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Sunday, April 15
 

6:00am EDT

8:00am EDT

8:30am EDT

WORKSHOP: Q & A about Q & A: Designing Effective Human Dimensions Research Tools and Getting the Most From the Data (additional fee and pre-registration required)
Additional Fee: $30
This workshop will cover three topics: 1) Introduction to human dimensions data types and data collection tools. 2) Identification of population, sampling frame, and methodology for gathering information about a specific group. 3) Developing messaging and public relations programming using what you have learned.

Sunday April 15, 2018 8:30am - 12:00pm EDT
Vermont B

9:00am EDT

WORKSHOP: Use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles for Wildlife Research or Monitoring (additional fee and pre-registration required)
Additional Fee: $100 for professionals /$50 students
This workshop will provide an introduction for the use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (drones) in wildlife research and monitoring. Implementation of this technology is maturing, in systems, software, procedures, and the regulatory environment, with many new applications being tested continually. Topics will include status updates, along with case studies for specific use cases within the wildlife profession. Opportunities for discussion and collaboration will be included.

Sunday April 15, 2018 9:00am - 5:00pm EDT
Offsite - Depart Hotel Front Lobby

12:00pm EDT

12:00pm EDT

12:00pm EDT

12:00pm EDT

1:00pm EDT

1:00pm EDT

CANCELED FIELD TRIP: Road Ecology
Please note - this field trip has been canceled. 

Sunday April 15, 2018 1:00pm - 5:00pm EDT
Offsite

1:00pm EDT

Directors' Meeting
Sunday April 15, 2018 1:00pm - 5:00pm EDT
Seasons

1:00pm EDT

1:00pm EDT

WORKSHOP: Exercising Leadership for Change (free to attend but pre-registration required)
Impacting change relies less on command-and-control paradigms and increasingly more on developing a broad capacity for the exercise of leadership. Influencers develop through knowledge, experience, and an ability to challenge and advance self and others on a shared purpose. Founded on a belief that leadership qualities are available to everyone, this workshop combines thought provoking concepts, theories, tools, and practices to advance your leadership capacity.

Sunday April 15, 2018 1:00pm - 5:00pm EDT
Montpelier A&B

1:00pm EDT

WORKSHOP: Training in “Nature’s Network” – Lands and Waters Sustaining Wildlife and People from Maine to Virginia (free to attend but pre-registration required)
Free to Attend.
This hands-on workshop will provide training in spatial datasets and tools developed for Nature's Network (www.naturesnetwork.org). This effort has been led by nearly 30 organizations including the Northeast Fish and Wildlife Agencies. It identifies a network of places that help define the highest conservation priorities in the region to sustain natural resources and benefits for future generations.

Sunday April 15, 2018 1:00pm - 5:00pm EDT
Vermont B

2:00pm EDT

Student Workshop (free to attend)
Free to Attend.
Join undergraduate and graduate students for 3 engaging panel discussions with hiring managers at state agencies, graduate program administrators, and state agency directors for an informative workshop.

Workshop Panelists: Amy Arnett - Unity College; Valorie Titus - Green Mountain College; James Murdoch - UVM; Terri Donovan - UVM Coop; Donna Parrish - UVM USGS/Coop Unit
  • Opening icebreaker - meet other students in attendance at the conference and share your interests and ambitions
  • Panel discussions with natural resources human resource professionals on the status of the job market, what the trends are in the industry, and how you can rise to the top when you are looking for a job.
  • Graduate program options - meet with reps from the various graduate programs around New England
  • Panel discussion with state fish & wildlife agency directors - how did they get their start, what were their most strategic career moves that helped them get to this role; why they love (and don’t love) their jobs!!

Sunday April 15, 2018 2:00pm - 5:30pm EDT
Lake Champlain A

2:30pm EDT

2:30pm EDT

6:00pm EDT

Welcome to Vermont Reception - Sponsored by Brandt Information Services Inc and National Shooting Sports Foundation
Reconnect with old friends! Join your colleagues for a sampling of Vermont specialties at the opening Welcome Reception in the Green Mountain Ballroom. A limited supply of complementary local beer will be available courtesy of Long Trail and Magic Hat breweries. 

Sunday April 15, 2018 6:00pm - 8:00pm EDT
Green Mountain Ballroom
 
Monday, April 16
 

7:00am EDT

7:00am EDT

7:00am EDT

7:00am EDT

7:00am EDT

8:00am EDT

Plenary Session and Awards Presentation
8:00 AM | Welcome 
  • Presentation of the Colors – Vermont Honor Guard: Lt. Gregory Eckhardt, Lt. Carl Wedin, Lt. Justin Stedman, Robert Currier, Josh Hungerford, Matthew Theil, Timothy Carey
  • National Anthem

8:15 AM | Welcome to Vermont
  • Welcome Remarks - Julie Moore, Secretary, Vermont Agency of Natural Resources (invited)
  • Welcome Remarks - Vermont Fish & Wildlife Commissioner Louis Porter

8:30 AM | Re-connecting Ourselves to Our Neighbors Through Stories of PlacePeter Forbes, Center for Whole Communities 

9:30 AM | Powerful Science Communicators in Our Own Backyard: A Science Slam Jacob DeBow, University of Vermont; Rich Kirn, Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department; John Austin, Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department; Adam Miller, Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department
Hear about the great work happening in our own backyard with quick updates from around the northeast. (see details below)

10:00 AM | Hunting Stories: Connecting People and Nature Isabella Milazzo, Poultney High School
Isabella Milazzo is a sophomore at Poultney High School in Poultney, Vermont. She finds herself deeply connected to nature through hunting with her relationship with her grandfather. In turn, these relationships with nature foster a sense of community, wholeness, and joy. What can be learned from Isabella, and how might her experiences inform and empower professionals in their job to conserve natural resources for future generations?

10:30 AM | Break 

11:00 AM | Awards Ceremony 
  • Conservation Law Enforcement Officers of the Year
  • Northeast Section of The Wildlife Society
    • Student Presentation Awards (2017)
    • Certificates of Recognition
    • P.F. English Memorial Award
    • John Pearce Memorial Award
  • Angelo Incerpi Fisheries Conservation Award
  • William T. Hesselton Award presented by the Northeast Wildlife Administrators Association
  • 2018 Information and Education Professional of the Year Award presented by the Northeast Conservation Information & Education Association
  • Robert McDowell Award for Conservation Management Excellence

12:00 PM | Adjourn for Lunch (On Your Own)

------

SLAM Presentations:

Speaker: Jacob DeBow
Title: Moose Survival and Reproduction in Northern Vermont
Synopsis: Vermont is conducting research on moose survival and fecundity alongside other New England states to better understand the driving forces behind population declines and reduced herd health at a state and regional level. I will discuss the impacts of shorter winters on winter ticks and results to-date from the Vermont study.
Biography: Jacob DeBow is a Master’s student at the University of Vermont.  His research focuses on mortality and productivity of moose in northern Vermont in partnership with the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department. Jacob has been involved in moose research in New England since 2014 and developed a deep interest in the management of this iconic and ecologically important animal. As an avid sportsman, Jacob enjoys hunting, fishing, and trapping and hopes to someday be involved with game species research, management, and conservation.

Speaker: Rich Kirn
Title: Incorporating Aquatic Habitat Protection into Flood Resiliency & Recovery Practices
Synopsis: Tropical Storm Irene exposed many shortcomings in Vermont’s flood recovery regulations and practices which lead to excessive and unnecessary degradation of stream habitat.  Large scale removal of coarse streambed substrate and natural wood, channel widening, berming and straightening resulted in over 80 miles of stream channels devoid of aquatic habitat features. Through improved regulations and coordination, the development of standard instream practices, and a formal training program, future flood responses should be more targeted and effective while minimizing impacts to aquatic habitat.
Biography: Rich Kirn has been a Fisheries Biologist for the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife for 31 years and oversees the Aquatic Habitat and Trout Management Programs. Rich represents the Department on a variety of aquatic habitat issues, including significant efforts on Aquatic Organism Passage (AOP), riparian habitat protection and instream construction practices, procedures and regulations.  

Speaker: John Austin
Title: Connectivity Conservation from Connecticut to Labrador – A Vision for Keeping Our Regional Ecosystem Intact
Synopsis: In 2016, the New England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers signed a resolution mandating that all state and provincial governments in the region work together to ensure an ecologically connected landscape for purposes of climate change resilience and biodiversity conservation.  Efforts are underway to develop a plan to advance the interests of this resolution and capitalize on the wealth of science, as well as conservation programs and partnerships that exist now and that may emerge as a result of this broad conservation vision for the region.  This SLAM talk will provide a brief overview of the vision of the resolution and how it might be put into action where 11 states and provinces work collaboratively to keep our system of forests, streams, wetlands and more connected for the benefit of everything from moose to mink.
Biography: John Austin is the Land & Habitat Program Manager in the Wildlife Division of the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department.  He’s worked with the department for nearly 25 years focusing on land and habitat management and conservation.  

Speaker: Adam Miller
Title: Going Green: Energy Efficiency at Vermont’s Hatcheries
Synopsis: Vermont’s hatchery systems are going through extensive revamp and review of their energy efficiency. Utilizing interns to lead the charge, Vermont’s hatcheries are on their way to being completely independently
Biography: Adam Miller has been the Fish Culture Operations Manager for the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department since 2012. Before that he worked in private non-profit hatchery projects in Alaska. He is a graduate of National Conservation Leadership Institute.  

Speaker: Carolyn Balparda
Title: Your Work and Climate Change
Biography: Carolyn Balparda is a University of Vermont student. 

Plenary Presenters
avatar for Peter Forbes

Peter Forbes

Center for Whole Communities
ABOUT PETER FORBES: My life work is focused on understanding, supporting, and facilitating healthy communities through civic dialogue, leadership development, and access to land, nature and place.  For twenty years, I've been creating curricula and leading learning experiences designed... Read More →
IM

Isabella Milazzo

Poultney High School
Isabella Milazzo is a sophomore at Poultney High School in Poultney, Vermont. Besides being at the top of her class at school, she is a cheerleader, and a hunter.


Monday April 16, 2018 8:00am - 12:00pm EDT
Adirondack Ballroom

10:30am EDT

12:00pm EDT

Lunch on your own
Monday April 16, 2018 12:00pm - 1:30pm EDT
N/A

12:00pm EDT

Take a Student to Lunch!
Professionals will be asked to take a student(s) to lunch and pick up the tab. We'll match up by professional interest before you head out, and also provide a list of local restaurant favorites within walking distance of the hotel. Meet in the ground floor hotel lobby. 

Monday April 16, 2018 12:00pm - 1:30pm EDT
Offsite - Meet in Hotel Lobby

1:00pm EDT

1:40pm EDT

SYMPOSIA-01: Hydroacoustic Surveys of the Pelagic Fish Community in Lake Champlain
AUTHORS: Donna L. Parrish, U.S. Geological Survey, Vermont Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit; Bernie Pientka, Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department; Lars G. Rudstam and Paul W. Simonin, Cornell Biological Field Station, Cornell University; Patrick J. Sullivan, Department of Natural Resources, Cornell University

ABSTRACT. The use of hydroacoustics to determine the abundance and distribution of pelagic fish species in Lake Champlain began in the 1990s. The initial surveys focused on rainbow smelt (Osmerus mordax) use a single beam unit. Beginning in 2000 the focus was on quantifying young of year (YOY) vs. yearling and older (YAO) rainbow smelt using split beam technology. From 2007 to 2015, the emphasis of the acoustic surveys was to gather data on the distribution of YOY and YAO rainbow smelt and the newly expanding population of alewife (Alosa pseudoharengus). The acoustics data provided new insights into the interactions of the two major pelagic species in Lake Champlain. During those years, acoustic, trawl, and gillnet data collected from the Main Lake, Inland Sea, and Malletts Bay indicated a great deal of variability in abundance of rainbow smelt and alewife across lake areas. Although physical sampling of pelagic species confirmed species identification, the use of acoustic technology provided an understanding of species' distributions within and across lake areas. The advancement of acoustics hardware and software over the years have made it possible to better identify individual species in mixed pelagic species.

Monday April 16, 2018 1:40pm - 2:00pm EDT
Adirondack D

1:40pm EDT

SYMPOSIA-02: A New Freshwater Mussel Collaborative in the Northeast
AUTHORS: Shane Hanlon, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, North Attleboro National Fish Hatchery; David Perkins, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Richard Cronin Aquatic Resource Center; Peter Hazelton, Massachusetts Division of Fisheries & Wildlife, Natural Heritage & Endangered Species Program; Allison Roy, U.S. Geological Survey, Massachusetts Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Department of Environmental Conservation, University of Massachusetts

ABSTRACT. A new partnership has begun in Massachusetts that is seeking to advance conservation of freshwater mussels across northeast states through cooperative research and management. This effort began as a collaborative between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, the Massachusetts Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, and the University of Massachusetts Amherst. We are currently developing propagation and grow-out culture techniques for federally-listed (Alasmidonta heterodon, dwarf wedgemussel) and state-listed (A. varicosa, brook floater; Lampsilis cariosa, yellow lampmussel) species, along with common species (L. radiata, Eastern lampmussel; Anodonta implicata, alewife floater). Graduate and undergraduate students are engaged in mussel propagation efforts at the newly transformed Richard Cronin Aquatic Resource Center (formerly a National salmon station) and the North Attleboro National Fish Hatchery, including host fish trials and studies of the effects of calcium and bacteria/probiotic supplementation on juvenile growth and survival. These facilities also offer a valuable option for holding mussels in refugia during salvage operations. In addition, we have field projects assessing the status of wild populations and examining habitat associations. Since starting this collaborative in 2015, partners have expanded to include non-profit organizations such as the Connecticut River Watershed Council and The Nature Conservancy, as well as private industry which has provided mitigation funds to the collaborative for mussel conservation work. Opportunities for future expansion are promising, as exemplified by the recently funded range-wide conservation initiative for A. varicosa and the progress of mussel propagation at U.S. Fish and Wildlife facilities in the northeast.

Monday April 16, 2018 1:40pm - 2:00pm EDT
Vermont B

1:40pm EDT

SYMPOSIA-03: Monitoring montane bird populations with data from the citizen science program, Mountain Birdwatch
AUTHORS: Jason Hill, Vermont Center for Ecostudies

ABSTRACT: High-elevation spruce-fir forests of the northeastern US comprise a small fraction of the landscape, however they make a large contribution to the region’s avian diversity. There is strong evidence that climate change is occurring sooner and at a faster rate at higher elevations, and researchers predict that climate change will greatly diminish existing spruce-fir forest stands in the US by >50% over the next several hundred years. To conserve and effectively manage our montane bird species we must track how the distribution and abundance of these populations change through time and with respect to biotic (e.g., forest composition) and abiotic (e.g., climate and elevation) factors. Mountain Birdwatch (MBW), a citizen-science monitoring program was launched in 200o to help achieve these goals. Each June, >100 citizen scientists conduct repeated point counts for 10 montane bird species at nearly 750 fixed locations along high-elevation hiking trails in the northeastern US. Since 2010, when the program was restructured, MBW citizen scientists have conducted 18,636 5-minute point counts. These data are made open access each year. As an example of the value of MBW data, we estimated the population size of Bicknell’s Thrush (Catharus bicknelli) across their entire US range using N-mixture models in a hierarchical Bayesian framework. We predicted the Bicknell’s Thrush population in 2016 as 71,318 (95% CRI: 56,080 – 89,748), and 95% of that population occurred above 805 m. We produced a fine-scale (~1-ha) predicted interactive abundance map for Bicknell’s Thrush, which can be viewed online and downloaded. We will demonstrate how to easily estimate the population size of Bicknell’s Thrush on any parcel in the US.  We will discuss how this map can used to manage lands with Bicknell’s Thrush, given the limited knowledge available regarding spruce-fir management for Bicknell's Thrush. In the future, similar abundance maps will be created for the other nine avian focal species monitored via MBW.

Monday April 16, 2018 1:40pm - 2:00pm EDT
Vermont A

1:40pm EDT

SYMPOSIA-05: Threats and Uncertainties Facing Fragmented New England Cottontail Metapopulations
AUTHORS: Adrienne I. Kovach, University of New Hampshire; Amanda E. Cheeseman, State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry

ABSTRACT: Due to the decline in early successional forests, the New England cottontail has experienced severe population declines and a > 86% range contraction during the latter half of the 20th century. Population declines are ongoing and remnant populations today persist in small, spatially segregated clusters of patches, occupying <10% of the available, shrubland habitat. These populations are typically fragmented by roads, development and large blocks of nonsuitable habitat (e.g., mature forest or open fields). As a result, and despite extensive ongoing conservation efforts, much uncertainty remains about the species status and future population persistence. This talk serves as an introduction to this symposium, aimed at overviewing key threats and remaining uncertainties relevant for successful conservation management. After overviewing the threats that are the focus of this symposium, we summarize the current state of knowledge of cottontail population structure, movement and connectivity, and genetic variation. We integrate population genetic, home range, and dispersal data from across the species’ range. Populations demonstrate consequences of fragmentation and isolation, including low effective population sizes, very limited dispersal, and strong impacts of landscape features that provide barriers to gene flow. Taken together, the data suggest that across the range fragmentation has disrupted the functioning of New England cottontail metapopulations. We discuss these findings with respect to consequences for population viability and we consider the remaining uncertainties for population structure and dispersal of New England cottontails.  

Monday April 16, 2018 1:40pm - 2:00pm EDT
Montpelier A&B

1:40pm EDT

1:40pm EDT

1:40pm EDT

LAW ENFORCEMENT: Vermont Deer Poaching Analysis 2011-2017
Authors: Brad Hanson

Abstract: Brad Hanson retired from active duty after a 20 year law enforcement and search and rescue career with the U.S. Coast Guard in Maine, Vermont, New York and New Jersey. He is currently a Senior at Norwich University in Northfield, VT. Brad will be graduating May of 2018 with a Bachelor's Degree in Criminal Justice with a minor in Criminal Intelligence.
Beginning in September 2017 with the support and assistance of the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife enforcement division, Brad began a comprehensive analytical study of deer poaching incidents in Vermont from the years 2011-2017. The purpose of this study is to identify trends, commonalities and correlations in unrelated poaching incidents throughout the state of Vermont to help Vermont's game wardens to better predict and prevent deer poaching in the future. Brad's presentation will include the highlights and actionable results of this study.

Monday April 16, 2018 1:40pm - 2:40pm EDT
Lake Champlain B

1:40pm EDT

OUTREACH & EDUCATION 1: Outreach Techniques for Scientists and Science Communicators
AUTHORS: Judy Camuso, Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife; Samara Trusso, PA Game Commission;  Alyssa Bennett, Jens Hawkins-Hilke – Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department

ABSTRACT. Biologists from across the northeast will teach us their best communication techniques, and show us how to turn science into teachable moments and community connection.

Monday April 16, 2018 1:40pm - 2:40pm EDT
Lake Champlain A

1:40pm EDT

2:00pm EDT

SYMPOSIA-01: Recent Advances in Broadband Echosounders and Applications to Fisheries
AUTHORS: Michael Jech, NOAA Northeast Fisheries Science Center

ABSTRACT. Measurements of acoustic backscattering made over wide frequency bands offer the potential for improved species discrimination relative to traditional narrowband methods by characterizing more fully the frequency response of scatterers. Broadband acoustic methods have been available for decades, but technological issues limited their use. Recent advances in broadband echosounders now make these systems widely available and have the potential to greatly expand their use in fisheries and ecosystem monitoring. Broadband systems greatly increase the amount of data (i.e., increased bandwidth) acquired relative to narrowband systems, but does all that data translate to more and useful information? I will highlight technological advances and discuss examples of applications to commercially (e.g., Atlantic herring (Clupea harengus), butterfish (Peprilus triacanthus), and Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua)) and ecologically (e.g., Northern krill (Meganyctiphanes norvegica)) important marine species where the increased amount of information is useful, but also emphasize that “more” is not always “better” and being judicious in choosing which systems to use can improve our ability to monitor and characterize the marine ecosystem.

Monday April 16, 2018 2:00pm - 2:20pm EDT
Adirondack D

2:00pm EDT

SYMPOSIA-02: The Effect of Probiotics on the Growth and Survival of a Freshwater Mussel
AUTHORS: Virginia M. Martell, Massachusetts Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Department of Environmental Conservation, University of Massachusetts Amherst, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Richard Cronin Aquatic Resource Center; Allison H. Roy, Massachusetts Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Department of Environmental Conservation, University of Massachusetts Amherst, U.S. Geological Survey; Peter D. Hazelton, Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program; David L. Perkins, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Richard Cronin Aquatic Resource Center; Timothy M. Warren; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Richard Cronin Aquatic Resource Center

ABSTRACT. As of 2013, over 65% of freshwater mussel species were considered endangered, threatened, or vulnerable. Where small population sizes and low dispersal limit freshwater mussel populations, reintroduction and augmentation using propagated mussels has been considered an ideal conservation strategy. Mussel propagation has been successful at multiple culturing facilities; however, methods are still being refined to develop best practices to maximize growth and survival during early juvenile development. Our study assessed the effect of a microbial Bacillus probiotic on the growth and survival of a freshwater mussel, the Yellow Lampmussel (Lampsilis cariosa), an endangered/threatened species in seven of the northeast states. Probiotics are widely used for improving health of organisms in aquaculture facilities (including fish, crustaceans, and marine shellfish); however, few studies have been conducted on the effectiveness of probiotics for freshwater mussel propagation. Our study included 3 different levels of probiotic supplement (0.0125g/L 0.025g/L, and 0.05g/L), 1 control with no probiotic (algae feed only), and 1 control with no algae (0.025g/L probiotic supplement only). Each treatment had 4 replicate chambers of 400 juvenile mussels (initial cohort age 1-9 days) that were housed for 54 days in recirculating downweller chambers. Water was replaced once a week and feed was replaced every 3 days. Growth and survival measurements were taken weekly. Juvenile mussels fed both probiotic and algae survived significantly better and had higher growth rates than mussels in the algae control and probiotic control with the mussels from the control treatments all dying by day 47. Growth and survival did not significantly differ among different probiotic treatment levels. While further testing on additional species is needed, these findings suggest that probiotics may be helpful to reduce mortality during early juvenile development in mussel propagation facilities. Symposium: Freshwater Mussel Conservation and Management

Monday April 16, 2018 2:00pm - 2:20pm EDT
Vermont B

2:00pm EDT

SYMPOSIA-03: Black Bear Research and Management in New York with ISeeMammals, a Citizen Science Initiative
AUTHORS: Catherine Sun, Department of Natural Resources Cornell University, New York Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit; Angela Fuller, New York Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit; Jeremy Hurst, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation

ABSTRACT. Successful wildlife management requires knowledge about patterns of population abundance, distribution, and dynamics such as growth. However, limited resources for data collection make population inferences over large landscapes difficult. This is especially problematic for species that are long lived, have wide ranges of movement, occur at low densities, or are widely distributed. In New York, the black bear population has been growing and their range has been expanding since the mid-1990s. To collect presence-absence data on black bears across the state, traditional sampling methods must be supplemented by approaches that collect data across broad spatial and temporal extents. We developed a citizen science project called iSeeMammals that enlists volunteers to collect and submit opportunistic presence-absence data on black bears through three mechanisms: observations, hikes, and trail cameras. iSeeMammals launched in early 2017, and 712 users had registered by October 31, 2017. We received 290 observation in 38 counties, 43 hikes in 8 counties, and 4,552 camera days from 71 trail cameras in 12 counties. The 406 sets of spatial locations from iSeeMammals expanded the spatial extent of data collection in 2017 by 3.7 times and increased the number of camera days by 1.26 times, thereby increasing the total amount of data collected by 1.7 times. We discuss patterns in data filtering and data quality, and how iSeeMammals and similar citizen science initiatives can help address population-level research questions in wildlife and natural resource management.

Monday April 16, 2018 2:00pm - 2:20pm EDT
Vermont A

2:00pm EDT

SYMPOSIA-05: Competition Alters Seasonal Resource Selection and Promotes Use of Invasive Shrubs by an Imperiled Native Cottontail
AUTHORS: Amanda E. Cheeseman; Jonathan B. Cohen; Sadie J. Ryan; Christopher M. Whipps

ABSTRACT. The imperiled New England cottontail is a native obligate user of shrubland in the Northeast. As a result of widespread declines in shrubland across the northeast, the New England cottontail has experienced precipitous population declines. These declines resulted in the consideration of the New England cottontail for federal status on the Endangered Species Act and prompted a regional collaborative effort to prevent listing. In 2016, federal listing was ruled unwarranted given the extensive effort already in place to recover the species. However, recovery goals are still unmet, and progress is hindered, in part, by an incomplete understanding of New England cottontail ecology and behavior. This includes responses to highly abundant exotic plants, interspecific interactions, and seasonality of habitat requirements. We used fine-scale mixed-effects resource selection models to assess seasonal competitive interactions and species-specific resource selection of exotic vegetation by New England and its non-native competitor, the eastern cottontail. We found evidence that the New England cottontail was excluded from part of its niche by the eastern cottontail, and that mid- successional and forested shrublands may provide New England cottontails with refuges from competition. New England cottontails selected for invasive shrubs, and exhibited increased use of certain invasives under high competition with eastern cottontails. Our study demonstrates the utility of resource selection studies to identify competition without conducting removal studies, and to assess the impact of invasive vegetation on species of conservation concern. Our results suggest strategies to selectively manage shrubland patches for the benefit of New England cottontails, while discouraging patch use by eastern cottontails.

Monday April 16, 2018 2:00pm - 2:20pm EDT
Montpelier A&B

2:00pm EDT

FURBEARER MANAGEMENT: Ecology, Home Range, and Habitat Selection of Striped Skunks (Mephitis mephitis) and Raccoons (Procyon lotor) Relative to Oral Rabies Vaccine Baits in Urban-Suburban Burlington, VT
AUTHORS: Carrie A. Stengel, David J. Allaben, Brandon J. Cross, Frederick E. Pogmore - USDA, APHIS, Wildlife Services; Peter J. Pekins, University of New Hampshire; Richard B. Chipman, Kathy M. Nelson - National Rabies Management Program, USDA, APHIS, Wildlife Services; Amy T. Gilbert, National Wildlife Research Center, USDA, APHIS, Wildlife Services; Jeffery T. Foster, Northern Arizona University

ABSTRACT. Wildlife rabies management in the U.S. protects human and animal health and reduces the costs of living with rabies. Wildlife Services’ National Rabies Management Program (NRMP) coordinates large scale cooperative rabies management projects in 16 Eastern States targeting primarily raccoons (Procyon lotor) in rural and urban landscapes. Striped skunks (Mephitis mephitis) are also of interest given spillover of raccoon rabies into skunks and the potential for skunks to maintain the virus in the wild. More than 9 million doses of oral rabies vaccine are distributed each year by aircraft or ground baiting by vehicle as the primary tactics used to stop the spread and eliminate raccoon rabies variant at the local, regional and national level. Developed landscapes have proven particularly challenging in reaching adequate levels of vaccine-induced population (herd) immunity in target species. High raccoon densities, relatively small home ranges, habitat fragmentation and abundant anthropogenic food sources present obstacles to effective ORV goals. Understanding the ecology of meso-carnivores in developed habitats is critical to effective rabies management. In 2016 and 2017, 61 raccoons and 23 skunks were fitted with VHF and GPS collars (Q4000E, Telemetry Solutions) in two distinct study cells in Burlington, VT to document home range and habitat use by these species. Data were collected from late July through late September to capture animal movements before, during and after ORV ground baiting operations in high and low developed areas based on National Land Cover Data. Preliminary estimates of home ranges for each species in the two study cells were smaller for both skunk and raccoons in the developed cells (skunks: 0.854 km2 (95% KDE); raccoons: 0.788 km2 (95% KDE) compared to low developed areas (skunks: 0.871 km2 (95% KDE); raccoons: 2.12 km2 (95% KDE). Further analysis will be discussed and these findings will allow refinement in baiting strategies.

Monday April 16, 2018 2:00pm - 2:20pm EDT
Adirondack A

2:00pm EDT

BIRD CONSERVATION Assessing Owl Collisions with U.S. Civil and U.S. Air Force Aircraft
AUTHORS: Brian E. Washburn, USDA APHIS Wildlife Services, National Wildlife Research Center; Kimberly E. Linnell, Montana Fish, Parks, and Wildlife

ABSTRACT. Wildlife-aircraft collisions (wildlife strikes) with civil and military aircraft pose notable risks and economic losses. Previous research on wildlife strikes has emphasized a variety of birds and mammals, but no comprehensive evaluation of owl-aircraft incidents has been conducted. We queried the Federal Aviation Administration’s National Wildlife Strike Database and the U.S. Air Force’s Birdstrike Database from 1990 to 30 June 2014 to characterize owl-aircraft collisions within the USA and foreign countries. We found 2,531 owl-aircraft collisions involving more than 20 individual species of owl. Barn Owls were the most frequently struck species, accounting for 42% of all reported owl-aircraft collision events. Almost 75% of owl-aircraft collisions occurred during night-time hours. Owl-aircraft collisions typically occur within the airfield environment itself; 86% of owl strikes occurred when the aircraft was at or below 30 m above ground level. Some mitigation tools and techniques are currently available to reduce the frequency and severity of owl-aircraft collisions. An important area of future research will involve the development and evaluation of effective, publically acceptable methods of reducing owl-human conflicts.

Monday April 16, 2018 2:00pm - 2:20pm EDT
Adirondack B/C

2:00pm EDT

Northeast R3 Initiative
Monday April 16, 2018 2:00pm - 4:20pm EDT
Seasons

2:20pm EDT

SYMPOSIA-01: Side-Looking Hydroacoustics in a Large Tidal River During Restoration Activities
AUTHORS: Gayle Zydlewski, University of Maine, School of Marine Sciences; Garrett Staines, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory; Constantin Scherelis, University of Maine

ABSTRACT. One hopeful benefit of dam removal is increased native fish abundance. Since hydroacoustics have been used to generate metrics of fish abundance in marine environments, and increasingly in rivers, this seemingly simple and powerful approach was applied downstream of the lowermost dams of the Penobscot River, Maine for four years prior to their removal and three years subsequently. When the study was initiated we had notions that the application of side-looking hydroacoustics in rivers included: (1) complete cross-sectional river coverage; (2) acoustic beam shape to maximize spatial coverage; and (3) low cost. The first notion resulted in the use of multiple transducers on opposite sides of the river. This resulted in space-time varying interference in most data files (8 Tb). The use of elliptical transducer beams (with large side-lobes, 13 dB down) resulted in such high noise levels that angular data were contaminated, resulting in initial need to manually process data and the inability to examine fish movement direction and target strength. Lessons learned from this approach will be highlighted. With perseverance and ingenuity an automated data processing approach was developed to examine changes in abundance estimates from fish tracks over time. We examined the influence of natural environmental conditions on variability in fish abundance over four of the study years. Of all conditions examined (tide, discharge, temperature, diurnal cycle, day length, moon phase, as well as restoration activities), day length (or photoperiod) was the most important predictor. This is one of the first validated tools to continuously examine the response of fish abundance to a major river restoration activity. This application of split beam technology has significantly increased our understanding of how fish abundance changed in the Penobscot River as result of major restoration efforts and provided a basic understanding of fish responses to naturally fluctuating environmental conditions.

Monday April 16, 2018 2:20pm - 2:40pm EDT
Adirondack D

2:20pm EDT

SYMPOSIA-02: Out of Harm’s Way: Caging Freshwater Mussels on the Lower Grasse River
AUTHORS: Jennifer Ryan, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Bureau of Habitat; Corbin Gosier, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Bureau of Habitat; Denise Mayer, New York State Museum, Division of Research and Collection; Scott Jamieson, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Bureau of Habitat

ABSTRACT: The lower 7.2-miles of the Grasse River in Massena, NY is about to undergo extensive sediment dredging and capping under the US EPA Superfund program.  Historical releases of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) by Arconic (formerly Alcoa)– an aluminum producer, have resulted in heavily contaminated sediments. Recent studies conducted during the remedial design found ten species of native freshwater mussels present throughout the lower Grasse River. To offset the remedial impacts to the freshwater mussel community, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) has begun to collect freshwater mussels from remedial areas. The goal is to hold a representative number of each species to re-establish the populations via “founder colonies” following the remedy.  The first year of collection is complete and over four thousand mussels of seven different species have been collected from more than 20 areas to be dredged and capped.  2,115 of those mussels were returned to non-remedial areas, 2,010 mussels representing seven species are being held in specially designed in-river mussel holding cages and one hundred mussels are in experimental propagation.

Monday April 16, 2018 2:20pm - 2:40pm EDT
Vermont B

2:20pm EDT

SYMPOSIA-03: Monitoring introduced eastern cottontails and the threat to recovery of the native New England cottontail in New Hampshire.
AUTHORS: Heidi Holman, New Hampshire Fish & Game

ABSTRACT: The eastern cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanas) was introduced in the early 1900’s to improve hunting opportunity in the Northeast.   The eastern cottontail utilizes a broader range of habitat cover facilitating its dispersal across the landscape compared to the rare native New England cottontail (Sylvilagus transitionalis) that is dependent on large dense shrublands.  The two species live sympatrically in parts of the range, but are isolated in New Hampshire.   As climate change and modifications to the landscape occur, combined with the threat of human relocation, the separation between the two species may disappear in New Hampshire complicating recovery of the state endangered New England cottontail.   Structured surveys to monitor the distribution of both species are limited by the resources available to the state wildlife agency.  A website to report rabbit sightings was developed to broaden the geographic scope of surveys and increase the number of observations collected by including citizens in the monitoring effort. In addition to improving early detection of the species in conservation areas, the data provided by citizens will offer insight into other significant ecological questions that may need to be addressed in the future.

Monday April 16, 2018 2:20pm - 2:40pm EDT
Vermont A

2:20pm EDT

SYMPOSIA-05: A Survey of the Parasites of Native and Introduced Cottontails and Their Habitat in the Lower Hudson Valley
AUTHORS: Samantha L. Mello; Jonathan B. Cohen; Christopher M. Whipps - SUNY ESF

ABSTRACT. The New England cottontail (Sylvilagus transitionalis) has experienced declines throughout its range and is now only found in five geographically separated populations at the edges of its historic range. A potential limiting factor for current populations is parasites. Furthermore, the sympatric and closely-related eastern cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus) likely plays host to many of the same parasites and has the potential to increase the diversity and abundance of parasites in the New England cottontail range. We undertook a structural survey of the Eimeria spp. found in the two cottontail species and of the ticks found on the rabbits and in their habitat. Over 92% of the New England cottontails were found to be infected with Eimeria. There were approximately ten Eimeria species in New England cottontails while the eastern cottontails had approximately six different species. Six of the species found in the New England cottontails are known to cause coccidiosis. We found a higher amount of ticks on the New England cottontails than the eastern cottontails. Species of ticks found were: Ixodes scapularis, Dermacentor variabilis, Rhipicephalus sanguineus, Ixodes dentatus and Haemaphysalis leporispalustris. The amount of ticks found on the cottontails was correlated with the dominant vegetation type found at the sites; invasive vegetation dominated sites had more ticks than the mixed and native vegetation dominated sites. Results from this study will provide insight into the parasite composition of the two cottontail species and the potential role of parasites as a limiting factor for the New England cottontail.

Monday April 16, 2018 2:20pm - 2:40pm EDT
Montpelier A&B

2:20pm EDT

FURBEARER MANAGEMENT: Community Outcomes of Intraguild Interactions Among Mesocarnivores Vary Across Environmental Gradients
AUTHORS: Paul G. Jensen, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Division of Fish & Wildlife; Murray M. Humphries, McGill University, Department of Natural Resource Sciences

ABSTRACT. Intraguild predation (IGP) interactions are common among mammalian carnivores with community outcomes that range from coexistence to exclusion. According to theory, coexistence of two predators characterized by asymmetrical IGP requires the IGprey to be the superior exploitative competitor on shared prey resources and is predicted to vary according to ecosystem productivity. We used resource selection models and spatially-explicit age and harvest data for two closely related mesopredators that engage in IGP interactions, American martens (Martes americana; IGprey) and fishers (Pekania pennanti; IGpredator), to identify drivers of distributions in northern New York, delineate areas of sympatry and allopatry, and explore the role of an apex predator (coyote; Canis latrans) on these interactions. Model selection revealed that fisher use of this landscape was strongly influenced by late winter abiotic conditions, but other bottom-up (forest composition) and top-down (coyote abundance) factors also influenced their distribution. Fisher probability of use was higher where late winter temperatures were warmer and measures of productivity were greater. Martens were constrained to areas of the landscape where the probability of fisher use and productivity were low and also selected for abiotic and biotic conditions that maximized niche differences and escape cover from fishers and other potential predators. Marten age data indicated an increased proportion of juveniles outside of the predicted area of sympatry, suggesting that few animals survived >1.5 years in this area that supported higher densities of fishers. Consistent with theory, the outcomes of competitive interactions among coyotes, fishers, and martens included competitive exclusion of martens by fishers within highly productive environments and coexistence of all three species in low productivity environments, where a combination of abiotic conditions and biotic interactions appear to offer martens a competitive advantage.

Monday April 16, 2018 2:20pm - 2:40pm EDT
Adirondack A

2:20pm EDT

BIRD CONSERVATION Does Wintering and Breeding Habitat Quality Influence Migratory Birds Throughout Their Full Annual Cycle?
AUTHORS: Michael E. Akresh, Department of Environmental Conservation, University of Massachusetts Amherst; David I. King, U.S. Forest Service Northern Research Station; Peter P. Marra, Migratory Bird Center, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute

ABSTRACT. Recent findings that winter habitat quality can ‘carry-over’ to influence migratory birds on their breeding grounds poses a conundrum for managers in the US, who can only manipulate breeding habitat quality. We studied prairie warblers (Setophaga discolor) to assess winter habitat carry-over effects in a threatened migratory shrubland bird, and also examined whether carry-over effects can work in the opposite direction, testing if breeding habitat quality influences birds on their wintering grounds. For prairie warblers in the wintering grounds, moisture is highly correlated with habitat quality, and moisture/habitat quality also correlates with carbon stable isotope samples from birds. Using stable isotopes from birds’ claws and red blood cells collected on the breeding grounds, we first assessed if winter habitat quality in the Caribbean carried over to influence birds’ phenology and reproductive success in Massachusetts, USA. In two of three years, adult males wintering in drier habitat arrived later on the breeding grounds, but winter habitat did not influence reproductive performance for males or females. Using the North Atlantic Oscillation index to indicate winter rainfall and carbon isotopes to indicate winter habitat quality, we also examined carry-over effects initiated during the breeding season. Juvenile birds that hatched earlier acquired wetter winter habitat during drier winters, and during all winters for male birds. Winter habitat acquired as a juvenile was used throughout the bird’s life. Therefore, an individual’s hatching date, which can be correlated with breeding ground habitat quality, can influence a bird’s lifetime winter habitat quality. Based on our full life cycle analysis, we found that the creation and maintenance of suitable early-successional breeding habitat is very important in sustaining prairie warbler populations. We recommend researchers and managers consider the full annual cycles of wildlife to provide the best management tools and conservation actions for declining and threatened species.

Monday April 16, 2018 2:20pm - 2:40pm EDT
Adirondack B/C

2:30pm EDT

Ice Cream Social & Refreshment Break - Sponsored by Ben and Jerry's
Take a break from the technical sessions and enjoy local favorite Ben & Jerry's ice cream. 

Monday April 16, 2018 2:30pm - 3:30pm EDT
Green Mountain Ballroom

2:40pm EDT

SYMPOSIA-01: Using Indices to Quantify Spatial Patterns of Fish in Hydroacoustic Data for Management at Marine Renewable Energy Sites
AUTHORS: Louise McGarry, Philip Stewart, Gayle Zydlewski - University of Maine School of Marine Sciences

ABSTRACT. The study of fish presence in high-velocity tide channels has taken on heightened importance due to interest in developing marine hydrokinetic (MHK) renewable energy from the tides. Natural variation in high-velocity channels varies across tide stages, diel cycle, and season in very dynamic ways that are not always consistent between sites. Likewise, fish response to the presence of MHK devices will likely vary in opposing ways: a detracting obstacle to avoid or an attracting aggregation device. Hydroacoustic surveys allow us to non-invasively observe spatial distributions of fish over time in these dynamic, high-velocity tide channels. To understand how marine animals and their populations may be affected by MHK devices in these systems, regulators require monitoring. One approach to quantify change is to establish indices that describe spatial patterns in hydroacoustic survey data. By capturing the spatial patterns in a simple manner, comparisons can be made between states, e.g., when an MHK device is present or absent, providing regulators with a methodology by which to establish thresholds of unacceptable change in marine life use of the habitat. Indices also enable quantification of natural variability. Such indices from literature include: density, abundance, center of mass, dispersion, occupied area, evenness, and aggregation. We are investigating the utility of these indices using time series of hydroacoustics data collected at two MHK sites using different survey techniques: stationary 24-hour vs. mobile 24-hour grid surveys. Both sites are located in the Bay of Fundy: Cobscook Bay, Maine and Minas Passage, Nova Scotia. We expect these spatial indices to adequately summarize hydroacoustic survey data and provide a method to characterize fish behavior in response to the presence of MHK devices. Ultimately this will provide regulators a standard approach to managing tidal energy impacts on marine life.

Monday April 16, 2018 2:40pm - 3:00pm EDT
Adirondack D

2:40pm EDT

SYMPOSIA-03: Engaging the Public in Ground Truthing Wildlife Road Crossing Sites, The WildPaths iNaturalist Project
AUTHORS: Bridget Butler, Cold Hollow to Canada

ABSTRACT: The ability of wildlife to move across the landscape in order to disperse, migrate and breed is coming under increasing threat due to habitat fragmentation creating islands of suitable habitat. The field of "movement ecology" is growing in order to better understand where and how animals move across the landscape. Vermont has created a Wildlife Crossing Value describing the wildlife habitat suitability for movement as a habitat approaches roadways. The ranking system allows for the analysis of potentially significant wildlife habitat linkages. Cold Hollow to Canada, a small forest conservation non-profit in the northern Green Mountains, created the WildPaths project in order to ground-truth this modeling and provide a platform for outreach and education on wildlife connectivity. The project engages community members as citizen scientists in reporting sightings of both successful and unsuccessful wildlife crossing roadways through the CHC website and the iNaturalist platform.  The protocols for the project are based on Maine Audubon's successful Road Watch project and the iNaturalist platform allows CHC to host a project that is open to sightings throughout Vermont. Since 2016, we've had 635 observations, from 82 observers documenting 77 species of animals. We'll share some of the challenges involved in managing a citizen science project in a rural region of Vermont and how the project fits into the forest management strategies that Cold Hollow to Canada shares with its members and the larger community.

Monday April 16, 2018 2:40pm - 3:00pm EDT
Vermont A

3:20pm EDT

LAW ENFORCEMENT: Your PT Program: Building More than Muscle
AUTHORS: Lt. Carl Wedin and Lt. Justin Stedman (Vermont Fish & Wildlife)

ABSTRACT. A history of the PT program in Vermont. Health screenings, fitness competitions, and bonuses and awards help to motivate and bring together wardens in each district. How might this have changed public perception of our warden force, and how might other states adopt similar standards, bonuses, and incentives?

Monday April 16, 2018 3:20pm - 3:40pm EDT
Lake Champlain B

3:20pm EDT

OUTREACH & EDUCATION 1: But All the Cool Kids Are Doing It
AUTHORS: Keith Shannon, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

ABSTRACT. Instagram. Snapchat. Periscope. Facebook Live. It seems like new social media outreach tools are constantly coming on to the scene and changing the way people engage online. How do you choose which ones to pursue? How can you leverage your existing audiences on new platforms and engage with new ones? How can you identify and measure success? What does success even look like? This presentation will seek to answer these questions and help you evaluate which of any of these tools should be added to your outreach toolkit.

Monday April 16, 2018 3:20pm - 3:40pm EDT
Lake Champlain A

3:20pm EDT

SYMPOSIA-01: Evaluating the Potential for Fish Entrainment at a Deep-water Intake
AUTHORS: Ian Kiraly, Jason George - Gomez and Sullivan Engineers

ABSTRACT. Determining the potential for fish to become entrained is often an important component of fisheries management, particularly for developing protection, mitigation, or enhancement measures where intakes draw large volumes of water and have the potential to impact fish populations in a waterbody. The potential for fish entrainment can vary considerably based on seasonal and diel movements of various species and life stages of fish, along with the characteristics of the intake structure. Direct netting studies of entrained fish are often infeasible due to extreme expenses or difficult survey conditions. Alternatively, literature-based assessments are typically broad-scale assessments that may not fully characterize fish entrainment without supplemental field data collection. In this study, we initially completed a literature-based assessment of entrainment at a deep-water intake structure within a lake, and subsequently confirmed, supplemented, and modified the results of that study based on a field assessment. This field assessment used a combination of mobile hydroacoustic surveys and gillnetting in the lake to characterize the seasonal and diel abundance and composition of species near the intake, along with dip-netting downstream of the intake to capture presumably-entrained fish in the tailrace area. We confirmed that fish were present at low densities near the intake structure on a seasonal basis, and that entrainment occurrences were low. The species and seasonality of the entrainment observations were generally consistent with the analysis from the initial literature review, though some deviations from the literature were documented by the field assessment. As such, the field efforts identified potential gaps in the literature, such as the presence of certain species and life stages in deep water near the intake, which were not initially predicted to be present there based on the literature review.

Monday April 16, 2018 3:20pm - 3:40pm EDT
Adirondack D

3:20pm EDT

SYMPOSIA-02: Brook Floater (Alasmidonta varicosa) Mesohabitat Preference in Four Massachusetts Watersheds
AUTHORS: Ayla J. Skorupa, Massachusetts Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Department of Environmental Conservation, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Connecticut River Conservancy; Allison H. Roy, Massachusetts Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Department of Environmental Conservation, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, U.S. Geological Survey; Peter D. Hazelton, Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program; David Perkins, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; Andrew Fisk, Connecticut River Conservancy; Sean Sterrett, Massachusetts Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Department of Environmental Conservation, University of Massachusetts, Amherst

ABSTRACT. Brook Floater (Alasmidonta varicosa) is a freshwater mussel Species of Greatest Conservation Need throughout its range from Maine to northern Georgia, USA. Since the late 20th century Brook Floater have experienced large declines in Massachusetts, with a range contraction from 11 watersheds down to 4. Brook Floater are found in areas with sand, gravel, and small to large cobble in small (3 m wide) to large (32 m wide) streams. However, little quantitative research exists regarding Brook Floater habitat, and that information is critical for targeting areas for conservation and restoration. The objective of this study is to determine the extent to which local habitat (e.g., mesohabitat type, sediment size, depth) can explain the abundance of Brook Floater. Brook Floater mussels were surveyed in 25 100-m reaches, including 7 surveys outside the 4 watersheds with extant populations. Each river reach was separated into mesohabitat types (riffle, run, pool) that were =20 m in length. Surveyors used snorkels or view buckets to collect mussels while moving upstream within longitudinal transects that encompassed the entire width of the river. At the mesohabitat scale, we measured canopy cover, bed texture, and proportions of vegetation, algae, and wood. A total of 101 Brook Floater were found during surveys. They occurred in 37% of the 57 runs surveyed, 5% of the 18 riffles, and 21% of the 47 pools. Habitat and water quality data, along with information about the population sizes, will be used to determine locations for Brook Floater augmentation and re-introduction.

Monday April 16, 2018 3:20pm - 3:40pm EDT
Vermont B

3:20pm EDT

SYMPOSIA-05: Immunogenetic variation and potential pathogens of New England’s cottontails
AUTHORS: Kimberly B. Neil*, T.J. McGreevy Jr., and David M. Rand - Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Brown University

ABSTRACT: Evaluating immunogenetic variation of wild populations can provide valuable insights into functionally significant genetic diversity of imperiled species. Coupling genetic data with potential ecological drivers supports further understanding of the processes and patterns that maintain adaptive diversity. This information is especially valuable for species of conservation concern, as this knowledge can inform population management and/or captive breeding strategies. Here, we investigate immunogenetic diversity and parasites/pathogens of the New England cottontail (Sylvilagus transitionalis; NEC), which is currently the target of an ongoing reintroduction effort. We utilize next-generation sequencing technologies to capture immunogenetic diversity and potential parasites/pathogens within and across New England’s NEC populations. Specifically, we target genes of the major histocompatibility complex (MHC), which are critical to the vertebrate immune response, and host-associated bacteria. Preliminary findings indicate that NEC MHC genes display limited diversity within and across populations, that MHC variation within the NEC captive breeding program is reflective of naturally-occurring diversity, and that cottontails are host to a suite of bacteria that are of potential disease concern. This knowledge is of direct value to ongoing NEC conservation efforts and advances our understanding of immunogenetic variation and its potential parasite/pathogen drivers across wild populations.

Monday April 16, 2018 3:20pm - 3:40pm EDT
Montpelier A&B

3:20pm EDT

FURBEARER MANAGEMENT: Assessing the Probability of River Otter Occupancy in Central New York State
AUTHORS: Kelly Powers, Dr. Jacqueline Frair - SUNY Environmental Science and Forestry, Syracuse, NY; Andrew MacDuff, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Region 6

ABSTRACT. The river otter population in central New York State (NYS) was reduced to marginal numbers in the mid-twentieth century due to a combination of habitat loss, pollution, and unregulated harvest. In the 1990s, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) partnered with the non-profit River Otter Project to translocation ~280 river otter from healthy populations in the Adirondack and Catskills regions to areas across central NYS. To assess the current status of river otter in central NYS, we used a NYSDEC database of river otter detections (track, sign, roadkill) after the translocation (from 2001-2012) to assess the probability of occurrence of river otter in the translocation area. Environmental characteristics that are believed to affect river otter habitat selection (shoreline density, road density, land cover type (forest/agriculture), local elevation, and percent slope) were defined using GIS layers. The characteristics at the location of each roadkill otter in the dataset were extrapolated using the R package “maxlike” and used to produce a map delineating the probability of otter occurrence across central NYS. This map was validated using data from the NYSDEC’s regional track and sign surveys that are occurring across NYS, and is being utilized to help guide future DEC surveys. An experimental camera trap study was deployed during 2016 & 2017 to test if it was possible to use cameras in lieu of surveys to obtain data on otter occupancy of an area, however it was not met with much success. With the combination of these studies, we are aiming to achieve a realistic snapshot of the river otter population in central NYS.

Monday April 16, 2018 3:20pm - 3:40pm EDT
Adirondack A

3:20pm EDT

BIRD CONSERVATION Machine Learning Mitigation of False Positives in Automated Acoustic Wildlife Monitoring with the R Package AMMonitoR
AUTHORS: Cathleen Balantic, Vermont Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, University of Vermont; Therese Donovan, U.S. Geological Survey, Vermont Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, University of Vermont; Jonathan Katz, Vermont Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit; Mark Massar, U.S. Bureau of Land Management

ABSTRACT. Audio recordings of the environment can provide long-term, landscape-scale presence-absence data to model populations of sound-producing wildlife. Automated detection algorithms allow researchers to avoid manually searching through terabytes of recordings, but often produce unacceptably high false positive rates, in which an event was detected wherein the target species did not actually vocalize. In the R package AMMonitoR, we developed a method that allows researchers to pair template-based automated detection with a suite of statistical learning algorithms trained to predict whether a detected event is a true or false positive. We introduced a novel ensemble classification approach that explicitly captures a research program’s monitoring values as they relate to classification performance. To test our method, we acquired 675 total hours of recordings in the Sonoran Desert, California between March 2016 and May 2017, and created vocalization templates for three target avian species: Eurasian Collared-Dove (Streptopelia decaocto), Gambel’s Quail (Callipepla gambelii), and Verdin (Auriparus flaviceps). We verified a subset of automated detections as true and false positives, and trained and tested five classification algorithms and four performance-weighted ensemble classifier methods. We then selected a high-performing ensemble classifier from the train/test phase to predict the class of new detections, and assessed its overall performance. For three target species, our ensemble classifier was able to identify 98% (Eurasian Collared-Dove), 85% (Gambel’s Quail), and 99% (Verdin) more false positives than the baseline detection system, and comparative positive predictive values improved from 6% to 75% (Eurasian Collared-Dove), 87% to 97% (Gambel’s Quail), and 2% to 69% (Verdin). Statistical learning approaches can thus be implemented and customized to mitigate false detections acquired within the context of automated acoustic wildlife monitoring. Furthermore, performance-weighted ensemble methods afford researchers the opportunity to employ a classification system customized to reflect a program’s species monitoring needs.

Monday April 16, 2018 3:20pm - 3:40pm EDT
Adirondack B/C

3:20pm EDT

SYMPOSIA-04: Engaging Southern Vermont Woodland Owners in Stewardship with Wildlife in Mind
AUTHORS: Christine Cadigan, American Forest Foundation; Andrea Shortsleeve, Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department; Steve Hagenbuch, Audubon Vermont

ABSTRACT: With Vermont and northern New England forests being home to some of the highest concentrations of breeding bird species in the continental United States, our region provides essential habitat not only for bird species, but for a suite of other forest-dependent wildlife as well. Currently, over 80% of Vermont’s 4.4 million acres of forest are privately owned, making private landowners essential to forest stewardship and wildlife conservation in Vermont.

Recognizing the current and future importance of well-managed, privately-owned interior forest blocks, the American Forest Foundation, Vermont Woodlands Association, Vermont Tree Farm Committee, Audubon Vermont, Vermont Forests, Parks, and Recreation, and Vermont Fish and Wildlife have partnered together, creating a woodland owner outreach program, Woods, Wildlife, and Warblers. This program focuses on connecting southern Vermont woodland owners with the necessary knowledge, resources, and professional support to the stewardship of their woods and the wildlife that inhabit them.

In this session, representatives from the American Forest Foundation, Audubon Vermont, and Vermont Fish and Wildlife will provide an overview of the program including the importance of managing Vermont’s woodlands with wildlife in mind, our outreach strategies and success stories, and our future plans to continue to increase forest and wildlife stewardship. Audience members will leave the session with an improved understanding of the importance of wildlife in woodland conservation as well as tips and tricks to engage landowners in woodland management with wildlife in mind.

Please note: this is one cohesive presentation with multiple speakers touching on different elements of a single, collaborative project.

Monday April 16, 2018 3:20pm - 4:20pm EDT
Vermont A

3:40pm EDT

LAW ENFORCEMENT: Restorative Justice & Conservation Law Enforcement
AUTHORS: Zachary Falcon, Unity College, Maine

ABSTRACT. Restorative justice offers a promising mechanism for the resolution of conservation law enforcement actions, particularly for first-time offenders. Accommodating fish and wildlife public trust violations to the traditional restorative justice framework, however, presents unique challenges. This presentation will provide an overview of restorative justice methods, their application in environmental and conservation law enforcement settings, and offer insights into best practices for prosecutors and conservation agencies interested in engaging with alternatives to traditional criminal justice approaches to fish and wildlife violations.

Monday April 16, 2018 3:40pm - 4:00pm EDT
Lake Champlain B

3:40pm EDT

SYMPOSIA-01: Hydroacoustic Monitoring of Emigrating Juvenile American Shad at the Vernon Hydroelectric Project on the Connecticut River
AUTHORS: Christopher W.D. Gurshin, Ph.D., Matthew P. Balge – Normandeau Associates, Inc.

ABSTRACT. The timing of the outmigration of juvenile American Shad (Alosa sapidissima) in the Connecticut River was described from a time series of hydroacoustic data collected in support of a downstream passage study at the Vernon Hydroelectric Project. Acoustic backscatter was continuously sampled by an upward-facing, 420-kHz split-beam transducer mounted on the riverbed near the entrance to the downstream fish pipe in the forebay of the Vernon Dam powerhouse from August 15 through November 15, 2015. Echogram patterns of manually classified school echoes indicated small schooling fish first appeared in the Vernon forebay on August 17 and last appeared on October 30 (74 days), however were not consistently present until the beginning of September. Fish density increased to the major peak density during the period from September 25 to October 3 which coincided with a sharp decrease in water temperature (20°C to 16°C). Density declined through October with two isolated moderate peaks on October 23-24 and 30 before declining to zero by November when water temperatures remained below 10°C. Data from visual observations, electrofishing, cast netting, and ARIS imaging sonar verified these echo patterns reflected the timing of emigrating juvenile shad arriving and departing the forebay of the Vernon Dam powerhouse.

Monday April 16, 2018 3:40pm - 4:00pm EDT
Adirondack D

3:40pm EDT

SYMPOSIA-02: A Standardized Rapid Survey Protocol for Rare Freshwater Mussels Using an Occupancy Framework
AUTHORS: Peter Hazelton, Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program; Sean C. Sterrett, Massachusetts Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Department of Environmental Conservation, University of Massachusetts; Allison Roy, Massachusetts Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Department of Environmental Conservation, University of Massachusetts and U.S. Geological Survey

ABSTRACT: In 2016, Fish and Wildlife Agencies from 5 Northeastern States were awarded a Competitive State Wildlife Grant to assess the research and conservation needs of the federally petitioned Brook Floater (Alasmidonta varicosa). Among the primary objectives of this initiative was to standardize survey approaches so that data collected in different states would be comparable in evaluating Brook Floater’s status throughout its range. Although estimation of population size is a common objective in conservation of rare species, associated research methods are resource intensive, and difficult to apply across a species geographic range. In contrast, occupancy estimation approaches allow for rapidly estimating species occupancy (ψ; percent area occupied) within some scale of interest, while simultaneously estimating species detection probability (p), which is often a major source of uncertainty in freshwater mussel studies. We developed a rapid survey protocol for freshwater mussels in wadeable rivers that incorporates spatially replicated samples within each watershed to estimate detection probability and rates of occupancy. The survey protocol was piloted by 5 collaborating states during the 2017 field season, and. Here, we present occupancy data collected on several rare mussel species encountered in Massachusetts during the 2017 field season using the standardized approach. In the future, these data will be used to evaluate landscape and instream habitat correlates of Brook Floater occupancy.

Monday April 16, 2018 3:40pm - 4:00pm EDT
Vermont B

3:40pm EDT

SYMPOSIA-05: Captivity and an island: Lessons learned from New England cottontail (Sylvilagus transitionalis) captive and island breeding to support translocations
AUTHORS: Thomas J. McGreevy, Jr.*, University of Rhode Island; Mary E. Sullivan, University of Rhode Island; Wendy Finn, University of Rhode Island; Kimberly Neil, Brown University; Thomas P. Husband, University of Rhode Island

ABSTRACT: New England cottontail (Sylvilagus transitionalis) is a species of conservation concern and the focus of a multi-agency and institutional effort to conserve the species.  The consortium includes state biologists, federal biologists, zoo professionals, and scientists from academia.  The drastic decline in the distribution of New England cottontail precipitated the establishment of a captive breeding program in 2011 at the Roger Williams Park Zoo in Providence, Rhode Island, which was subsequently expanded in 2015 to include the Queens Zoo in Corona, New York.  From 2012 to present, captive bred New England cottontail have been released on Patience Island in the upper Narragansett Bay of RI to establish a wild breeding colony.  We have conducted conservation genetic, genomic, and applied ecological analyses on the captive and island populations of New England cottontail to support their conservation.  Pedigree analyses have been conducted to identify factors that influence reproductive success.  The diet of Patience Island New England cottontail has been determined by analyzing fecal pellets and quantifying the nutritional value of plants they consume and plants that are available to them.  The population size of Patience Island New England cottontail has been estimated using molecular tools to ensure the population size remains robust to periodic translocations to mainland sites.  Genomic analyses have been conducted on founder and Patience Island New England cottontail to characterize their adaptive genetic variation.  The current state of knowledge about the captive and island populations will be discussed along with identifying priorities for future research.

Monday April 16, 2018 3:40pm - 4:00pm EDT
Montpelier A&B

3:40pm EDT

FURBEARER MANAGEMENT: Monitoring Canine Parvovirus (CPV) Prevalence in Mesocarnivore of Southwestern Vermont Populations Through Scat Analysis
AUTHORS: Lucas Krauss, Carol Shaw - Green Mountain College

ABSTRACT. Canine parvovirus (CPV) was first discovered in 1978 and since then has evolved, enabling it to infect multiple species and spread through both domestic and wild populations (Stucker et al. 2012; Guy 1986). CPV is highly contagious; spreading through the fecal-oral route it can cause severe disease including gastrointestinal enteritis and has the potential to kill the host (Wilkes, 2015). CPV is understood to affect multiple mesocarnivore species in Vermont through spill over events such as predation and has successfully mutated to cross species boundaries, creating onward transmission within populations (Parrish et al., 2008). This research aims to provide an understanding of the prevalence of canine parvovirus (CPV) in mesocarnivore populations of Southwestern Vermont. Prior research regarding specific CPV prevalence in fishers has been conducted in an attempt to explain population decline. It is the intention of our research to provide supplementary data which may enable a more developed understanding of interspecies interactions with specific regard for viral transmission. By determining what species are being affected by CPV and in what localities, we hope to develop a more comprehensive projection of viral prevalence in a region where minimal research has been conducted. The significance of this research lies in its ability to provide an accurate representation of viral exposure in the state of Vermont. By mapping the prevalence of canine parvovirus in Vermont carnivore populations we hope to provide a basis of information which can be used to implement preventative and conservative measures to mitigate population decline. Carnivorous species fill valuable niches in the ecosystem of Vermont forests and through research such as this we hope to ensure and maintain the success of these species. Carol Shaw has been conducting research in Vermont on CPV and fisher populations using data gathered from necropsies, trail cameras, and local furbearer testimonial. This research aims to complement the unpublished research done by Shaw by mapping CPV in an understudied region of the state. By determining where and what species are being affected we hope to create a more encompassing projection of the virus’ spread throughout the state and in turn lay groundwork for further research which may lead to preventative measures to limit exposure and transference.

Monday April 16, 2018 3:40pm - 4:00pm EDT
Adirondack A

3:40pm EDT

BIRD CONSERVATION Tracking Prairie Warblers During the Non-breeding Season Using Light-level Geolocators
AUTHORS: Steven P. Campbell, Neil A. Gifford - Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission; Michael E. Akresh, Department of Environmental Conservation, University of Massachusetts Amherst; David I. King, U.S. Forest Service Northern Research Station

ABSTRACT. Prairie warblers have experienced range-wide declines in the past few decades and are currently a species of conservation concern. Their decline is due in part to the loss and degradation of shrubland habitats that they use during the breeding season, but little is known about factors during the non-breeding season that also may be contributing to their decline. As a first step towards understanding these factors, we wanted to identify the areas that northern populations of prairie warblers use during the non-breeding season (i.e., migratory stopover and over-wintering habitats) as well as the timing of their movements among these areas. To gather this information, in 2016 we attached light-level geolocators to 25 prairie warblers from the Albany Pine Bush Preserve (APBP) and 22 from Montague Plains Wildlife Management Area (MPWMA). We colorbanded an additional 31 birds in APBP and 65 birds in MPWMA to serve as a control group in the examination of the effects of geolocators on return rates. Eleven birds with geolocators returned to APBP and nine returned to MPWMA in 2017. Across both sites, return rates of birds without geolocators were 18% higher than birds with geolocators (P < 0.05). Preliminary analyses of geolocator data suggested that birds from both sites overwintered primarily in Hispaniola, with some individuals in Haiti and others in the Dominican Republic. Migration routes and timing were difficult to determine precisely due to large variance in estimated locations, but during fall migration most birds appeared to move south along the eastern U.S. to Florida before crossing the ocean to Cuba and then to Hispaniola. Birds followed a similar pathway during spring migration to their northern breeding grounds. These findings contribute to our understanding of the full annual cycles of migratory birds and will assist in the management and conservation of this species.

Monday April 16, 2018 3:40pm - 4:00pm EDT
Adirondack B/C

3:40pm EDT

OUTREACH & EDUCATION 1: Branding Your Agency
AUTHORS: Emily MacCabe, Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife

ABSTRACT. Many agencies recognize the growing need to raise overall public awareness and support among their state’s residents of their mission, programs and projects, but struggle with the first steps. Creating a precise and consistent brand for your agency is critical to success! Investing in the development of a brand charter can help build a solid platform to begin to communicate effectively with the public on important fish and wildlife management efforts on behalf of your agency.A brand charter serves as a reference to define consistency and clarity of the agency’s brand in applications across a variety of media, as well as define all communications between the agency and it’s intended audience. Adhering to specific standards and practices will ensure that the integrity of the brand is maintained to help the intended audience quickly recognize the agency’s brand and name and what it represents.Building the right team of agency staff and qualified professionals is the key to successfully developing a brand charter. Learn more about the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife’s recent undertaking of this project, the process followed, examples of charter components, the implementation of the charter and how it has become a critical tool for the agency to improve communication with many different target audiences.

Monday April 16, 2018 3:40pm - 4:20pm EDT
Lake Champlain A

4:00pm EDT

LAW ENFORCEMENT: Engine Cut off Device Technology & Safety for Marine Law Enforcment Officers
AUTHORS: Lieutenant Adam Gormely, Maine Warden Service; Colonel Corey L. Britcher, PA Fish & Boat Commission

ABSTRACT. The National Association of State Boating Law Administrators is a national nonprofit, 501(c)3 organization that works to develop public policy for recreational boating safety. NASBLA represents the recreational boating authorities of all 50 states and the U.S. territories. NASBLA’s mission is to strengthen the ability of the state and territorial boating authorities to reduce death, injury and property damage associated with recreational boating and ensure a safe, secure and enjoyable boating environment.Use of engine cutoff switches (ecos) have been proven to aid in reducing and preventing both injuries and deaths within the boating community. Compliance in the use of ecos devices remains low. It is the purpose of NASBLA’s law enforcement committee to gather information on compliance rates, policy mandates, and other relevant data in an effort to assist law enforcement agencies with the development of policies and procedures for ecos wear by officers while underway. Our goal of the LE committee is to enhance officer safety as well as promote usage within the recreational boating community by example.Please join us for an overview of some of the latest technologies in marine LE safety as we explain electronic engine cutoff switches, why they are important and what NASBLA is doing about it.

Monday April 16, 2018 4:00pm - 4:20pm EDT
Lake Champlain B

4:00pm EDT

SYMPOSIA-01: Using Side Scan Sonar to Detect Lobster Pots in Simple and Complex Habitats
AUTHORS: David M. Chosid, Kathryn Ford, PhD, Steve Voss - MA Division of Marine Fisheries

ABSTRACT. Derelict gear is fishing gear that has been lost or discarded. Derelict gear that can still actively fish is known as ghost gear and is a widespread issue, causing unobserved, unaccounted mortality. Even derelict gear that no longer actively fishes can cause protected species entanglements, fishing gear conflicts, habitat damage, and other problems. The economic effects of derelict pots (from unaccounted mortality and equipment replacements) and environmental effects could be assessed if the quantity of derelict pots were known. However, quantification methods such as dive surveys or grappling have met with limited and mixed results. High resolution side scan sonar offers a non-impacting, alternative method to identify and quantify gear on-bottom. Detection efficiencies using sonar are generally unknown creating major uncertainty in estimates of derelict gear abundance and locations. We determined the detection efficiencies (rates) for side scan sonar lobster pot identification over two bottom habitats - featureless (sandy) and complex (rocky) habitats. An area of Buzzards Bay, MA was surveyed to characterize the bottom and then side scan sonar was used to identify set pots (with pot locations unknown to the sonar analyst) to derive the detection rates. We found a significantly improved detection rate over simple bottom. However, resulting detection rates for both habitats were low and not sufficient for pot abundance estimation in a larger survey area. These findings illustrate the importance of determining detection rates prior to side scan sonar surveys of derelict fishing gear.

Monday April 16, 2018 4:00pm - 4:20pm EDT
Adirondack D

4:00pm EDT

SYMPOSIA-02: Freshwater Mussel Species Distribution Models to Inform Proactive Conservation Decision Making
AUTHORS: Sean C. Sterrett, Massachusetts Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Department of Environmental Conservation, University of Massachusetts; Lindsay Stevenson, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Division of Ecological Services; Mark Endries, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Asheville Ecological Field Office; Peter Hazelton, Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program; Allison H. Roy, Massachusetts Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Department of Environmental Conservation, University of Massachusetts, U.S. Geological Survey

ABSTRACT. The Brook Floater (Alasmidonta varicosa) is a stream-dwelling freshwater mussel native to the Atlantic Slope of the United States and Canada that has experienced large population declines over the last 50 years and is currently undergoing a federal species status assessment to determine risk of extinction. As a result, efforts to develop conservation strategies to restore Brook Floater populations have begun, including the formation of the Brook Floater Working Group that aims to develop and evaluate alternative management actions to inform long-term decision making. However, major gaps in the ecological knowledge and responses to anthropogenic threats still remain for Brook Floater, leaving conservation decision making a challenge riddled with uncertainty. Given the recent development and broad availability of bioinformatic databases, species distribution models (SDMs) have emerged as a tool for procuring spatially explicit predictions of environmental suitability across large landscapes. We used occurrence records of Brook Floater from 14 states and available environmental predictors, including land cover, instream characteristics (e.g. flow rates, slope) and geology data summarized at the catchment level, to develop predictions of Brook Floater habitat suitability and to map those predictions across its known range using Maxent. This approach provides an opportunity to identify critical habitats for protection and determine where reintroductions may be most effective. The SDM approach will continue to be improved by engaging biologists and managers who can provide feedback on the success of this tool for guiding conservation efforts.

Monday April 16, 2018 4:00pm - 4:20pm EDT
Vermont B

4:00pm EDT

SYMPOSIA-05: Monitoring and predicting response of New England cottontail populations to management
AUTHORS: Melissa Bauer and Adrienne Kovach - University of New Hampshire

ABSTRACT. An enormous conservation effort has been ongoing since 2008 on behalf of the New England cottontail and other shrubland-dependent species. More than 10,000 acres of early successional (shrubland) habitat have been created and restored within the northeastern states, aimed at increasing populations of these species of greatest conservation need. Currently, no mechanism is in place to demonstrate the success of these efforts and, in particular, systematic assessment of the response of New England cottontail populations to management is lacking. To address this need, we have developed approaches to quantify past and future cottontail responses to management actions. First, we describe a framework for assessing patch-specific and landscape-scale estimates of cottontail abundance, using non-invasive, genetic, mark-recapture abundance estimation. We demonstrate application of our method to habitat restoration sites in Maine and New Hampshire, in some cases with before-and-after information. Secondly, we present our efforts in developing a predictive tool for evaluating the outcome of future planned restoration activities. Our approach incorporates data on occupancy, abundance, and landscape genetic analyses of connectivity in a resistance surface and simulates cottontail populations through 50 generations into the future, given current and hypothetical restoration landscapes. We demonstrate our approach for New England cottontails occupying an urban, industrial landscape in Londonderry, New Hampshire. This approach can guide long-term landscape planning to determine whether landscapes can support viability populations and determine cost-effective solutions for sustaining cottontails in a diverse mosaic of habitats. In this way, this project seeks to provide the assessment and planning needed for achieving functional landscapes for New England cottontail and other shrubland-dependent species.

Monday April 16, 2018 4:00pm - 4:20pm EDT
Montpelier A&B

4:00pm EDT

FURBEARER MANAGEMENT: A Review of Genetic Studies of the North American River Otter (Lontra canadensis)
AUTHORS: Alice M Hotopp, Thomas L. Serfass, David P. Puthoff, Kelly J. Pearce - Frostburg State University, Department of Biology and Natural Resources; Zachary H. Olson, University of New England, Department of Psychology

ABSTRACT. Reintroduction of North American river otters (Lontra canadensis) provides an interesting model for examining the genetic legacy of wildlife reintroduction programs. Many North American mammals experienced population decline and range restriction that coincided with European colonization. With the development of wildlife conservation programs through the 20th Century, many populations have rebounded in response to improvements in environmental conditions, harvest regulations, and reintroduction projects. Population reduction and subsequent expansion is expected to have had impacts upon the genetic structure of wildlife populations. Over-trapping and habitat degradation caused declines of river otters by the mid-1900s, but populations have since been restored through natural recolonization and successful reintroduction programs implemented in 22 states. Source populations were chosen based on availability, with little consideration for genetic suitability. For example, river otters from Alaska were translocated to the Green River in Utah, and otters from Louisiana have been reintroduced into 17 states, particularly in the Midwestern US. Fortunately, all river otter reintroductions in the US are considered successful, but little is known about the genetic structuring that developed within these populations. We review the history of genetic studies done on river otters, beginning with the first allozyme research in 1998 and subsequent microsatellite-based studies on populations in Missouri, Louisiana, the upper Midwest, and an ongoing project in western Pennsylvania. We intend here to consolidate current knowledge of river otter genetics, with focus on: 1) evaluating techniques and challenges associated with further genetic assessments; 2) establishing direction for future genetic studies; and 3) reviewing potential liabilities of implementing reintroduction projects without consideration of long-term genetic consequences. Researching the genetic legacy of river otter reintroductions will aid in understanding the genetic structure of functionally similar species that have like histories of extirpation and reintroduction.

Monday April 16, 2018 4:00pm - 4:20pm EDT
Adirondack A

4:00pm EDT

BIRD CONSERVATION Use of Miniaturized GPS Tags to Study Breeding Season Habitat Use and Migration in Threatened
AUTHORS: Michelle Stantial, Jonathan Cohen - SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry

ABSTRACT. Advances in tracking technology are greatly increasing our ability to obtain information on wildlife habitat use and demographics on fine temporal and spatial scales. However, until very recently precise spatial information has been difficult to obtain for small animals due to weight limitations on tagging hardware. We used newly-developed 1-g Lotek GPS tags (10-m accuracy) to study habitat use by federally-threatened piping plovers (Charadrius melodus) in the breeding season in New Jersey. Piping plovers are an ideal species for this technology because the tags must be retrieved for data download, and these birds are readily captured multiple times on their nests. We attached tags using leg-loop harnesses to five males. Piping plovers are socially monogamous and share incubation duties evenly between the sexes. The tags were set to collect spatial data four times per day at 6-hr intervals and were retrieved after approximately two weeks. We observed males to use previously-undocumented foraging locations including at midnight, although most night locations were at the nest. We observed no injuries and no evidence of a negative effect of tagging on reproductive success. We tagged ten males near the end of the breeding season set to collect locations every two days, and because piping plovers are highly site faithful we hope to retrieve the tags next breeding season to obtain information on migration. Miniature GPS tags will contribute to the conservation of this species by providing information for resource selection functions, home range, and migration.

Monday April 16, 2018 4:00pm - 4:20pm EDT
Adirondack B/C

4:20pm EDT

LAW ENFORCEMENT: Intelligence Driven Marine Resource Policing: NOAA Fisheries-Office of Law Enforcement and the United States Coast Guard
AUTHORS: Ross Lane, NOAA Special Agent

ABSTRACT. Overview: NOAA Fisheries Office of Law Enforcement and the United States Coast Guard lead the effort in enforcing living marine resources laws in the Economic Exclusive Zone stretching from three to 200 miles offshore in the North Atlantic Ocean. Both agencies face challenges associated with weather, staffing, changing priorities and placement of patrol resources. However, through the use of intelligence led living marine resource policing there are many examples of successful outcomes in the North Atlantic Ocean. A number of these examples will be presented here to demonstrate the importance of coordination and intelligence in fisheries enforcement efforts.

Monday April 16, 2018 4:20pm - 4:40pm EDT
Lake Champlain B

4:20pm EDT

OUTREACH & EDUCATION 1: Fishbook Live!
AUTHORS: Adam Miller, Vermont Department of Fish & Wildlife

ABSTRACT. Adam Miller will talk about his experiences using Facebook Live to connect with people to fish. He has used Facebook Live while stocking fish, as well as electroshocking, and to promote ice fishing events.

Monday April 16, 2018 4:20pm - 4:40pm EDT
Lake Champlain A

4:20pm EDT

SYMPOSIA-01: Evaluating Lake Sturgeon Habitat in a Hydropower Tailrace
AUTHORS: Bethany Belmonte; Ian Kiraly; Jason George - Gomez and Sullivan Engineers

ABSTRACT. In 1995, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation initiated a restoration program for Lake Sturgeon. This effort included stocking of historically-inhabited waters with juvenile sturgeon. Some of these fish migrated from initial stocking locations in the Finger Lakes into the Seneca and Oswego Rivers over time, causing local populations to become established between lock and dam complexes. In 2016, Lake Sturgeon were documented utilizing a hydropower tailrace channel within a segment of the Oswego River during their spawning season. Habitat in the tailrace channel area was characterized using a combination of side-imaging sonar and field verification surveys to map substrate, and an Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler (ADCP) to measure water velocity and depth. The ADCP and side-imaging sonar provided efficient, timely and cost-effective technological means for mapping the habitat of the full tailrace area. Based on spawning habitat preferences of Lake Sturgeon and observations from other river systems, we determined that the tailrace channel area provides suitable habitat for spawning Lake Sturgeon. Though the sturgeon residing in the Oswego River are relatively young and spawning success has not been evaluated, the presence of spawning habitat and potential use of this habitat could promote persistence and expansion of Lake Sturgeon populations in this river segment and areas downstream; this would be consistent with relatively recent research from other river systems, which have documented self-sustaining Lake Sturgeon populations in relatively short, impounded river segments.

Monday April 16, 2018 4:20pm - 4:40pm EDT
Adirondack D

4:20pm EDT

SYMPOSIA-05: A Structured Decision-Making Approach to Range-wide Monitoring of the New England Cottontail
AUTHORS: Chadwick Rittenhouse, Department of Natural Resources and the Environment, Wildlife and Fisheries Conservation Center, University of Connecticut

ABSTRACT: Region-wide monitoring of the New England cottontail (NEC) is a multi-state, coordinated survey conducted annually. The survey objectives include: 1) Determine current occupancy rates of Eastern cottontail (EC) and NEC at locations throughout the NEC range, 2) Determine how the occupancy status of ECs and NECs changes through time via estimation of species-specific occurrence and underlying vital rates (local patch colonization and extinction), and 3) Determine how management activities influence changes in occupancy status of both species at a location. Based on data gathered in 2016-2017 from 206 plots in 5 states (CT, ME, MA, NH, and NY), I used structured decision making to evaluate two problem statements: 1) Does the monitoring effort provide the information needed to assess whether monitoring goals are being met, and 2) What changes in the monitoring protocol, survey site selection, or field data collection are needed to better meet monitoring goals? The evaluation concluded that sufficient effort, expressed as number of plots surveyed and number of visits to those plots, was made on an annual basis. The probability of detecting an NEC given one was present was 0.699 (SE 0.111). However, occupancy was too low (0.184, SE 0.039) to detect trends in occupancy over time, which means Objective 2 is not feasible. Additionally, too few managed plots were sampled to determine NEC response to management, which means Objective 3 is not feasible. The recommended changes to the protocol include increasing occupancy by sampling more plots with NEC and more plots managed for NEC.

Monday April 16, 2018 4:20pm - 4:40pm EDT
Montpelier A&B

4:20pm EDT

FURBEARER MANAGEMENT: Local Adaptation in a Generalist Species: Examining Genomic Diversity in Bobcats
AUTHORS: Jennifer C. Broderick, Sarah E. Sprauer, Jan Janecka, Ph.D. - Duquesne University; Roberta K. Newbury, Ph.D., University of Great Falls; William Horne, Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC

ABSTRACT. The bobcat (Lynx rufus) is a successful generalist predator with a broad range across North America. As a generalist, it inhabits a diverse array of habitats with their prey use depending on the ecosystem they inhabit. The objective of this project was to examine bobcats from divergent ecosystems and to identify loci contributing to adaptation in local environments. The recent annotated version of the domestic cat genome presented the perfect opportunity to create a comprehensive bobcat genome sequence based on the structure of the domestic cat genome. We sequenced a New Mexico bobcat at a depth of 30x coverage and mapped reads to create a draft reference assembly. Subsequently northern (Idaho, Montana; N=9) and southern (New Mexico, Arizona, southern California; N=9) populations of bobcats were sequenced for an average coverage of 10X for each population pool across the genome. A pooled-population of Canada Lynx (N=3) was also included in the analysis. This study reports the first genome-wide analysis of bobcat diversity and tests for signals of selection that identify loci important for local adaptation at the genome-level. This study improves our understanding of species history and the specific genomic differences that make the bobcat populations in northern and southern ecosystems unique.

Monday April 16, 2018 4:20pm - 4:40pm EDT
Adirondack A

4:20pm EDT

4:40pm EDT

LAW ENFORCEMENT: Operation Game Thief Trailer
PRESENTER: Lt. Justin Stedman, Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department

Monday April 16, 2018 4:40pm - 5:00pm EDT
Lake Champlain B

4:40pm EDT

OUTREACH & EDUCATION 1: Telling Compelling Stories Through the Use of Social Media
AUTHORS: Panel Discussion: Keith Shannon, US Fish and Wildlife Service; Emily McCabe, MEDIWF; Adam Miller, Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department

ABSTRACT. Ask the experts your questions relating to the use of social media.

Monday April 16, 2018 4:40pm - 5:00pm EDT
Lake Champlain A

4:40pm EDT

SYMPOSIA-01: Use of a DIDSON to Image and Estimate Numbers of Shortnose Sturgeon (Acipenser brevirostrum) Using Winter Habitat in the Penobscot River, ME
AUTHORS: Kevin Lachapelle; Gayle Zydlewski - University of Maine

ABSTRACT. Non-invasive techniques are attractive when studying rare and endangered species. We have applied various non-invasive hydroacoustic techniques to describe behavior and estimate the population size of Shortnose Sturgeon (Acipenser brevirostrum), an endangered species, in the Gulf of Maine. This species exhibits a peculiar behavior that makes them particularly available for direct visualization. All individuals within a river system aggregate into one or a few dense and distinct groups for the entire winter season. In the Penobscot River this occurs from December through April. Over 5 years we used a DIDSON (Dual IDentification SONar) to observe and enumerate aggregations of Shortnose Sturgeon in their chosen winter sites. Since sonar imaging uses acoustic waves instead of light, the area visualized at each sample point was standardized, and much larger (up to 10 m) than what is possible with underwater cameras (10s – 100s cm). The DIDSON produces near-video quality real-time images, allowing easy differentiation of fish from stationary debris (e.g., logs). This contrasts with side-scan sonar (SSS) imaging which creates a picture where stationary debris can be confused with fish targets. SSS was attempted on various occasions without as much success, likely due to the shallow imaging area, as using a DIDSON. Comparisons of these hydroacoustic techniques will be presented. Resulting DIDSON footage allowed us to visualize aggregation behavior in real time, and to calculate average densities throughout wintering habitat based on counts of fish and area imaged. Spatial statistics were applied to the density data to calculate Shortnose Sturgeon aggregation estimates (539 to 1186 individuals). These estimates were comparable to other seasonal estimates created using mark/recapture methods (641 to 1306 individuals). The DIDSON technique required much less sampling time than mark/recapture and did not require direct handling of fish, both features being beneficial for estimating population sizes for managing an endangered species.

Monday April 16, 2018 4:40pm - 5:00pm EDT
Adirondack D

4:40pm EDT

4:40pm EDT

FURBEARER MANAGEMENT: Applied Ecology and Conservation Genetics in Support of the Management of Bobcat (Lynx rufus) in Rhode Island
AUTHORS: Amy E. Mayer, Mary E. Sullivan, Thomas J. McGreevy, Jr. - University of Rhode Island; Charles Brown, Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management Division of Fish and Wildlife

ABSTRACT. In Rhode Island, sightings and reports of medium to large predators, specifically bobcat (Lynx rufus), have been on the increase in recent years. Sightings of bobcats have been reported in many towns throughout the state of RI, but little is known about the distribution, relative abundance, home range size, or habitat use of the species in the state due to a lack of historic data. In 2014, a 5-year study was started to collect basic data on the ecology and genetics of bobcats in Rhode Island. We live-trapped during the winter months (November to March) to capture individual bobcats. Tissue samples were collected and individuals were affixed with GPS collars programmed to record locations every 2 hours for up to one year. Collected location data was used estimate home range, resource use, and movement patterns for each individual. DNA samples of captured individuals and road-killed bobcats were used to determine the genetic structure of the population. To determine occupancy and distribution of the species, trail cameras were deployed at 40 sites for a period of 6 weeks during the winter of 2018. A second season of trail camera data will be collected during summer of 2018 to determine seasonal changes in distribution, occupancy and detection. Results of this study will be used by state biologists to help guide decisions regarding the management of the Rhode Island bobcat population.

Monday April 16, 2018 4:40pm - 5:00pm EDT
Adirondack A

5:00pm EDT

SYMPOSIA-01: Estimating Abundance of Spawning Lake Sturgeon in the Winooski River, VT Using Dual-Frequency Identification Sonar (DIDSON)
AUTHORS: Lisa K. Izzo, Vermont Cooperative Fish & Wildlife Research Unit, Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources, University of Vermont; Donna L. Parrish, U.S. Geological Survey, Vermont Cooperative Fish & Wildlife Research Unit, Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources, University of Vermont; Gayle B. Zydlewski, School of Marine Sciences, University of Maine; Chet Mackenzie, Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department

ABSTRACT. Lake sturgeon (Acipenser fulvescens) in Vermont are only found in Lake Champlain, and the species was listed as endangered in the state in 1972 following declines in commercial harvest. Whereas monitoring efforts have confirmed that spawning still occurs in three of the four historic spawning tributaries, there are no abundance estimates for any life stage of lake sturgeon in Lake Champlain. The goal of this study is to develop a hydroacoustic sampling protocol to estimate the abundance of spawning adult lake sturgeon in one historic spawning tributary. In 2017, a fixed-location dual-frequency identification sonar (DIDSON) was deployed downstream of the lake sturgeon spawning site in the Winooski River, VT to count upstream migrating lake sturgeon. Data were collected in low-frequency mode (1.1 MHz, 48 beams). During the 2017 spawning season, hydroacoustic data were paired with data from an array of five stationary acoustic receivers that monitored the movements of tagged adult lake sturgeon that entered the river (n=10, tagged in 2015 and 2016). From May 10 to June 21, 1000 hours of DIDSON footage were collected and 271 sturgeon targets (fish > 1 m) were observed moving upstream. Acoustic receiver data indicated that 6 of 10 tagged sturgeon made multiple movements upstream during the spawning run, suggesting that sturgeon behavior during this period had the potential to inflate abundance estimates obtained from fixed-location hydroacoustic equipment. To estimate overall spawning abundance, counts from the DIDSON will be combined with acoustic telemetry data to account for repeat movement past the DIDSON throughout the spawning season. Results of this work, which will continue through 2019, will provide managers with an estimate of spawning adult abundance without the need to handle pre-spawn fish. In addition, the methods developed during this study can be used to track progress towards lake sturgeon recovery in Lake Champlain.

Monday April 16, 2018 5:00pm - 5:20pm EDT
Adirondack D

5:00pm EDT

5:00pm EDT

Northeast Information & Education Meeting
Happy hour meeting with the Northeast Information & Education Committee. Everyone interested in communication, outreach, and education are invited! Will be held at The Skinny Pancake on the corner of College and Lake Street (on the way to ECHO).

Monday April 16, 2018 5:00pm - 6:30pm EDT
Offsite - Skinny Pancake 60 Lake Street, Burlington, VT 05401

5:00pm EDT

Poster Social
Posters will be on display and staffed by their authors during this evening social. Light hors d'oeuvres and a cash bar will be available. 

Monday April 16, 2018 5:00pm - 6:30pm EDT
Adirondack Ballroom Prefunction

5:30pm EDT

POSTER: Abundance and Egg Guarding Patterns of Red-backed Salamanders (Plethodon cinereus)
AUTHORS: Trevor Hanna; Corbyn Loomis; Hannah Rose; Jobin Messinger; Bronwen Hopwood; Connor Kukla; Nathan Lumsden; and Cynthia Moulton. Undergraduate Students from Castleton University [with faculty advisor, Cynthia Moulton]

ABSTRACT. Red-backed salamanders (Plethodon cinereus) are the most abundant vertebrate in mixed deciduous and conifer forests of eastern North America. Red-backed salamanders’ (RBS) body mass is less than 1g thus they are able to exploit a variety of prey unavailable to most birds and mammals. Because their food to biomass conversion is so efficient they function as one of the most important links between trophic levels in forest ecosystems. Understanding how RBS uses various cover objects for refuge and egg deposition will enhance management of eastern forests for overall vertebrate species diversity. We surveyed twenty-one sites of mixed deciduous broadleaf and evergreen forest on the Castleton University campus. Each site was partially shaded, contained woody debris cover of 10 to 25% and measured 1/100th of an acre. Each site was thoroughly surveyed by scouring the forest floor under debris and through leaf litter to locate RBS. All surveys occurred between the hours of 9:00 am and 2:00 pm and never during rainfall. We found that in the forests of Castleton, Vermont RBS chose to lay their egg clutches in rotted logs and stumps significantly more often than other substrates. This suggests that this type of ground debris is important for suitable habitat for this species. RBS were significantly more likely to leave egg clutches unguarded, which contradicts other research. There were no significant differences between pH, soil temperature, and soil moisture levels tested at random for RBS and egg clutch locations, but the range of values for each parameter were narrow. Larger RBS were found significantly more often under rotted logs while smaller RBS were found in other conditions, i.e. under rocks, in leaf litter, and within roots.

Monday April 16, 2018 5:30pm - 7:00pm EDT
Adirondack Ballroom Prefunction

5:30pm EDT

POSTER: Analyzing the Effect of Herbivory on Pin Oak Growth Rates in Kentuck Forest at Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge
AUTHORS: Kristin Bomboy; Carol Bocetti; Amanda Bessler; Alex Wong; Matt Whitbeck

ABSTRACT. In 2013, Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge (BNWR) completed a timber stand improvement project in the Kentuck Forest management area to create shade conditions to promote oak presence. However, severe herbivory by rabbit and deer were a concern. In 2015, a study to evaluate oak seedling growth with and without a protective enclosure was started. Six plots with similar canopy cover and inundation patterns were selected within Kentuck Forest, and then three of the sites were randomly selected for enclosure by a 1.5-m fence while the other three sites were left open. In each plot, 36 pin oak saplings were planted in a 1.5 m2 grid. Between April 2015 and August 2017, sapling height and recent signs of herbivory were measured 25 times. Out of 216 saplings, 25 died from various causes: 40% had extensive rabbit and deer herbivory, 24% had deer only herbivory, 12% had rabbit only herbivory, 20% had insect only herbivory, and 4% died from trampling. The average per month sapling growth rate was 0.6 cm in enclosed plots and -1.31 cm in open plots (p = 0.011). The average growth rate per month of saplings in open plots that were affected by deer herbivory only was -10.97 cm, whereas that of saplings affected by rabbit herbivory only was 0.30 cm. No deer herbivory occurred on interior saplings in enclosed plots, but saplings nearest to the fence edge were reached by deer. The average change in sapling height for the whole study period was 15.29 cm in enclosures versus 5.29 cm in the open (p = 0.001). Although rabbit and deer herbivory both affected the pin oak saplings, deer herbivory was more detrimental to growth. Oak saplings planted in Kentuck Forest should be enclosed to ensure successful regeneration.

Monday April 16, 2018 5:30pm - 7:00pm EDT
Adirondack Ballroom Prefunction

5:30pm EDT

POSTER: Bringing Together Practitioners: The Massachusetts Ecosystem Climate Adaptation Network (Mass ECAN)
AUTHORS: Melissa Ocana, UMass Extension, University of Massachusetts Amherst; Scott Jackson, Dept. of Environmental Conservation and UMass Extension, University of Massachusetts Amherst; Rebecca Quinones, Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife

ABSTRACT. Across our region and particularly in Massachusetts, there is increasing interest in reducing the negative impacts of climate change on ecosystem function, fish and wildlife. UMass Extension recently launched the Massachusetts Ecosystem Climate Adaptation Network (Mass ECAN) - a community of practice for climate adaptation practitioners and researchers working on ecosystem resilience and natural resources conservation. Mass ECAN currently has 125 members across academic institutions, non-profits, businesses, and state, federal, regional, and local agencies. The Network’s short-term goals are to build community, increase knowledge sharing, and foster collaboration. Long-term, the vision is to advance the field of climate adaptation and weave ecosystem resilience and species conservation into actions across sectors. This poster will review our approach, including our affiliated ad-hoc expert work groups that can form around initiatives as needed. These work groups can help identify data gaps, generate actionable science, and use existing data and products to inform on-the-ground management and implementation. As an example, we’ll explore our coldwater streams work group lead by colleagues at the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife. This Network structure and the work groups are replicable in other states or regions.

Monday April 16, 2018 5:30pm - 7:00pm EDT
Adirondack Ballroom Prefunction

5:30pm EDT

POSTER: Collaborative Acoustic Telemetry Studies in Lake Champlain
AUTHORS: J. Ellen Marsden, University of Vermont

ABSTRACT. Development of acoustic telemetry technology to collect long-term, high-frequency data on fish movements with passive receivers has revolutionized the ability to study fish migrations and behavior. Telemetry can be used follow ocean-wide migrations, or identify spawning site locations by tracking movement of fish at scales of less than 1 m. Most studies focus on particular subsections of large lakes or oceans; Lake Champlain offers the opportunity to examine whole-lake fish movements, and movement of adfluvial and anadromous fishes. In 2013, we established an array of 27 acoustic telemetry receivers at key locations throughout Lake Champlain; the system is modeled after the Great Lakes Acoustic Telemetry Observation System, which provides infrastructure for multiple studies. Investigators pay for and implant tags in their focal species, contribute to receiver maintenance, and have sole access to their data. To date we have studied spawning fidelity and seasonal movements of 93 tagged lake trout, and effects of habitat fragmentation by lake causeways on movements of lake trout and 27 tagged walleye. Portions of the receiver array were reconfigured in 2016 and are currently being used by a USGS/VTDFW/UVM collaborative study of habitat use by endangered lake sturgeon. We invite discussions with potential colleagues who are interested in acoustic telemetry studies in Lake Champlain.

Monday April 16, 2018 5:30pm - 7:00pm EDT
Adirondack Ballroom Prefunction

5:30pm EDT

POSTER: Comparing Bird Communities in Transmission Line Rights-of-Way Dominated by Native Shrubs or by a Mixture of Native and Non-Native Shrubs in Maine and New Hampshire: Preliminary Results from 2017
AUTHORS: Kevin Newton; Erica Holm; Matthew D. Tarr; Kathleen Wadiak - University of New Hampshire

ABSTRACT. Throughout the Northeastern U.S., shrubby transmission line rights-of-way (ROW) provide important habitat for a variety of songbirds that nest either in shrublands or in mature forest habitats. The vegetation composition within a ROW has an important influence on the specific species of birds that will use it as habitat. Many ROW in the region are mowed with a forestry mower every 3-5 years to keep trees from contacting the transmission lines. This regular disturbance is important for keeping the ROW in a shrubby condition, but it can make them susceptible to invasion by non-native shrubs (e.g., autumn olive, glossy buckthorn, honeysuckle spp., multiflora rose). When non-native shrubs comprise a large proportion of the plant community within a shrubland they can have both positive and negative effects on habitat structure, vulnerability to nest predation, and food resources (e.g., fruits and insects) for birds. As part of a larger study we initiated in 2017 to investigate songbird use of shrubby ROW in ME and NH, we used constant-effort mist netting to compare the bird community between three ROW dominated by native shrubs and three ROW dominated by a mixture of native and invasive shrubs. We surveyed each ROW six times between May-Aug and caught a total of 1189 shrubland-dependent birds of 26 species and 168 mature-forest birds of 18 species. There was no difference in bird species richness or diversity among ROW types, but the generalist shrubland birds (common yellowthroats, gray catbirds, and song sparrows) were the most abundant species at ROW composed of a large proportion of invasive shrubs. By the end of 2018 we will have surveyed a total of 24 ROW to further improve understanding for how differences in native/non-native shrub composition in ROW influence the role of ROW as habitat for a variety of songbirds.

Monday April 16, 2018 5:30pm - 7:00pm EDT
Adirondack Ballroom Prefunction

5:30pm EDT

POSTER: Comparing the Use of Transmission Line Rights-of-Way Managed by Mechanical Mowing or Selective Herbicide Treatment by Shrubland-Dependent and Mature-Forest-Dependent Songbirds in Maine and New Hampshire: Preliminary Results from 2017
AUTHORS: Kathleen Wadiak; Erica Holm; Matthew D. Tarr; Kevin Newton - University of New Hampshire

ABSTRACT. In the Northeastern U.S., thousands of miles of shrub-dominated transmission line rights-of-way (ROW) extend across the landscape and provide some of the largest and most stable shrubland habitats in the region. These ROW are used as nesting and post-fledging habitat by the region’s entire community of shrubland-dependent songbirds, but evidence for how ROW are used by songbirds that require mature forest for nesting is lacking. Mist-netting surveys conducted in regenerating clearcuts indicate that adult and fledgling mature-forest songbirds comprise a large proportion of the bird community in clearcuts during the post-fledging portion of the breeding season, a time when juvenile birds and molting adults require dense cover to avoid predators and abundant food resources to prepare for migration. In 2017, we began the first comprehensive mist-netting survey ever conducted in shrubby ROW in southern Maine and New Hampshire to inventory the entire community of songbirds using ROW during the nesting and post-fledging periods. In this preliminary year of our study, we investigated whether differences in the height, density, and species composition of plants between three ROW maintained by mowing and three ROW maintained with selective herbicide treatment resulted in differences in the community of shrubland-dependent or mature-forest dependent songbirds. We conducted six mist net surveys in each ROW from late May-late August and we caught a total of 83 adult and 49 fledging mature-forest birds and 520 adult and 340 fledging shrubland-dependent birds. There was no difference in the number or diversity of shrubland-dependent or mature-forest birds between the different ROW types. Certain mature-forest birds (e.g., scarlet tanager, ovenbird, wood thrush) were caught regularly in ROW throughout the breeding season. By the end of 2018 we will have surveyed a total of 24 ROW to further improve understanding for how ROW function as habitat for a variety of songbirds.

Monday April 16, 2018 5:30pm - 7:00pm EDT
Adirondack Ballroom Prefunction

5:30pm EDT

POSTER: Effects of Artificial Lighting on the Avian Circadian Rhythm at Night
AUTHORS: Luke F. Gray, Dr. Carol I. Bocetti - California University of Pennsylvania

ABSTRACT. Artificial lights attract wild birds during migration and nesting season. Some research has shown changes in reproductive physiology and molting up to one month earlier in captive birds as compared to known data in wild forest birds. Even low light levels at night have shown to trigger earlier Zugunruhe, increased nocturnal activity, and cause an increase in melatonin regulation in birds; which is the primary driver of the circadian rhythm. While effects of artificial lighting have been examined in captive birds, no studies have investigated the effects on wild birds during the winter season. The purpose of this study is to identify the effects of artificial lighting at night on the avian circadian rhythm during the winter months. The conservation concern for this anthropogenic disruption of wintering birds is the energy cost of being active at night. Resident species and overwintering migrants should be gaining fat in preparation for breeding in the spring, so added energy costs could compromise this process. Three dark sites (controls) and three night-lighted sites that have similar avian habitat (forest to open space ratios, < 0.5 ha) but different night lighting conditions were selected for comparisons. In coordination with California University of PA and private land owners, avian recording equipment will be set up at pairs of sites for two-week sampling periods, each at three pairs of sites (six sites total) beginning in late-January. Observations will also be conducted at least two days per week to supplement recordings and validate the sampling method. It is hypothesized that there will be an increase in the species richness and species diversity of birds that are active in night-lighted areas compared to areas without light; and that the average number of minutes that each avian species is active will be greater in night-lighted areas compared to dark areas.

Monday April 16, 2018 5:30pm - 7:00pm EDT
Adirondack Ballroom Prefunction

5:30pm EDT

POSTER: Environmental and Temporal Variables Contribute to DNA Degradation in White-tailed Deer Blood
AUTHORS: Darren M. Wood, Dr. Amy B. Welsh - West Virginia University

ABSTRACT. Crimes against culturally and economically important wildlife vary both spatially across a landscape and temporally. While officer response times to these crimes and ensuing collection of evidence may also vary spatiotemporally, exposure of evidence to environmental factors including changing temperatures and UV radiation may degrade evidence below qualities and quantities suitable for DNA analysis. Additionally, materials from which evidence is collected from may contribute to DNA degradation. Aliquots of blood from white-tailed deer (Odocoilius virginianus), were collected in EDTA K2 blood tubes to prevent blood clotting and stored at 4°C until use. A 40 µL volume of blood (equivalent to 1 drop) was placed on separate pieces of 4 mm plastic and 1.6 mm steel (materials common to white-tailed deer biological evidence collection). Blood droplets were exposed in a 35°C incubator for 24 and 48 hour time periods. Genomic DNA from each exposed sample and a non-exposed control was extracted and purified using a Qiagen DNeasy blood and tissue kit. DNA quantity was measured through Real-Time PCR using a white-tailed deer specific primer. While no significant differences (a = 0.5) were found within material groups exposed for 24 and 48 hour time periods (Steel: P = 0.43, Plastic: P = 0.49) as well as between the different materials after 24 hours (P = 0.31), significant differences were found between the groups after 48 hours of exposure (P = 0.01). Additionally, differences in DNA quantity were found between all exposed groups and the non-exposed control. Results from this preliminary study indicate the importance of exposure time and material for timely biological evidence collection, but also the need to determine further environmental factors that may inhibit downstream DNA analysis.

Monday April 16, 2018 5:30pm - 7:00pm EDT
Adirondack Ballroom Prefunction

5:30pm EDT

POSTER: Exploring Potential Microscopic Changes to the Shell and Mantle of Deformed Freshwater Mussels (Unionidae and Margaritiferidae) from Massachusetts
AUTHORS: Andrew McElwain, Department of Biological Sciences, SUNY Oswego; Andrew Gascho Landis, Department of Fisheries, Wildlife, and Environmental Science, SUNY Cobleskill; Peter D. Hazelton, MassWildlife

ABSTRACT. North America contains approximately 298 species of freshwater mussels (Margaritiferidae: 5, Unionidae: 293). Freshwater mussels are intriguing because they are parasites of fishes during their larval period and because they use their gills for brooding glochidia, respiration, and filter feeding. Freshwater mussels are valued for the ecosystem service of removing particles from the water; however, this form of feeding leaves them vulnerable to contaminants in the water. Unfortunately, we are losing many species as a result of contaminants, habitat degradation, non-native species introductions, and diseases. Herein we report preliminary results from an investigation into a shell deformity among Elliptio complanata, Lampsilis radiata, Strophitus undulatus (Unionidae), and Margaritifera margaritifera (Margaritiferidae) from the Nashua River, Massachusetts that were collected during the summer of 2017. Affected mussels display a truncated posterior shell margin and the severity of this deformity ranges from slight to severe. Prevalence values and sample sizes (data sourced from whole mussels and empty shells) are as follows: E. complanata, 49%, n = 71; L. radiata, 33%, n = 3; S. undulatus, 100%, n = 1; M. margaritifera, 57%, n = 7. It has been proposed that these deformities are caused by agricultural or household chemicals, or possibly parasitic infection (Strayer 2008). We are interested in exploring the mechanisms that are responsible for this shell deformity to hopefully shed light on the responsible factors. We are examining potential microscopic changes to the shell using light and scanning electron microscopy, histopathological changes to the mantle, and shell thin-sections to look for changes in growth and longevity. We are presently uncertain whether this deformity results from shell damage or cellular changes to the mantle that would alter shell growth. Although the primary literature contains little information about shell deformities among freshwater mussels, we suspect this problem may occur elsewhere in the Northeastern U.S.

Monday April 16, 2018 5:30pm - 7:00pm EDT
Adirondack Ballroom Prefunction

5:30pm EDT

POSTER: Exploring the Relationship Between Fishing Regulations and Angler Compliance in Virginia
AUTHORS: Matthew Dylan Spencer; Radford University

ABSTRACT. Fishing regulations are often complex and reliant upon a general understanding of geographical awareness. Fishing regulations for the same fish species can vary across neighboring waterways or along a single waterway that is delineated into a river and lake, for example. It is plausible that anglers may not understand these complex regulations and subsequently may act in non-compliance. The purpose of this study is to explore the relationship between fishing regulations and angler compliance on the New River and Claytor Lake in Virginia. A survey will be used to collect data from a sample of 15,000 registered Virginia freshwater anglers from July 2016-September 2017. Both anglers’ regulatory knowledge and several demographic variables will be used to predict the likelihood of anglers’ compliance using a regression analysis. The potential policy implications of this research may include an increase in attention for angler education programs and discretionary tactics by law enforcement.

Monday April 16, 2018 5:30pm - 7:00pm EDT
Adirondack Ballroom Prefunction

5:30pm EDT

POSTER: Gene Expression Analysis of Cisco (Coregonus artedi) Eggs and Larvae Reared in Varying Light Treatments
AUTHORS: Hannah Lachance, University of Vermont, Rubenstein School, Gund Institute for Environment, Rubenstein Ecosystem Science Laboratory; Taylor Stewart, University of Vermont, Department of Biology, Rubenstein Ecosystem Science Laboratory; Melissa Pespeni, University of Vermont, Department of Biology; Jason Stockwell, University of Vermont, Rubenstein Ecosystem Science Laboratory

ABSTRACT. Climate change is expected to increase winter temperatures and reduce ice and snow cover on lakes. Such changes could impact the development and hatch time for fish species that incubate over winter, such as cisco (Coregonus artedi). Warmer winter temperatures are expected to result in earlier hatch dates, but impacts of an increased light environment through reduced ice/snow cover remain unclear. To test if changes in the light environment could influence cisco egg and larval development, a pilot experiment was conducted during the winter of 2016-2017. Fertilized eggs were exposed to three light treatments: continuous light, regular photoperiod, continuous dark. To understand how these conditions may impact cisco development the transcriptomes of eggs and larvae from each treatment group were sequenced. Various programs will aid in sequence data analysis, including Trinity for de novo transcriptome assembly. Differential gene expression (DE) between the treatments will be estimated using DESeq2 and gene ontology (GO) will help to identify the function of the DE genes to yield insights to the physiological and developmental impacts of changing ice coverage.

Monday April 16, 2018 5:30pm - 7:00pm EDT
Adirondack Ballroom Prefunction

5:30pm EDT

POSTER: Influence of Off-road Vehicle Trails on Small Mammal Community Structure and Bat Activity in Western Maryland
AUTHORS: Erin Thady, Emily Harlan, Sabrina Edwards, Thomas Lambert - Frostburg State University, Department of Biology

ABSTRACT. Anthropogenic habitat disturbance is recognized as a primary contributor to loss of biodiversity and overall degradation of natural landscapes. Roadways that divide forest ecosystems reduce habitat connectivity and disrupt wildlife behavior. Most research to date has focused on major roadways with high traffic volume with less focus on smaller roads and trails. Policy changes regarding off-road vehicle (ORV) use on public lands has concentrated environmental impacts in specific areas. The first objective of this study was to provide the first comprehensive survey of small mammal population distributions and abundances along St. John’s Rock ORV trail in Savage River State Forest. We hypothesized that small mammal abundances would be greater near the trail, whereas species richness and diversity would be greater further from the ORV trail. Transects established along the trail were trapped to quantify small mammal community structure and distribution. The second objective of this study was to further our understanding of the impacts of forest trails on bat activity. We hypothesized that bat activity would be greater along the ORV trail compared to locations further from the trail. Acoustic bat detectors were deployed within 5m and 250m from the trail to quantify bat activity. We observed at least 8 small mammal species across all sampling locations, with Peromyscus spp. being the most abundant. We detected at least 6 bat species across all locations, with Lasiurus borealis and Eptesicus fuscus being the most abundant. Bat activity levels were greater near the ORV trail.

Monday April 16, 2018 5:30pm - 7:00pm EDT
Adirondack Ballroom Prefunction

5:30pm EDT

POSTER: K-1 STEM Education: Strategies Promoting Environmental Literacy
AUTHORS: Justin Compton, Springfield College; Julie Flynn, North Grafton Elementary School

ABSTRACT. Future environmental challenges facing the world will become increasingly complex. Young children need to be equipped for tomorrow's challenges, and we must adequately prepare our children for the environmental future they will inherit. Part of this environmental preparation needs to focus on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) disciplines to create scientific and environmentally literate citizens that helps them become the educated thought leaders of tomorrow. North Grafton Elementary School (NGES) is an evolving and responsive community that provides an interactive learning environment to ensure academic excellence, social responsibility, and fosters personal integrity and the critical thinking necessary for global citizenship. To foster K-1 environmental literacy NGES is implementing a school improvement plan that addresses the need for young children to develop as responsible citizens of our planet. Preliminary results show that K-1 students at NGES engaged in environmental literacy activities are beginning to understand how people and natural systems relate to each other. Focusing on play-based exploration of the natural world with hands-on activities is critical during early childhood scientific literacy development and beyond. Early childhood students benefit from creative play situations and themed learning opportunities to engage in activities that forge connections between people and natural systems. Students at NGES have exhibited increased ecological knowledge through activities that focus on awareness and are designed to develop a basis of understanding for the characteristics of environments and how they function. Preliminary results show increased understanding of habitats, biodiversity, and adaptations, with future curricula aimed at building on awareness and moving the students toward understanding. Future activities will aim to further develop ecological knowledge in areas of populations, ecosystems, and niches. The NGES school improvement plan has provided the framework for increasing environmental literacy through hands-on activities and continued assessment of environmental competencies, knowledge, and student behavior.

Monday April 16, 2018 5:30pm - 7:00pm EDT
Adirondack Ballroom Prefunction

5:30pm EDT

POSTER: Nature's Network: Lands and Waters Sustaining Wildlife and People from Maine to Virginia
AUTHORS: Scott Schwenk, BJ Richardson, Andrew Milliken - U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service; Steven Fuller, Renee Farnsworth, Bridget Macdonald - North Atlantic Landscape Conservation Cooperative; Chris Tracey, Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program; Arlene Olivero Sheldon, Kevin Ruddock - The Nature Conservancy; Kevin McGarigal, Bill DeLuca, Brad Compton, Ethan Plunkett - UMass Amherst; Colin Stief, the Chesapeake Conservancy; Chris Burkett, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, Jonathan Brooks, Massachusetts Division of Fish and Wildlife

ABSTRACT. The North Atlantic Landscape Conservation Cooperative (LCC) and Northeast Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (NEAFWA) organized and facilitated a team of partners from 13 states, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, nongovernmental organizations, and universities that worked together for more than a year to develop Nature’s Network. Launched in 2016, Nature’s Network is a conservation design and suite of datasets and decision support tools to help define the highest conservation priorities in the region to sustain natural resources and benefits for future generations. It is designed to offer voluntary guidance to complement and reinforce local priorities with a regional perspective. Nature’s Network is also a network of scientists, partners and implementers working to achieve the vision of sustaining the region’s fish, wildlife, and other natural resources. Workshop attendees are invited to learn more and join the Network.

Monday April 16, 2018 5:30pm - 7:00pm EDT
Adirondack Ballroom Prefunction

5:30pm EDT

POSTER: Population Structure and Dispersal of Prairie Warblers in Southern Maine and New Hampshire
AUTHORS: Stephanie Copeland; Adrienne I Kovach; Matthew Tarr - University of New Hampshire: Department of Natural Resources and the Environment

ABSTRACT. Shrubland habitats and a suite of songbirds that depend upon them have been in decline throughout the northeastern United States. Ongoing habitat restoration efforts in southern Maine and New Hampshire aim to conserve shrubland habitats, but the effects these efforts have on the birds is unclear. Understanding the connectivity of local shrubland habitats from the standpoint of avian dispersal patterns is needed for informing the relevant geographic scale for management efforts. One shrubland-dependent species of management focus in the Northeast is the prairie warbler (Setophaga discolor). This strict habitat specialist relies on large plots of early successional habitat, which is highly fragmented in today’s landscape in southern Maine and New Hampshire. In this study, we used genetic approaches to characterize population structure and dispersal of prairie warblers. During mistnetting efforts, we sampled 390 prairie warblers from 42 shrubland patches over a 80-km spatial extent from Concord, New Hampshire to Wells, Maine. We genotyped individuals at 14 microsatellite loci and calculated FST to characterize population level gene flow among sites. We used spatial autocorrelation to evaluate fine-scale relatedness and dispersal patterns. By identifying the connectivity of these local shrubland habitats this study provides information on the relevant geographic scale for conservation efforts.

Monday April 16, 2018 5:30pm - 7:00pm EDT
Adirondack Ballroom Prefunction

5:30pm EDT

POSTER: Predicting the Probability of Northern Saw-whet Owls in the Highlands of West Virginia Using GIS, Spatial Data, and Machine Learning
AUTHORS: Hayden Chadwell; Dr. Aaron Maxwell - Alderson Broaddus University

ABSTRACT. Northern Saw-whet Owls (Aegolius acadicus) are a small species that inhabit boreal forests in the northern latitudes and high elevations of North America and migrate into the southern latitudes during the winter months. The West Virginia Wildlife Conservation Action Plan lists the Northern Saw-whet Owl as a Species in Great Need of Conservation (SGNC) for breeding in a variety of habitats including red spruce (Picea rubens) forests, northern hardwood forests, high Alleghany swamps, and high Alleghany bogs and fens. This project used ArcGIS, Maxent and other data analysis software to predict the breeding habitat of Northern Saw-whet Owls in the Appalachian Highlands and eastern Cumberland Plateau ecoregions of West Virginia. Using presence data found in the summers of 2015 and 2016 and environmental variables created from Digital Elevation Models (DEM’s), a 2011 National Land Cover Dataset (NLCD), and climate data retrieved from PRISM online database, Maxent created a map predicting the presence of Northern Saw-whet Owl habitat on a 0-1 scale. Three binary outputs were created predicting probability greater than 50%, 65%, and 90%. The total area of presence was found and divided by 400 m and 800 m. The 50% or greater probability had 35,796 hectares of habitat with 178-712 potential territories. The 65% or greater probability had 35,505 hectares of habitat with 177-706 potential territories. The 90% or greater probability had 605 hectares of habitat with 3-12 territories. Model accuracy was found by Area Under Curve (AUC) value for withheld samples (0.925). Variable importance models showed that the most important environmental variable for predicting Northern Saw-whet Owl habitat was Shannon’s Kernel Density = 500 m.

Monday April 16, 2018 5:30pm - 7:00pm EDT
Adirondack Ballroom Prefunction

5:30pm EDT

POSTER: Quantifying Wild Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) Annual Productivity Utilizing Camera Trap Methodologies in Connecticut, USA
AUTHORS: Michael R. Short; Dr. Megan A. Linske; Dr. Scott C. Williams -The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station; Michael A. Gregonis, Wildlife Division, Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection

ABSTRACT. When managing wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) populations at a statewide level, it is important to gain insight into annual productivity. Tracking annual wild turkey productivity indices assists in understanding population dynamics. Although methodologies to obtain information on annual productivity such as brood surveys exist, they have been shown to have varying success and are occasionally biased. Advances in camera trap methods and data interpretation provide a unique opportunity to explore new ways of collecting and analyzing wild turkey productivity data. Camera trapping can be used in conjunction with statewide climate data to track interactions between abiotic variables and poult survival rates. The introduction of these new methodologies has the potential to enhance our understanding of trends in statewide wild turkey populations.As a preliminary study, camera trap surveys were conducted in North Branford, Connecticut during the late summer of 2017. Wild turkeys were baited into an area monitored by digital, motion-sensor cameras to determine poult/hen ratios. Weather data, such as amount and frequency of rainfall and temperature gradients, during May and June were collected from NOAA weather stations nearest to our study area. The interaction between these variables was analyzed to produce an annual productivity index (total poults/total hens) correlated with spring weather trends.

Monday April 16, 2018 5:30pm - 7:00pm EDT
Adirondack Ballroom Prefunction

5:30pm EDT

POSTER: Recovery Efforts for Spiny Softshell Turtles in Lake Champlain
AUTHORS: Toni Mikula, Steve Parren - Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife

ABSTRACT. The spiny softshell turtle (Apalone spinifera) is a large freshwater turtle native to Lake Champlain, the Great Lakes, and Mississippi drainage. Once believed to have nested at the mouths of the Winooski and Lamoille Rivers and throughout the Mississquoi Bay area of Lake Champlain, most of the nesting is now concentrated in a handful of known nesting beaches. Principle causes of decline are loss of lakeshore nesting habitat and nest predation by human-subsidized predators. Softshell turtles were listed as state threatened in Vermont in 1987. Protection of nesting beaches from predators began in 2002. In 2009 a recovery plan was finalized. Plan implementation focuses on boosting breeding success by protecting nesting beaches from human intrusion, flooding, vegetation encroachment, and predation. Since record keeping began in 2004, the number of live hatchlings and successful nests found each year has, on average, increased so that 2017 figures are three times what they were in 2004. While these numbers are promising, there are continuing challenges to spiny softshell turtle recovery. Nest predators remain a persistent problem, despite efforts such as covering nesting areas with wire mesh, an electric fence, and mammal trapping. Also, there is very little that can be done to protect hatchling turtles once they reach the water. Rates of mortality for hatchling turtles are naturally high. To date, there is no sign that new breeding females are being recruited to the population. However, since breeding age is thought to be 12 years old or older in Vermont, it may be too early to determine if the conservation measures we have implemented will have an impact on recruitment an increase population size.

Monday April 16, 2018 5:30pm - 7:00pm EDT
Adirondack Ballroom Prefunction

5:30pm EDT

POSTER: Scott Pond Dam Salmon Jump Pool Improvement: Improving Passage for Lake Champlain Steelhead and Atlantic Salmon, While Excluding Sea Lamprey
AUTHORS: Jessica Louisos, Roy Schiff - Milone & MacBroom; Madeleine Lyttle, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

ABSTRACT. Construction was completed for improvements to an existing jump pool to allow Lake Champlain Steelhead and Atlantic salmon to jump over the Scott Pond Dam, while maintaining the barrier to the Sea Lamprey on Lewis Creek. This poster will highlight the innovative approach followed to improve fish passage, minimize cost, improve safety, and meet landowner goals to maintain the natural aesthetic. The project was funded by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and included project partners of the Winooski Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Lewis Creek Association. Design criteria were set to establish pool hydraulics conducive to fish jumping and hydraulic modeling was use to confirm that design parameters were met. Careful specification of the construction methods was required to minimize the potential for damage to the dam during construction. Construction of the project was completed in September 2014. Landowners and local anglers are extremely pleased in the natural aesthetics of the project. The enhancement of this important Lake Champlain fishery provides social and economic benefits, specifically to recreation fishing and the inherent environmental benefits of connecting fish to their native spawning grounds. The jump pool is a first of its kind project in the region that will likely serve as a model for other fish passage projects.

Monday April 16, 2018 5:30pm - 7:00pm EDT
Adirondack Ballroom Prefunction

5:30pm EDT

POSTER: Shrubland Bird Occupancy on New England Cottontail Managed Sites: Exploring the Representative Species Concept
AUTHORS: Melissa Bauer, Adrienne Kovach - University of New Hampshire; Kate O'Brien, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

ABSTRACT. Species that rely on shrubland habitat are declining throughout the Northeast due to habitat loss from development, succession, and restriction of natural disturbances. Species of particular conservation concern include shrubland birds, with declining species outnumbering increasing species 3 to 1, and the New England cottontail, which occupies only 14 percent of its historical range. Though these species all require shrubland habitat types, each species’ particular habitat associations influence how they will fit into landscape-level management in the Northeast. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service facilitates efficient conservation design for multiple species through representative species designations. The goal of this study was to assess the value of habitat management for the New England cottontail as representative of conservation design for shrubland bird specialists. The specific objectives were to 1) determine habitat and patch-level influences on shrubland bird occupancy at sites occupied by or managed for New England cottontails; and 2) identify shrubland bird specialists that are indicative of the specific habitats required by New England cottontails. Point counts were conducted 3 times during the breeding season in 2015 and 2016 at 66 survey points on 29 sites in thicket, young forest, and pitch pine-scrub oak habitat in southern Maine, coastal New Hampshire, and on Cape Cod in eastern Massachusetts. Occupancy models were developed in PRESENCE to identify habitat covariates influencing occupancy of Chestnut-sided Warblers, Yellow Warblers, Black-and-white Warblers, Prairie Warblers, and Eastern Towhees. Species richness was compared across sites, and indicator species analyses identified 10 bird species detected with high frequency and exclusivity in habitat suitable for New England cottontails. This research provides managers with information on shrubland bird species that will benefit from restoration aimed at improving and increasing habitat for New England cottontails.

Monday April 16, 2018 5:30pm - 7:00pm EDT
Adirondack Ballroom Prefunction

5:30pm EDT

POSTER: Space Use and Microhabitat Associations of the Southern Red-Backed Vole (Myodes gapperi) at the Bartlett Experimental Forest, New Hampshire
AUTHORS: Honora Tisell, Allyson Degrassi, Rebecca J. Rowe - Natural Resources and the Environment, University of New Hampshire

ABSTRACT. Resources are unevenly distributed across the landscape which may affect space use by animals. Home range is a measure of space use that may be affected by density, competition, and microhabitat. Southern red-backed voles (Myodes gapperi) are specialists inhabiting boreal forests with an affinity for eastern hemlock. From 2014-2017, southern red-backed voles were censused across 12 (~1 ha) grids using mark-recapture methods and for a subset of individuals radio telemetry. Individual home range, core area, and overlap were calculated for adults using kernel density estimators from both live trapping and radiotelemetry data. At each capture point, forest structure, ground cover, and geographic features were measured to assess influence of microhabitat on home range and core area. Size of home range and core area were compared in and between sexes, grids, and years. Home range size was not density, grid, or year dependent. Adult male home range, core area, and overlap were significantly greater than adult female. Male overlap on female home range was significantly greater than both male and female overlap. Microhabitat analysis will also be contrasted among sexes. As resources vary among landscapes and time, understanding factors that influence space use can inform on the resilience of species.

Monday April 16, 2018 5:30pm - 7:00pm EDT
Adirondack Ballroom Prefunction

5:30pm EDT

POSTER: The Schoolyard Habitat Program: An Opportunity to Connect Students with Nature and Restore Habitat
AUTHORS: Chris Smith, Katie Kain, Andrew Milliken - U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Lake Champlain Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office

ABSTRACT. Concerns over our younger generation's lack of connection to the natural world have grown in recent years, as noted by researchers and the media. In addition, loss of wildlife species and their associated habitats is also a concern to the public. In response, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has initiated the Schoolyard Habitat Program to address these concerns while fulfilling the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s mission to work with others to conserve, protect and enhance wildlife habitat for the benefit of the American people. The goals of the Schoolyard Habitat Program are to engage students with the natural world, provide opportunities for outdoor learning and exploration on school grounds, and restore native wildlife habitat. A Schoolyard Habitat Project may focus on restoring forests, wetlands, or other natural habitats and may include planting of native trees and shrubs, removing exotic species, and creating outdoor classrooms. These projects are ecologically sound, integrated into a school’s curriculum, and designed to encourage long-term stewardship and learning. Schoolyard Habitat Projects are driven by the goals of the school community with technical and/or financial support from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.Over the last decade, staff from the USFWS Lake Champlain office have worked with local schools across the state of Vermont to implement Schoolyard Habitat Projects. Projects have included riparian restoration, wetland restoration and enhancement, pollinator gardens, invasive plant removal, and installation of wood duck nesting boxes. The utilization and stewardship of these projects give students powerful and meaningful opportunities for scientific inquiry, hands-on learning, community involvement, and exploring their ecological place in their surroundings. This poster shares some success stories from the program and uses case studies to examine the process of identifying, designing, and implementing schoolyard habitat projects.

Monday April 16, 2018 5:30pm - 7:00pm EDT
Adirondack Ballroom Prefunction

5:30pm EDT

POSTER: Use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) for Waterfowl Surveys
AUTHORS: Gary Macy, John O'Connor, Joshua Stiller - NYSDEC, Division of Fish & Wildlife

ABSTRACT. As part of ongoing waterfowl breeding and productivity surveys in remote wetlands of the Adirondack Mountains, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) staff have adapted the protocol suggested by McEvoy et al (2016) for surveying waterfowl with an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). We evaluated two aspects of this protocol, including the ability of UAVs to minimize disturbance to waterfowl during surveys and identify and count species. We placed observers in key positions to record waterfowl behavior during survey flights in an effort to detect disturbance caused by the UAV, as well as account for birds entering and exiting the survey area. We collected still images using a grid flight pattern that covered each survey location with approximately 60% overlap between images. Following each UAV survey we completed a flush count to determine the number of waterfowl present at each survey location. We reviewed all still images collected from the UAV and counted the number of waterfowl present at each site. We confirmed that the protocol was efficient for capturing images of waterfowl without disturbing them. Unfortunately, available sensors for our UAV were not of sufficient resolution for determining waterfowl species or gender. Poor resolution also hindered species detection in imagery; only 25% of waterfowl counted in flush counts were detected in reviewed images. Despite the shortcomings of the imagery we collected, this study demonstrated the utility and efficiency of using UAVs for conducting waterfowl surveys in remote wetland habitats. McEvoy, J. F., Hall, G. P., & McDonald, P. G. (2016). Evaluation of unmanned aerial vehicle shape, flight path and camera type for waterfowl surveys: disturbance effects and species recognition. PeerJ, 4, e1831. https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.1831

Monday April 16, 2018 5:30pm - 7:00pm EDT
Adirondack Ballroom Prefunction

5:30pm EDT

POSTER: USFWS Fish Passage Engineering Design Criteria
AUTHORS: Jessica Pica, Brett Towler, Bryan Sojkowski, Jesus Morales - U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

ABSTRACT. In 2016, the Northeast Region of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released it's very first fish passage criteria manual. In February of 2017, a new edition was released. This 224-page manual provides technical guidance in the form of accepted criteria, recommendations, and best practices for the design of technical fishways, nature-like fishways, dam removals, culvert replacements, and other fish protection technologies. The manual reflects the baseline recommendations being made by the Northeast Region's Fish Passage Engineering team based on current scientific literature and engineering practices. The manual will serve to enhance consistency within the Service and other federal agencies, promote transparency in a complex regulatory arena, and document current scientific and engineering methodologies used in the interdisciplinary field of fish passage and protection.

Monday April 16, 2018 5:30pm - 7:00pm EDT
Adirondack Ballroom Prefunction

5:30pm EDT

POSTER: Vehicle Mounting the Coda Netlauncher® to Capture Gulls at a Landfill
AUTHORS: Kyle Van Why, Adam Jacobs,: Jason Wood - United States Department of Agriculture - Wildlife Services

ABSTRACT. Using net launchers such as rocket or cannon nets are a common tool used to capture avian species. These tools often require environments where equipment can be staged and birds acclimated to the site to increase capture efficiency. We conducted gull capture at a landfill in Berks County, Pennsylvania where birds were overly abundant, but the terrain and environment made the use of traditional cannon net designs impractical. To accomplish this task a Coda Netlauncher® (.308 blank cartridge powered launcher deploying a 7.6 x 9.1 m net) was mounted to a full sized pick-up truck to create a mobile capture system. Because this device was mobile it could be moved and launched where birds congregated while a vehicle acted as camouflage, mimicking daily operations at the facility increasing capture success. This also allowed deployment in areas where risk of damage by traffic and landfill operational activities was minimal. In six capture days between July and August 2011, 289 gulls representing four species were captured in 11 attempts. In February and March 2017 the system was redeployed, in 3 days a total of 137 gulls representing two species were captured in 12 attempts. Capture rates ranged from 7-42 birds per attempt and were variable by season and target species. This adaptation of a commercially available capture tool significantly increased the ability to capture this abundant species in this complicated work environment where traditional methods could not have been used.

Monday April 16, 2018 5:30pm - 7:00pm EDT
Adirondack Ballroom Prefunction

5:30pm EDT

POSTER: Working Together for Healthy Streams: The US FWS National Fish Passage Program
AUTHORS: Cathy Bozek, Madeleine Lyttle - U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

ABSTRACT. Would you like assistance in restoring river habitat? Through the National Fish Passage Program (NFPP), the US Fish and Wildlife Service (US FWS) works with partners to remove fish passage barriers to promote healthy streams and river systems. We collaborate with federal, state, and local agencies, non-profit organizations, local communities, and landowners, and we support projects with funding and technical assistance. Our projects improve habitat and build sustainable populations of target fish and mussel species, while also providing benefits to the community such as improved public safety and recreational opportunities. Come talk with a local US FWS Fish Biologist and the NFPP Coordinator for the Northeast, and learn how to get involved. We will discuss the types of projects supported through NFPP, who you should contact if you have a project idea, and how to partner with the US FWS to improve river habitat and fish passage throughout the Northeast.

Monday April 16, 2018 5:30pm - 7:00pm EDT
Adirondack Ballroom Prefunction

6:30pm EDT

Dinner at ECHO, Leahy Center for Lake Champlain - Sponsored by Johnson Mirmiran Thompson Inc.
Join us for dinner and edutainment at ECHO, Leahy Center for Lake Champlain, a two block walk from the hotel. ECHO is a dynamic, nationally acclaimed, lake aquarium and science center committed to engaging diverse public audiences and providing experiential, relevant and lifelong educational experiences for all our guests. Founded in 2003, ECHO houses more than 70 species of live animal ambassadors in Vermont's first LEED certified building. This innovative science center and aquarium displays life in the Champlain Basin and inspires visitors to positively impact the world around them. ECHO is the public face of the Patrick and Marcelle Leahy Center for Lake Champlain, a 2.7 acre environmental campus on the Burlington Waterfront. This event includes dinner and a cash bar. 

Monday April 16, 2018 6:30pm - 9:00pm EDT
Offsite - ECHO, Leahy Center for Lake Champlain 1 College Street, Burlington, VT 05401

8:45pm EDT

Burlington Beer Crawl
Join Vermont Department of Fish & Wildlife's Tom Rogers for a local's tour of the best beer Burlington has to offer. Bring along your cash and walking shoes and gain insight into why Burlington's beer scene is one of the best in the country! This event will depart from ECHO at 8:45pm.

Monday April 16, 2018 8:45pm - 10:45pm EDT
Offsite - Depart from ECHO
 
Tuesday, April 17
 

7:00am EDT

7:00am EDT

7:00am EDT

7:00am EDT

7:00am EDT

8:00am EDT

OUTREACH & EDUCATION 2: Recovering America’s Wildlife Act Update
AUTHORS: Patricia Allen, Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies

ABSTRACT. Get an update on the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act. See how it affects your agency and what you can do to help!

Tuesday April 17, 2018 8:00am - 8:20am EDT
Lake Champlain A

8:00am EDT

SYMPOSIA-07: The Road to AOP in Vermont
AUTHORS: Rich Kirn, Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department

ABSTRACT. Vermont, like many states and provinces, is home to thousands of culverts which fragment and degrade aquatic habitat, alter ecological and geomorphic processes, and increase risks to private and public infrastructure during large flood events. Decades of trial and error using intuitive fish passage treatments were largely unsuccessful, while the political will to require passable open-bottomed structures was lacking due to the substantial cost differential. Despite applicable state and federal regulations, aquatic organism passage (AOP) through culverts remained a rare exception in Vermont. Over the past 14 years, through a multifaceted approach which included culvert assessments, technical design guidelines, trainings, interagency coordination, partnerships, policy and procedural improvements and the adoption of regulatory design standards, AOP is now an expectation for all new and replacement culverts on perennial streams. Effective AOP culvert design and construction practices have been further revised and standardized for new construction and retrofit projects. This presentation describes the technical, political and practical aspects of implementing AOP on a statewide scale.

Tuesday April 17, 2018 8:00am - 8:20am EDT
Adirondack D

8:00am EDT

SYMPOSIA-08: Winter Tick Epizootics in Northern New England: Influences of Climate Change, Habitat, and Moose Density
AUTHORS: Kyle Ball, Peter J. Pekins - Department of Natural Resources and the Environment, University of New Hampshire

ABSTRACT. The New Hampshire moose (Alces alces) population has been in slow decline due to winter tick (Dermacentor albipictus) epizootics causing high calf mortality in 5 of the past 8 years. High winter tick abundance is principally a function of moose density and favorable environmental factors for ticks. We examined relationships among moose density, winter tick abundance on moose, optimal moose habitat, and weather and ground conditions to construct a regional model in northern New England, and used 20+ years of observational and anecdotal data to provide descriptive supporting evidence. Moose density, onset date of snow cover, and drought conditions in the late quiescent/early questing seasons principally influenced tick loads on moose. A threshold load of 37 ticks on harvested moose (October) was predicted relative to the occurrence of an epizootic. Snow cover into late April did not reduce tick abundance the following autumn presumably because extreme cold (-17 °C) that induces adult female tick mortality is rare in April. Optimal moose habitat (regenerating forest) was produced at an annual rate of 1.3% in the past 15 years and was not considered limiting in New Hampshire or Maine. Because optimal habitat concentrates moose in both the drop (spring) and questing (fall) seasons, high “local” moose densities that increase epizootic frequency and intensity may occur. Weather patterns associated with climate change create advantages for abundance and survival of winter ticks, and importantly, also reduce the relative moose density required to trigger an epizootic event.

Tuesday April 17, 2018 8:00am - 8:20am EDT
Vermont B

8:00am EDT

SYMPOSIA-09: Not just influenza virus: The emergence of novel orthomyxoviruses in the USA associated with morbidity and mortality in wildlife and humans
AUTHORS: Andrew B. Allison, Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology, Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine; Julie C. Ellis, Department of Infectious Disease and Global Health, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, Tufts University; Chris Dwyer, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Northeast Region

ABSTRACT: The emergence of novel viral pathogens resulting in large-scale outbreaks of disease in animals and humans is one of the most important challenges facing veterinary, natural resource, and public health officials today. For example, understanding how orthomyxoviruses such as influenza A virus emerge from their normal wildlife reservoir (ducks, shorebirds) to cause epidemic or pandemic disease is at the forefront of current global health concerns. Beginning in 1998, cyclic mortality events occurring on a near annual basis have been documented in common eiders (Somateria mollissima) along the coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts. During field investigations of these outbreaks, most affected eiders were found dead, although sick birds exhibiting a variety of clinical signs including incoordination, respiratory distress, diarrhea, and convulsions have been observed. In 2010, we isolated a novel orthomyxovirus named Wellfleet Bay virus (WFBV) that, based on its repeated isolation during subsequent and retrospective outbreaks and the detection of viral antigen in pathological lesions, is the primary etiological agent of these die-offs.  

WFBV is a new member of the genus Quaranjavirus, which was first recognized as a genus within the family Orthomyxoviridae in 2011 and is comprised of bird-associated viruses from Africa and Oceania that are tick-transmitted. However, WFBV represents the first detection of a quaranjavirus in the continental USA. Although the identification of WFBV in part may resolve the enigma of these mass mortality events, many questions still remain including (i) how the virus is transmitted in nature, (ii) the normal host range of the virus (what species it can infect), and (iii) the factors influencing the apparent temporal (cyclic) and spatial (Cape Cod) occurrence of the outbreaks. In addition to WFBV, another novel orthomyxovirus (called Bourbon virus [BRBV]) was recently identified in the Midwestern USA, which has been associated with human deaths. Like WFBV, this virus is also suspected to be transmitted in a tick-wildlife cycle and is the first member of its genus (Thogotovirus) known to cause disease in North America. Currently, the epidemiological or ecological factors driving the apparent recent emergence of tentative tick-borne orthomyxoviruses as wildlife and public health threats in the USA are unknown and require further study.

Tuesday April 17, 2018 8:00am - 8:20am EDT
Vermont A

8:00am EDT

SYMPOSIA-10: Sustaining and Restoring a Connected Forested Landscape for Nature and People: Overview of the Staying Connected Initiative
AUTHORS: Jessie Levine, TNC Canada

ABSTRACT: The Staying Connected Initiative (SCI) is a bi-national collaboration of over 65 partners – including natural resource and transportation agencies, conservation groups, and universities – working since 2009 to ensure landscape connections across the globally significant, 80 million-acre Northern Appalachian-Acadian region. To sustain a connected forested landscape at this scale, SCI partners use an innovative, multi-pronged approach including conservation science, land protection, land use planning, engagement with private landowners, transportation mitigation, and policy advocacy. This presentation will provide an overview of the importance of landscape connectivity, the activities of the SCI partnership, and key achievements to date.

Tuesday April 17, 2018 8:00am - 8:20am EDT
Montpelier A&B

8:00am EDT

CONSERVATION TOOLS & APPLICATIONS: The Scat of the Matter: Use of Non-invasive Sampling to Determine Genetic Diversity and Road Selection as Travel Corridors of Gray Wolves in the Great Lakes Region
AUTHORS: Lucas Price, John Edwards - West Virginia University; Bradley Swanson, Central Michigan University; Nathan Roberts, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources; Thomas Gehring, Central Michigan University

ABSTRACT. Fecal sampling is a non-invasive sampling method that can inform management of elusive species and those of conservation concern, such as the gray wolf (Canis lupus). Wolf scat samples were collected in Wisconsin and Michigan using road surveys. DNA was extracted from scat samples, and 12 microsatellite markers were amplified to examine population genetics. Program Structure identified two unique populations: One population was isolated to the Central Forest of Wisconsin, while the other population was throughout the region. Low levels of genetic differentiation (Fst=0.03; p

Tuesday April 17, 2018 8:00am - 8:20am EDT
Adirondack A

8:00am EDT

MANAGING PUBLIC & STAKEHOLDERS: Examining Local Stakeholders’ Role in Collaborative Landscape Conservation
AUTHORS: Catherine Doyle-Capitman; Daniel J. Decker - Cornell University

ABSTRACT. Natural resource practitioners are increasingly taking a collaborative, landscape-level approach to wildlife and habitat conservation. Despite its potential advantages, this approach faces challenges. Primary among these is ensuring ecosystem-wide goals for conservation, such as those articulated in the Connecticut River Watershed Landscape Conservation Design, can effectively inform local management plans and actions. This necessitates working with local stakeholders. Opportunities for local stakeholders to participate in wildlife-focused landscape conservation planning are usually limited, in part because conservation leaders are uncertain about whether, when, and how these stakeholders might most effectively participate in decision processes. We conducted a multiple-case-study investigation to understand how social data and local stakeholder engagement are currently being used in three collaborative landscape conservation (CLC) initiatives in the U.S., and how participation opportunities impacted the CLC planning process and the utility of associated planning products. Results indicate local stakeholder participation and human dimensions considerations during planning are essential to enhancing the local relevance and utility of CLC planning products and promoting local stakeholders’ support of CLC efforts. Local stakeholders should be engaged at the start of decision-making processes, receive communications throughout these processes, and have the option to participate directly or through a representative. Findings also indicate all potentially impacted stakeholders—not only those focused on conservation—should be involved during CLC planning. Results and recommendations from the study are intended to benefit CLC development teams in their efforts to plan and implement socio-politically feasible, broad-scale conservation efforts.

Tuesday April 17, 2018 8:00am - 8:20am EDT
Adirondack B/C

8:00am EDT

8:00am EDT

8:00am EDT

Directors' Meeting
Tuesday April 17, 2018 8:00am - 3:00pm EDT
Seasons

8:20am EDT

OUTREACH & EDUCATION 2: The Economic Significance of Fish and Wildlife Recreation in the Northeast
AUTHORS: Rob Southwick, Southwick Associates

ABSTRACT. From generating dollars for conservation to maintaining public support for fisheries and wildlife, economic information is an important tool for management agencies and natural resource advocates. The recent release of the 2016 USFWS National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated recreation provide a broad picture of how these activities benefit state, regional and national economies. This paper will present the economic significance of fish and wildlife-related recreation in the Northeastern U.S. and trends. Examples from specific states highlighting how resource agencies can apply economic information to increase public, legislative and media support will be included throughout the presentation. Economic figures will be compared to popular and well-known activities to help the listener comprehend the magnitude and importance of fish and wildlife recreation to state and national economies. Discussion will be provided regarding changes in the survey methodology and how to properly draw long term trends. Information to be presented have been compiled from recent research conducted for the American Sportfishing Association and the National Shooting Sports Foundation with funding from the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies’ Multi-State Conservation Grant program.

Tuesday April 17, 2018 8:20am - 8:40am EDT
Lake Champlain A

8:20am EDT

SYMPOSIA-07: Prioritizing Aquatic Connectivity Restoration Projects: Case Studies from Northeast National Wildlife Refuges
AUTHORS: Rebecca Longenecker, Rachel Katz - Division of Natural Resources and Conservation Planning, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

ABSTRACT. Restoring aquatic connectivity is a high priority in the northeastern U.S. where numerous types of connectivity barriers, including dams, dikes, and culverts, potentially contribute to fish and mussel declines. Additionally, aging or undersized infrastructure places public safety at risk. It is necessary to prioritize connectivity improvement projects due to the large number of barriers present in the landscape and the limited funds available to address them. However, the decision of which barriers to address is difficult because it has multiple objectives (public safety and aquatic benefit), uncertainty (environmental variability and species responses), and implementation constraints (funding and accessibility) that vary among sites. Several tools for prioritizing barriers within the entire northeast region were created to aid in this prioritization process. However, these models predict similar outcomes at fine-scales or lack the appropriate information required for managers to choose between individual barriers on their land. We used a structured decision making (SDM) framework to select a set of aquatic connectivity restoration projects at two National Wildlife Refuges (NWR): Erie NWR selected impoundments for removal in Pennsylvania and Patuxent Research Refuge selected culverts for replacement or restoration in Maryland. Both NWRs developed aquatic, wildlife, and operational fundamental objectives and considered sets of projects as distinct alternatives. In both decisions, objectives were constrained to those in which we could obtain reasonable predictions and a trade-offs analysis provided insights to staff. These NWR case studies are illustrative for other land managers who wish to prioritize connectivity projects because they identify common issues that arise during the process and address common types of barriers in the northeast. Using a rapid-prototyping SDM approach allows managers to add additional information to the decision framework as it becomes available, update the prioritization assessment in subsequent years, and provide transparency in the decision-making process to the public and staff.

Tuesday April 17, 2018 8:20am - 8:40am EDT
Adirondack D

8:20am EDT

SYMPOSIA-08: Mortality Assessment of Calf Moose During Successive Years of Winter Tick Epizootics in New Hampshire and Maine
AUTHORS: Henry F. Jones, University of New Hampshire; Peter Perkins, University of New Hampshire; Lee Kantar, Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife; Inga Sidor, New Hampshire Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory; Daniel Ellingwood, University of New Hampshire; Anne Lichtenwalner, University of Maine Animal Health Laboratory; Matt O’Neal, Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife

ABSTRACT. Moose (Alces alces) populations in northern New Hampshire and western Maine are suspected to be declining due to increasing frequency of winter tick (Dermacentor albipictus) epizootics that cause late winter calf mortality.  To assess the cause and rate of mortality in 9-12 month-old calves, we collected general health measurements of captured calves at 2 study sites in January 2014-2016. At capture, calves (n = 179) were in normal (66%) and thin (32%) physical condition, with high infestations of winter ticks.  We subsequently performed field necropsies and histologic examination of tissues of those radio-marked calves that died during winter/early spring (March-May).  Most (88%) mortalities (n = 125) were associated with moderate to severe infestations of winter ticks.  Gross necropsies and histologic examination found high tick infestations, emaciation (femur marrow fat <20%), anemia (mean liver iron 83 ppm), and endoparasitism; lungworm (Dictyocaulus spp.) was found in most (87%) calves.  High mortality rates (>66% annually, 70% average) in 2014-2016 reflect 3 consecutive years of winter tick epizootics.  This successive frequency is unprecedented in the region, and presumably reflects sustained, high tick abundance and resultant infestations due to favorable environmental conditions associated with climate change at the southern fringe of moose habitat.

Tuesday April 17, 2018 8:20am - 8:40am EDT
Vermont B

8:20am EDT

SYMPOSIA-09: Perkinsus-like infection in amphibians - an emerging disease?
AUTHOR: María J. Forzán, Cornell Wildlife Health Lab, Animal Health Diagnostic Center

ABSTRACT: Mortalities in wild amphibian tadpoles due to infection with Perkinsus-like organisms have been known to occur for a couple of decades.  A recent publication summarizing outbreaks investigated by the National Wildlife Health Center, Wisconsin, proposed the disease as the next emerging amphibian disease, at par with ranavirosis and chytridiomycosis.  Perkinsus spp, alveolate parasites more frequently thought of as pathogens of oysters, can result in severe systemic infections in amphibians, and pose a potential threat to wild and captive reared populations.  A summary of the disease, including diagnostic techniques, and an overview of its true significance to amphibian populations will be presented.

Tuesday April 17, 2018 8:20am - 8:40am EDT
Vermont A

8:20am EDT

SYMPOSIA-10: Partnering on Connectivity: How State Agencies benefit by working in collaboration
AUTHORS: Jens Hilke, Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department

ABSTRACT: Connectivity is a multi-faceted challenge requiring inputs from a diverse array of citizens and professionals. For many of us in a state fish & wildlife agency, this work can seem overwhelming. But the Staying Connected Initiative in Vermont maintains a collaborative partnership of state agencies, academic institutions and NGOs to address the issue with a multi-pronged approach.  The benefits of working in partnership have become abundantly clear. In this presentation we’ll look closely at how partnership has allowed each organization involved to address connectivity, concentrate on its core mission and realize incredible success through leveraging this coordination.

Tuesday April 17, 2018 8:20am - 8:40am EDT
Montpelier A&B

8:20am EDT

CONSERVATION TOOLS & APPLICATIONS: Mobile Field Data Collection for Fish and Wildlife Agencies Using ArcGIS Applications
AUTHORS: Mike Bialousz, Matt Taraldsen - Esri

ABSTRACT. The widespread use and availability of smart mobile devices continues to drive the enhancement and expansion of mobile workflows in organizations of all sizes. In this session, you will learn about ESRI configurable solutions for a complete mobile workflow. You will also learn best practices for solution implementation through a range of fish and wildlife oriented use cases. Covered will be best use applications with Survey123, Collector, Explorer, Geoforms, Workforce, Navigator, and Drone2Map. In addition you will learn how this ties back to in-the-office tools for monitoring and analysis.

Tuesday April 17, 2018 8:20am - 8:40am EDT
Adirondack A

8:20am EDT

MANAGING PUBLIC & STAKEHOLDERS: Wildlife Watching and State Wildlife Reinvestment
AUTHORS: Chris Spatz, President Cougar Rewilding Foundation; John Laundré, Western Oregon University

ABSTRACT. An emerging problem regarding wildlife funding is dwindling financial resources to support the state agencies designated to manage wildlife. Having traditionally tied the support of these agencies mainly to hunting related revenues, decreasing numbers of hunters has led to concurrent decreases in funding bases. Most recent data indicate the number of hunters continues to decrease (down to 5% of U.S. population over 16 years old) with even further declines in revenues for state agencies. Non-hunting citizens who watch wildlife (wildlife watchers, 35% of the population) greatly exceed numbers of hunters and spend billions of dollars more on pursuing their activities. However, the revenues generated related to these activities (equipment, trip- related expenses, jobs and wages, federal and state taxes) do not directly fund state wildlife agencies. Thus, many discount and marginalize the immense economic potential wildlife watching revenues represent. Because hunting can no longer provide the primary source for funding state wildlife agencies, and a significant percentage of the wildlife watching public are demanding that these agencies support their use of wildlife, states need to develop ways for wildlife watchers to contribute directly to state wildlife agencies. We propose that state wildlife funding can best be supplemented by what we term wildlife reinvestment: dedicating a small percentage of existing state taxes on wildlife watching revenues back into state wildlife agencies. Wildlife reinvestment does not require new or tax increases. We use New York State as an example of how the reinvestment of a small percentage (15 cents per $100) of the total state spending, providing over $190 million dollars to New York State’s wildlife agency, the Department of Environmental Conservation. Because research has demonstrated that every $1 spent on wildlife generates from $7-$21 in return revenue, wildlife reinvestment will increase state tax revenues.

Tuesday April 17, 2018 8:20am - 8:40am EDT
Adirondack B/C

8:40am EDT

SYMPOSIA-07: Prioritizing Fish Passage and Stream Health for Virginia’s Piedmont
AUTHORS: Claire Catlett, Celia Vuocolo - Piedmont Environmental Council

ABSTRACT. The Piedmont Environmental Council (PEC) is restoring trout streams in Virginia’s Piedmont to connect fish passage and restore water quality. As a land trust and non-profit, PEC uniquely works on collaborative initiatives with public and private landowners as conservation partners. PEC has built on past watershed-based projects’ successes to develop the Piedmont Stream Restoration Prioritization (PSRP) model in partnership with regional and state non-profits and agencies. This innovative project management tool communicates priorities for regional projects that restore stream health by removing obstructions to aquatic organism passage and improving water quality.In 2013, PEC received funding to survey coldwater trout streams for barriers to fish passage in three counties bordering Shenandoah National Park. This survey allowed PEC to develop a comprehensive picture of the impact of stream crossings on brook trout habitat and movement. By Summer 2017, PEC completed two fish passage and habitat improvement pilot projects on two local waterways that reconnected 7 miles of brook trout habitat total.The PRSP model synthesizes data and values to rank potential stream restoration project sites including those sites identified as priorities for fish passage and water quality improvement projects. The tool will be built from existing data sources, including PEC’s 2013 stream crossing survey and other pertinent data provided by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, VA Department of Environmental Quality and Shenandoah National Park. This model serves as a regional database that provides online and interactive GIS mapping for local watershed restoration planning.The PRSP model is a decision-making tool that expands the capacity of PEC and its partners to work effectively and efficiently for broader-scale restoration initiatives in the Upper Rappahannock and Chesapeake Bay watersheds. It is hoped that the success of this model can be transferable to other project managers for the Chesapeake Bay and beyond.

Tuesday April 17, 2018 8:40am - 9:00am EDT
Adirondack D

8:40am EDT

SYMPOSIA-08: Overview of Moose Mortality and Productivity Research in Northern Vermont
AUTHORS: Jacob DeBow, Vermont Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources, University of Vermont; James D. Murdoch, Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources, University of Vermont; Therese Donovan, U. S. Geological Survey Vermont Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit; Cedric Alexander, Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department

ABSTRACT. Moose (Alces alces) research in Maine and New Hampshire identified three consecutive years (2014-2016) of winter tick (Dermacentor albipictus) epizootics causing >70% annual calf mortality. Epizootics have not occurred recently in Vermont, but ticks are most likely causing reductions in the moose population as evidenced by decreasing carcass weights and ovulation rates of cows in recent years. In response, the State of Vermont initiated a 3-year study similar to those in New Hampshire and Maine to investigate the population characteristics of Vermont’s northeastern population. Since January 2017, 60 moose (30 calves, 30 adult cows) have been fitted with GPS radio-collars to monitor winter calf mortality and adult productivity in northeastern Vermont. Calf mortality from March to April was 40% (95% CI = 0.25 - 0.59). Dead calves displayed overt signs of severe winter tick infestation, substantial weight loss (22.3 - 48.8kg) and musculature atrophy. Histological studies of tissue samples show serous atrophy of fat consistent with emaciation as leading cause of death. Winter mortality of adult cows was 10% (95% CI = 0.03 - 0.26) and considered normal. Productivity of yearling and adult cows was measured by direct observation from May to August with efforts focused on pregnant cows (n = 19). The calving rate was 50% (95% CI = 0.34 - 0.68) of all collared adults (15 of 30). Calf survival was 62% (95% CI = 0.41 - 0.84) (10 of 16 including one set of twins) through mid-November. Of the 30 collared cows, only 10 gave birth to calves that survived their first year. Comparison of preliminary mortality and productivity data shows similar trends throughout Maine and New Hampshire. Additional capture of 70 moose are planned for January 2018 and January 2019. Vermont plans to continue monitoring cows and calves for the 2018-2019 field seasons.

Tuesday April 17, 2018 8:40am - 9:00am EDT
Vermont B

8:40am EDT

SYMPOSIA-09: Infection with a Divergent Clade of Canine Distemper Virus in Ten Mesocarnivores in New Hampshire and Vermont from 2016-2017
AUTHORS: David B. Needle, Brian A. Stevens, Vivienne C. Burnell, Marίa J. Forzán, Edward J. Dubovi, Krysten L. Schuler, Chris Bernier, Julie C. Ellis, Patrick Tate, Eman Anis, Rebecca P. Wilkes

ABSTRACT: Four fishers (Martes pennanti), one mink (Neovison vison), and one grey fox (Urocyon cinereoargen) from Southern NH, and two grey foxes, one skunk (Mephitis mephitis), and one raccoon (Procyon lotor) from Southeastern VT were submitted to the New Hampshire Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory in a 15-month period from September 2016 to January 2017. All animals had lesions identified at necropsy consistent with canine distemper virus (CDV) infection. Lesions of CDV infection were most commonly noted in the lungs (10/10 animals), urothelium (7/10), biliary tract (7/10), gastrointestinal tract (5/9), and brain (5/8). Splenic lesions were seen in four (of eight) animals. The diagnosis was confirmed via immunohistochemistry in two initially diagnosed animals. Virus isolation, and viral genotyping performed in 9 of 10 animals revealed that the animals were infected with a divergent clade of canine distemper virus that is thus far unique to wildlife in New England. During the time when these cases were documented, no other CDV clade was identified in any wildlife submitted from these two states, or other state served by the lab. Coinfections included agents of importance to domesticated animals, wildlife and public health. These cases highlight CDV as a significant and evolving pathogen of mesocarnivores in New England.

Tuesday April 17, 2018 8:40am - 9:00am EDT
Vermont A

8:40am EDT

SYMPOSIA-10: Going with the flow: Conserving resilient and connected landscapes
AUTHORS: Dave Patrick, The Nature Conservancy New Hampshire

ABSTRACT: To track a rapidly changing climate, plants and animals must relocate to survive. In 2016, The Nature Conservancy completed an analysis of “Resilient and Connected Landscapes for Terrestrial Conservation”. This first-of-its-kind study maps climate-resilient sites, confirmed biodiversity locations, and species movement areas (zones and corridors) across Eastern North America. The study uses the information to prioritize a conservation portfolio that naturally aligns these features into a network of resilient sites integrated with the species movement zones, and thus a blueprint for conservation that represents all habitats while allowing nature to adapt and change. Dr. Patrick will provide an overview of the approaches used in developing this conservation portfolio and discuss how the data layers can be used to identify locations where roads may pose a risk to regional connectivity. The presentation will also evaluate how patterns of predicted regional movement can be used to inform the efficacy of different approaches for mitigating road barriers.

Tuesday April 17, 2018 8:40am - 9:00am EDT
Montpelier A&B

8:40am EDT

CONSERVATION TOOLS & APPLICATIONS: Temporally-adaptive Acoustic Sampling to Maximize Detection Across a Suite of Focal Wildlife Species with the R Package AMMonitoR
AUTHORS: Cathleen Balantic, Vermont Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, University of Vermont; Therese Donovan, U.S. Geological Survey, Vermont Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, University of Vermont; Jonathan Katz, Vermont Cooperative Fish & Wildlife Research Unit; Mark Massar, U.S. Bureau of Land Management

ABSTRACT. Acoustic recordings of the environment can produce species presence-absence data for characterizing populations of sound-producing wildlife over vast spatial scales. If a species is present on site but does not vocalize during a scheduled audio recording session, researchers may incorrectly conclude that the species is absent (‘false negative’). The risk of false negatives is compounded when audio devices don’t record continuously and must be manually scheduled to operate at pre-selected times of day, particularly when research programs target multiple focal species with vocal availability that varies across temporal and environmental conditions. In the R package AMMonitoR, we developed a temporally-adaptive acoustic sampling algorithm to maximize detection probabilities for a suite of focal species amid sampling constraints. The algorithm combines user-supplied species vocalization models with site-specific weather forecasts to set an optimized sampling schedule for the following day. To test our algorithm, we simulated hourly vocalization probabilities for a suite of focal species in a hypothetical monitoring area for the year 2016. We conducted a factorial experiment that sampled from the 2016 acoustic environment to compare the probability of acoustic detection by a fixed (stationary) schedule vs. a temporally-adaptive optimized schedule under several sampling efforts and monitoring durations. We found that over the course of a study season, the probability of acoustically capturing a focal species at least once via automated acoustic monitoring is higher (and acoustic capture occurs earlier in the season) when using the temporally-adaptive optimized schedule as compared to a fixed schedule. The advantages of a temporally-adaptive optimized acoustic sampling schedule are magnified when a study duration is short, sampling effort is low, and/or species vocal availability is minimal. This methodology thus offers new possibilities to the existing paradigms for adaptive wildlife sampling and acoustic monitoring, potentially allowing research programs to maximize sampling efforts amid constraints.

Tuesday April 17, 2018 8:40am - 9:00am EDT
Adirondack A

8:40am EDT

MANAGING PUBLIC & STAKEHOLDERS: Patterns of Consumptive and Non-Consumptive Use on New Jersey Wildlife Management Areas
AUTHORS: Catherine Tredick, Daniel Moscovici, Joseph Russell - Stockton University

ABSTRACT. New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife (NJDFW) manages a system of 122 wildlife management areas (WMAs) covering more than 350,000 acres of the state. These lands were initially established as public hunting and fishing grounds, but have more recently expanded their role to provide a wider range of consumptive (e.g., hunting and fishing) and non-consumptive (e.g., hiking, bird-watching, etc.) recreational opportunities. Given changes in WMA use and users, a comprehensive understanding of who is using these lands and how they are using them is essential for developing appropriate management objectives for these lands. Further, as non-consumptive use on these lands increases, managers must consider potential implications for management, including who to manage these lands for, potential conflicts among users, and funding for management efforts.To better understand current recreational use and users on New Jersey WMAs, we developed a survey to determine who is using these lands and what they are doing there, perceptions of current WMA management practices, and users’ willingness-to-pay. We conducted surveys in-person across an entire calendar year, and used a stratified random sampling design to ensure that survey results would be representative of all WMA users across the entire state. We will present results from this survey, including spatial and temporal patterns of consumptive and non-consumptive users and areas of potential conflict, differences in opinions of current WMA management practices and willingness-to-pay based on whether users currently hold consumptive hunting or fishing licenses, and other considerations for management of New Jersey WMAs going forward.

Tuesday April 17, 2018 8:40am - 9:00am EDT
Adirondack B/C

9:00am EDT

SYMPOSIA-07: Addressing Ecological Disruption and Transportation Vulnerabilities at Road-Stream Crossings
AUTHORS: Scott Jackson, Paula Sturdevant Rees, Steve Mabee, Melissa Ocana - University of Massachusetts Amherst

ABSTRACT. Road-stream crossings (culverts) are known to be barriers to fish and wildlife movement. During the major storms in the last few years, road-stream crossings have also come into recognition as increased flooding associated with climate change has resulted in failures and washed out roads. Standardized protocols for assessing and prioritizing culverts for aquatic passage are already being used across the Northeast by NGOs, state and federal agencies. A pilot project was recently completed in the Deerfield River Watershed to develop and test approaches for assessing ecological disruption along with risk of failure and criticality for road-stream crossings. Ecological disruption was evaluated based on connectivity restoration potential resulting from replacement of culverts with bridges for all streams and for cold-water streams under current and future conditions. We assessed risk for three mechanisms of crossing failure: structural, geomorphic and hydraulic. Hydraulic risk was evaluated under current conditions and after taking into account changes in hydrology due to climate change. Criticality was assessed as the extent to which crossing failure affected the ability to deliver emergency medical services. Overall transportation vulnerability scores were computed taking into account criticality and risk of failure, and was combined with ecological disruption to create a prioritization score for crossing replacement. Data from these analyses are available via a web-based tool, the Stream Crossings Explorer (SCE). A version of the SCE has been developed for the 13-state North Atlantic region. As crossing assessment protocols addressing both ecological and transportation priorities are developed and implemented, we will be in a better position to work with emergency managers and highway officials to address both ecological and transportation vulnerabilities associated with road-stream crossings.

Tuesday April 17, 2018 9:00am - 9:20am EDT
Adirondack D

9:00am EDT

SYMPOSIA-08: Metabolic Impacts of Winter Tick Infestations: Understanding Mortality and Productivity Consequences to Moose
AUTHORS: Peter J. Pekins, Department of Natural Resources and the Environment, Wildlife Program, University of New Hampshire

ABSTRACT. Blood consumption by winter ticks (Dermacentor albipictus) affects protein and energy balance, behavior, and nutritional condition of moose (Alces alces), often resulting in marked local and regional die-offs. High calf mortality, and more limited yearling and adult mortality have been documented throughout much of the North American moose range. It is also suspected that lower productivity is realized when infestations become more frequent or persist multiple years. Chronic blood loss and mortality of calves occurs in late winter-early spring due to protein and energy imbalance; digestible protein is limited, the protein requirement associated with blood replacement is high, and endogenous energy and protein eventually deplete. Simultaneously, pregnant cows are in the energy and protein costly 3rd trimester, and will eventually calve and lactate in an environment still low in digestible protein; consequently, their relative nutritional condition is key to neonatal survival and productivity. This paper examines protein and energy balance, constraints, and outcomes associated with winter tick infestations. It further uses recent research in New Hampshire and Maine as a case study to evaluate impacts on moose from severe and persistent (3 successive years) winter tick infestations that may reflect a lengthening tick questing period due to climate change.

Tuesday April 17, 2018 9:00am - 9:20am EDT
Vermont B

9:00am EDT

SYMPOSIA-09: Meet the new kid on the block: hemorrhagic disease of deer
AUTHORS:  Mark G. Ruder, Clara Kienzle, Rebecca Poulson, David E. Stallknecht - Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Georgia

ABSTRACT: Hemorrhagic disease (HD) of wild ruminants is caused by two closely related orbiviruses, epizootic hemorrhagic disease viruses and bluetongue viruses.  These viruses are transmitted to wild and domestic ruminants by Culicoides biting midges, thus the occurrence of HD is seasonal. The multitude of viruses, ruminant hosts, Culicoides vectors, and influence of the environment make this disease system dynamic. Hemorrhagic disease is one of the most significant infectious diseases of white-tailed deer (WTD; Odocoileus virginianus) and the cyclical and explosive nature of local and regional HD outbreaks, coupled with high mortality among some WTD populations, have made HD a well-known disease among wildlife professionals. Accordingly, HD has been a focus of surveillance and research activities for decades. However, the impact of HD on deer populations varies across the United States. Although historically rare in parts of the Northeast and upper Midwest, the northern expansion of HD in recent years has caused concern in these regions. Here, we will 1) review field signs, necropsy findings, and diagnostic sample collection procedures for HD, and 2) highlight some of the epidemiological changes observed in recent years.

Tuesday April 17, 2018 9:00am - 9:20am EDT
Vermont A

9:00am EDT

SYMPOSIA-10: Culture Change at the Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans): How Partnerships and Trainings Helped Pave the Way to Successes in Road Ecology
AUTHORS: James Brady, Vermont Agency of Transportation

ABSTRACT: In order to improve upon and institutionalize the practice of road ecology at the Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans), regular trainings and partnership development have become the most effective tools to ensure current and future success. Road ecology training for VTrans staff has been ongoing since 2002.  This training targets engineers, designers, project managers, transportation planners, and operations personnel by getting them out of their offices and garages and into the critical habitat adjacent to Vermont’s roads and bridges.  Trainings help these decision makers and designers better understand Vermont ecology in order to help create and implement solutions to the ongoing concerns with wildlife-transportation interactions.  These solutions often involve partnerships with sister state agencies, federal agencies, neighboring states and provinces, and non-government organizations who have been utilized as powerful tools for VTrans to work outside of the transportation right-of-way.  VTrans is tasked with moving people and goods in a safe and efficient manner while taking the natural environment into consideration.  VTrans does not conduct land use planning or land management outside of the transportation network, where roadway infrastructure ends and wildlife habitat begins.  Without key partnerships, there is a definite risk of losing critical habitat adjacent to transportation infrastructure that was designed to help wildlife move safely through the system.

Tuesday April 17, 2018 9:00am - 9:20am EDT
Montpelier A&B

9:00am EDT

CONSERVATION TOOLS & APPLICATIONS: Comparing Population Abundance and Landscape Connectivity of Snow Leopards on the Tibetan Plateau, Tian Shan, and Altai Regions
AUTHORS: Charlotte Hacker, Duquesne University; Yanlin Liu, Chinese Academy of Forestry; Digiang Li, Chinese Academy of Forestry; Yuguang Zhang, Chinese Academy of Forestry; Colton Ames, Duquesne University; Nickolas Walker, Duquesne University; Rodney Jackson, Snow Leopard Conservancy; Bariushaa Munkhtsog, Mongolian Academy of Sciences, Irbis Mongolia; Munkhtsog Bayaraa, Irbis Mongolia; Liang Xuchang, Wildlife Conservation Society; Bian Xiaoxing Wildlife Conservation Society; John D. Farrington, World Wildlife Fund; Azat Alamanov, World Wildlife Fund; Farida Balbakova, World Wildlife Fund; Jan E. Janecka, Duquesne University

ABSTRACT. The snow leopard (Panthera uncia) is a threatened apex predator facing numerous conservation challenges across their 2 million km2 range. Within this vast area there are many important regions for which robust estimates of population abundance and the level of connectivity metapopulations are lacking. We performed noninvasive genetic analysis of scats from the northern part of the range including northern Tibetan Plateau, Tian Shan, and Altai Mountains and compared the results with snow leopard populations in surrounding regions. Species, sex, and individual identification was completed using a snow leopard-specific molecular panel. Unique individuals were genotyped for 20 additional microsatellite loci and used to examine patterns of genetic variation. The diversity was low to moderate, consistent with a bottleneck event approximately 7,782 years ago in the global snow leopard population. Assignment tests were able to classify snow leopards among the three recently delineated subspecies and six proposed management units. Results indicate that abundant populations have low diversity indicating historic population reductions. The patterns of connectivity between populations was compared and provided information for prioritizing areas for conservation and identifying corridors across the snow leopard range. Noninvasive genetic studies are imperative for understanding the status of snow leopards within specific countries given the recent contentious downlisting of snow leopards from Endangered to Threatened by the IUCN.

Tuesday April 17, 2018 9:00am - 9:20am EDT
Adirondack A

9:00am EDT

MANAGING PUBLIC & STAKEHOLDERS: MDIFW’s Citizen Science Web Portal
AUTHORS: Donald Katnik, Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife; Lowell Ballard, Timmons Group

ABSTRACT. Like many state fish and wildlife agencies, Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) has a Citizen Science (CS) program to increase public interest in our diverse wildlife species and to obtain assistance in surveying populations. Previously this was a paper exercise with data submitted on forms that MDIFW biologists had to manually enter into a database. Besides being inefficient and susceptible to transcription error, this methodology limited how quickly we could provide survey results back to the public. Our new web portal allows the public to discover our CS programs (currently “HERON” and “River Bird”), explore the existing survey data, and volunteer to help. Once vetted, registered Citizen Scientists can log in to record their survey data with easy-to-use data collection forms. This makes it seamless for Citizen Scientists to immediately view their data with other submitted observations. The data is stored in a file geodatabase, leveraging the state’s investment in ESRI GIS software and allowing MDIFW biologists to QC and edit records through ArcGIS Online, which also renders the portal maps. The portal also captures each volunteer’s time and mileage for matching federal funds. The programs are modular within the portal framework, so we can add new ones as needed.

Tuesday April 17, 2018 9:00am - 9:20am EDT
Adirondack B/C

9:00am EDT

OUTREACH & LAW ENFORCEMENT COMBINED SESSION: K-9 Power: Wardens K-9s, a powerful tool for Law Enforcement and Outreach
AUTHORS: Spc. Robert Sterling, VT State Game Warden and K-9 Crockett

ABSTRACT. The K-9 is a powerful tool for Game Wardens to help apprehend poachers, locate evidence and save lives.  K-9 teams are trained to detect gun powder and residue, evidence, and track people, both lost and fleeing.  Learn how these K-9s are used and initially trained to perform these tasks. See how K-9s are deployed in public outreach, to help bridge the gap between Law Enforcement, State agencies and the public we serve.  Warden Sterling will explain the value in having a Warden K-9 program in your agency and the challenges associated with it.  

Warden Sterling and K-9 Crockett will demonstrate how a team works together.  They will locate evidence, demonstrate current techniques in training and display equipment currently used by Vermont K-9s.  

Tuesday April 17, 2018 9:00am - 9:40am EDT
Lake Champlain A

9:20am EDT

SYMPOSIA-07: Towards Estimating Habitat Potential for River Herring Upstream of a Dam
AUTHORS: Jon Honea, Emerson College and Town of Andover MA Conservation Commission

ABSTRACT. Some owners of old mill dams are unaware of the negative environmental impacts of their dams. This presentation describes a project to develop materials to help educate dam owners and other stakeholders, including members of the public, about one of those negative impacts: diminished river herring populations. In 2016, there were 3 substantial dams on the Shawsheen River in Andover, Massachusetts. By spring of the following year—due to the years’-long efforts of nonprofits, state and federal natural resource agencies, and local officials—only 1 remained and 4 miles of the river was again flowing unimpeded to the Merrimack River and Gulf of Maine. A volunteer herring count organized by the presenter produced data to estimate that approximately 1,500 river herring had strayed into the newly opened reach during the 2017 spawning season. In addition, many dozens of herring were observed at the base of the last remaining dam. If the owners of that dam were made aware of the potential spawning habitat upstream of their dam, which appears to be substantially more than that opened by the 2 demolished dams, they might be more willing to have it removed. To that end, this project aims to adapt a current river herring population model or re-parameterize a population model developed for endangered populations of Pacific salmon in the Pacific Northwest to estimate the potential for the habitat upstream of the remaining dam to support additional river herring.

Tuesday April 17, 2018 9:20am - 9:40am EDT
Adirondack D

9:20am EDT

SYMPOSIA-08: Agent-Based Modeling of Moose-Winter Tick Relationships at Local and Regional Scales in Northern New Hampshire
AUTHORS: Christine Healy; Peter J. Pekins; Russell G. Congalton; Shadi Atallah - Department of Natural Resources and the Environment, University of New Hampshire

ABSTRACT. Agent-based modeling (ABM) is a technique used increasingly in wildlife conservation to simulate behavioral trends, investigate host-parasite interactions, and determine the impact of industrial development on individuals. One advantage of ABM over traditional statistical and mathematical modeling is that it removes the assumption that all individuals are equivalent. Individuals or “agents” are provided a set of rules that govern decision-making within a model environment, allowing individuality and variable patterns to emerge that better simulate naturally occurring phenomena. This technique, incorporating GIS spatial data from radio-collared moose in northern New Hampshire, was used to investigate moose (Alces alces) - winter tick (Dermacentor albipictus) - landscape relationships to investigate conditions known to influence winter ticks and moose at 2 local sites (Jericho and Success) within a larger study area used to monitor moose productivity and survival. Parameters in the model included winter tick abundance, environmental conditions during the quiescent phase of winter tick larvae, length of the larval questing period, seasonal home range use of moose, and density of moose. Model behavior and predictions at the two sites were different and the predicted occurrence of an epizootic was influenced by local conditions. Winter tick infestations during predicted epizootic years matched field data under several scenarios at the Jericho site that was high in optimal habitat, whereas predicted epizootics were less common at Success where optimal habitat was less available. The models and predictions, despite using conservative estimates of winter tick abundance and moose density from regional estimates, displayed reasonable similarity to the recent occurrence of regional epizootics. Further refinement of ABM will likely prove useful in further understanding and predicting the influence of multiple variables on winter tick epizootics.

Tuesday April 17, 2018 9:20am - 9:40am EDT
Vermont B

9:20am EDT

SYMPOSIA-09: New York’s Adirondacks moose population health metrics
AUTHORS: Krysten Schuler, Cornell University; Kevin Hynes, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation; Sharon Tabor, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation; James Stickles, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation; Niki Dean, Cornell University; Edward Dubovi, Cornell University; Jeremy Hurst, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation

ABSTRACT: Moose in the Adirondacks region of northern New York State represent the southern extent of the eastern moose (Alces alces) subpopulation. Currently, there is a multi-institution study examining population metrics. One component is to assess factors that may affect survival of New York moose. We collected samples from live moose (n=26; 3 males, 23 females) and necropsied moose mortalities (n=138) over the course of 18 years. Survival rate  of live moose was high, despite exposure to Parelaphostrongylus tenuis (78% prevalence). Moose in New York appear to have fewer ectoparasites (e.g., winter tick, Dermacentor albipictus) than reported in other eastern states. However, we found Neospora caninum (52% prevalence) was common in this population. Pregnancy (16 of 22) and calving rates (15 of 20) were high. An average of 7.3 mortalities were examined annually with more males (51%) than females (38%); juveniles (≤2.5-years-old) were twice as likely as adults to be mortalities. More than half the animals examined died or were euthanized after being struck by a vehicle. Mortalities directly from P. tenuis (8%) or F. magna (2%) were not common, but we found these parasites frequently at necropsy (12% and 23%, respectively) even if they were not the cause of death. Additionally, we identified echinococcus cysts in 10% of examined animals. Although parasitic infections are common in this population, they do not appear to be affecting reproduction; however, higher mortalities rates in juveniles may be limiting population growth.

Tuesday April 17, 2018 9:20am - 9:40am EDT
Vermont A

9:20am EDT

SYMPOSIA-10: Land protection for Habitat Connectivity – from core forest to connecting lands
AUTHORS: Kate Wanner,  Trust for Public Land

ABSTRACT: With the tools and relationships developed by the Staying Connected Initiative, organizations involved in land protection have worked together strategically to permanently protect landscape connectivity on the small and large scale. Partners have also developed model language to address connectivity in conservation easements, to make sure land protected for its habitat connectivity remains permeable. This presentation will cover how Staying Connected science has helped influence where land protection efforts are focused, how some of those lands are protected differently, and give examples of ways the partnership has been used to bolster protection efforts.

Tuesday April 17, 2018 9:20am - 9:40am EDT
Montpelier A&B

9:20am EDT

CONSERVATION TOOLS & APPLICATIONS: According to 15,000 Species, Which Habitats Are Most Important, and Why Do SGCN Care?
AUTHORS: Steven G. Fuller; Chris Tracey

ABSTRACT. Nature’s Network is a collaborative effort that brings together partners from 13 states, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, non-governmental organizations, and universities to conserve the habitats of common species and imperiled SGCN. Partners identified shared priorities and mapped the best opportunities to conserve and connect the most intact habitats and ecosystems. For the first time, all of the data compiled for decades by state Natural Heritage Programs has been applied to identify multi-species hotspots for biodiversity. The results show clear landscape patterns for thousands of plants and animals, and show that SGCN are connected to much broader patterns of threatened diversity.

Tuesday April 17, 2018 9:20am - 9:40am EDT
Adirondack A

9:20am EDT

MANAGING PUBLIC & STAKEHOLDERS: The Vermont Habitat Stamp: A New Source of Conservation Funding
AUTHORS: Steve Gomez, Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department

ABSTRACT. In 2015, the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department launched a voluntary Habitat Stamp to raise funds for habitat conservation. Modeled after the success of the Federal Duck Stamp, the Habitat Stamp is our attempt to broaden our base of support for conservation funding, and to give non-consumptive users an avenue to financially support the work of the department by purchasing an alternative to a hunting or fishing license. The stamp has seen some success in the first three years since its launch, with several hundred thousand dollars raised, allowing the department to hire additional staff to work on habitat management and to put funds directly towards the purchase of state wildlife management areas. But it has also not broadened the funding tent as much as we were hoping, with over 90 percent of the program income coming from hunters and anglers who purchase the stamp as an add-on to their license. We’ll discuss our approach to the Vermont Habitat Stamp, the program’s successes and failures, and where we hope to take it in the future.

Tuesday April 17, 2018 9:20am - 9:40am EDT
Adirondack B/C

9:30am EDT

9:40am EDT

SYMPOSIA-07: Creating Partnerships to Successfully Remove Deadbeat Dams: Opening 120 Miles of Brook Trout Habitat in Vermont's Connecticut River Watershed
AUTHORS: Ron Rhodes, River Steward, Connecticut River Conservancy; Madeleine Lyttle, Fish Biologist, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service; Roy Schiff, PE/PhD, Milone & MacBroom

ABSTRACT. There are roughly 1,000 derelict dams in Vermont that no longer serve a purpose and have been abandoned in place. These “deadbeat” dams alter flow regimes and impact aquatic species, ecological processes and water temperature. The Connecticut River Conservancy and our partners selected three of these dams for removal in 2017 using information from the Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the North Atlantic Landscape Conservation Cooperative's “Connect the Connecticut”, as well as state & regional priority rankings. Our collective approach to dam removal successfully reconnected 123 miles of cold headwaters habitat for brook trout and other aquatic organisms in 2017 alone. The dam removals where located in Vermont's Connecticut River watershed in the towns of East Burke, West Fairlee and Dummerston. Each dam required a team of partners that included federal and state agency staff, non-profit organizations, technical experts, and local volunteers. The planning, community outreach, fund raising, education, engineering design, permitting, construction, restoration and monitoring were all a group effort. Our experience indicates that the most successful dam removals are accomplished by a wide range of project partners and supporting local entities. The breadth of knowledge, experience and technical expertise allows the lead entity or project manager to side step pitfalls commonly associated with dam removals, from permitting problems to local opposition to funding.We have developed a detailed blueprint for others to follow with the intent of encouraging more deadbeat dam removals throughout the Northeast. By combining our collective talents and resources, we can breach the seemingly insurmountable obstacles that can be barriers to freeing more of our rivers in the years ahead.

Tuesday April 17, 2018 9:40am - 10:00am EDT
Adirondack D

9:40am EDT

CONSERVATION TOOLS & APPLICATIONS: Vermont Conservation Design: A Vision and Plan for an Ecologically Functional Landscape
AUTHORS: Eric Sorenson, Natural Heritage Inventory, Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department

ABSTRACT. Vermont’s 2015 Wildlife Action Plan identifies landscape-scale conservation as critical for maintaining populations of Species of Greatest Conservation Need. The Vermont Conservation Design is a practical and efficient approach to conserving many SGCN, keeping common species common, and maintaining a landscape that is resilient to climate change. This presentation will describe all the elements of this conservation design and show the resulting maps. We will also discuss approaches for implementing landscape-scale conservation and how we view Vermont Conservation Design as a vision that could provide for our ecological future.

Tuesday April 17, 2018 9:40am - 10:00am EDT
Adirondack A

9:40am EDT

MANAGING PUBLIC STAKEHOLDERS: Applications of Nature's Network for Connectivity Planning in the Northeast
AUTHORS: Michale Glennon, Wildlife Conservation Society; Steven Fuller, US Fish and Wildlife Service

ABSTRACT. Conservation agencies and organizations have limited time and money to invest in protecting natural resources that wildlife and people depend upon. Guidance grounded in science and supported through regional collaboration allows more efficient use of limited resources in the face of complex environmental threats. The North Atlantic Landscape Conservation Cooperative (LCC) and the Northeast Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (NEAFWA) coordinated a team of partners from 13 states, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, nongovernmental organizations, and universities, who worked for more than a year to develop a regional conservation design that provides a foundation for unified conservation action from Maine to Virginia. Called Nature’s Network, the design identifies a network of places that help define the highest conservation priorities in the region to sustain natural resources and benefits for future generations. Nature’s Network offers a practical set of tools that can help people working at different scales contribute to regional conservation goals while also meeting goals of their own organizations. Ecological connectivity is an increasing focus of numerous conservation organizations, land trusts, and regional conservation partnerships. Nature’s Network offers several connectivity datasets created via a number of modeling approaches and representing connectivity at multiple scales. These and all Nature’s Network data and tools are freely available at naturesnetwork.org. We will describe ecological connectivity tools available and demonstrate the ways in which large and small organizations might use them to advance their conservation goals in the Northeast region.

Tuesday April 17, 2018 9:40am - 10:00am EDT
Adirondack B/C

10:20am EDT

OUTREACH & LAW ENFORCEMENT COMBINED SESSION: Northwoods Law Panel Discussion: Lessons Learned from Maine and New Hampshire
AUTHORS: Panel discussion featuring wardens from Maine and New Hampshire.

ABSTRACT. Join Wardens from Maine and New Hampshire and ask your questions about how their appearance on Northwoods Law has changed the perception of conservation law enforcement, the impact on their staff, and how it has changed their department.

Tuesday April 17, 2018 10:20am - 10:40am EDT
Lake Champlain A

10:20am EDT

SYMPOSIA-07: Responses of Stream Fishes to Dam Removal in Massachusetts
AUTHORS: Renee Bouldin, Massachusetts Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Department of Environmental Conservation, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA; Allison Roy, Massachusetts Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Department of Environmental Conservation, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA, U.S. Geological Survey, Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, Westborough, MA; Steven Mattocks, Rebecca Quiñones - Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, Westborough, MA; Todd Richards, Massachusetts Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Department of Environmental Conservation, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA, Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, Westborough, MA

ABSTRACT. Dams fragment river systems, alter discharges, store sediment, and affect stream water quality. Dam removal has the potential to remedy adverse impacts of dams on native fishes; however, the timing and spatial extent of responses to dam removal are not fully studied. Over the past 20 years, dam removal has become a leading tool of riverine restoration in Massachusetts, resulting in 60 removals since 2000. The purpose of this study was to explore the upstream and downstream effects of dam removal on fish assemblages. We used the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife’s database to compile fish data from surveys completed in stream reaches upstream and downstream of 12 dam sites. At these 12 sites, we compared the presence and catch-per-unit-effort of stream fishes before and after dam removal. We expect that fish composition will be more similar between upstream and downstream fish populations after removal compared to before removal. Where temperatures decrease from warmwater to cool or coldwater downstream of former dam sites, we expect that coldwater fish abundances will increase following removal. Our results may be used to inform managers about the potential responses of riverine fish species to dam removal.

Tuesday April 17, 2018 10:20am - 10:40am EDT
Adirondack D

10:20am EDT

SYMPOSIA-08: Moose Management in Maine: Past, Present, and Looking into the Future!
AUTHORS: Lee Kantar, Kendall Marden, Robert Cordes - Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife

ABSTRACT. Moose are an iconic species in Maine; highly valued ecologically, aesthetically, and economically. Over the last 30 plus years, moose also have become an important part of Maine’s hunting heritage. The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) has publicly derived management goals and objectives for all species that are harvested or have threatened/endangered status, which includes moose. Historically, the public’s goals and objectives sought to maintained moose numbers at levels that maximized both hunting and viewing opportunities, while balancing concerns about negative impacts caused by moose (e.g., moose/vehicle collisions and crop damage in a small region of the state). Recently, the Department embarked on an updated planning effort for our four “Big-Game” species, which included public input from a random public opinion survey and direct input from invited groups and individuals representing a broad public perspective. During that planning effort, we have noticed a shift in emphasis from traditionally hunting and viewing goals to an increased interest in overall health of the State’s moose population as the critical management component. Department staff use multiple techniques and metrics to assess the annual status of moose across their core range. This effort includes, aerial surveys, harvest data, biological data collected from hunter-harvested moose (i.e., physical measurements, winter tick counts, and reproductive samples), moose-hunter sighting surveys, and moose/vehicle collision data. The collective data is assimilated, then modeled to chart moose population trends over time. The capability of MDIFW to reliably assess moose abundance, population composition, and reproduction is imperative to the conservation and wise-use of moose. However, there is still much to be learned and quantified regarding moose mortality rates and the impact of the winter tick throughout the moose core range. In order to investigate these factors, Maine, in conjunction with New Hampshire and Vermont, initiated a large scale, multi-year, regional research project assessing adult cow and calf survival. The project is currently entering its fifth year and related capture activities will continue through 2020 (see Moose Survival Project abstract for further information). Until we fully understand these factors, it is imperative that mortality by hunting continues to be carefully controlled and managed based on the best available science. Maine’s current permit allocations reflect both the best available science and uncertainties surrounding moose mortality rates

Tuesday April 17, 2018 10:20am - 10:40am EDT
Vermont B

10:20am EDT

SYMPOSIA-09: Sources of mortality for bald eagles in New York State
AUTHORS: Kevin Hynes, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation; Joseph Okoniewski, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation; Ashley Ableman, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation; Krysten Schuler, Cornell University

ABSTRACT: In the northeastern United States, bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) populations were reduced by habitat loss, human persecution, and nest failures attributed to DDT contamination of the food web. In 1970, only one active but unproductive nesting pair was known to remain New York. Fostering and hacking programs added 198 eagles between 1976 and 1988 with many of the hacked eagles remaining or returning to NY to nest. By 1988, there were 10 documented nesting pairs, which has subsequently increased to 254 documented nesting pairs in 2014. In an effort to document mortality factors for eagles and as part of our routine wildlife disease surveillance program, all dead eagles found in NY were submitted to NYSDEC Wildlife Health Unit for necropsy to determine cause of death. All carcasses (regardless of postmortem condition) were examined by necropsy; gross findings determined when chemical analyses, histology, virology and/or bacteriology testing were pursued in order to reach a cause of death determination. Standard necropsy procedures included (where possible) morphometric measurements, descriptions of postmortem condition and gross lesions, and organ tissue collection for laboratory testing or archive. We examined 429 eagle carcasses between 2000 and 2017. Trauma, including motor vehicles and trains, comprised half of the mortalities. Additional mortalities were attributed to lead poisoning, conspecific inflicted trauma, and electrocution. Illustrations of common gross pathologies associated with different causes of death will be presented and discussed. Although eagles appear to be recovering in NY, they continue to face anthropogenic mortality sources that could potentially limit future populations.

Tuesday April 17, 2018 10:20am - 10:40am EDT
Vermont A

10:20am EDT

SYMPOSIA-10: Land Use Planning for Connectivity in Vermont
AUTHORS: Jamey Fidel, Vermont Natural Resources Council

ABSTRACT: One of the tools in the Staying Connected Initiative’s toolbox is to provide land use technical assistance to municipalities and regional planning commissions across Vermont. The Vermont Legislature recently strengthened the state’s land use goals to include the management of Vermont’s forestlands so as to maintain and improve forest blocks and habitat connectors. This presentation will review the land use strategies that are being employed to help municipalities and planning commissions maintain habitat connectivity and promote smart growth patterns in intact forest blocks.

Tuesday April 17, 2018 10:20am - 10:40am EDT
Montpelier A&B

10:20am EDT

BIG GAME MANAGEMENT: White-tailed Deer Neonate Survival in the Functional Absence of Predators
AUTHORS: Justin R. Dion, Jacob M. Haus, Jacob L. Bowman - Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology, University of Delaware; Joseph E. Rogerson, Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control

ABSTRACT. Survival and cause-specific mortality of neonate white-tailed deer has been the focus of recent research, particularly in regards to predation mortality. An understanding of the impact of predation on survival rates requires a predator-free control population. We captured 109 neonates using opportunistic capture (n = 55) and vaginal implant transmitters (VIT; n = 54) in Delaware during 2016 and 2017. Predators (i.e., black bear, bobcat, and coyotes) were functionally absent from the study area. We calculated 30-day survival using a Kaplan-Meier estimator and determined the importance of covariate on survival using Cox proportional hazard models. The overall 30-day survival estimate was 0.61 (95% CI = 0.51 – 0.72). The survival estimate for neonates captured using random searches (0.76) was greater (P < 0.01) than those for VIT neonates (0.53). Natural causes (n = 34) accounted for all of our observed mortality, including one potential predation by red fox. The top models included covariates for birth weight, doe maturity, and precipitation. Predation could be less of a limiting factor for survival than many studies have suggested. Data derived from opportunistically captured neonates may inflate estimates of survival and misrepresent cause-specific mortality. Although the influence of birth weight on survival has been reported previously, the impact of doe maturity and precipitation has not been documented. The current emphasis on predator management and the impact on deer abundance may be misplaced.

Tuesday April 17, 2018 10:20am - 10:40am EDT
Adirondack A

10:20am EDT

HABITAT CONSERVATION & CLIMATE CHANGE: Innovative Ecology: The National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON)
AUTHORS: Kristin Godfrey, Battelle Ecology

ABSTRACT. The National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) is a continental-scale ecological observation facility, sponsored by the National Science Foundation and operated by Battelle, that gathers and synthesizes data on the impacts of climate change, land use change and invasive species on natural resources and biodiversity. NEON’s mission is to enable understanding and forecasting of the impacts of climate change, land use change and invasive species on continental-scale ecology by providing infrastructure and consistent methodologies to support research and education in these areas. NEON strives to understand and forecast continental-scale environmental change, inform natural resource decisions, and engage the next generation of scientists.The NEON observatory is designed to collect high-quality, standardized data from 81 field sites across the U.S. Data collection methods are standardized across sites and include in situ instrument measurements, field sampling and airborne remote sensing. NEON data and resources are freely available to enable users to tackle scientific questions at scales not accessible to previous generations of ecologists.

Tuesday April 17, 2018 10:20am - 10:40am EDT
Adirondack B/C

10:40am EDT

OUTREACH & LAW ENFORCEMENT COMBINED SESSION: Tales from Women in Law Enforcement
AUTHORS: A Panel Discussion: Wardens from VT, NH, and Maine

ABSTRACT. Wardens from VT, NH, and Maine will talk about what inspired them to go into the field of law enforcement, and address barriers they had to overcome to succeed as game wardens.

Tuesday April 17, 2018 10:40am - 11:00am EDT
Lake Champlain A

10:40am EDT

SYMPOSIA-07: Understanding Fish Passage in a Changing System: Lessons from Restoration Efforts in the Penobscot River
AUTHORS: Joseph Zydlewski, U.S. Geological Survey, Maine Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, and University of Maine Dept. of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Conservation Biology, Orono, ME; George Maynard, Alejandro Molina-Moctezuma - University of Maine, Dept. of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Conservation Biology; Daniel S. Stich, Biology Department, SUNY College at Oneonta; Gayle Zydlewski , School of Marine Sciences, University of Maine

ABSTRACT. The historic removal of two main-stem dams and building of a nature-like upstream bypass at the next dam upstream (40+ km) in the Penobscot River has fundamentally changed connectivity in this system. We have used PIT, radio and acoustic telemetry as critical tools for evaluating individual and population-level responses of multiple diadromous species. We draw on more than a decade of data collected on shortnose sturgeon, Atlantic salmon, American shad, and American eel where we have assessed species and life-stage specific behaviors and estimated survival of these migratory fishes through the up and downstream gauntlet of obstacles they face. Specifically, we explore challenges we have encountered related to 1) attribution of migratory motivation, 2) handling effects, 3) assumptions of representative sampling 4) the complexity of history-dependent mortality, and 5) influences outside of the river system. We use specific research examples to inform the logistics, execution, analysis and interpretation of migration, survival, and population estimation of diadromous fish related to multiple barriers. We will also communicate lessons learned through this experience that can be applied to similar efforts in other systems.

Tuesday April 17, 2018 10:40am - 11:00am EDT
Adirondack D

10:40am EDT

SYMPOSIA-08: Urea Nitrogen:Creatinine Ratios, Tick Loads, Body Weights, and Survival of Calf Moose in Northern New Hampshire
AUTHORS: Daniel Ellingwood; Peter Pekins - Department of Natural Resources and the Environment: Wildlife Program, University of New Hampshire

ABSTRACT. In 2014-2017 we monitored 188 radio-marked adult cow and calf moose (Alces alces) to measure survival, and rate and cause of mortality in response to a declining population. Snow urine samples were used to measure urea nitrogen (UN) and creatinine (C) content to develop ratios that track the nutritional restriction of individual animals through winter, inclusive of the adult winter tick (Dermacentor albipictus) engorgement period. Samples (n = 173) were collected from 62 moose (45 calves, 17 cows) on a twice-monthly schedule from late January through snowmelt or calf mortality (March – early April). Low UN:C ratios ( 3.5) in late March, indicating rapid catabolism of muscle mass in response to heightened protein and energetic requirements. The majority of surviving calves (74%) and adult cows (100%) did not experience a spike in the UN:C ratio, indicating indirectly that habitat quality is probably not implicated in calf mortality. Further, the timing of the spike aligns with the peak feeding period of adult winter ticks. The primary cause of calf mortality in all years was associated with the heavy infestation of winter ticks that resulted in severe weight loss and signs of acute anemia consistent with massive blood loss. Additionally, the tick load in January (at capture) was the best predictor of calf survival, with body weight providing a counterbalancing effect for the heaviest calves.

Tuesday April 17, 2018 10:40am - 11:00am EDT
Vermont B

10:40am EDT

SYMPOSIA-09: Naturally occurring diseases in the Canada Lynx (Lynx canadensis) population of Maine
AUTHORS: Brian Stevens, David Needle, and Rob Gibson, New Hampshire Veterinary Diagnostic Lab; Jennifer Vashon, Maine Dept of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife Wildlife Division; Julie Ellis, Northeast Wildlife Disease Cooperative, Tufts University; Michael Yabsley, University of Georgia; Ryan Troyer and Liam Hendrikse, Western University; Jamie Strickland, Michigan State University

ABSTRACT: Canada Lynx (Lynx canadensis) have been federally listed as threatened since 2000 and the only state in the Northeast with a resident breeding population is Maine.  Recently, lynx have been observed in New Hampshire and Vermont including female lynx with kittens, which suggests an expansion of their current habitat range.  Although several small case studies are available, a large study examining natural diseases within lynx populations has yet to be performed.  In conjunction with the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife, the goal of this study is to conduct post-mortem examination of lynx to assess the prevalence of diseases and infectious agents currently circulating in the Maine population.  A total of 38 lynx have been examined and the most common findings include lungworm infection with variable amounts of associated inflammation, and inflammation scattered throughout heart and skeletal muscle with rare protozoa (suggestive of infection by Hepatozoon spp.).  The investigation is ongoing to speciate these parasites, and samples have been submitted to investigate nutritional status and identify other infectious agents, such as a novel gammaherpesvirus identified in the spleen of one lynx.  It is anticipated that this study will identify common diseases circulating in this population, and improve efforts to monitor for new and emerging diseases.


Tuesday April 17, 2018 10:40am - 11:00am EDT
Vermont A

10:40am EDT

SYMPOSIA-10: Maine’s Habitat Outreach Program: Providing Technical Assistance at Multiple Scales
AUTHORS: Amanda Shearin, Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife

ABSTRACT: Maine’s Habitat Outreach Program, including the Beginning with Habitat Partnership, is a non-regulatory, habitat-based model that provides wildlife and habitat information to local decision-makers, conservation organizations, and landowners for a variety of planning purposes. This talk will focus on Maine’s experience working with multiple partners across habitats and scales.

Tuesday April 17, 2018 10:40am - 11:00am EDT
Montpelier A&B

10:40am EDT

BIG GAME MANAGEMENT: Factors Influencing Survival of Yearling Male White-tailed Deer in Delaware
AUTHORS: Jacob M. Haus, Jacob L. Bowman - University of Delaware; Joseph E. Rogerson, Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife

ABSTRACT. Managing male age structure in white-tailed deer populations is an important objective for state managers and private landowners seeking to improve hunter satisfaction while maintaining appropriate densities. Limiting mortality in the yearling age class is often the primary consideration, and regional differences in habitat, regulations, and hunter behavior complicate our understanding of how specific factors influence survival. We used Cox proportional hazard modeling to examine the effects of distance to road, distance to forest edge, dispersal behaviors, and landownership on the risk of mortality for yearling males (n = 61) in southern Delaware. Annual survival averaged 0.60 (95% CI = 0.49 – 0.73), with hunter harvest accounting for 79% of mortalities. The best approximating model for risk of mortality included covariates for landownership (public/private; P < 0.01) and distance to forest edge (P = 0.01), with mortality risk increasing both on public land and in closer proximity to forest edge. Increased risk of harvest due to forest fragmentation is well documented; however, the effect of landownership has not been quantified, particularly when hunter objectives and behaviors differ between landownership types. We observed annual survival rates of 0.75 (95% CI = 0.62 – 0.89) for deer exclusively on private land during the hunting season, and 0.37 (95% CI = 0.18 – 0.73) for deer that utilized public land during the hunting season. Survival rates on private lands were comparable to research from properties that actively manage male age structure, but harvest of yearlings limited male age structure on public lands within the study area.

Tuesday April 17, 2018 10:40am - 11:00am EDT
Adirondack A

10:40am EDT

HABITAT CONSERVATION & CLIMATE CHANGE: The Climate Project Screening Tool: Incorporating Climate Adaptation into On-the-ground Agency Activities
AUTHORS: Toni Lyn Morelli, USGS, DOI Northeast Climate Science Center; Melissa Ocana, UMass Extension, University of Massachusetts Amherst; Rebekah Zimmerer, UMass Amherst MS student; John O’Leary, MA Division of Fisheries & Wildlife (retired)

ABSTRACT. The Northeast Climate Science Center and the University of Massachusetts Amherst have been working with the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MassWildlife) on climate initiatives for a few years. For this project, we modified an existing climate adaptation tool, the Climate Project Screening Tool (CPST), for MassWildlife District staff to consider climate change impacts in their day-to-day activities. The CPST was originally developed to facilitate incorporation of climate science into project planning and implementation at the US Forest Service. The CPST is a process-oriented spreadsheet-based tool that provides the latest climate change projections relevant to the ecosystem, species, or project type. It then asks a series of questions related to project activities and management actions. Although the CPST can be self-guided by individuals or small groups, for this pilot, a facilitation team guided state fish and wildlife managers through the CPST, including recording answers to the questions. Ultimately, these answers inform whether the manager decides to move forward with a planned project with or without modification, or to cancel it altogether given climate change considerations. We will discuss results of this process with MassWildlife and how this tool could be modified for other agencies or organizations.

Tuesday April 17, 2018 10:40am - 11:00am EDT
Adirondack B/C

11:00am EDT

OUTREACH & LAW ENFORCEMENT COMBINED SESSION: Cops & Bobbers, Hooks & Ladders: Partnering to Teach Youth to Fish, While Making Positive Connections with Community Law Enforcement and Safety
AUTHORS: Jennifer Lapis, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; Mike Beauchene, Connecticut Aquatic Resources Education, Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection

ABSTRACT. Presentation SummaryCops & Bobbers, Hooks & Ladders is a youth fishing program designed to teach kids to fish, connect them with the outdoors and develop positive relationships with law enforcement and safety officials. Since 2016, The City of Hartford, CT, The CT DEEP and the US Fish and Wildlife Service have partnered in developing and sponsoring these fun and educational events for youth from the city of Hartford, CT. Now in our third year of the program, we have reached more than 200 young people, providing valuable mentorship, outdoor experiences and tools they can use for years to come. In this session, we will present the steps we took to create this successful program and partnership, and the positive results we have seen for young people and the partners involved. Our program in Hartford is targeted to neighborhoods where many young people do not have opportunities to spend safe and meaningful time outdoors in nature, and where relationships with safety officials may need more positive attention. But the concept and program can be beneficial to all communities and their residents. Included in the presentation will be a brief background of the program, funding options, the roles each partner plays, lessons learned from previous years, and how other states and municipalities could use the same or similar programs to benefit all involved.

Tuesday April 17, 2018 11:00am - 11:20am EDT
Lake Champlain A

11:00am EDT

SYMPOSIA-07: Population-level Responses of Sturgeon to Dam Removals in Maine
AUTHORS: Catlin Ames, Gayle Zydlewski - School of Marine Sciences University of Maine; Michael Kinnison, School of Biology and Ecology University of Maine; Joseph Zydlewski, U.S. Geological Survey, Maine Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit and Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Conservation Biology University of Maine

ABSTRACT. Atlantic Sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrhynchus) and Shortnose Sturgeon (A. brevirostrum) are anadromous species listed as threatened and endangered, respectively, in the Gulf of Maine (GOM). Factors that contributed to their decline included overharvest for caviar, and loss of habitat connectivity through dam construction. In 2012, a cooperative effort between federal, state, and local stakeholders resulted in the removal of the two lowermost mainstem dams on the Penobscot River, restoring the presumed historic range of these species. Population responses to dam removals are poorly characterized for endangered species with low encounter rates, which do not allow robust population estimation. In the GOM, sturgeon present an additional challenge to population estimation, extensive movement between river systems. We have combined mark-recapture methods with acoustic telemetry approaches to generate biologically realistic population estimates. For the last decade, gill netting surveys resulted in the capture and unique marking of 1453 Shortnose and 224 Atlantic sturgeon with 433 and 21 recaptures, respectively. Approximately ten percent of all individuals were implanted with acoustic tags. Passive telemetry was used to estimate immigration/emigration rates, allowing the delineation of open and closed periods for robust maximum likelihood abundance estimation. Associated changes in demographic measures were also explored, including condition and growth of recaptured individuals. Preliminary analyses suggest no change in population size or in fish condition post dam removal, though these indicators are easily masked by slow maturation and long life histories. Understanding the influence of dam removal at the population-level will contribute to the management of these imperiled, highly mobile species.

Tuesday April 17, 2018 11:00am - 11:20am EDT
Adirondack D

11:00am EDT

SYMPOSIA-08: Moose Research in New York
AUTHORS: James Stickles, NYSDEC

ABSTRACT. Since the 1980s, moose (Alces alces) have been recolonizing New York State. NYSDEC has monitored public sightings and moose-vehicle collisions as indices of population abundance and distribution, and to collect general health data. However, unlike other areas of the northeastern U.S. where moose populations have experienced rapid growth following recolonization, moose population growth in New York has been slow. In an effort to estimate moose population abundance and demographic rates NYSDEC has initiated several research projects in cooperation with universities and other partners. During January 2015-2017 we instrumented 26 moose (23 females, 3 males) in the Adirondack Park with GPS collars to estimate space use, adult survival, calf production and survival, and determine browse selection. Additionally, during the winters of 2015-2018, we conducted aerial transect surveys to determine moose distribution, estimate population size, and develop a protocol for monitoring moose population abundance. During the summers of 2016 and 2017, we used trained detection dogs to locate and collect moose scat; data from this effort will be used to estimate abundance and provide insight on moose diet and health. Preliminary results indicate ~400 moose in the Adirondack park with a clustered distribution and a cow to calf ratio of ~0.8 for collared cows. Collectively, these research projects will be used to inform a moose management plan for New York State.

Tuesday April 17, 2018 11:00am - 11:20am EDT
Vermont B

11:00am EDT

SYMPOSIA-09: Diagnosing the cause of mange in black bears (Ursus americanus) in Pennsylvania
AUTHORS: Justin Brown and Mark Ternent, Pennsylvania Game Commission; Sarah Peltier, Kevin Niedringhaus, Heather Fenton, and Michael Yabsley, Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study

ABSTRACT: Since the 1990s, the number and geographic distribution of mange cases in black bears in Pennsylvania has increased; however, the causative mite(s) has yet to be fully defined. We evaluated several diagnostic approaches for detection of mite(s) in 72 black bears with severe mange. Sarcoptes scabiei was morphologically identified in skin scrapes from 66 of the bears; no mites were identified in the remaining six. Histopathological lesions consistent with sarcoptic mange were observed in 39/40 bear skin samples examined, and intralesional mites were observed in 38 of these samples. Tissue samples were collected from a subset of the 72 bears for PCR testing targeting both the internal transcribed spacer (ITS)-2 region and cytochrome c oxidase I (cox1) gene, including 69 skin scrapes (ITS-2 only) and 56 skin biopsies (ITS-2 and cox1). Skin scrapes were more sensitive for PCR detection than skin biopsies, and the ITS-2 primers proved more sensitive than cox1. Using a commercial ELISA, antibodies to S. scabiei were detected in 45/49 black bears with confirmed mange and 0/62 cubs without mange and born to seronegative sows. These data indicate S. scabiei is the predominant mite associated with mange in black bears in Pennsylvania. Diagnostically, cytologic examination of skin scrapes is the most effective approach for diagnosing active mite infestations in black bears. The evaluated serologic assay accurately detected antibodies to S. scabiei in most bears with confirmed infestations; however, additional research is needed to determine the usefulness of this approach for larger scale surveys and asymptomatic bears.

Tuesday April 17, 2018 11:00am - 11:20am EDT
Vermont A

11:00am EDT

SYMPOSIA-10: Multiple strategies in action: landowner engagement, land protection, and transportation upgrades for connectivity
AUTHORS: Alissa Rafferty, The Nature Conservancy Adirondacks

ABSTRACT: Combining multiple strategies for wildlife connectivity leverages success among a variety of partners. This talk will provide examples of on-the-ground projects in the Black River Valley of NY, a key linkage connecting the Tug Hill to the Adirondacks Mountains. Topics include New York’s first-ever “critter shelf” for wildlife, providing safe passage underneath the road; landowner engagement to enhance management practices and cultivate conservation easements; and a look forward at how riparian corridors can achieve multiple benefits for fish, wildlife and people.

Tuesday April 17, 2018 11:00am - 11:20am EDT
Montpelier A&B

11:00am EDT

BIG GAME MANAGEMENT: Spatial and Temporal Variations in White-Tailed Deer Abundance and Detectability Across a Heterogeneous Landscape of Fear
OLD TITLE: Hunting Induced Site Level Spatial Variability in White-tailed Deer Abundance Captured Through the Lens of Wildlife Cameras

AUTHORS: Jennifer E. Kilburn, Tracy A. G. Rittenhouse - University of Connecticut; Andrew M. LaBonte, Howard J. Kilpatrick - Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection

ABSTRACT. Managed public lands balance maintaining healthy wildlife populations and human recreation opportunities. Hunting, not only as a form of recreation but as a management tool, varies across land ownership. Previous studies have shown that during the hunting season white-tailed deer alter their behavior and reduce movements to avoid hunting pressure. However, little has been done to document how these shifts affect site level local abundance, especially in areas with a diverse patchwork of land ownership and hunting pressure. We used 50 wildlife cameras evenly divided between hunted and un-hunted properties in north-eastern Connecticut and N-mixture models in a Bayesian framework to estimate local site level abundance and detection probability before, during, and after the hunting season. We found that average site level abundance increased on un-hunted properties and decreased on hunted properties after initiation of the hunting season. Averaged across the entire study period, abundance was higher on un-hunted properties (2.5 does/31 ha, (0.99,7.4)) as opposed to hunted properties (1.5 does/31 ha, (0.51,5.60)). These patterns were not statically significant, but the abundance estimates and the change over time aligns with our expectation. Detection probability increased on hunted properties during the hunting season, which conflicts with previous findings but may result from behavior during the breeding season. Understanding the relationship between local, site-level shifts in abundance in response to hunting pressure allows managers to understand deer availability during the hunting season and how that might impact attainment of management goals and expectations.

Tuesday April 17, 2018 11:00am - 11:20am EDT
Adirondack A

11:00am EDT

HABITAT CONSERVATION & CLIMATE CHANGE: The Importance of Patch Shape at Habitat Thresholds: Functional Patch Size vs. Total Amount
AUTHORS: Jeffrey K. Keller, Habitat by Design, LLC

ABSTRACT. Some researchers have argued that overall habitat amount is more important than the size or shape of individual habitat patches in determining biodiversity. I evaluated this postulate for an assemblage of 19 guilds of breeding birds in central New York by assessing threshold occupancy of guild-specific solid (e.g., forest) or edge (e.g., shrub-opening) patch types within a variety of successional seres. Under the assumption that the optimal shape of an all-purpose territory is a circle, I used two novel landscape metrics and high-resolution ( < 0.75 m) aerial photography to measure the maximum diameter circle (MDC) that fit within patch types specific to particular guilds. The best multiple regression models of both guild species richness and density included variables based on the MDC that fit within guild-specific patch types. Additionally, the species most likely to appear in single species occurrences of multi-species guilds was the smallest member of the guild and larger guild members occurred only in larger patches. Results suggest that although total habitat amount may be more important at larger geographic scales, patch size and shape are critical to threshold occupancy and the establishment or maintenance of small populations, as well as to overall biodiversity. The landscape metrics applied here can be used to assess the current functional size of habitats of interest and to optimize habitat manipulation or management efforts, including those with non-agency landowners.

Tuesday April 17, 2018 11:00am - 11:20am EDT
Adirondack B/C

11:20am EDT

OUTREACH & LAW ENFORCEMENT COMBINED SESSION: Building Bridges: Creating and Sustaining Partnerships with Your Constituency
AUTHORS: Sean Fowler, David Gregory - Vermont Department of Fish & Wildlife

ABSTRACT. Wardens Sean Fowler and David Gregory will talk about their experiences working in their communities and how those vital relationships have created lasting partnerships. Learn about the benefits of partnering with local clubs and advocacy groups, the opportunities that abound from proactive educational outreach, and how to work with your partners even when you may be on opposing sides.

Tuesday April 17, 2018 11:20am - 11:40am EDT
Lake Champlain A

11:20am EDT

SYMPOSIA-07: What Did the Shad Say to the Fishway Entrance? More Water Please
AUTHORS: Kevin Mulligan, Alex Haro - U.S. Geological Survey; Brett Towler, Bryan Sojkowski - U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

ABSTRACT. A common problem among fishways is attraction and entry. Competing flows and complex hydraulics in and around the fishway can at times hinder passage and result in significant migration delays. The purpose of this study was to evaluate how flow conditions at a fishway entrance and the structural design of the entrance can affect entry. In most instances, a fishway entrance consists of a fully submerged hydraulic control (e.g. gate, weir) located at the downstream end of an open channel that guides fish to the main body of the fishway (e.g. lift, pool-and-weir). Changes to this hydraulic control design can influence the hydraulics (e.g. entrance jet velocity, flow pattern) and thus attraction and entry performance. To address these issues, a pilot study was performed in 2016 with upstream-migrating, adult American Shad (Alosa sapidissima) which documented the performance of a variety of hydraulic controls under a limited number of conditions. Water depth over the crest of the gate was shown to be the main driver in performance rather than gate design. Additional trials were completed in the spring of 2017 and demonstrated similar results. Water temperature also significantly affected fish performance in both years. The results of these studies provide guidance to state and federal resource agencies and the hydropower industry on methods to improve fishway attraction and entry rates.

Tuesday April 17, 2018 11:20am - 11:40am EDT
Adirondack D

11:20am EDT

SYMPOSIA-08: Nutritional Carrying Capacity of Moose in Adirondack Park, New York
AUTHORS: Samuel Peterson, Dr. Jacqueline Frair - SUNY-ESF

ABSTRACT. The moose population in northern New York appears to persist at a relatively low number despite the apparent abundance of available habitat in the 6 million acre Adirondack Park. One hypothesis for this phenomenon is that the Adirondack Park does not provide a suitable amount of high quality habitat, as much of the park is designated as "forever wild" forest preserve and exists as secondary growth forest with little understory. Diet selection of moose was determined in summer and winter by visiting locations of GPS collared moose and documenting how much of each plant species was consumed. Allometric equations were developed to predict available biomass of individual plants of species that made up 95% of moose diet in each season. Species-specific biomass was then modeled across the landscape, and nutritional quality of each species was determined through laboratory analysis to estimate the amount of available energy and protein on the landscape. These estimates are compared to daily nutritional requirements of moose to determine the nutritional carrying capacity of the study area, which will be compared to current population estimates to make management recommendations.

Tuesday April 17, 2018 11:20am - 11:40am EDT
Vermont B

11:20am EDT

SYMPOSIA-09: Use of ONRAB Oral Rabies Vaccine to Control Raccoon Rabies in an Urban-Suburban Area of Burlington, Vermont
AUTHORS: Kathleen M. Nelson, Dennis Slate, Richard B. Chipman - USDA, APHIS, Wildlife Services, National Rabies Management Program; Frederick E. Pogmore, Owen J. Montgomery - USDA, APHIS, Wildlife Services, New Hampshire/Vermont Program; Amy T. Gilbert, USDA, APHIS, Wildlife Services, National Wildlife Research Center

ABSTRACT. Rabies remains a significant wildlife management and public health challenge in the US with >5,000 wild animals confirmed rabid each year and about 40,000 people receiving post-exposure prophylaxis because of contact with a potentially rabid animal. Since 1997, USDA, APHIS, Wildlife Services (WS) has been the lead federal agency conducting coordinated oral rabies vaccination (ORV) campaigns to prevent the spread of specific rabies virus variants in raccoons, coyotes and gray foxes to new areas, while working toward elimination. In 2017, >9 million ORV baits were distributed in 16 eastern states to prevent the spread of raccoon rabies. Approximately 6% of those baits were distributed by hand in urban-suburban environments. Eliminating raccoon rabies from urban-suburban habitats through ORV has proven challenging due in large part to high raccoon densities, abundance of anthropogenic food sources, nontarget bait competition, and the inability to distribute ORV baits in the range of suitable urban habitats (e.g., backyards). From 2015-2017, WS conducted a field trial using ONRAB (Artemis Technologies, Guelph, Ontario, Canada), a recombinant oral rabies vaccine, targeting raccoons in the greater Burlington, Vermont area. Although rabies virus neutralizing antibody (RVNA) response levels in raccoons after ORV distribution has only been 44% during the first 2 years of this study (below levels most models predict necessary to disrupt the transmission cycle of raccoon rabies), rabies cases in the Burlington ORV area have decreased from 30 in 2014 to 0 in 2017. We will review the study methods, results and discuss future strategies to improve raccoon RVNA response to ORV in urban-suburban environments that is integral to achieving raccoon rabies elimination in the US.

Tuesday April 17, 2018 11:20am - 11:40am EDT
Vermont A

11:20am EDT

11:20am EDT

BIG GAME MANAGEMENT: Agency and Deer Hunter Use, Satisfaction, and Compliance with Harvest Reporting Systems for White-tailed Deer
AUTHORS: Andrew M. LaBonte, Howard J. Kilpatrick - Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection, Wildlife Division

ABSTRACT. Deer (Odocoileus sp.) harvest data have been used to develop population models, set bag limits and hunting season lengths, and evaluate herd age, composition, and health. Managers use numerous methods to obtain these data, such as in-person check stations (IPC), mail questionnaires or kill cards, telephone services, and most recently, Internet harvest reporting (IHR). Agencies may struggle to determine which methods should be used and how hunters feel about using them. Our objectives were to assess current harvest reporting and data collection methods and to evaluate hunter opinions, satisfaction, and harvest reporting compliance in Connecticut. To assess harvest reporting and data collection methods, we conducted a nationwide survey of wildlife agencies and to assess hunter opinions, satisfaction, and compliance we conducted a survey of Connecticut deer hunters. All surveys were implemented through SurveyMonkey®. Many agencies are currently using telephone (41.0%), IPC (46.4), and IHR systems (64.2%). Hunters reported their harvest primarily using IHR (75%), and satisfaction with that system was high (96%). Hunters were evenly split in regards to whether reporting rates were higher with the new reporting systems than with previous systems (36% more, 33% less, 31% same). We found that most hunters (82%) reported harvesting the same number of deer on the survey as through the new system, however 14% of hunters were non-compliant. Telephone and IHR systems are becoming increasingly popular, and provide a convenient means to report harvest, have few problems, and result in high harvest reporting rates.

Tuesday April 17, 2018 11:20am - 11:40am EDT
Adirondack A

11:20am EDT

HABITAT CONSERVATION & CLIMATE CHANGE: Effects of Forest Biomass Energy Production on Long-Term Northern Forest Structure, Composition and Wildlife
AUTHORS: Michelle L. Brown, Vermont Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, University of Vermont; Charles D. Canham, Lora Murphy - Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies; Therese M. Donovan, U.S. Geological Survey, Vermont Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, University of Vermont

ABSTRACT. Federal and state governments in the Northeast U.S. are actively engaged in assessing the potential role of forest biomass in meeting renewable energy goals. While current rates of timber harvest are generally sustainable, there is considerable pressure to increase the contribution of forest biomass for renewable energy. We estimated current harvest regimes for different forest types and regions across New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine using data from the Forest Inventory and Analysis Program. We implemented the harvest regimes in SORTIE-ND, an individual tree-based forest stand model, and simulated the effects of current harvest regimes and five additional harvest scenarios that varied by harvest frequency and intensity for 150 years. Forests were predicted to increase in adult aboveground biomass in all harvest scenarios in all forest type and region combinations, however, the magnitude of the growth varied dramatically (ranging between 3% and 120%). The variation in biomass growth can be largely explained by the disproportionately high harvest rates estimated for Maine as compared with the rest of the region. Despite steady biomass accumulation across the landscape, stands that exhibited older growth characteristics (defined as >=300 metric tons of biomass/hectare) were rare (8% or less of stands). Intensified harvest regimes had little effect on tree species composition, due to a predominance of partial harvesting that contributed to the prevalence of later successional species over time. Changes in forest structure, however, are known to affect wildlife distribution patterns. To test this, we developed expert-informed regional occupancy models for 12 forest bird species and predicted the impact of the various harvest regimes on the occupancy probability of each species. Our results suggest that forest biomass can represent a viable component of renewable energy policy in the Northeast, however, tradeoffs between biomass stock, supply, and wildlife distribution must be considered.

Tuesday April 17, 2018 11:20am - 11:40am EDT
Adirondack B/C

11:40am EDT

OUTREACH & LAW ENFORCEMENT COMBINED SESSION: Conservation Law Enforcement in the Digital Realm: Using Social Media and Cellular Technology to Enhance Investigations
AUTHORS: Timothy Dooley, Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries

ABSTRACT. An increasing number of conservation law enforcement investigations are entering the digital realm. Today, practically everyone has a digital footprint which can provide law enforcement with a plethora of information and potential evidence. Sources of information which may be useful to law enforcement investigators include but are not limited to social media websites, individual mobile devices, third party applications, internet service provider records, and cellular call detail records. It is imperative investigators have the ability to identify, extract, and extrapolate pertinent data. Unfortunately, most wildlife agencies have not invested enough resources into the emerging field of digital investigations rendering conservation law enforcement officers without the tools necessary to conduct thorough investigations. This presentation is intended to give an overview of the digital information available to law enforcement investigators and provide an understanding of the methodology used to obtain data from various sources. Included in this presentation will be specific examples of casework as conducted by the Virginia Conservation Police. Attendees will be provided with resources to aid in the recognition of digital evidence, evidence preservation, legal process, and data analysis.

Tuesday April 17, 2018 11:40am - 12:00pm EDT
Lake Champlain A

11:40am EDT

SYMPOSIA-07: A Decision-Making Tool for Evaluating Biological and Statistical Thresholds for Survival Analysis
AUTHORS: Alejandro Molina-Moctezuma, University of Maine, Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Conservation Biology; Joseph Zydlewski, U.S. Geological Survey, Maine Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, University of Maine, University of Maine, Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Conservation Biology

ABSTRACT. Quantifying the downstream survival of migrating fish past hydropower dams is critical for conservation efforts. Regulatory agencies often require assessment of fish survival using telemetry as a condition of operation. Failure to meet a survival threshold (i.e. standard) may result in required operational or structural changes at a facility, as well as continued assessment. Establishing a standard, as well as interpretation of results of survival analyses, can be a point of contention between agencies and dam owners. There are inherent statistical trade-offs when choosing a standard value, the method for interpretation (e.g. use of point estimate v. inclusion within confidence intervals), and the number of years a certain criteria must be satisfied consecutively. In addressing this we make a distinction between a biological threshold (the real world performance goal) and a statistical threshold (a function of biological threshold, sample size, interpretation method, and years of consecutive evaluation). We have developed a web-based tool that explores and graphically compared these thresholds as a tool for managers and dam owners involved in the assessment of fish survival.

Tuesday April 17, 2018 11:40am - 12:00pm EDT
Adirondack D

11:40am EDT

SYMPOSIA-08: Obstacles to Genetic Analysis of Moose Using Fecal Samples
AUTHORS: Angela Fuller; J. Andrew Royle; Jeremy Hurst; Alec Wong - Cornell Unversity

ABSTRACT. The use of non-invasive genetics has gained wider application in ecological research enabled by improved methods for extracting low-quality DNA. Feces are a common source of animal DNA due to their ubiquity and relatively inexpensive collection compared to other sources. For this reason, a pilot study was performed in 2008 by the Wildlife Conservation Society in the Adirondacks of New York State to trial the use of detection dogs to locate moose feces, samples of which were analyzed for genetic identity. The detection dogs proved capable in locating large quantities of scats, and the rate of genetic identity was approximately 30%. Building upon this result, an expansive effort to quantify the moose population size in New York State was launched, combining the aforementioned method with spatial capture-recapture. Field surveys were implemented in 2016 and 2017, and both surveys saw low amplification rates of the genetic material from the samples. Twenty-one of 236 samples were able to be genotyped in 2016 (9%), and no genotypes were obtained from 20 trial samples in 2017. Here we report an issue with important implications for moose research, describe the measures taken to resolve the issue, and present hypotheses regarding the cause of minimal amplification success.

Tuesday April 17, 2018 11:40am - 12:00pm EDT
Vermont B

11:40am EDT

SYMPOSIA-09: Combating White-Nose Syndrome, One Trial at a Time
AUTHORS: Christina Kocer, Jeremy T. H. Coleman, Jonathan D. Reichard - U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Hadley, MA ; Richard Geboy, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Bloomington, IN; Pete Pattavina, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Athens, Georgia; Presenting Author: Alyssa Bennett, Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department

ABSTRACT. White-nose syndrome (WNS) is an infectious disease, caused by the fungus Pseudogymnoascus destructans (Pd), which is responsible for decimating hibernating bat populations in eastern North America. As of December 2017, WNS has been confirmed in nine North American bat species and in 31 states and five Canadian provinces. Pd has been detected in two additional states without confirmation of the disease. The fungus infects torpid bats resulting in physiological and behavioral impacts, often leading to mortality. Corresponding population declines exceeding 90% have been documented at many hibernacula. Pd was introduced to North America and it has been documented on 21 bat species across Europe and Asia. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the lead federal agency coordinating the response to WNS in the U.S., and since 2008 has provided technical and financial assistance to researchers, NGOs, and state and federal agencies to address WNS. Collectively the WNS response community has prioritized research and development for treatment and management strategies to reduce the impacts of WNS on bats. As a result, many potential treatments have been found that demonstrate efficacy and safety in laboratory settings, and some are in the beginning stages of field trials. Our goal is to develop tools and management strategies to improve survival of susceptible species and recover affected populations, or to slow the spread of Pd and possibly prevent exposure of bats to the pathogen. This presentation will include a summary of the current status of potential treatment and management strategies for WNS.

Tuesday April 17, 2018 11:40am - 12:00pm EDT
Vermont A

11:40am EDT

SYMPOSIA-10: Engaging Landowners in Landscape Scale Stewardship for Connectivity, Climate & Songbirds
AUTHOR: Bridget Butler, Cold Hollow to Canada and Bird Diva Consulting

ABSTRACT: Cold Hollow to Canada (CHC) is a small forest conservation non-profit located in the northern Green Mountains, also known as the Cold Hollow Mountains. The CHC service area is part of the larger Northern Green Mountain Linkage which extends from the Mount Mansfield State Forest in Vermont to just north of Mount Orford National Park in Quebec. This linkage serves as a key crossroad for wildlife to move and disperse from north to south along the Green Mountains and east to west through the Northeast Kingdom in Vermont to New Hampshire and Maine. While most of this region has large tracts of intact forest, it’s also one of the least protected and most vulnerable to future development and population growth. Because of this vulnerability, CHC focuses its work on maintaining forest connectivity and health through its outreach to communities, its work with landowners and its citizen science projects.
This presentation will focus on CHC's Woodlots Program, a unique peer-to-peer woodlands management approach that engages landowners with contiguous properties in prioritized forest blocks. CHC invites landowners to participate in a Woodlots Group and provides resources, technical & financial assistance and educational support for future management actions. Each Woodlots Group works together to build a blueprint for collaborative management. CHC's goal is to improve stewardship on a landscape scale that fosters forest health, connectivity and resiliency while increasing the pace of conservation in the Cold Hollow Mountain region. The project has support from the USDA's RCPP fund and the Landscape Scale Restoration Program.

Tuesday April 17, 2018 11:40am - 12:00pm EDT
Montpelier A&B

11:40am EDT

BIG GAME MANAGEMENT: Estimating Wildlife Distributions Using Expert Elicitation Techniques: An Assessment of Harvested Species in the Northeastern United States
AUTHORS: Schuyler Pearman-Gillman, Vermont Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, University of Vermont; Therese Donovan, U.S. Geological Survey, Vermont Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, University of Vermont; James Murdoch, Wildlife and Fisheries Biology Program, University of Vermont; Jonathan Katz, Vermont Cooperative Fish & Wildlife Research Unit

ABSTRACT. In the Northeastern United States, population expansion, agriculture, industrial development, and urban sprawl pose serious concerns for wildlife and challenges for wildlife managers. Understanding the impacts of landscape change on species’ distributions can help inform decision-making for conservation planning. Unfortunately, empirical data on distribution is limited for many species. In this study, we used expert elicitation techniques to develop species distribution models (SDMs) for harvested species in the northeast (n = 22). This expert-based approach provided relatively inexpensive, big picture information that would have otherwise been unattainable given the spatial extent and range of species being assessed. We elicited opinions from wildlife experts on the probability of occupancy of species using a web-based survey administered in 2017. We collected ca. 6000 occupancy estimates from over 75 experts, and used mixed-model methods to develop SDMs. We present models for three species, moose (Alces alces), American black bear (Ursus americanus), and wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo), and demonstrate their use for mapping distribution under current conditions and various scenarios of landscape change. Our results indicate the utility of expert opinion data in modeling wildlife distributions, which could be helpful for many other species, especially those that are poorly known or lack location records.

Tuesday April 17, 2018 11:40am - 12:00pm EDT
Adirondack A

11:40am EDT

HABITAT CONSERVATION & CLIMATE CHANGE: Functional Equivalency of Natural and Created Wetlands
AUTHORS: John F. Bunnell, Kim J. Laidig, Patrick M. Burritt, Marilyn C. Sobel - NJ Pinelands Commission; Kelly L. Smalling, Jonathan Cohl - U.S. Geological Survey; Lisa Hazard, Kirsten Monsen - Montclair University

ABSTRACT. Intermittent ponds that often contain rare plants and animals occur naturally in many areas of the United States. Like natural ponds, created wetlands can provide habitats for wetland-dependent plants and animals, especially in human-dominated landscapes where natural wetlands may have been degraded or eliminated. Two types of created wetlands commonly found in the Pinelands region of New Jersey are shallow excavations that intercept the groundwater (excavated ponds) and excavations designed to receive stormwater (stormwater basins). Little is known about how well these two types of created wetlands function compared to natural ponds. To address this, we selected 99 natural ponds, 52 excavated ponds, and 46 stormwater basins and compared vegetation, anuran, and fish assemblages and various land-use, water-quality, hydrologic, and landscape metrics between the three wetland types. We also selected a subset of four reference (minimum surrounding land use) and four degraded (maximum surrounding land use) sites from each of the three wetland types (N = 24) to sample water, bed sediment, anuran food, and anuran larvae for over 100 current-use pesticides, and assessed anuran larvae for the presence of two emerging amphibian pathogens: Ranavirus and Bd (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis). For the 197 wetlands, we found major differences in land-use, water-quality, hydrologic, and landscape metrics and plant and animal assemblages between the three wetland types. Stormwater basins were surrounded by greater amounts of developed land, displayed higher pH and specific conductance values, and supported more nonnative species than natural and excavated ponds. For the subset of 24 sites, a total of 28 different pesticides were detected in all four sample types tested, and Ranavirus was observed in four wetlands and Bd was found in nine wetlands. Based on the metrics used, natural and excavated ponds were more functionally similar to each other than either wetland was to stormwater basins.

Tuesday April 17, 2018 11:40am - 12:00pm EDT
Adirondack B/C

12:00pm EDT

12:00pm EDT

12:00pm EDT

Lunch on your own
Tuesday April 17, 2018 12:00pm - 1:30pm EDT
N/A

1:40pm EDT

FISH AND HABITAT: Do Annual Winter Water Level Drawdowns Alter Trophic Pathways for Common Lake Fish Species?
AUTHORS: Jason Carmignani, Allison H. Roy - Massachusetts Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, University of Massachusetts Amherst, U.S. Geological Survey; Jason Stolarski, Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife

ABSTRACT. Annual winter water level drawdowns are a widely used management strategy in New England freshwater lakes that can inadvertently reduce benthic invertebrate densities by altering substrate conditions. Consequently, winter drawdowns may impact fish diet because many fish species consume benthic invertebrates as a primary food resource. Few studies exist on the winter drawdown effects on fish diet, and existing studies typically include lakes with deep (e.g., >10 m) drawdown amplitudes, not observed in most northeastern drawdown lakes. Using stable isotopes (13C, 15N), we aimed to determine the effects of winter drawdowns on the reliance of fish populations on the benthic zone and their trophic niche width. In the summers of 2015 and 2016 we collected fish from 14 Massachusetts lakes using a boat electroshocker. These lakes span a winter drawdown magnitude gradient, including 3 lakes with no drawdowns. We targeted fish species found in most study lakes and with distinct feeding preferences, including benthic invertivores (pumpkinseed, yellow perch) and predators (largemouth bass and chain pickerel). For each species we collected at least 10 individuals per lake across a size range to capture population diet variability. Fish were euthanized and dorsal muscle tissue was extracted and prepared for stable isotope analysis. We used long-lived primary consumers as stable isotope baselines to represent pelagic (mussels for phytoplankton) and benthic (snails for periphyton) primary producers. We expect to see lower reliance on benthic carbon with increasing winter drawdown magnitude particularly for invertivore species, and less impact on predator species. Accordingly, we expect trophic niche width to increase with winter drawdown magnitude as fishes are forced to consume more pelagic carbon in addition to benthic carbon. Results from this study will help to identify the extent of annual winter water level drawdown impacts on fish populations and contribute to future water level management decisions.

Tuesday April 17, 2018 1:40pm - 2:00pm EDT
Adirondack D

1:40pm EDT

OUTREACH & EDUCATION 3: “But They Should Get It”- Communication Lessons Learned from NABCI State of the Birds Reports
AUTHORS: Judith C. Scarl, North American Bird Conservation Initiative/Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies; Gustave Axelson, Cornell Lab of Ornithology

ABSTRACT. Communicating about science to non-scientific audiences can be critical to inform policy, get public support for conservation action, or recruit volunteers. However, there is often a gap between the information scientists want to convey and the understanding or interest of the target audience. The North American Bird Conservation Initiative (NABCI), a partnership of federal and state agencies, NGOs, and other bird-focused partnerships, creates “State of the Birds” reports with the objective to communicate to our government and the public about the population status and threats to birds across the country or the continent; the US NABCI Committee has created seven national reports and collaborated with Canada and Mexico on one international report. A team of scientists analyzes large national and international datasets and works with communication and outreach staff to craft messaging that will be accessible to its intended audience. State of the Birds outreach has achieved varying degrees of effectiveness over the years and lessons learned include: 1) the importance of understanding trade-offs between conveying scientific details and engaging a non-scientific audience; 2) targeted, focused messaging is most appropriate for influencing policy; 3) the circumstances and needs of a target audience may change over time, and considering not just audience but audience evolution is key for effectively communicating science.

Tuesday April 17, 2018 1:40pm - 2:00pm EDT
Lake Champlain A

1:40pm EDT

SYMPOSIA-08: Wildlife Abundance Estimation Using Pedigree Reconstruction: Exploring Applications with Moose (Alces alces)
AUTHORS: Elias Rosenblatt, Vermont Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Unit, Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources, University of Vermont; Dr. Therese Donovan, U.S. Geological Survey, Vermont Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Unit, Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources, University of Vermont; Dr. James Murdoch, Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources, University of Vermont.

ABSTRACT. Accurate and precise population estimates for wildlife is an important tool in conserving and managing wildlife populations. However, this task remains difficult and expensive, often producing estimates with low levels of precision that make tracking population trends difficult. Moose (Alces alces) are a prime example of this challenge, as this species is wide-ranging in usually challenging terrain, and population estimates are either made with expensive and intensive methods or with cheaper but less precise methods. Population estimates from genetic material have become an increasingly important tool, but methods often require multiple samples from individuals to estimate population size. This presentation will focus on a novel method of population estimation using genetic material to reconstruct a population’s pedigree and infer the existence of individuals that were not sampled. This method shows promise with previous work on large carnivores, and could be an alternative method for estimating population size for other wildlife species. This presentation will explore the extension of this method to a simulated moose population in Vermont, identifying the intensity of sampling required to estimate a population and the spatial considerations of applying this method to a wide ranging, important wildlife species. This presented research lays the groundwork for assessing the application of this method on moose populations in the Northeast.

Tuesday April 17, 2018 1:40pm - 2:00pm EDT
Vermont B

1:40pm EDT

SYMPOSIA-11: Opening Remarks: The Concept of “One Health"
AUTHOR: Mark A. Pokras, DVM, Tufts University, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine

Tuesday April 17, 2018 1:40pm - 2:00pm EDT
Vermont A

1:40pm EDT

SYMPOSIA-12: Breeding bird community response to NRCS Working Lands for Wildlife practices applied for golden-winged warblers
AUTHORS: Jeffrey L. Larkin, Indiana University of Pennsylvania and American Bird Conservancy; Darin J. McNeil, Cornell University;  Amanda D. Rodewald, Cornell University; Kirsten E. Johnson, Indiana University of Pennsylvania

ABSTRACT: For species that have experienced population declines as a result of habitat loss, habitat management remains an important conservation tool for reversing declines. In recent decades, a growing body of literature has linked the loss of young forest age classes with population declines of a suite of successional specialist bird species. Programs like NRCS’ Working Lands for Wildlife (WLFW) aim to implement species-specific management for species like the Golden-winged Warbler (Vermivora chrysoptera). While focal species conservation generally remains the primary goal of programs like WLFW, species like the Golden-winged Warbler may also act as a surrogates representing an entire cover type (i.e., early-successional forest). Since 2012, > 15,000 acres of Golden-winged Warbler habitat has been created/managed on private- and public lands across the western Great Lakes and Appalachians using timber harvest (Appalachians/Great Lakes) and shrub management (Great Lakes). To evaluate the extent to which management efforts benefit imperiled bird communities, we surveyed > 950 managed locations from 2015-17 across five states: Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. Occupancy models revealed that Golden-winged Warbler occupancy was considerably higher (Ѱ= 89%, 95%CI= 80 – 95%) in the Great Lakes region than within Appalachia (Ѱ= 25%, 95%CI= 20 – 31%). Occupancy patterns were also not random with respect to within-stand vegetation features and 1 km landscape cover type in either region. In addition to Golden-winged Warblers, we detected > 100 other bird species within each region with more than half of the ten most common species being species in population decline. Our results suggest that habitat management within both the western Great Lakes and Appalachian regions is benefiting a wide array of early-successional bird species. Continued monitoring of managed sites will allow us to examine how advancing ecological succession affects avian response to habitat management on private and public lands.

Tuesday April 17, 2018 1:40pm - 2:00pm EDT
Montpelier A&B

1:40pm EDT

RARE SPECIES CONSERVATION: New Wood Turtle (Glyptemys insculpta) Conservation and Monitoring Program in Vermont
AUTHORS: Kiley V. Briggs, Christopher L. Jenkins - The Orianne Society

ABSTRACT. The Orianne Society (TOS) is launching a new research and conservation program in the northeast called the Great Northern Forests Initiative. Through this initiative, TOS will implement and promote conservation practices that benefit reptiles and amphibians in forested and riparian habitat, with initial focus on conservation and restoration of habitat for Wood Turtles (Glyptemys insculpta), a globally-endangered semi-aquatic species requiring access to both well-oxygenated flowing water and upland foraging habitat. Beginning with a state-wide assessment of the status, distribution, and occupancy rates of Wood Turtles in Vermont using visual encounter surveys, TOS will identify areas critical to Wood Turtle populations and then target conservation efforts in those areas. In 2018, TOS’s role in Wood Turtle conservation will be one of public outreach, increasing awareness among landowners, especially farmers, of the various conservation, cost-share, and financial incentive programs capable of restoring Wood Turtle habitat, but in future years that role will expand to include active habitat management. While TOS will promote any management practice that benefits Wood Turtles, emphasis will be placed on practices that reduce adult mortality, especially through establishing and improving riparian buffers along streams in which Wood Turtles overwinter. Other conservation practices will vary depending on locally-specific conservation threats identified through population monitoring methods such as radio telemetry, mark-recapture, and habitat assessments. These efforts will increase public awareness and support of Wood Turtle conservation and eventually halt or reverse the decline of Wood Turtle populations in areas most critical to the species.

Tuesday April 17, 2018 1:40pm - 2:00pm EDT
Adirondack A

1:40pm EDT

WETLAND BIRD CONSERVATION: Spring Migration Strategies of Mallards and American Black Duck That Winter in the Finger Lakes Region
AUTHORS: Justin M. Droke, Jonathan Cohen, Michael L. Schummer - State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry

ABSTRACT. American Black Ducks (Anas rubripes; hereon Black Ducks) were once the most abundant waterfowl in eastern North America, but declined in the last century with concurrent increases in Mallards (Anas platyrhynchos). Habitat change may favor Mallards because they are habitat generalists relative to Black Ducks. We marked female Black Ducks (n = 42) and Mallards (n = 33) with GPS/GSM backpack transmitters in the Finger Lakes region, January – March 2016 and 2017 to compare their habitat use, movements, and timing of migratory departure in the Montezuma Wetlands Complex (MWC) of central New York. We also conducted observations of Black Ducks and Mallards in the MWC to determine if behaviors differed between these species during spring staging. We did not detect differences in behaviors between these ducks in the MWC, but Mallards used farmed habitats (29 ± 8% [SE]) more than Black Ducks (11 ± 3%) and Black Ducks spent substantially more time in lake and riverine habitats (19 ± 4%) than Mallards (4 ± 2%). Using first passage time methodology, we determined that within-wetland movements were = 1.5 km, among wetland movements ranged from 1.5 – 25 km, and migratory movements were = 25km. In 2016, Mallards departed the MWC 26 days earlier (30 March ± 19 days) than Black Ducks (25 April ± 29 days), whereas in 2017 Mallards departed the MWC 10 days later (14 April ± 8 days) than Black Ducks (4 April ± 7 days). We also analyzed how departure dates were affected by habitat use and detected that proportion time spent in agriculture had a negative effect on departure dates of both species. Our results can be used to manage staging habitat in a way that favors Black Ducks.

Tuesday April 17, 2018 1:40pm - 2:00pm EDT
Adirondack B/C

1:40pm EDT

LAW ENFORCEMENT: Leadership for a Lifetime: How the Past Prepares Us for the Future
Paul Butler, Paul Butler Presentations, LLC
This motivational presentation will cover what it takes to be a good professional and highlight the power of being a good person. I will illustrate how to take individual talents and apply them to the group setting to make an unstoppable and productive team. It is my belief that the ability to lead is present in everyone, regardless of their rank in an organization or irrespective of their situation in life. There are common characteristics that respected people and effective leaders share - most of these traits are developed by the individual rather than through the position they hold. This presentation will cover some of these most important leadership traits, as well as how each individual can use the lessons of yesterday to overcome the challenges of today and capitalize on the opportunities of tomorrow.

ABOUT THE PRESENTER: Paul Butler is a speaker, presenter, instructor, and entertainer. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication with a concentration in Culture and Communication, as well as an Associate’s Degree in Criminal Justice. He excels in the areas of motivation, leadership, customer service, and attitude empowerment. During his 27 years of law enforcement, he has been a public servant, training officer, sergeant, crisis negotiator, chief of police, and chief deputy. These opportunities have given him a unique perspective on a vast array of situations and circumstances that many people find themselves in every day. These experiences have helped him to develop the answers to questions and cures to problems most people are facing at work and in life on a continual basis.

Paul became the chief of police of the Aynor Police Department at 22 years of age, making him the youngest police chief in the history of South Carolina. Born and raised on a small farm, his parents served as examples of hard work, common sense, personal responsibility, and respect for self and others. This has played heavily in his success in life and within each organization in which he has served. He believes the power of a positive attitude can take you to the top or help you simply find happiness and pride in the current role you fill. A healthy attitude is often the key to both personal and professional success – this has certainly been the key to Paul’s success.

As Chief Deputy of the Horry County Sheriff’s Office, he was selected to attend the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Virginia in 2005 for the 220th Session. This 10-week, executive level course was host to 250 attendees from all 50 states and 29 countries around the world. Paul was selected by his class to be their graduation day speaker alongside then-FBI Director Robert Mueller. He continues to serve on the national level with the FBI National Academy Associates as their official Master of Ceremonies. He has performed with them in Orlando, Philadelphia, Seattle, St. Louis, and Washington, D.C.

To increase his outreach, Paul Butler Presentations was formed and he has been traveling the nation speaking, instructing, and entertaining for all types of groups, organizations, and events. He is consistently one of the highest-rated presenters on the market today and comes with strong references and a list of past and future, exciting events on his website: www.Paul-Butler.com.

Tuesday April 17, 2018 1:40pm - 5:00pm EDT
TBD

1:40pm EDT

2:00pm EDT

FISH AND HABITAT: Effects of Winter Drawdown on Warmwater Fish Populations in Connecticut Lakes
AUTHORS: Christopher P. McDowell, Justin Davis, Eileen O'Donnell, Robert Jacobs - CT DEEP Fisheries Division

ABSTRACT. In Connecticut, requests for winter drawdowns (the intentional lowering of water levels on impoundments during winter months) have increased in recent years. Winter drawdowns are generally conducted at the request of lakeshore residents and municipal officials to manage aquatic vegetation, prevent ice damage to in-lake structures, such as docks, boat moorings and seawalls, and facilitate shoreline property maintenance. The efficacy and advisability of winter drawdowns as a lake management practice has become a topic of increasing debate in Connecticut. CT DEEP has adopted a conservative approach on drawdown approval given the potential for damage to lake ecosystems. This presentation focuses on both a short- and long-term study that investigated the effects of winter drawdowns on four common warmwater lake fish populations. The short-term study focused on changes in swim-up date, mean daily growth rate, mean size and survival of age-0 Yellow Perch, Largemouth Bass and Bluegill in five eastern Connecticut lakes under varying drawdown intensities for three consecutive winters. The long-term study focused on differences in abundance and growth of Largemouth Bass, Bluegill, Chain Pickerel and Yellow Perch in 18 lakes fitting the criteria for “drawn down lakes” and 26 lakes fitting the criteria for “non-drawn down lakes”. Results of the short-term study did not indicate strong support for varying winter drawdown intensities causing significant changes in swim-up dates or growth rates for any of the age-0 species studied. It was found that winter drawdown does adversely affect survival and abundance of age-0 Largemouth Bass and Bluegill. Evidence from the long-term study suggests that chronic annual winter drawdown of lakes results in abundances of adult littoral fish species being typically lower in drawn down lakes, with juvenile fish generally growing faster.

Tuesday April 17, 2018 2:00pm - 2:20pm EDT
Adirondack D

2:00pm EDT

OUTREACH & EDUCATION 3: Going Local: Working with Community Grassroots Partnerships
AUTHORS: Shane Rogers, Rooted in Vermont

ABSTRACT. Shane Rogers works with Rooted in Vermont, an organization tasked with increasing Vermonters’ consumption of local food. He will share his insights about his partnership with the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department, and how they are working together to change the conversation about local food.

Tuesday April 17, 2018 2:00pm - 2:20pm EDT
Lake Champlain A

2:00pm EDT

SYMPOSIA-08: Analyzing Trends in Moose Sighting Data in Vermont
AUTHORS: Dr. Katherina Gieder, Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department

ABSTRACT. Managing moose populations is becoming increasingly challenging for many states faced with declining moose populations along the southern edge of their range. Climate change and related winter tick effects in many New England states where moose were once harvested in abundance have led to a steady decline in permits and harvests. Sample sizes of datasets that managers rely on to monitor moose populations are shrinking as a result, making it increasingly difficult for wildlife managers to monitor moose populations. Wildlife managers in Vermont and other New England states have relied predominantly on moose sighting data from deer hunters to monitor moose populations. However, a steady decline in moose populations in Vermont has led to issues with moose sighting data, including highly variable sample sizes and zero inflated values. In this presentation, I will detail these data challenges using examples from Vermont’s moose sighting rate data and present strategies for maximizing the utility of this data, as well as new options that Vermont Fish and Wildlife biologists are considering for monitoring moose in a future where sighting rates may remain low enough to present severe challenges to extracting statistically relevant data from this source.*Moose symposium

Tuesday April 17, 2018 2:00pm - 2:20pm EDT
Vermont B

2:00pm EDT

SYMPOSIA-11: Lead Poisoning: A One Health Story
AUTHORS: Mark A. Pokras, DVM, Tufts University, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine

ABSTRACT: One Health examines linkages among the health of people, other animals and the environment.  Few issues illustrate this better than lead (Pb) toxicity. Lead is cheap and there is a long tradition of its use.  But the toxic effects of Pb have been recognized for centuries. As a result, some societies have greatly reduced many uses of Pb, including many paints, gasoline and solders because of threats to the health of humans and the environment.

Lead poisoning affects many species.  We discuss sources of Pb and review the clinical, subclinical and ecological effects of from cows to condors to earthworms. Because of societal concerns, we know the most about Pb poisoning in people. Our knowledge about Pb poisoning in other species is significantly less.   From an evolutionary perspective, physiological processes affected by Pb are well conserved.  Thus, scientists are able to use rodents and fish to understand how Pb works in people.  Similarly, those of us interested in safeguarding animal health should consider humans as excellent models for lead’s chronic and sublethal effects.

Given what we are learning about the toxic effects of this heavy metal, there is every reason to adopt non-toxic alternatives.  To accomplish this, a broad, cross-species ecological vision is important.  All interest groups must work together to find safe alternatives, to develop new educational and policy initiatives, to eliminate most current uses of Pb, and to clean up existing problems.  

Tuesday April 17, 2018 2:00pm - 2:20pm EDT
Vermont A

2:00pm EDT

SYMPOSIA-12: What do golden-winged warbler fledglings tell us about how to structure young forest habitat within the mature forest matrix?
AUTHORS: Cameron J. Fiss, Indiana University of Pennsylvania; Jeffrey L. Larkin, Indiana University of Pennsylvania and American Bird Conservancy; Darin J. McNeil, Cornell University; Amanda D. Rodewald, Cornell University

ABSTRACT: Recent songbird post-fledging research has revealed patterns in which mature forest nesting species move their young into dense patches of early-successional forest after fledging. Unfortunately, little information exists regarding the habitat use patterns of early-successional nesting species during the post-fledging period—of which many are experiencing population declines. One such declining early-successional nester, the Golden-winged Warbler, has had considerable conservation funds allocated towards reversing its population declines. To date, management has focused on creating nesting habitat for the species which may not capture the full breeding season needs if habitat shifts occur after young fledge. We conducted a four-year (2014-2017) post-fledging habitat selection study on Golden-winged Warblers in two forest landscapes in northern PA to help fill this knowledge gap. We radio-tracked 109 fledgling Golden-winged Warblers from 88 different sub-broods. On a forest stand scale, fledgling Golden-winged Warblers selected most strongly for early-successional forest throughout the 28-day tracking period. Additionally, while fledglings used a variety of forest age classes and cover types throughout the post-fledging period, they consistently selected microhabitat features characterized by young regenerating forest. On a microhabitat scale, fledglings selected locations with greater horizontal and vertical vegetation density, and lower basal area than available locations. Fledgling locations contained less herbaceous and greater vertical woody structure than nest sites. We documented fledglings gradually increasing their daily movements and continually moving further from their nest sites. By the conclusion of tracking, fledglings were on average ~900 m from their nests. Our results highlight the importance of managing local landscapes around current Golden-winged Warbler nesting patches in a way that promotes forest age class diversity. Further, managing mature stands adjacent to nesting patches in a way that maximizes understory structural diversity would facilitate dispersal to nearby regenerating stands.

Tuesday April 17, 2018 2:00pm - 2:20pm EDT
Montpelier A&B

2:00pm EDT

RARE SPECIES CONSERVATION: Habitat Suitability of Restored Wetlands for Freshwater Turtles in West Virginia
AUTHORS: Alissa L. Gulette; James T. Anderson; Joseph Hatton; Donald J. Brown - West Virginia University

ABSTRACT. Wetlands serve as habitat for many fish and wildlife species. Substantial historical drainage of wetlands in the United States has been remediated in part by wetland restoration on agricultural lands through the Wetlands Reserve Program, operated by the Natural Resources Conservation Service. However, relatively few studies have assessed habitat suitability of restored wetlands for reptiles and amphibians. Aquatic turtles are particularly important components of semi-permanent and permanent wetland ecosystems, where they function as apex predators. In 2016 and 2017, we quantified use of restored wetlands in West Virginia by aquatic turtles, and obtained comparative data from reference wetlands on nearby agricultural lands. Our objectives were to compare habitat characteristics of restored and reference wetlands, and quantify relationships between habitat characteristics and turtle species abundance and population structure. At each wetland, we sampled turtle populations using baited hoop-nets, and we measured habitat characteristics. We collected species, sex, and size data, and recorded presence of ectoparasites from captured turtles. We measured water quality, surrounding land cover type, soil type, canopy cover, proportion of emergent plant cover, and wetland size and depth. Preliminary results show that Painted Turtle (Chrysemys picta) abundance decreased as percent canopy cover increased but increased as dissolved oxygen in water increased, and Eastern Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina) abundance decreased as percent canopy cover increased. No difference in abundance of both species was found between restored and reference wetlands. The results of this study will provide managers with quantitative data on habitat characteristics that maximize suitability of restored wetlands for common aquatic turtles, which can be used to guide future wetland restoration actions.

Tuesday April 17, 2018 2:00pm - 2:20pm EDT
Adirondack A

2:00pm EDT

WETLAND BIRD CONSERVATION: Comparisons of Habitat Selection and Behaviors Between Mallards and American Black Ducks in the Finger Lakes Region During Winter
AUTHORS: Adam J. Bleau, Jonathan Cohen, Michael L. Schummer - State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry

ABSTRACT. Mallards (Anas platyrhynchos) and American Black Ducks (Anas rubripes) are closely related species with little niche separation, increasing likelihood of competition for resources. In the 1950’s, Mallards began filling the functional niche of Black Ducks by expanding their range eastward concurrent with landscape changes and by release of farm-raised Mallards that established feral populations. We investigated ecological separation between Mallards and Black Ducks in the Finger Lakes Region of New York, January–March 2016 and 2017. Our goal was to develop management actions to sustain this population of wintering Black Ducks. We conducted weekly occupancy surveys (n=13 surveys, n=1275 points) and used dynamic multi-species occupancy modeling to determine if the distribution of Black Ducks was influenced by Mallards and presence of human structures. Results indicate that occupancy by Black Ducks was negatively influenced by the presence of buildings. Week to week Black Duck site colonization varied negatively with proportion of developed land cover and positively with proportion of agricultural land cover and presence of Mallards. Black Ducks occurred independently of Mallards at only 4% of sites. Week to week Black Duck site extinction was positively influenced by increased dock density. We used walk-in traps to capture female Black Ducks (n = 24) and Mallards (n=29) to track them with 25g GPS/GSM backpack transmitters. We did not detect significant differences in habitat selection between the two species, however Mallards did utilize agriculture and developed habitats to a greater degree. Activity budgets were created from 10-minute behavioral observations. We did not detect significant differences in behaviors between the two species, however Black Ducks were observed feeding eight times as often as Mallards when in forested wetlands. Our results suggest that Black Ducks are less tolerant of human structures than Mallards and conservation efforts should be focused in areas with limited human disturbance.

Tuesday April 17, 2018 2:00pm - 2:20pm EDT
Adirondack B/C

2:20pm EDT

FISH AND HABITAT: Restroration of the West Branch White River Using Large Wood
AUTHORS: Daniel McKinley, Brian C. Austin, P.E., Jeremy Mears - USDA Forest Service, Green Mountain & Finger Lakes National Forests; Robert Gubernick, P.G., USDA Forest Service, Region 9 Technical Services Team; Greg Russ, White River Partnership

ABSTRACT. The West Branch of the White River was severely impacted by unauthorized dredging following Tropical Storm Irene in 2011 that degraded its habitat value and function. In response, several partners worked closely over a 5-year period to develop a two phased approach to restoring the river. This project is unique in that it highlights the use of large wood for streambank stabilization and restoration rather than large riprap which is typical. This project highlights techniques and technology being developed by the Forest Service and being utilized more frequently in the western United States. The project spanned beyond National Forest boundaries and included several adjacent private land owners all working together to improve the function of the river. Approximately 1 mile of river and riparian habitat was restored or improved. By restoring flood flows to flood chutes and abandoned floodplains, the project increased flood storage without increasing 100-year flood elevations. Through the creation of off-channel aquatic habitat, the project had demonstrated that unique and uncommon habitats found in well-functioning floodplain forests can and should be a consideration in river/stream restoration in the northeast. After only one year, the Forest Service has documented the benefits to aquatic habitat from this restoration project through fish sampling that has shown an increased population of trout. Water temperatures have decreased in the deeper pools that were constructed making the river more suitable for native Brook trout as well as the naturalized population of wild Rainbow trout. The site has become a popular family recreation site for not only fishing but also swimming in the deep holes. Adjacent properties are very happy with the results and look forward to continued improvements in the future. Conditions will continue to improve as riparian plantings begin to grow and fish population and other aquatic organisms become established.

Tuesday April 17, 2018 2:20pm - 2:40pm EDT
Adirondack D

2:20pm EDT

OUTREACH & EDUCATION 3: Vermont Let's Go Fishing - Advanced Clinics, Local Food, Meaningful Relationships
AUTHORS: Corey Hart, Alison Thomas - Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department

ABSTRACT. Corey Hart will share the implementation process and results involved in providing advanced educational angling clinics for schools and the public. These advanced clinics include species-specific topics that include natural history as well as fishing techniques for open water and ice fishing; how to process wild game; and, specialized fishing techniques like using lead-core. Department staff and certified volunteer instructors teach these programs. Typically, the clinics have smaller group sizes (10-30 participants), and include more in-depth information and skill sets that appeal to experienced anglers and adults. The purposes of these clinics are to focus on retention and reactivation among anglers and recruitment of individuals interested in local, sustainable food systems. Attend this session, and learn how these programs have evolved from the initial planning stages, what challenges the staff have experienced, current evaluation results, and future program plans.

Tuesday April 17, 2018 2:20pm - 2:40pm EDT
Lake Champlain A

2:20pm EDT

SYMPOSIA-08: A SNP Resource for Studying North American Moose
AUTHORS: Stephanie D. McKay; Theodore S. Kalbfleisch; Brenda M. Murdoch; Timothy P. L. Smith; James D. Murdoch; Michael P. Heaton

ABSTRACT. Moose (Alces alces) colonized the North American continent from Asia less than 15,000 years ago, and spread across the boreal forest regions of Canada and the northern United States. Contemporary populations have low genetic diversity, due either to low number of individuals in the original migration (founder effect), and/or subsequent population bottlenecks in North America. Genetic tests based on informative single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) markers are helpful in forensic and wildlife conservation activities, but have been difficult to develop for moose, due to the lack of a reference genome assembly and whole genome sequence (WGS) data. WGS data were generated for four individual moose from Alaska, Idaho, Wyoming, and Vermont with minimum and average genome coverage depths of 14- and 19-fold, respectively. Cattle and sheep reference genomes were used for aligning sequence reads and identifying moose SNPs. Approximately 11% and 9% of moose WGS reads aligned to cattle and sheep genomes, respectively. The reads clustered at genomic segments where sequence identity between these species was greater than 95%. In these segments, average mapped read depth was approximately 19-fold. Sets of 47,236 and 38,250 high-confidence SNPs were identified from cattle and sheep comparisons, respectively, with 773 and 552 of those having minor allele frequency of 0.5 and conserved flanking sequences in all three species. Among the four moose, heterozygosity and allele sharing of SNP genotypes were consistent with decreasing levels of moose genetic diversity from west to east. A minimum set of 317 SNPs, informative across all four moose, was selected as a resource for future SNP assay design. All SNPs and associated information are available, without restriction, to support development of SNP-based tests for animal identification, parentage determination, and estimating relatedness in North American moose.

Tuesday April 17, 2018 2:20pm - 2:40pm EDT
Vermont B

2:20pm EDT

SYMPOSIA-11: One Science for One Health
AUTHORS: F. Joshua Dein, VMD, MS and Marla M. Handy, PhD, OneScience Partners

ABSTRACT: The concept of One Health promotes the integration of medical sciences (human and
veterinary) and applies this knowledge to support the maintenance of healthy global ecosystems. This creates demand for combined expertise in the natural, information, computational and social sciences, and requires collaborative, multi-institutional and interdisciplinary approaches. However, these well-intentioned efforts can generate challenges of their own. Interdisciplinary work is, in effect, cross cultural since each field has its own organizational methods of communication, data-sharing and review for validity of results. Yet, few interdisciplinary research efforts recognize and plan for these types of challenges which may threaten a positive outcome. This talk will highlight examples of tools and processes from different "sciences" that may be helpful in the development and implementation of successful One Health projects.

Tuesday April 17, 2018 2:20pm - 2:40pm EDT
Vermont A

2:20pm EDT

SYMPOSIA-12: Local and landscape scale effects on American woodcock use of early successional communities managed for golden-winged warblers
AUTHORS: Kirsten E. Johnson, Indiana University of Pennsylvania; Jeffrey L. Larkin, Indiana University of Pennsylvania and American Bird Conservancy;  Darin J. McNeil, Cornell University; Amanda D. Rodewald, Cornell University

ABSTRACT: The American Woodcock is a broadly distributed species associated with early-successional forests of the eastern U.S.  Similar to other young forest species, populations have declined precipitously in conjunction with habitat loss. Woodcock population trend estimates for the eastern management unit—which includes the Appalachian range of the Golden-winged Warbler (GWWA)—indicate an annual decline of 0.89% from 2007-2017. Long-term monitoring efforts to this point have not considered factors which may influence detection, or sampled within woodcock habitat and appropriate landscapes. The breeding distribution and habitat needs of the GWWA overlap with those of the American Woodcock and range-wide habitat management efforts for the species (WLFW) provide a context within which to evaluate factors that may be driving population change at multiple scales. From 2015–2017 we conducted 1,078 surveys for American Woodcock on 474 sites recently managed for GWWA. We collected micro-habitat vegetation data and conducted spatial analysis to characterize the landscape structure and composition surrounding each survey site (at 500 and 1,000m). We found an overall increasing occupancy trend as sites age. Within the study, occupancy increased by 13.4% from years 1–5 post-management (28.4–41.8%). At the micro-scale, woodcock occupancy exhibited a consistently negative relationship with basal area. By year three post-management, occupancy estimates increase by 20% for sites with shrub cover within ranges recommended for GWWA habitat. Shrub cover becomes less important as sites age, with grass and forb cover influencing site occupancy by year 5. At the landscape scale, the effect of both structure and composition diminishes at 1,000m with few models well supported. However, at 500m, we found strong support that the proportion of mature forests inhibits woodcock occupancy. For sites with more young forest within a 500-m radius and greater interspersion of habitat patches, occupancy estimates increased by ~45% over the range of observed values.

Tuesday April 17, 2018 2:20pm - 2:40pm EDT
Montpelier A&B

2:20pm EDT

RARE SPECIES CONSERVATION: Population Connectivity and Effective Population Size of the Concho Watersnake, Nerodia Paucimaculata, a Recently De-listed Texas Endemic, Within an Impounded River System
AUTHORS: Mary Gorton Janecka, Charles Criscione - Department of Biology, Texas A&M University; Jan E. Janecka, Department of Biological Sciences, Duquesne University

ABSTRACT. The construction of dams is one of the most pervasive and dramatic contemporary habitat modifications of the 20th and 21st centuries. Impoundments alter river and stream habitats directly by changing flow regime and increasing sedimentation. Dams are among the leading factors contributing to population reductions, isolation for freshwater organisms, and loss of biodiversity. The Concho watersnake (Nerodia paucimaculata) is a natricine endemic to central Texas. It was federally listed as a threatened species due to its small range, specific habitat requirements, and potential threats of habitat modification, specifically the construction of a major reservoir in 1990. The Concho watersnake was delisted in 2013 after surveys suggested it was able to persist in the reservoir. We conducted population genetic surveys of this species as part of the federally required post-delisting monitoring plan throughout the historic range on the Colorado and Concho Rivers. We developed eighteen species-specific microsatellites to assess effective population size and connectivity of 110 individuals captured from the upper Colorado River (UCR), within the reservoir (O.H. Ivie), and lower Colorado River (LCR)below the reservoir along the Colorado River. Despite extensive sampling, no Concho watersnakes were encountered or captured in the Concho River. Overall, the Concho water snake exhibited low genetic diversity (An: LCR = 4.615, O.H. Ivie = 3.385, and UCR = 3.23), (Hs : LCR = 0.516, O.H. Ivie = 0.479, and UCR = 0.504). Multiple structure analyses and Fst estimates support three genetic clusters corresponding to populations located above, below and within the dam. The O.H. Ivie Reservoir population exhibited the highest divergence, likely due to a founder effect. Our study suggests that low connectivity, coupled with prolonged drought conditions, may put the Concho watersnake at risk from bottlenecks and inbreeding, further promoting genetic drift. These effects could be ameliorated with a translocation program.

Tuesday April 17, 2018 2:20pm - 2:40pm EDT
Adirondack A

2:20pm EDT

WETLAND BIRD CONSERVATION: Estimation of Waterfowl Abundance in Remote Wetland Habitats
AUTHORS: Gary Macy, John O'Connor - NYSDEC, Division of Fish & Wildlife, Ray Brook, NY; Dr. Jacob Straub, University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point

ABSTRACT. American Black Duck (Anas rubripes) populations have experienced a steady decline since the 1950’s and are considered a species of greatest conservation need in much of their range in eastern North America. Previous research suggests habitat in the Adirondack (ADK) mountains may support a greater population of American Black Ducks relative to surrounding areas of northern New York. Our objectives were to generate indices of waterfowl abundance in remote forested wetlands and compare our estimates to previous estimates and those derived from the Breeding Waterfowl Population Survey (BWPS). We completed waterfowl surveys in remote beaver (Castor canadensis) wetlands (n = 44) in the Eastern and Central ADKs during May-August, 2016 and 2017. We surveyed each site 4 times for a minimum of 45 minutes per survey; observers recorded survey duration, waterfowl species and gender (when possible), number of ducklings and broods, time of sighting, and distance to observed waterfowl. Additionally, we recorded weather conditions, other observed species, site-specific habitat characteristics, and interspecific interactions. We then derived indices of waterfowl abundance relative to area of habitat occupied. Hooded Merganser (Lophodytes cucullatus), Wood Duck (Aix sponsa), and American Black Duck comprised 88% of the observed species and their abundance indices were 0.37, 0.22, and 0.12 birds/acre of wetland, respectively. Compared with previous work in the ADKs, we observed lower densities of Wood Ducks, Black Ducks, and Mallard Ducks (Anas platyrhynchos), and a three-fold increase in the abundance of Hooded Mergansers. Our estimates for American Black Ducks and Hooded Mergansers in remote wetlands were more similar than expected to those generated by the BWPS for all habitat in the same area. We also observed intraspecific discrepancies in the population changes between the two years of this study and the same estimates for the BWPS.

Tuesday April 17, 2018 2:20pm - 2:40pm EDT
Adirondack B/C

2:30pm EDT

2:40pm EDT

FISH AND HABITAT: Physical Assessment of Lake Sturgeon Spawning Habitat in the Lamoille River Below Peterson Dam
AUTHORS: Elisabeth A. Bleistine, Ian Kiraly - Gomez and Sullivan Engineers; Chet Mackenzie, Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department

ABSTRACT. In 2016, an evaluation of potential improvements to the physical habitat downstream of Peterson Dam on the Lamoille River, VT, was performed with the goal of increasing the quality and/or quantity of Lake Sturgeon spawning habitat. Detailed bathymetry and velocity data were collected using a boat-mounted Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler (ADCP), and substrate types were mapped within the study area. A two-dimensional hydraulic model was developed using River2D software, which incorporated habitat suitability index criteria (depth, velocity, and substrate) for Lake Sturgeon spawning. Spawning habitat was then modeled under various flows from upstream, along with backwatering effects from Lake Champlain. Modeling results indicated that suitable spawning habitat was available in much of the study area during a variety of flow conditions, which was not consistent with Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department’s previous egg mat surveys, which had documented sturgeon spawning in a relatively small portion of the study area over multiple years. Given the high percentage of the area with suitable habitat under existing conditions, the evaluation concluded that physical habitat alteration in the study area would not effectively improve Lake Sturgeon spawning habitat, as characterized using current habitat suitability index criteria. Additional research would therefore be required to accurately predict Lake Sturgeon use of spawning habitat, given the disconnect that was observed in this study between physical habitat suitability and actual habitat use.

Tuesday April 17, 2018 2:40pm - 3:00pm EDT
Adirondack D

2:40pm EDT

SYMPOSIA-11: Charismatic and Complicit: Impacts of Increased Abundances of White-tailed Deer on Ticks and Tick-borne Diseases
AUTHORS: Scott C. Williams, Ph. D., Center for Vector Biology & Zoonotic Diseases, The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station

ABSTRACT: White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) play a complicated role in tick-borne zoonoses.  While deer are reservoir incompetent for the causal agents of Lyme disease, babesiosis, and anaplasmosis, they serve as the major host for adult female blacklegged ticks (Ixodes scapularis) bloodmeals to complete their life cycle.  The exponential growth of the white-tailed deer population in the 20th century has coincided with exponential increases in Lyme disease as well as the more recent emergence of babesiosis and anaplasmosis diagnoses in humans.  Tick-borne disease abatement is often used as justification for management of white-tailed deer, but definitive results are seldom achieved.  Marginal deer reductions may not necessarily reduce tick abundances on the landscape, but in fact, may result in perceived temporarily amplification as ticks remaining on the landscape desperately seek hosts in the absence of some deer.  Additionally, remaining ticks will likely host-switch and prioritize bloodmeals from competent reservoirs, resulting in amplification of pathogen infection as well.  In lieu of significant and sustained deer reduction, we found, using an integrated tick management strategy, that a combination of a broadcast application of the fungus Metarhizium anisopliae and fipronil-based rodent bait boxes significantly reduced both blacklegged tick abundance and density of ticks infected with Borrelia burgdorferi in residential settings without complications resulting from marginal host management efforts.

Tuesday April 17, 2018 2:40pm - 3:00pm EDT
Vermont A

2:40pm EDT

SYMPOSIA-12: Evaluating native pollinator density in regenerating timber harvest practices associated with NRCS Working Lands for Wildlife
AUTHORS: Darin J. McNeil, Cornell University; E. L. Moser, Indiana University of Pennsylvania; Amanda D. Rodewald, Cornell University; Jeffrey L. Larkin, Indiana University of Pennsylvania and American Bird Conservancy

ABSTRACT: Bumble bees (Bombus spp.) play an essential ecological role within the northeast United States and beyond. Especially important for crops that require ‘buzz pollination,’ Bombus and other native bees are attributed with $3.07 billion per year in agricultural gross domestic product. However, like other bee species, Bombus are experiencing declines across the North American continent. These declines are thought to be driven by a variety of factors including pesticide use, exotic disease, and habitat loss. Though Bombus are relatively well-studied in agricultural systems, understanding of their ecology within native forest ecosystems remains almost entirely unknown. Moreover, the extent to which habitat management through silviculture benefits eastern bees remains unknown. To begin filling these knowledge gaps, we conducted an observational study across two heavily-forested counties of Pennsylvania (Clinton and Centre). In 2017, we conducted line transects through n=48 recently-managed forests, with each transect repeated three times. We then used hierarchical distance models to estimate detection probability and true Bombus density (bees/km2) as a function of habitat. We found that detection probability varied as a function of wind and density varied as a function of a variety of habitat features. Density models for habitat indicated selection for shrub cover but avoidance of sapling cover. Our interaction data suggested that Bombus relied mainly on flowering shrubs and herbaceous forbs during the sampling period. Dynamic patterns of habitat association appeared to be driven by plant bloom cycles with flowering shrubs selected most heavily during Vaccinium and mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia) bloom and Rubus avoidance after its flowering period. Increasing densities of Bombus were recorded from period 1 (30.3 workers/ha) to periods 3 (127.5 workers/ha). Densities reported here are higher than the densities reported by many past studies highlighting the importance of early successional forests, and thus benefit of forest management, to pollinators like Bombus.

Tuesday April 17, 2018 2:40pm - 3:00pm EDT
Montpelier A&B

3:20pm EDT

3:20pm EDT

OUTREACH & EDUCATION 3: Tracking Angler Participation: CT's Youth Fishing Passport Program and Free Fishing License Days
AUTHORS: Mike Beauchene, CT DEEP Fisheries Division

ABSTRACT. Quantification of the number of people who participated in fishing as a youth (under 16) or as an adult as part of a free fishing event is difficult to obtain. Using our licensing system we have created two free products, one for youth and the other for adults, where a lifetime conservation id is assigned as part of the user profile. This conservation ID provides us with the ability to see people who participated in one of these programs and then purchased a fishing license. While the initial numbers are relatively small during the first several years of the programs, the concept is sound and will provide useful information for future recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) efforts.

Tuesday April 17, 2018 3:20pm - 3:40pm EDT
Lake Champlain A

3:20pm EDT

SYMPOSIA-11: Blacklegged tick reservoir host diversity and abundance impacts on dilution of Borrelia burgdorferi in residential and woodland habitats in Connecticut
AUTHORS: Megan A. Linske, Ph.D., The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, Center for Vector Biology and Zoonotic Diseases, Department of Entomology

ABSTRACT. The dilution effect in the zoonotic disease transmission cycle theorizes that an increased diversity of host species will alter transmission dynamics, result in a decrease in pathogen prevalence, and potentially lower human disease incidence. The interrelationship of Borrelia burgdorferi, the etiological agent of Lyme disease (LD), and its primary vector, blacklegged ticks (Ixodes scapularis), is a commonly used example of the dilution effect, suggesting that an increased diversity of host species will be found in large, undisturbed forested tracts and lower diversity in fragmented forests. Given that Connecticut woodlands are mature with heavy upper canopies and generally poor habitat quality, we hypothesized there would be higher diversity of host species resulting in lower prevalence of B. burgdorferi in white-footed mice (Peromyscus leucopus) in forested residential areas. Using camera and live small mammal trapping techniques, we determined there was a greater richness of reservoir host species, significantly higher encounters with hosts, and significantly lower B. burgdorferi host-infection in residential areas as compared to large, intact forested stands. Furthermore, we determined that the driving factor of pathogen dilution was not host species diversity, but rather overall encounter abundance with alternative hosts, regardless of habitat type. Our study challenges major concepts of the dilution effect within the Connecticut landscape and calls for new managerial actions to address the current state of our woodlands and abundance of host species in the interest of both forest and public health.

Tuesday April 17, 2018 3:20pm - 3:40pm EDT
Vermont A

3:20pm EDT

SYMPOSIA-12: Shrubland bird conservation and habitat use on small, diversified farms in New England
AUTHORS: Isabel Brofsky, University of Massachusetts; David I. King, U.S. Forest Service Northern Research Station, University of Massachusetts; Kim Peters, DNV GL – Energy

ABSTRACT: Over the past several decades, New England agriculture has experienced renewed growth and interest in small-scale, diversified farming systems. Increasing public support and demand for local food production, evidenced by the success of CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), has helped to bolster this movement and increase the viability of these farms. While the primary interest in small, diversified farming operations is associated with local food production, these farms also have the potential to provide beneficial habitat for a variety of wildlife, including birds. In New England, bird conservation in the context of agricultural systems has largely focused on declining grassland obligates, but there are other habitat guilds that may benefit. Shrubland birds in particular may be ideal candidates for conservation efforts on these farms because they tend to associate with heterogeneous shrub and herbaceous vegetation and require smaller areas of continuous habitat than grassland species. Also, most shrubland birds are primarily insectivorous, so they may be consuming invertebrate pests and providing a valuable ecosystem service. Furthermore, due to the loss of already restricted shrubland habitat in New England, shrubland species are declining more rapidly than almost any other habitat guild in North America. By conducting point counts and vegetation surveys across 23 farms in the Pioneer Valley of Massachusetts we identified 101 species using the farms as habitat, including 23 species known to be shrubland obligates, including Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia), Gray Catbird (Dumatella carolinensis), and Common Yellowthroat (Geothlypis trichas).  A number of these species were associated with non-productive habitats on the farms such as hedgerows, woodlands, and fallow areas, features less prevalent on larger intensive farms, as well as productive habitats such as mixed vegetable crops and berries. These findings demonstrate the potential for these smaller diversified farms to support declining shrubland species.

Tuesday April 17, 2018 3:20pm - 3:40pm EDT
Montpelier A&B

3:20pm EDT

RARE SPECIES CONSERVATION: Current Distribution of Bats in New Hampshire Based on a Retrospective Analysis of State-wide Acoustic Data
AUTHORS: Sarah A. Barnum, Ph.D., and Jamie O’Brien, Normandeau Associates

ABSTRACT. As bat populations of all species face greater pressures due to white-nose syndrome, wind power development, habitat loss, and/or climate change, improved understanding of baseline distributions is increasingly important. Using acoustic data collected from 2015 through 2017, we analyzed current summer season distributions of New Hampshire’s eight resident bat species. Our analysis considered 1,635 detector nights, collected at 530 detector locations along a roughly north-south state-wide transect, representing 42 towns, and 8 of the State’s ecoregions. Species and number of species detected were mapped by town and ecoregion. Influence of number of survey nights on number of species detected was examined at each scale. Influence of elevation and latitude was examined at the detector scale. Eptesicus fuscus was most commonly detected (35% of detectors), while Myotis septentrionalisM. leibii, and Perimyotis subflavus were least common, detected at 8%, 2% and 1% of detectors, respectively. M. lucifugus, Lasiurus cinereusL. borealis, and Lasionycteris noctivagans were recorded at 29%, 29%, 31%, and 23% of detectors, respectively. Although survey effort varied by year, this pattern of relative species detections was reflected for each survey year. At least 1 bat species was detected at 56% of detectors, with most (48%) detecting from 1 to 4 species. No single detector recorded more than 7 species; 2 towns and 3 ecoregions had all 8 species. Number of survey nights appeared to influence the number of species detected at the town scale. Both latitude and elevation appear to have a negative influence on number of species recorded at a detector. However, the distribution maps suggest that each of NH’s bat species continues to occur throughout the State, with even the rarest species widely detected.  

Tuesday April 17, 2018 3:20pm - 3:40pm EDT
Adirondack A

3:20pm EDT

WETLAND BIRD CONSERVATION: A Novel Means to Passively Identify Individual Birds Attending Nests
AUTHORS: Alison R. Kocek, Jonathan B. Cohen - SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry

ABSTRACT. Identification of individuals attending nests is often important in avian field work. For secretive species such as tidal marsh sparrows that cannot be easily identified by individual color bands in the field, capture of adults on nests is the primary method for identification. However, as these species renest several times each season, continual recaptures of birds at the nest may lead to nest abandonment and trap avoidance. To reduce both of these costs, we attached a Passive Integrated Transponder (PIT) tag to a band on Saltmarsh Sparrows and Seaside Sparrows in New York in 2014 and 2015. When a sparrow nest was found, we concealed an RFID reader antenna near the nest and if an attending adult had a PIT Tag band, the identity of that individual was successfully recorded every time. Use of PIT Tags reduced physical capture of adults at the nest by 79.2% in 2015, increased apparent detection of individuals by 50%, and five individuals were identified at the nest by use of RFID technology that were never physically captured that season. RFID technology has great potential to increase detection rates while reducing the cost of researcher induced nest abandonment for difficult to observe species.

Tuesday April 17, 2018 3:20pm - 3:40pm EDT
Adirondack B/C

3:40pm EDT

FISH AND HABITAT: Applied Intensive Culture Techniques of Walleye Sander vitreus Used in Fisheries Restoration Efforts for Lake Champlain
AUTHORS: Kevin Kelsey, Thomas Chairvolotti, Benjamin Rooks – Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department

ABSTRACT. Walleye (Sander vitreus) culture for fisheries restoration on Lake Champlain can be documented as far back as 1899. A cooperative was established in 1986 between the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department and the Lake Champlain Walleye Association (LCWA) to provide fingerling production using early rearing intensive culture combined with extensive pond culture techniques. Today’s program has placed a greater emphasis on intensive culture techniques that can be developed to provide a consistent output of quality fingerlings (38-51mm) in an effort to maximize production efforts and enhance the walleye fishery. The application of recirculation technology for fingerling production began in 2011, allowing for the control of environmental parameters critical for successful development and transition of walleye fry, advanced fry and fingerlings.Early intensive rearing techniques have been reported in the NCRAC Walleye Culture Manual by Summerfelt et al (1996). Using this initial work as a guide along with collaboration with other researchers, the conception of an intensive culture program was put into place. With currently seven production cycles completed, overall production survival to distribution has increased from 6% in the initial year to over 52%, while days post hatch (dph) to target size (38mm>) has decreased from 41dph to 30-35dph. These advances have been achieved by applying various changes to aspects of culture such as fry density, turbidity, temperature, lighting and feed rates. We expect to continue our refinements to various features and aspects of the production cycle and recognize the advances that have been made to date are now showing positive results that are contributing to the fishery.

Tuesday April 17, 2018 3:40pm - 4:00pm EDT
Adirondack D

3:40pm EDT

OUTREACH & EDUCATION 3: A New Model for Volunteer and Cost-share Tracking Everyone Should Know About
AUTHORS: Lowell Ballard, Timmons Group; Donald Katnik, Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife

ABSTRACT. We are currently working with State, Federal and NGO partners to define a web-based application (Portal) that would be open to all state fish and wildlife agencies, citizens, partners, and other interested stakeholders in advancing conservation projects. It would be specifically designed to help state fish and wildlife agencies raise funds from the public for use as match for State Wildlife Grant Program (SWG) and potentially other projects. State fish and wildlife agencies would have Portal access to develop new “campaigns” to seek support for proposed projects, which could be described and posted online. Citizen scientists, state agency partners and other stakeholders would be able to access these campaigns online and contribute time, money and other resources to support conservation projects that align to their interests and expertise. The opportunity for the public to be actively involved in developing and executing restoration projects could dramatically increase public awareness of the state agency (and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration or WSFR Program) and the need for protecting imperiled species.Specifically, the Portal would assist state F&W agencies in: Evaluating and ranking volunteer / partner interest in potential conservation projects, Establishing volunteer / partner commitment to projects in hours, Establishing volunteer / partner commitment to projects in funding, Better meeting grant matching requirements for conservation grants (in hours / dollars)

Tuesday April 17, 2018 3:40pm - 4:00pm EDT
Lake Champlain A

3:40pm EDT

SYMPOSIA-11: A collaborative effort to improve enhanced rabies surveillance in support of oral rabies vaccination for wildlife
AUTHORS: Jesse Morris, USDA, APHIS, Wildlife Services; Jordona D. Kirby, National Rabies Management Program, USDA, APHIS, Wildlife Services; Kathy Nelson, National Rabies Management Program, USDA, APHIS, Wildlife Services; Robin Dyer, USDA, APHIS, Wildlife Services; Richard B. Chipman, National Rabies Management Program, USDA, APHIS, Wildlife Services

ABSTRACT: Managing rabies in terrestrial wildlife populations protects human and animal health and significantly reduces the economic impact of the disease.  Since 1995, the USDA, APHIS, Wildlife Services (WS), National Rabies Management Program (NRMP) has worked cooperatively with local, state, and federal partners to manage rabies across large landscapes through the use of oral rabies vaccination (ORV) to prevent the spread of and ultimately eliminate specific terrestrial rabies variants.  In the eastern U.S. ORV distribution efforts focus on raccoon rabies management, and ORV zones are strategically placed relative to the geographic distribution of the rabies virus on the landscape.  Thus, monitoring the movement of raccoon rabies through enhanced rabies surveillance (ERS) as a complement to public health surveillance is a critical part of the program.  ERS involves active collection of strange acting, road killed, and nuisance wild animals that have not had any known exposures with humans or domestic pets.  From 2005-2017, WS collected >110,000 surveillance samples from 24 states and tested 82% with a field-based diagnostic test.  Fifteen of 24 states confirmed >2,300 rabid animals that would not have been tested through traditional public health surveillance.  In 2015, the NRMP began an initiative to improve existing ERS efforts with goals to increase sampling rigor, and to standardize practices and approaches among state programs.  Key components outlined in the initiative were: developing and expanding a cooperator-based networking matrix; and creating a sample categorization scheme to better quantify sampling efforts and emphasize collection of high priority specimens.  The Maine WS program served as a 2015 pilot state and increased their cooperative network 10-fold while almost doubling their sampling efforts during the first year.  Since 2015, Maine WS has maintained a broad network of wildlife professionals, public health specialists, law enforcement officers, and many other cooperators who continue to be a critical part of this ongoing project.  Since 2015, an average of about 74% of ERS samples have been obtained in Maine as a direct result of a network contact.  Additionally, nearly 97% of all ERS samples that tested positive by Maine WS originated from network cooperators.  The Wildlife Services’ rabies management program represents one of the largest coordinated landscape-level wildlife disease management programs in North America.  ERS perpetually improves as a result of continued outreach and collaboration among other wildlife professionals and will remain critical to program success.

Tuesday April 17, 2018 3:40pm - 4:00pm EDT
Vermont A

3:40pm EDT

SYMPOSIA-12: An early-successional shrubland habitat decision support tool
AUTHORS: David King, USFS Northern Research Station, University of Massachusetts; Michael Akresh, University of Massachusetts; Jason Coombs, University of Massachusetts; Keith Nislow, USFS Northern Research Station, University of Massachusetts; Jeffrey Ritterson, Massachusetts Audubon Society; Jeffrey Collins, Massachusetts Audubon Society

ABSTRACT: As a result of changes in natural and anthropogenic disturbance regimes, the extent of early-successional forest across much of eastern North American is near historic lows, and continues to decline. This has caused many scientists to identify the conservation of early-successional species as a high priority. Because natural disturbance can no longer be relied upon to support shrubland birds in our region, managers are engaged in the creation and maintenance of shrublands to conserve shrubland bird populations using historical agents (e.g., fire) where possible or surrogates (mowing etc.) when necessary to achieve desired future conditions. Each of these treatments has a particular conservation outcome in terms of bird abundance and species composition. Furthermore they also vary widely in terms of financial cost ranging from >$1,000/acre for brush hogging to silviculture, which typically yields revenue. These practices are also often controversial since they involve creating treeless openings over large areas, and further complicated because the suite of bird species varies both geographically, across landscape conditions, and over successional time. Using research from our lab and published sources we have developed a web-based decision support tool that provides conservation practitioners with site-specific information that will enable them to evaluate current conditions, predict management outcomes and compare management scenarios in terms of bird abundance and species composition, objective measures of conservation value, and cost. By resolving this uncertainty this tool increases the efficiency and effectiveness of shrubland management, thereby enhancing populations of shrubland birds throughout the region.

Tuesday April 17, 2018 3:40pm - 4:00pm EDT
Montpelier A&B

3:40pm EDT

RARE SPECIES CONSERVATION: Just Add Rocks: Let’s Make a Hibernacula
AUTHORS: Doug Blodgett, Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department 

ABSTRACT: The presenter will describe the cookbook, on-the-ground recipe for an interagency effort to build experimental hibernacula for the state threatened North American Racer on a southern Vermont WMA. Complementary habitat management enhancements for snake species will also be described.

Tuesday April 17, 2018 3:40pm - 4:00pm EDT
Adirondack A

3:40pm EDT

WETLAND BIRD CONSERVATION: Influence of the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program and Inter-specific Interactions on Winter Avian Occupancy of West Virginia Wetlands
AUTHORS: Katharine Lewis, Dr. Christopher Rota, Dr. James Anderson - West Virginia University Division of Forestry and Natural Resources Wildlife and Fisheries Resources

ABSTRACT. Wetlands established or restored on private land through the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) can act as important wintering habitat for a myriad of avian species. Often, avian use of a site is an indication of the functional ability of its ecosystem services. In West Virginia, there are 24 wetland conservation easements established through ACEP. By studying the avian occupancy, richness and abundance at these sites and a set of reference sites located on public land, we evaluated the ACEP wetland sites functional ability as avian habitat and determined the effectiveness of current conservation practices. Our specific objectives were to study the influence habitat associations and interspecific interactions had on Passereillidae and Anatidae occupancy of ACEP wetland sites during the winters of 2016-2017 and 2017-2018. Our results indicate that Anatidae species did not typically use the ACEP wetland sites, in part due to the small size and isolation of the sites. Nine Passereillidae species were detected across the wetland sites, and were associated with wetland size and the vegetative structure of the sites. Occupancy of some species such as the song sparrow (Melospiza melodia) and the swamp sparrow (Melospiza georgiana) differed according to whether the wetland was an ACEP site located on private land or a reference site located on public land, indicating a potential difference in wetlands in West Virginia based on where the wetland is located within the landscape.

Tuesday April 17, 2018 3:40pm - 4:00pm EDT
Adirondack B/C

4:00pm EDT

FISH AND HABITAT: Could Diet Provide Clues to Wild Lake Trout Recruitment in Lake Champlain?
AUTHORS: J. Ellen Marsden, Madeline N. Schumacher - University of Vermont

ABSTRACT. Lake trout disappeared from Lake Champlain by 1900; since 1973, annual stocking of age-0 and yearlings has established a feral population. The first evidence of natural recruitment was not seen until 2015, when focused bottom trawling for juvenile lake trout captured 303 age-0 to age-3 fish, of which 72 (23%) were wild (i.e., progeny of stocked fish). The proportion increased to 33% in 2016, and 50% in 2017, with increasing proportions of young-of-the-year lake trout each year. Our goal is to understand what factors are involved in this sudden successful recruitment of wild lake trout. We analyzed diet and condition of 622 wild lake trout and 870 stocked lake trout between 50 and 400 mm total length collected in May to November 2015-2017. Stocked fish were, on average, the size of wild fish one year older. Average Fulton’s condition factor was slightly higher overall for stocked fish (0.90) than wild fish (0.83), and higher in spring and fall than mid-summer. Mysis comprised 90-100% of the diet (by number) of age-0 and spring yearling wild lake trout, and 45-54% of the summer and fall diet of age-1 fish. In contrast, only 15-60% of the diet of age-0 stocked fish, seasonally, was Mysis. By age 1, the diet of stocked fish was very similar to that of the wild age-2 lake trout, consisting of small smelt, sculpin, alewife, and Mysis. The low diet overlap of age-0 wild and stocked fish suggests competition is not likely to be a limiting factor for survival; instead, recruitment may depend on availability and abundance of Mysis. Mysis populations declined dramatically in the 1990s and have not apparently recovered. Changes in distribution, local abundance, or spatial overlap of Mysis with age-0 lake trout may potentially explain recent recruitment of young lake trout.

Tuesday April 17, 2018 4:00pm - 4:20pm EDT
Adirondack D

4:00pm EDT

OUTREACH & EDUCATION 3: AFWA Multi-state Conservation Grant Program Update: State, Regional and National Hunting and Fishing License Data Dashboards
AUTHORS: Rob Southwick, Lisa Parks - Southwick Associates

ABSTRACT. This presentation will share details of the 2018 AFWA Multi-State Conservation (MSC) Grant awarded to the American Sportfishing Association (ASA) to develop state, regional and national hunting and fishing dashboards. The talk will define project goals and timeline, provide a status update on implementation and show how results will benefit state agencies in their R3 efforts. States will be encouraged to initiate their own dashboards, and some funding is available for states joining this MSC grant project.The ASA and a team of partner organizations have been awarded a MSC grant to work with state agencies to develop state, regional and national hunting and fishing license sales data dashboards. These dashboards are intended to identify the effectiveness of R3 investments and show whether targeted audiences are purchasing licenses and where sales are strengthening or weakening. Data dashboards provide visual, easily accessible insights into license data trends and have been implemented in six states. Delivered to states via free software, they provide fast, visual updates of licensing and participation trends within key demographic categories such as residency, gender, age and county of residence. Dashboards also report retention and renewal rates, plus numbers of new license buyers for major fishing and hunting licenses, allowing states to rapidly assess if R3 efforts are succeeding and where improvements are needed. Regional and national dashboards will provide timely metrics that enable stakeholders to identify mega-trends and make strategic corrections in alignment with R3 goals.

Tuesday April 17, 2018 4:00pm - 4:20pm EDT
Lake Champlain A

4:00pm EDT

SYMPOSIA-11: Cyanotoxins in Freshwater Ecosystems: Implications for Human, Animal, and Ecosystem Health
AUTHORS: Michelle Kneeland, DVM, Wildlife Health Program Director, Biodiversity Research Institute

ABSTRACT: Cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) are present in all aquatic environments and produce many cyanotoxins that can cause significant health issues in wildlife, domestic animals, and people. Microcystins (MCs) and beta-N-methylamino-L-alanine (BMAA) are cyanotoxins with high potential to detrimentally affect the health of aquatic ecosystems. Evidence suggests that MCs and BMAA can bioaccumulate in ecosystems through different mechanisms of action. Because of this, apex species such as eagles and loons may be severely affected. BMAA is being investigated as a possible contributor to a severe neurologic disease in birds, Avian Vacuolar Myelinopathy (AVM), which is associated with significant eagle and coot mortalities in the southern U.S. Similarly, in humans, there is a growing body of evidence linking exposure to cyanobacteria to the development of neurodegenerative diseases such as ALS.

This talk will highlight recent examples of collaborative cyanobacterial monitoring efforts that cross the realms of public health, wildlife health, and ecosystem health. Preliminary results from our 2014-2016 multiregional cyanotoxin monitoring project will also be presented, during which live free ranging Common Loons (Gavia immer) were sampled as bioindicators of the freshwater cyanotoxins in the Northeastern (ME, MA, NH, NY), Western (MT, WY), and Northwestern (WA, British Columbia) regions.  

Tuesday April 17, 2018 4:00pm - 4:20pm EDT
Vermont A

4:00pm EDT

SYMPOSIA-12: Variation in plumage reflects avian habitat associations not revealed by abundance
AUTHORS: H. Patrick Roberts, University of Massachusetts; David I. King, U.S. Forest Service Northern Research Station, University of Massachusetts

ABSTRACT: For bird species in which plumage characteristics are associated with social dominance, the analysis of status badges may reveal habitat preferences. We analyzed the extent of male Chestnut-sided Warbler chestnut plumage in relation to age and body size to determine whether badge size was a potential indicator of resource holding potential. We then modeled badge size in relation to habitat variables including habitat patch size, patch shape, and microhabitat characteristics in 101 different silvicultural openings in western Massachusetts during 2014 and 2015. Overall, older and larger Chestnut-sided Warblers had larger badges. Badge size showed a strong positive relationship with patch area. Notably, our findings reveal a greater sensitivity to area than was apparent from a different study’s analysis of abundance at the same study site during the same time period. Badge size was positively related to patch shape complexity—an environmental variable not previously identified as important for this species by other studies. Our findings indicate that remote assessments of avian status badges may serve as reliable indicators of habitat preferences and confirm that this metric can reveal responses to gradients in habitat not reflected by abundance.

Tuesday April 17, 2018 4:00pm - 4:20pm EDT
Montpelier A&B

4:00pm EDT

RARE SPECIES CONSERVATION: Recovery of an Endangered Butterfly in a Fire-Managed Urban Pitch Pine-Scrub Oak Barrens
AUTHORS: Neil A. Gifford, Steven P. Campbell, Amanda Dillon - Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission

ABSTRACT. Pitch pine–scrub oak barrens is a globally rare, fire-dependent ecological community. The destruction, fragmentation, and degradation of which has contributed to the decline of many wildlife species of greatest conservation need including the endangered Karner Blue (Plebejus melissa samuelis). One of the last naturally-occurring northeastern populations of this endangered species occurs at the Albany Pine Bush Preserve in eastern NY. State, private, and federal partners have been actively recovering the preserve’s population by restoring >200 ha of pitch pine–scrub oak barrens since 1992 and by accelerating the colonization of newly restored areas through the annual release of locally-derived, captive-reared animals between 2008 and 2015. To evaluate the effectiveness of these efforts, we have been monitoring abundances of first and second brood adults annually since 2007 at multiple sites throughout the preserve using distance sampling methodology. We used the resulting data in a two-step process to estimate brood sizes for each year. First, we analyzed the data in Program Distance to estimate the combined abundance of all sites during each survey and then we fit an insect population curve to the survey-specific abundances to derive brood sizes. For all sites combined, the first brood increased from 700 adults in 2007 to 14600 adults in 2015 whereas the second brood increased from 850 to 18700 adults during this time. First and second brood sizes decreased in 2016 and 2017 to 6200 and 11800 adults, respectively, but still remained above state and federal recovery thresholds. Although these results suggest that recovery efforts are succeeding, further monitoring is necessary to ensure that recovery is maintained and to document the effects of continuing recovery efforts and the influence of long-term processes such as climate change.

Tuesday April 17, 2018 4:00pm - 4:20pm EDT
Adirondack A

4:20pm EDT

FISH AND HABITAT: Insights for ArcGIS: Visualize and Analyze Data Like Never Before!
AUTHORS: Mike Bialousz, Matt Taraldsen - Esri

ABSTRACT. Insights for ArcGIS is a new web-based data analytics workbench where you can explore spatial and non-spatial data contained in many formats. Use maps, charts, and tables to interactively visualize and tell your story like never before. In this presentation, you will learn key concepts about efficiently using Insights. Now available both as a Portal for ArcGIS and ArcGIS Online offering, Insights for ArcGIS can be deployed by any size organization. Through a demonstration you will also see how analysis is conducted in Insights for ArcGIS with a particular focus on the human dimensions aspects of fisheries information. Insights is a great tool for experienced and novice users of GIS to quickly and easily visualize and analyze information, enrich their analysis with a variety of data sources, and easily share the results in a wide variety of ways.

Tuesday April 17, 2018 4:20pm - 4:40pm EDT
Adirondack D

4:20pm EDT

OUTREACH & EDUCATION 3: Using ArcGIS Tools for Constituent Engagement
AUTHORS: Mike Bialousz, Matt Taraldsen - Esri

ABSTRACT. There are a wealth of apps available with the ArcGIS platform that can help fish and wildlife agencies engage with the public, partners, and other constituents. These tools, ranging from Story Maps to Open Data to Crowdsource apps, come with your investment in ArcGIS software. They are configurable, requiring no coding to setup and deploy, and provide a variety of options for you to engage with your constituents. This presentation will review the available apps and how fish and wildlife agencies are finding value from them. You will learn the ArcGIS apps that are available to help you whether you are looking to educate and inform the public on your programs and services, share data with a wide audience, seek feedback from partners or the public, or try new ways to address R3 challenges.

Tuesday April 17, 2018 4:20pm - 4:40pm EDT
Lake Champlain A

4:20pm EDT

SYMPOSIA-12: Managing reclaimed sand and gravel mines for thicket-dependent wildlife
AUTHORS: John A. Litvaitis, Bellamy Wildlife Investigations; Catherine Callahan, New Hampshire Fish and Game Department; Randy Shoe, University of New Hampshire; Donald Keirstead, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service; Michael N. Marchand, New Hampshire Fish and Game Department

ABSTRACT: Although sand and gravel mines (SGMs) occupy a small area in the northeastern United States, they are characterized by features (e.g., exposed sandy soils, high ground temperatures, rugged topography, slow-growing shrubs and trees, and rock piles) that are important to a number of at-risk species that are affiliated with shrublands and young forests. To evaluate the potential of SGMs as habitat, we examined the association of snakes, turtles, shrubland birds, and pollinators with SGMs in New Hampshire where these sites represent only 0.35% of the land area. Among snakes (Coluber constrictor and Heterodon platirhinos) and turtles (Emydoidea blandingii and Glyptemys insculpta), 11% of the independent observations recorded by the New Hampshire Natural Heritage Bureau occurred within 500 m of a SGM. During the nesting season, the presence of 8 shrubland birds was determined in a large sample of clearcuts, old fields, and SGMs. Four species (Toxostoma rufum, Spizella pusilla, Passerina cyanea, and Setophaga discolor) were most frequently detected in SGMs. Bee abundance and richness (based on captures in soapy water-filled bowls) also were greater in sampled SGMs than in clearcuts or old fields. Using innovative techniques to reclaim a SMG in southeastern New Hampshire, we found extensive use of the site by a variety of species. Based on our findings, we recommend that efforts to manage depleted SMGs in the Northeast consider the potential that these sites offer in addressing habitat needs for regional at-risk taxa.

Tuesday April 17, 2018 4:20pm - 4:40pm EDT
Montpelier A&B

4:20pm EDT

RARE SPECIES CONSERVATION: The Frosted Elfin: A Tiny Butterfly with a Huge Conservation Challenge/Opportunity
AUTHORS: Robyn A. Niver, Anthony Tur - U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

ABSTRACT. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) is proactively assessing the conservation status of the frosted elfin (Callophrys irus) butterfly, to determine whether or not the species may warrant protection under the Endangered Species Act. A listing determination is due September 30, 2023, and the Service is currently working with partners across the species’ range to develop and implement conservation efforts to hopefully improve its status such that listing may not be warranted. This presentation will serve as an update on the Service’s recent efforts to compile the best available information on the conservation needs and current condition of the species using the Species Status Assessment framework, as well as discuss opportunities to collaboratively plan and implement conservation.

Tuesday April 17, 2018 4:20pm - 4:40pm EDT
Adirondack A

4:40pm EDT

SYMPOSIA-12: Use of shrubby clearcuts and transmission line rights-of-way by shrubland birds and mature-forest birds during the nesting and post-nesting season
AUTHORS: Erica Holm, Matt Tarr, and Adrienne Kovach - University of New Hampshire

ABSTRACT: Many shrubland- and mature-forest-dependent songbird species in the northeastern United States are experiencing population declines due to habitat loss. Recent work indicates that the fitness of mature-forest birds may be enhanced if they can access shrubland habitats, particularly in the period between the end of the nesting season and fall migration when adults and fledglings require abundant food and cover. In the Northeast, clearcuts and transmission line rights-of-way (ROW) are the most common shrublands in most landscapes. Between May-Aug 2017 and 2018, we will use constant-effort mist netting to inventory shrubland and mature-forest songbird occupancy, richness, and abundance in a total of 12 regenerating clearcuts and 24 ROW in southern ME and NH to characterize the entire community of songbirds using these habitats. In 2017, we captured 3,424 individual birds representing 76 species. Fifteen species were captured only in ROW and 17 species were captured only in clearcuts. The lowest songbird richness and abundance occurred in ROW mowed one year prior to the inventory and the greatest occurred in ROW composed of a mixture of native and invasive shrub species. Certain mature-forest birds, including scarlet tanagers and ovenbirds, were captured in ROW and clearcuts in all months of the study.

Tuesday April 17, 2018 4:40pm - 5:00pm EDT
Montpelier A&B

5:00pm EDT

SYMPOSIA-12: Using field-based research to incentivize grassland bird-friendly hayland management in New England
AUTHORS: Allan M. Strong, University of Vermont; Toby Alexander, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service; Noah G. Purlut, University of New England

ABSTRACT: In the Northeast, the overwhelming majority of grassland habitat is on private land. Consequently, successful conservation initiatives must focus on private landowners. In the Northeast, grassland birds are found primarily on managed agricultural fields and their populations have shown long-term declines because of habitat loss and incompatible agricultural management activities. However, long-term demographic studies of Bobolinks (Dolichonyx oryzivorus) showed that aspects of their reproductive ecology could be integrated with typical dairy farming activities to develop practices that facilitate both reproductive success and economic viability. We describe two initiatives that provide financial incentives to landowners to incorporate bird-friendly management activities on their haylands. The first was a program initiated through NRCS where farmers were ensured a first hay-harvest by the end of May with high protein content; after a 65-day delay (compared to the normal 35–40-day cutting cycle) farmers took a second harvest of greater quantity but decreased quality. Farmers were paid to offset costs associated with the decreased nutritional content caused by the approximately 25-day second harvest delay. The second initiative, The Bobolink Project, used a uniform-price reverse auction method to determine the highest per hectare bid across all interested landowners coupled with a marketing campaign that solicited donations from the public. Both initiatives led to increased reproductive success of Bobolinks and enrolled moderate acreages (65-405 ha/year) in bird-friendly management regimes. We discuss the pros and cons of these approaches and additional opportunities for engaging private landowners with wildlife management on haylands.

Tuesday April 17, 2018 5:00pm - 5:20pm EDT
Montpelier A&B

5:20pm EDT

Conference Adjourns
Tuesday April 17, 2018 5:20pm - 5:20pm EDT
N/A
 


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