Scholarly Works, Fish and Wildlife Conservation

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  • Insights into Supporters of the MN Department of Natural Resources Nongame Wildlife Program: A Report
    Jennings, Kelsey K.; Dayer, Ashley A.; Chaves, Willandia A. (2024-07-08)
    Since its inception, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MNDNR) Nongame Wildlife Program (MN NWP) has been crucial in protecting rare and vulnerable wildlife species in Minnesota. This work aimed to understand the demographic and motivational landscape of MN NWP supporters and inform strategies for increasing engagement and support. We conducted semi-structured focus groups and a comprehensive survey of MN NWP's current and potential supporters recruited through social media and email lists. Additionally, a targeted survey assessed the impact of various messaging strategies on potential volunteers at Minnesota parks. Our results show that while respondents generally support MN NWP's mission, lack of awareness remains a significant barrier to greater engagement, and most participants showed interest in volunteering and donating, driven by a desire to experience nature, contribute to conservation, and support biodiversity. To enhance engagement, our findings suggest that the MN NWP should focus on increasing awareness, providing clear pathways for involvement, and targeting specific demographic groups with customized messaging. These insights will support the MN NWP's efforts to expand its volunteer base and financial support and ensure the long-term success of its conservation initiatives.
  • Ecology and geography of Cache Valley virus assessed using ecological niche modeling
    Muller, John A.; López, Krisangel; Escobar, Luis E.; Auguste, Albert J. (2024-06-26)
    Background: Cache Valley virus (CVV) is an understudied Orthobunyavirus with a high spillover transmission potential due to its wide geographical distribution and large number of associated hosts and vectors. Although CVV is known to be widely distributed throughout North America, no studies have explored its geography or employed computational methods to explore the mammal and mosquito species likely participating in the CVV sylvatic cycle. Methods: We used a literature review and online databases to compile locality data for CVV and its potential vectors and hosts. We linked location data points with climatic data via ecological niche modeling to estimate the geographical range of CVV and hotspots of transmission risk. We used background similarity tests to identify likely CVV mosquito vectors and mammal hosts to detect ecological signals from CVV sylvatic transmission. Results: CVV distribution maps revealed a widespread potential viral occurrence throughout North America. Ecological niche models identified areas with climate, vectors, and hosts suitable to maintain CVV transmission. Our background similarity tests identified Aedes vexans, Culiseta inornata, and Culex tarsalis as the most likely vectors and Odocoileus virginianus (white-tailed deer) as the most likely host sustaining sylvatic transmission. Conclusions: CVV has a continental-level, widespread transmission potential. Large areas of North America have suitable climate, vectors, and hosts for CVV emergence, establishment, and spread. We identified geographical hotspots that have no confirmed CVV reports to date and, in view of CVV misdiagnosis or underreporting, can guide future surveillance to specific localities and species.
  • Flood Pulse Effects on the Growth of Pseudoplatystoma fasciatum in the Amazon Basin
    Pereira, Luciana Alves; Castello, Leandro; Hallerman, Eric; Rodrigues, Edson Rubens Ferreira; Doria, Carolina Rodrigues da Costa; Duponchelle, Fabrice (MDPI, 2024-06-12)
    Fish growth is a fundamental biological process driven by a multitude of intrinsic (within-individual) and extrinsic (environmental) factors that underpin individual fitness and population dynamics. Interannual variability in river hydrology regarding the intensity and duration of floods and droughts can induce interannual variations in the biotic and abiotic variables that regulate fish growth. However, the understanding of how interannual variability in river hydrology affects fish growth remains limited for most species and ecosystems. We evaluated how inter-annual hydrological variations within the Amazon River basin influence the growth of the catfish Pseudoplaystoma fasciatum. Our research questions were as follows: Do floods lead to the faster growth of P. fasciatum and droughts lead to the slower growth? And do floods and droughts affect all age classes in the same manner? We sampled 364 specimens of P. fasciatum from five sites in the Amazon basin, estimated their growth rates, and related the growth rates to indices of the intensity of floods and droughts. We fitted linear mixed-effects models to test the relationship between growth increments and hydrological indices (with F and D quantifying the intensities of floods and droughts, respectively), age as fixed effects, and basins and Fish ID as random effects. We found an inverse relationship between the increment width in the fish hard parts and hydrological indices. That is, intense floods and droughts negatively affected the growth rates. We also found that the growth of P. fasciatum was no different in years with intense and mild floods across age classes 1–5, although was different for age class 6. However, the growth of P. fasciatum was faster in years of mild droughts for all age classes. Our results showing that the growth of P. fasciatum was slower in years of intense droughts are supported by those of previous studies in the Amazon basin and elsewhere. However, our results showing for the first time that the growth of P. fasciatum is slower in years of intense flooding is the opposite of patterns found in other studies. These results thus suggest that the growth of P. fasciatum is maximized within an optimum range of hydrological conditions, where neither floods nor droughts are intense.
  • Inland recreational fisheries contribute nutritional benefits and economic value but are vulnerable to climate change
    Lynch, Abigail J.; Embke, Holly S.; Nyboer, Elizabeth A.; Wood, Louisa E.; Thorpe, Andy; Phang, Sui C.; Viana, Daniel F.; Golden, Christopher D.; Milardi, Marco; Arlinghaus, Robert; Baigun, Claudio; Beard, T. Douglas Jr.; Cooke, Steven J.; Cowx, Ian G.; Koehn, John D.; Lyach, Roman; Potts, Warren; Robertson, Ashley M.; Schmidhuber, Josef; Weyl, Olaf L. F. (Springer Nature, 2024-05)
    Inland recreational fishing is primarily considered a leisure-driven activity in freshwaters, yet its harvest can contribute to food systems. Here we estimate that the harvest from inland recreational fishing equates to just over one-tenth of all reported inland fisheries catch globally. The estimated total consumptive use value of inland recreational fish destined for human consumption may reach US$9.95 billion annually. We identify Austria, Canada, Germany and Slovakia as countries above the third quantile for nutrition, economic value and climate vulnerability. These results have important implications for populations dependent on inland recreational fishing for food. Our findings can inform climate adaptation planning for inland recreational fisheries, particularly those not currently managed as food fisheries.
  • Epidemiology of sarcoptic mange in a geographically constrained insular red fox population
    Wails, Christy N.; Helmke, Claire C.; Black, Kathleen M.; Ramirez-Barrios, Roger; Karpanty, Sarah M.; Catlin, Daniel H.; Fraser, James D. (2024-06-06)
    Background: Sarcoptic mange is a skin disease caused by the contagious ectoparasite Sarcoptes scabiei, capable of suppressing and extirpating wild canid populations. Starting in 2015, we observed a multi-year epizootic of sarcoptic mange affecting a red fox (Vulpes vulpes) population on Fire Island, NY, USA. We explored the ecological factors that contributed to the spread of sarcoptic mange and characterized the epizootic in a landscape where red foxes are geographically constrained. Methods: We tested for the presence of S. scabiei DNA in skin samples collected from deceased red foxes with lesions visibly consistent with sarcoptic mange disease. We deployed 96–100 remote trail camera stations each year to capture red fox occurrences and used generalized linear mixed-effects models to assess the affects of red fox ecology, human and other wildlife activity, and island geography on the frequency of detecting diseased red foxes. We rated the extent of visual lesions in diseased individuals and mapped the severity and variability of the sarcoptic mange disease. Results: Skin samples that we analyzed demonstrated 99.8% similarity to S. scabiei sequences in GenBank. Our top-ranked model (weight = 0.94) showed that diseased red foxes were detected more frequently close to roadways, close to territories of other diseased red foxes, away from human shelters, and in areas with more mammal activity. There was no evidence that detection rates in humans and their dogs or distance to the nearest red fox den explained the detection rates of diseased red foxes. Although detected infrequently, we observed the most severe signs of sarcoptic mange at the periphery of residential villages. The spread of visual signs of the disease was approximately 7.3 ha/week in 2015 and 12.1 ha/week in 2017. Conclusions: We quantified two separate outbreaks of sarcoptic mange disease that occurred > 40 km apart and were separated by a year. Sarcoptic mange revealed an unfettered spread across the red fox population. The transmission of S. scabiei mites in this system was likely driven by red fox behaviors and contact between individuals, in line with previous studies. Sarcoptic mange is likely an important contributor to red fox population dynamics within barrier island systems.
  • Southern Fox Squirrel and Eastern Gray Squirrel Interactions in a Fire-maintained Ecosystem
    Guill, Marissa H.; De La Cruz, Jesse L.; Puckett, Marc; Klopfer, Scott D.; Martin, Brandon; Ford, W. Mark (2024)
    Southern fox squirrels (Sciurus niger niger) have been declining due to habitat fragmentation, cover type conversion, and fire suppression in the Southeast. A decrease in growing season burns has led to hardwood encroachment and forest mesophication that benefit the competing eastern gray squirrels (S. carolinensis). In the southern Coastal Plain and Piedmont of Virginia, these pattern raises the question of whether gray squirrels are competitively excluding southern fox squirrels in these altered landscapes. From October 2019 to October 2020, we conducted continual camera trapping for southern fox squirrels and gray squirrels on the Big Woods/Piney Grove Complex (BWPGC) and at Fort Barfoot (FB) in the Coastal Plain and lower Piedmont of Virginia, respectively. Both sites are among the few areas that still contain large, intact pine savanna and mixed-pine hardwood forests in southeastern Virginia. We used two-species occupancy modeling to investigate occupancy estimates of southern fox squirrels and possible competition with gray squirrels, based on detection histories collected from camera traps on BWPGC and FB. We then conducted informed single-species occupancy modeling to estimate the necessary level-of effort (LOE) required to determine the probable absence of southern fox squirrels at sampling sites in the region. No fox squirrels were observed at FB. Our top, two species occupancy model showed that gray squirrel occupancy increased with increasing time since last burn. However, southern fox squirrel occupancy, in the absence of gray squirrels, decreased with increasing time since last burn. Gray squirrels typically inhabited hardwood-dominant closed canopy areas whereas southern fox squirrels did so at BWPGC only in the absence of gray squirrels. This suggests that southern fox squirrels are selecting areas on BWPGC based on resource needs and possibly competition with gray squirrels. A single-season occupancy model confirmed that southern fox squirrel occupancy decreased with time since the last burn. Our LOE analysis indicated that seven consecutive days of camera trapping without a detection would provide 90% confidence of the subspecies’ absence in areas burned two or more years prior to sampling. Southern fox squirrels may benefit from increased short-rotation burns to maintain or enhance pine-hardwood savannas and pine-hardwood savanna ecotones in southeastern Virginia.
  • Second Guessing the Maximum Likelihood Estimator Values for Bat Surveys
    Ford. W. Mark; De La Cruz, Jesse L.; Thorne, Emily D.; Silvis, Alexander; Armstrong, Michael P.; King, R. Andrew (2024)
    The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service allows acoustical surveys and automated identification software to determine the presence of the endangered northern long-eared bat (Myotis septentrionalis) and Indiana bat (Myotis sodalis). Analytical software is required to assess presence probability on a site-night basis using a maximum likelihood estimator (MLE) that accounts for interspecific bat misclassification rates. The current standard for occupancy is a returned MLE P-value < 0.05 at the nightly level irrespective of the number of files identified as either northern long-eared bats or Indiana bats. These MLE P-values can vary based on presence of other bat species with similar calls and the relative proportions of all species recorded. Accordingly, there is concern that with few nightly northern long-eared bat or Indiana bat recordings or the presence of large numbers of high frequency bats, false-negative findings from a swamping effect could result. Using data collected in 2020–2021 by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to set nationwide acoustic monitoring guidelines, we examined the relationship of returned software MLE P-values from 4873 site-nights of acoustic detector data relative to nightly counts of northern long-eared bats and Indiana bats, overall counts of other high-frequency bats, and habitat cover type. For both northern long-eared bats and Indiana bats, nights with one or more echolocation pass files identified as either species but above the MLE P-value threshold largely occurred where nightly counts of the target species was <15 and their proportion to the count of high-frequency bat species was low. We followed this analysis with a simulation using a known call library and observed similar patterns. Accordingly, with few nightly echolocation passes, post-hoc visual assessment following automated software identification easily could be undertaken. Evidence of swamping by other high-frequency species causing positive file identification creating false-negative or false-positives of northern long-eared bats and Indiana bats was not apparent at nightly counts of either species > 10.
  • Seasonal Activity Patterns of Northern Long-eared Bats on the Coastal Mid-Atlantic
    De La Cruz, Jesse L.; Kalen, Nicholas J.; Barr, Elaine L.; Thorne, Emily D.; Silvis, Alexander; Reynolds, Richard J.; Ford, W. Mark (2024)
    Conservation of bats declining from white-nose syndrome (WNS) impacts requires an understanding of both temporal and landscape-level habitat relationships. Traditionally, much of the research on bat ecology has focused on behavior of summer maternity colonies within species’ distribution cores, including that of the endangered northern long-eared bat (Myotis septentrionalis). To further our knowledge of this species, we evaluated multi-season activity patterns in eastern North Carolina and Virginia, including areas where populations were recently discovered. We used passive acoustic monitoring to assess relative and probable activity of northern long-eared bats from October 2016 to August 2021. Northern long-eared bat relative activity was greatest in areas containing greater proportions of woody wetlands and upland pine-dominated evergreen forests. However, the likelihood of recording northern long-eared bats was associated with smaller proportions of woody wetlands and open water resources. Furthermore, we observed a higher probability of recording northern long-eared bats during non-winter seasons. Probable activity was greatest at temperatures be- tween 10 and 25 C, potentially highlighting an optimal thermoneutral zone for the species regionally. Relative activity of northern long-eared bats on the Coastal Plain of Virginia and North Carolina was primarily driven by cover features, whereas probable activity was driven by a combination of cover features, seasonality, and temperature. Therefore, acoustical surveys for this species may be most effective when targeting woody wetlands adjacent to upland forests, particularly upland pine-dominated evergreen stands, during moderate temperatures of non-winter seasons (1 April–15 November). Moreover, conservation of a diverse mosaic of woody wetlands juxtaposed by upland forests may promote both roosting and overwintering habitat, thereby enhancing overwintering survival, maternity colony establishment, and ultimately, successful reproduction of northern long-eared bats.
  • Minnesota Report of Black, Indigenous, and Community Scientists of Color
    Jennings, Kelsey; Chaves, Willandia; Dayer, Ashley A. (2024-05)
    The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Nongame Wildlife Program (the MN NWP) is expanding its engagement efforts to better include Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) in conservation action. Recent studies suggest community science, or public participation in scientific research, is an effective strategy for engaging underrepresented groups. However, the demographics of community scientists remain largely homogeneous. Addressing this disparity can enhance BIPOC communities' engagement, fostering valuable relationships with scientific institutions and increasing scientific value to communities. To understand BIPOC participation in community science, we conducted focus group discussions with BIPOC-serving organizations and participants in their nature-based programs. Findings revealed that BIPOC communities face material and situational barriers to participation, such as financial constraints and negative interpersonal experiences. Participants expressed interest in community science but emphasized the need for programs that are aligned with their interests and skills and led by BIPOC individuals. Based on these insights, we recommend leveraging partnerships with existing organizations, developing relevant programs by and for community members, addressing barriers to participation, and planning for continued involvement to ensure long-term engagement. These strategies are essential for the MN NWP to effectively engage a diverse range of Minnesotans and support equity in conservation efforts.
  • Inclusion for disabled wildlife viewers: A literature review
    McGregor, Freya A.; Sinkular, Emily N.; Dayer, Ashley A. (2024-05)
    The Dayer Lab of Human Dimensions at Virginia Tech has been working closely with the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies Wildlife Viewing and Nature Tourism Working Group since 2020 to better understand wildlife viewers across the U.S., with the overarching goal of helping wildlife agencies better connect with their constituents in order to increase engagement with their agencies and support for conservation. In 2021, as part of this work, we conducted a national survey of wildlife viewers which had more than 4,000 respondents (http://hdl.handle.net/10919/111539) and found that 39% reported experiencing accessibility challenges while participating in wildlife viewing. If one in three wildlife viewers experience accessibility challenges, how can agencies ensure they are engaging and supporting wildlife viewers with disabilities? Disability is part of the human experience, but not much is known about disabled wildlife viewers. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA; 1990) states that Title II entities must ensure that people with disabilities have an equal opportunity to participate in all programs they offer. And yet, disabled wildlife viewers reported experiencing a wide range of barriers. This literature review was developed by an occupational therapist and two social scientists, all of whom identify as wildlife viewers with past or current experience with accessibility challenges when wildlife viewing due to disability or injury. This literature review provides a quick overview of published information about people with disabilities, wildlife viewing, and barriers to and facilitators of wildlife viewing for people with disabilities. It also collates best practices, based on the literature, to support the inclusion of disabled wildlife viewers.
  • National Survey of Wildlife Viewers: Understanding Wildlife Viewers across the Urban-Rural Gradient
    Langhans, Kelley E.; Pototsky, P. Christy; Dayer, Ashley A.; Chaves, Willandia A. (2024-05)
    Wildlife viewing is one of the fastest growing outdoor recreation activities in the United States. Wildlife viewers are those who intentionally observe, feed, or photograph wildlife; travel to parks, protected areas, or other natural spaces with the purpose of feeding, observing, or photographing wildlife; and those who maintain plantings or natural areas for the benefit of wildlife. Research has shown that the majority of wildlife viewers live in urban areas. This presents a challenge for fish and wildlife agencies, which have traditionally served hunting and fishing constituents and focused on rural areas. To better understand urban wildlife viewers, the Dayer Lab at Virginia Tech, in collaboration with state agency wildlife viewing staff, analyzed the results of the 2021 National and Regional Survey of Wildlife Viewers to explore how wildlife viewing behavior changes across an urban-rural gradient. This study fills a knowledge gap on this growing constituency of outdoor recreationists, and aims to increase the relevancy of agencies and their ability to engage and serve all people who want to connect with wildlife. This report utilizes information on the population density and built up area to calculate a metric of the degree of urbanization of where wildlife viewers live. This metric is then compared with wildlife viewers’ responses to the 2021 National and Regional Wildlife Viewer Survey in order to understand how wildlife viewing behaviors change across an urban-rural gradient. Specifically, this report examines: the ethnoracial identity and income of wildlife viewers, where they view wildlife, what types of wildlife viewing they participate in, their wildlife viewing skill level, barriers to their participation in wildlife viewing, relationships with their state agencies, and their communication preferences. This report also includes a case study on the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail, exploring how access to and awareness about trail sites varies based on degree of urbanization. The report concludes with ten key recommendations for state agencies to increase engagement with urban wildlife viewers. Researchers at Virginia Tech co-developed these recommendations based on insights from the 2024 Wildlife Viewer and Nature Tourism Academy, discussions with wildlife viewing staff from multiple state fish and wildlife agencies, and results of this study. The recommendations are: 1. Focus on urban areas to reach more wildlife viewers from ethnoracial minorities 2. Create programming around activities that urbanites prefer 3. Tailor programming in public spaces to urban wildlife viewers 4. Offer diverse programming for urban wildlife viewers of all expertise levels 5. Reach urban wildlife viewers by creating programming in urban areas, especially parks 6. Utilize more virtual and social media communication methods to share information with urban wildlife viewers 7. Use the ParkServe Tool to identify priority locations for expanding access to nature in cities 8. Expand access and outreach for low income and BIPOC wildlife viewers 9. Expand state agency capacity in urban areas through partnerships 10. Build leadership support for urban wildlife viewers This project was funded by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Multistate Conservation Grant Program (grant # F23AP00442-00), which is jointly managed by the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and the Service’s Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program. For more information, please contact Kelley Langhans (langhans@vt.edu), Dr. Willandia Chaves (wchaves@vt.edu), and Dr. Ashley Dayer (dayer@vt.edu).
  • Crayfishes of the New River watershed and Factors Affecting Their Distributions
    Mouser, Joshua; Loughman, Zachary; Frimpong, Emmanuel A. (New River Symposium, 2024-04-12)
    Crayfishes are keystone species within aquatic ecosystems and many species require conservation efforts to support their continued persistence. Unfortunately, we lack basic data needed to make effective conservation decisions for many crayfishes, especially those that occur in the New River watershed (hereafter New River). Therefore, we investigated coarse-scale drivers of crayfish occurrence in the New River. We used generalized linear mixed effects models to predict occurrence of eight taxa based on instream and landscape-scale environmental data and biotic interactions. There are at least 10 species of crayfishes that occur in the New River. Faxonius cristavarius, F. virilis, Cambarus appalachiensis, and C. chasmodactylus are found in larger tributaries throughout the New River. The following species occupy smaller tributaries of the New River: F. spp. (either F. sanbornii or F. obscurus), C. aff. robustus, C. cf. bartonii, and C. smilax. We found that increasing anthropogenic disturbance led to declines in F. spp., C. cf. bartonii, and C. smilax but had a positive relationship with F. cristavarius. The presence of the potentially invasive species, F. cristivarius, was negatively associated with most species. Embeddedness, substrate, proportion riffle habitat, and lithology were additional variables that structured crayfish assemblages. Our results reveal that increasing human-mediated changes and invasive crayfishes threaten the persistence of native crayfishes in the New River.
  • Local knowledge reconstructs historical resource use
    Castello, Leandro; Martins, Eduardo G.; Sorice, Michael G.; Smith, Eric P.; Almedia, Morgana; Bastos, Gastao C.C.; Gardoso, Luis G.; Clauzet, Mariana; Dopona, Alisson P.; Ferreira, Beatrice; Haimovic, Manuel; Jorge, Marcelo; Mendonça, Jocemar; Ávila-da- Silva, Antonio O.; Roman, Ana P.O.; Ramires, Milena; de Miranda, Laura V.; Lopes, Priscila F.M. (Wiley, 2024-03-07)
    Information on natural resource exploitation is vital for conservation but scarce in developing nations, which encompass most of the world and often lack the capacity to produce it. A growing approach to generate information about resource use in the context of developing nations relies on surveys of resource users about their recollections (recall) of past harvests. However, the reliability of harvest recalls remains unclear. Here, we show that harvest recalls can be as accurate to data collected by standardized protocols, despite that recalls are variable and affected by the age of the recollecting person and the length of time elapsed since the event. Samples of harvest recalls permit relatively reliable reconstruction of harvests for up to 39 years in the past. Harvest recalls therefore have strong potential to inform data-poor resource systems and curb shifting baselines around the world at a fraction of the cost of conventional approaches.
  • Niche partitioning and the storage effect facilitate coexistence in an amphibian community
    Brooks, George C.; Caruso, Nicholas M.; Chandler, Houston C.; Haas, Carola A. (Wiley, 2023-10-18)
    Virtually all natural community assemblages are dominated by a handful of common species. Dominant species can exert negative impacts on biodiversity through competitive exclusion, and thus there is a strong incentive to understand imbalances in community composition, changes in dominance hierarchies through time, and mechanisms of coexistence. Pond-breeding amphibians that utilize ephemeral wetlands provide an excellent opportunity to evaluate theoretical predictions of community composition in stochastic environments. One of the most striking features of pond-breeding amphibians is the marked stochastic fluctuations in abundance across years. Given strong theoretical and empirical links between evenness and biomass, one would expect community evenness to change from year to year. Moreover, if different species exhibit different boom-and-bust reproductive cycles, then a storage effect may help to explain why one species does not outcompete all others. Here, we explore the interplay between biotic and abiotic conditions in shaping amphibian communities at two ephemeral wetlands on Eglin Air Force Base, Florida. We document consistent community composition over 6 years of monitoring, resulting from a lack of species turnover and similar responses of all community members to environmental conditions. The similar dynamics of species argues against a storage effect as the sole mechanism for coexistence and instead points to niche partitioning as a more important factor. In support of this conclusion, we show that the degree of synchrony in breeding migrations only correlates with environmental conditions within species, not between species. The lack of pattern seen between species implies that individuals are somewhat constrained in the timing of breeding migrations, perhaps owing in part to competition with other community members. We hope that our work reinvigorates interest in amphibian communities and highlights ephemeral wetlands as model systems to study community dynamics in stochastic environments.
  • Forecasting the flooding dynamics of flatwoods salamander breeding wetlands under future climate change scenarios
    Chandler, Houston C.; Caruso, Nicholas M.; McLaughlin, Daniel L.; Jiao, Yan; Brooks, George C.; Haas, Carola A. (PeerJ, 2023-09-19)
    Ephemeral wetlands are globally important systems that are regulated by regular cycles of wetting and drying, which are primarily controlled by responses to relatively short-term weather events (e.g., precipitation and evapotranspiration). Climate change is predicted to have significant effects on many ephemeral wetland systems and the organisms that depend on them through altered filling or drying dates that impact hydroperiod. To examine the potential effects of climate change on pine flatwoods wetlands in the southeastern United States, we created statistical models describing wetland hydrologic regime using an approximately 8-year history of water level monitoring and a variety of climate data inputs. We then assessed how hydrology may change in the future by projecting models forward (2025–2100) under six future climate scenarios (three climate models each with two emission scenarios). We used the model results to assess future breeding conditions for the imperiled Reticulated Flatwoods Salamander (Ambystoma bishopi), which breeds in many of the study wetlands. We found that models generally fit the data well and had good predictability across both training and testing data. Across all models and climate scenarios, there was substantial variation in the predicted suitability for flatwoods salamander reproduction. However, wetlands with longer hydroperiods tended to have fewer model iterations that predicted at least five consecutive years of reproductive failure (an important metric for population persistence). Understanding potential future risk to flatwoods salamander populations can be used to guide conservation and management actions for this imperiled species.
  • Accessible birding in the United States: constraints to and facilitators of birding with disabilities
    Sinkular, Emily N.; Dayer, Ashley A.; McGregor, Freya A.; Karns, Morgan J. (Taylor & Francis, 2024-03-26)
    While approximately one-quarter of the U.S. population has a disability, many people with disabilities remain excluded from equitable participation in birding. In this study, we compared the constraints and facilitators of birders with and without disabilities from a nationwide survey of U.S. wildlife viewers. Next, we analyzed open-ended responses in a survey of birders with disabilities to characterize constraints and facilitators using models of disabilities, or different frames of reference to understand disabilities. We found that birders with disabilities, compared to those without, experienced constraints to birding to a greater extent. However, birders with and without disabilities expressed interest in various facilitators (e.g. access to more high-quality birding locations, information about birding), suggesting that facilitators can benefit both groups. Birders invoked multiple models when describing their constraints to and facilitators of birding, highlighting a need for a multi-faceted approach to fostering greater levels of inclusivity in birding.
  • Extending Body Condition Scoring Beyond Measureable Rump Fat to Estimate Full Range of Nutritional Condition for Moose
    Levine, Rebecca; Smiley, Rachel; Jesmer, Brett R.; Oates, Brendan; Goheen, Jacob; Stephenson, Gary; Kauffman, Matthew; Fralick, Gary; Monteith, Kevin (2023-02-18)
    Moose (Alces alces) populations along the southern extent of their range are largely declining, and there is growing evidence that nutritional condition — which influences several vital rates – is a contributing factor. Moose body condition can presently be estimated only when there is measurable subcutaneous rump fat, which equates to animals with >6% ingesta-free body fat (IFBFat). There is need for a technique to allow body fat estimation of animals in poorer body condition (i.e., <6% body fat). We advance current methods for moose, following those used and validated with other ungulate species, by establishing a moose-specific body condition score (BCS) that can be used to estimate IFBFat in the lower range of condition. Our modified BCS was related strongly (r2 = 0.89) to IFBFat estimates based on measurable rump fat. By extending the predicted relationship to individuals without measurable fat, the BCS equated severe emaciation with 0.67% IFBFat, supporting the accuracy of the method. The lower end of nutritional condition is important for identifying relationships involving life-history characteristics because most state-dependent changes occur at lower levels of condition. Therefore, until the BCS can be validated with moose carcasses, we believe our method to estimate body fat across the full range of condition should yield better understanding of the drivers underlying declining moose populations.
  • Biological Earth observation with animal sensors
    Jetz, Walter; Tertitski, Grigori; Kays, Roland; Mueller, Uschi; Wikelski, Martin; Akesson, Susanne; Anisimov, Yury; Antonov, Aleksey; Arnold, Walter; Bairlein, Franz; Balta, Oriol; Baum, Diane; Beck, Mario; Belonovich, Olga; Belyaev, Mikhail; Berger, Matthias; Berthold, Peter; Bittner, Steffen; Blake, Stephen; Block, Barbara; Bloche, Daniel; Boehning-Gaese, Katrin; Bohrer, Gil; Bojarinova, Julia; Bommas, Gerhard; Bourski, Oleg; Bragin, Albert; Bragin, Alexandr; Bristol, Rachel; Brlik, Vojtech; Bulyuk, Victor; Cagnacci, Francesca; Carlson, Ben; Chapple, Taylor K.; Chefira, Kalkidan F.; Cheng, Yachang; Chernetsov, Nikita; Cierlik, Grzegorz; Christiansen, Simon S.; Clarabuch, Oriol; Cochran, William; Cornelius, Jamie Margaret; Couzin, Iain; Crofoot, Margret C.; Cruz, Sebastian; Davydov, Alexander; Davidson, Sarah; Dech, Stefan; Dechmann, Dina; Demidova, Ekaterina; Dettmann, Jan; Dittmar, Sven; Dorofeev, Dmitry; Drenckhahn, Detlev; Dubyanskiy, Vladimir; Egorov, Nikolay; Ehnbom, Sophie; Ellis-Soto, Diego; Ewald, Ralf; Feare, Chris; Fefelov, Igor; Fehervari, Peter; Fiedler, Wolfgang; Flack, Andrea; Froboese, Magnus; Fufachev, Ivan; Futoran, Pavel; Gabyshev, Vyachaslav; Gagliardo, Anna; Garthe, Stefan; Gashkov, Sergey; Gibson, Luke; Goymann, Wolfgang; Gruppe, Gerd; Guglielmo, Chris; Hartl, Phil; Hedenstrom, Anders; Hegemann, Arne; Heine, Georg; Ruiz, Maggi Hieber; Hofer, Heribert; Huber, Felix; Hurme, Edward; Iannarilli, Fabiola; Illa, Marc; Isaev, Arkadiy; Jakobsen, Bent; Jenni, Lukas; Jenni-Eiermann, Susi; Jesmer, Brett R.; Jiguet, Frederic; Karimova, Tatiana; Kasdin, N. Jeremy; Kazansky, Fedor; Kirillin, Ruslan; Klinner, Thomas; Knopp, Andreas; Koelzsch, Andrea; Kondratyev, Alexander; Krondorf, Marco; Ktitorov, Pavel; Kulikova, Olga; Kumar, R. Suresh; Kuenzer, Claudia; Larionov, Anatoliy; Larose, Christine; Liechti, Felix; Linek, Nils; Lohr, Ashley; Lushchekina, Anna; Mansfield, Kate; Matantseva, Maria; Markovets, Mikhail; Marra, Peter; Masello, Juan F.; Melzheimer, Joerg; Menz, Myles HM M.; Menzie, Stephen; Meshcheryagina, Swetlana; Miquelle, Dale; Morozov, Vladimir; Mukhin, Andrey; Mueller, Inge; Mueller, Thomas; Navedo, Juan G.; Nathan, Ran; Nelson, Luke; Nemeth, Zoltan; Newman, Scott; Norris, Ryan; Nsengimana, Olivier; Okhlopkov, Innokentiy; Oles, Wioleta; Oliver, Ruth; O'Mara, Teague; Palatitz, Peter; Partecke, Jesko; Pavlick, Ryan; Pedenko, Anastasia; Perry, Alys; Pham, Julie; Piechowski, Daniel; Pierce, Allison; Piersma, Theunis; Pitz, Wolfgang; Plettemeier, Dirk; Pokrovskaya, Irina; Pokrovskaya, Liya; Pokrovsky, Ivan; Pot, Morrison; Prochazka, Petr; Quillfeldt, Petra; Rakhimberdiev, Eldar; Ramenofsky, Marilyn; Ranipeta, Ajay; Rapczynski, Jan; Remisiewicz, Magdalena; Rozhnov, Viatcheslav; Rienks, Froukje; Rozhnov, Vyacheslav; Rutz, Christian; Sakhvon, Vital; Sapir, Nir; Safi, Kamran; Schaeuffelhut, Friedrich; Schimel, David; Schmidt, Andreas; Shamoun-Baranes, Judy; Sharikov, Alexander; Shearer, Laura; Shemyakin, Evgeny; Sherub, Sherub; Shipley, Ryan; Sica, Yanina; Smith, Thomas B.; Simonov, Sergey; Snell, Katherine; Sokolov, Aleksandr; Sokolov, Vasiliy; Solomina, Olga; Spina, Fernando; Spoelstra, Kamiel; Storhas, Martin; Sviridova, Tatiana; Swenson, George; Taylor, Phil; Thorup, Kasper; Tsvey, Arseny; Tucker, Marlee; Tuppen, Sophie; Turner, Woody; Twizeyimana, Innocent; van der Jeugd, Henk; van Schalkwyk, Louis; van Toor, Marielle; Viljoen, Pauli; Visser, Marcel E.; Volkmer, Tamara; Volkov, Andrey; Volkov, Sergey; Volkov, Oleg; von Ronn, Jan AC C.; Vorneweg, Bernd; Wachter, Bettina; Waldenstrom, Jonas; Weber, Natalie; Wegmann, Martin; Wehr, Aloysius; Weinzierl, Rolf; Weppler, Johannes; Wilcove, David; Wild, Timm; Williams, Hannah J.; Wilshire, John H.; Wingfield, John; Wunder, Michael; Yachmennikova, Anna; Yanco, Scott; Yohannes, Elisabeth; Zeller, Amelie; Ziegler, Christian; Ziecik, Anna; Zook, Cheryl (Cell Press, 2022-05-22)
    Space-based tracking technology using low-cost miniature tags is now delivering data on fine-scale animal movement at near-global scale. Linked with remotely sensed environmental data, this offers a biological lens on habitat integrity and connectivity for conservation and human health; a global network of animal sentinels of environmental change.
  • Antibiotic Susceptibility of non-pathogenic Escherichia coli from meat and produce available in the Chobe region of Botswana
    Saunders, Rachel; Bywater, Auja L.; Fleming, Madison; Kelly, Christine; Nuckolls, Evan; Alexander, Kathleen A.; Ponder, Monica A. (2023-04-21)