desirable for passive recreation, may undermine a preserve’s ecological integrity by allowing penetration by non-native predators such as domesticated dogs, into interior areas of the preserve.  This study examined if hiking trails further fragment already small urban forest patches and facilitate the movement of domesticated dogs to the forest interior.  We deployed camera traps at randomly generated points throughout an urban forest to record the presence of native mammals (raccoons, deer, and foxes) and non-native predators (domesticated dogs and cats) in relation to distance to nearest hiking trails and forest edges.  We found that hiking trails, when considered a mechanism of fragmentation, result in significantly smaller forest patches.  Our results suggest that domesticated dogs use hiking trails and have access to the forest interior as we found a correlation between hiking trails and forest edges with the presence of dogs.  If the objective of urban nature preserves is to protect the ecological integrity of the forest interior, then hiking trails should be routed along forest perimeters to minimize fragmentation and non-native species penetration. 

Key Words:  feral, edge, habitat fragmentation

P-08. Predictive Spatial Modeling and Assessment for a Rare Tennessee Anuran: Barking Treefrog (Hyla gratiosa)

Nyssa Hunt, Department of Biology, Geology, and Environmental Sciences, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga; Andy Carroll, Interdisciplinary Geospatial Technology Lab, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga; Thomas P. Wilson, Department of Biology, Geology, and Environmental Sciences, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Amphibian declines worldwide continue to cause concern for conservationists, where researchers must assess at-risk and vulnerable species within their own regions to effectively monitor population statuses. Members of this taxonomic group tend to be sensitive to habitat alteration and climate change, which both have the ability to shift distribution across a landscape and potentially contribute to local extinction. As landscapes gradually change with multiple factors, monitoring amphibian occurrence is especially important for species that may be threatened, endangered or rare. In Tennessee, the Barking Treefrog (Hyla gratiosa) is listed as a rare species that seemingly has potential to disperse to new areas, although little is known about the mechanisms affecting its dispersal. To better understand distribution patterns, we utilized land cover data by HUC 12 and collectively analyzed North American Amphibian Monitoring Program (NAAMP) data and Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) "rare species by watershed” data, with which it is possible to better elucidate our understanding of the habitats suitable for this species and to fill in data gaps for its selective distribution. Areas with documented presence will be compared to areas of apparent absence to assess for a difference in land cover metrics. In order to ensure the accuracy of the presence data, auditory field surveys will be performed to monitor occurrence. Additionally, predictive models of H. gratiosa presence were generated with MaxEnt, where the produced models were field tested by monitoring for the species in predicted locations.

Key Words: Conservation, Modeling, Amphibians

P-09. Revalence of Toxoplasma gondii, Leptospira spp., and Parvovirus spp. in North American River Otter Throughout North Carolina

Charles Sanders, NC State University; Christopher DePerno, NC State University, Colleen Olfenbuttel, NC Wildlife Resources Commission

The river otter (Lontra canadensis) is an economically and financially important furbearer in North Carolina. Toxoplasma gondii is a parasite spread largely by cat feces and ingesting infected meat, causing the disease Toxoplasmosis. Toxoplasmosis is the leading cause of human death attributed to foodborne illness in the United States.  Leptospira spp . is a bacterial disease commonly carried by rodents, which causes the disease Leptospirosis. Leptospirosis is highly infectious in most mammal species, often resulting in flu-like symptoms.  Parvovirus spp. is a virus that infects individuals in the cat, dog, raccoon, and weasel families. Parvovirus spp. is spread generally through feces, and is acquired either orally or nasally and results in diarrhea, vomiting, and other similar symptoms.  All 3 diseases can be fatal to animals and people if untreated.  From November 2014 through February 2016, we collected 220 otters from 9 river basins throughout North Carolina and tested them for exposure to T. gondii, Leptospira spp., and Parvovirus spp using Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) testing of brain and kidney tissue. We determined that 25% of otters tested positive for T. gondii, 1% tested positive for Leptospira spp., and 19% tested positive for Parvovirus spp.. While our results for Parvovirus spp. seem to be higher than other studies, results for T. gondii and Leptospira were similar or lower than other studies.  Knowing the prevalence of these viruses in the natural population provides a baseline to monitor in the future and a glimpse at the health of our waterways now.

Key Words: otter, disease, North Carolina

P-10. Seasonal Movements, Landscape Use, and Home Ranges of Reintroduced Elk in the Cumberland Mountains, Tennessee

Aaryn M. Tarver, University of Tennessee; Lisa I. Muller, University of Tennessee; Brad F. Miller, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency

Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) released 201 elk (Cervus elaphus) from December 2000 – March 2008 on the North Cumberland Wildlife Management Area (NCWMA) in eastern Tennessee. Reintroduction efforts have resulted in Tennessee’s first wild elk population in over a century. Seasonal movements, landscape use, and average home range sizes of the reintroduced elk in Tennessee are not well-understood. Wildlife Biologists with TWRA fitted 9 cow elk with Telonics® or Northstar® Global Positioning System (GPS) collars across the NCWMA. One elk on private land has been collared for 7 months (4/8/2016-11/7/2016; locations every 8 hrs) and 1 cow in a non-hunted zone on the NCWMA has been collared for 14 months (1/26/2017-3/27/2017; locations every 8 hrs). The other 7 elk were collared in February 2017 in the non-hunted protected area of NCWMA and take locations every 23 hrs. Daytime locations for the elk on private land were largely in heavy cover with nighttime movements concentrating in open fields. The elk in the protected area of public land concentrated locations by the planted elk viewing fields during both day and night times. We will evaluate movements of the remaining elk during the upcoming calving season. Better understanding home ranges, seasonal movements, and landscape use of elk on private and public lands in Tennessee will enable wildlife biologists and managers to make informed decisions on how to best manipulate the landscape to encourage elk population growth and sustainability and minimize human-elk conflicts. 

Key Words: elk, home range, reintroduction

P-11. The Effects of Native Grassland Restoration on Raptors and Prey on a Reclaimed Surface Mine in Kentucky

Kate G. Slankard, Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources; Danna L. Baxley, The Nature Conservancy of Kentucky; Gary L. Sprandel, Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources

We evaluated the effects of native grass restoration on the spatial distribution and density of raptors, vegetative characteristics, and small mammal communities at Peabody Wildlife Management Area, a large reclaimed surface mine in western Kentucky.  We surveyed raptors by distance sampling at roadside points during winter, spring and summer and conducted vegetation and small mammal surveys during winter and summer.  During 32 sampling events in 2008-2012, we documented ten raptor species comprising 516 total detections; during 2,352 trap-nights we captured 745 mammals, representing ten species. We found no associations between total small mammal relative abundance and native grass restoration or vegetative characteristics.  However, management for native grass affected the density and local distribution of some raptor species.  Northern Harrier (Circus cyaneus), Red-Tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis), and American Kestrel (Falco sparverius) were observed closer to areas managed for native warm season grasses than random points. Northern Harriers were also found in higher densities at survey areas which contained a high density of native grasses, when compared to lower density areas.  These results suggest that restoration and management of native grass on reclaimed minelands can enhance habitat for grassland raptors, including the Northern Harrier, a species of conservation concern throughout its range.

Key Words: raptor, native grassland, reclaimed surface mine

P-12. Tick-borne Illnesses of Alabama: Relationships Among Hosts, Habitats, and Ticks Throughout the State 

Emily Merritt, Auburn University School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences; Dr. Graeme Lockaby, Auburn University School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences; Dr. Derrick Mathias, University of Florida Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory

Ticks are the foremost parasites of wildlife and humans in the United States, and may transmit pathogens associated with Lyme disease, Ehrlichiosis, spotted fever Rickettsiosis, and others. Despite the high occurrence of several species of ticks throughout Alabama, little is known about their distribution or the degree to which they carry pathogens. Consequently, the probability of encountering infected ticks in the state is unknown. For this project, we identified land use and climatic factors that affect tick and pathogen distribution and risk, and determined relationships among habitats, ticks, pathogens, and hosts. Ticks were trapped for one year (5/16-5/17) on 105 sites in deciduous, coniferous, pasture, early successional, and residential areas throughout Alabama. Hourly forest floor temperature and relative humidity were recorded on the same sites. Additionally, during the summers of 2015 and 2016, 478 ticks were collected from 89 white-tailed deer in 12 counties, and 3,302 ticks were collected from 809 deer on 12 Wildlife Management Areas during two successive winters from 2015-2017. Preliminary analyses show that, across all locations and land uses, minimums and ranges of humidity and temperature are the primary drivers of overall tick abundance, particularly for nymphs. Conversely, within each land use, forest floor characteristics are the primary drivers. Additionally, while only 11% (n=61) of ticks captured on traps are black-legged ticks, 88% (n=2,894) were collected from deer between November to February, elucidating a deer’s critical role in their survival and movement, and suggesting traditional sampling methods for this species are ineffective in the Southeast. 

Key Words: tick-borne illnesses, ticks, wildlife

P-13. Wildlife Hazard Assessment at the Jefferson City Memorial Airport

Steven Beza, USDA Wildlife Services; Dan McMurtry, USDA Wildlife Services, Parker Hall, USDA Wildlife Services

Air traffic has increased significantly since the 1990s, while populations of many species of birds have also increased, resulting in more collisions between wildlife and aircraft (wildlife strikes). The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reports that wildlife strikes currently cost $500 million annually. The FAA requires that airports have a current Wildlife Hazard Assessment (WHA), needed for compiling a Wildlife Hazard Management Plan (WHMP). WHMPs provide airport managers guidance on how to minimize wildlife strikes. WHAs require surveying of wildlife for one year. The most common species observed were Rock dove (i.e., feral pigeons) and Canada geese. Wildlife were attracted by spilled grain at a nearby feed store, agricultural land surrounding the airport, and the nearby bridge over the Missouri River, which provided a roosting, loafing, and nesting structure. A lake at a nearby industrial plant was an attractant for wildlife because it’s used for cooling the production line and remains open year round. Wildlife crossed the KJEF runways and poised hazards to aviation. Recommendations to manage hazardous wildlife follow FAA guidelines and through suggestions provided by USDA-APHIS through our WHMP, managers at KJEF will reduce wildlife attractants and thus risks to aviation. 

Key Words: Aviation, crops, collisions, Federal Aviation Administration, geese, pigeons, wildlife strikes, USDA APHIS Wildlife Services