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Welcome to the technical sessions schedule for the 2015 SEAFWA Annual Meeting.

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Monday, November 2
 

12:00pm EST

1:00pm EST

Welcome and Introductions
Kerry Linehan/David Cobb

Fisheries and wildlife management consists of scientific knowledge about the biological components of fisheries and wildlife resources as well as the social, cultural, economic, and political forces that shape conservation policies and decisions. The field of human dimensions of fisheries and wildlife management explores how and why human thought and behavior influences fisheries and wildlife conservation; helps optimize management strategies for fisheries and wildlife populations; and identifies how management strategies impact human-wildlife relations. In the southeastern United States, rapid human population growth and changing human demographics are applying new pressures to fisheries and wildlife populations and management. With these changes arises a critical need for state wildlife agencies to gather and apply human dimensions research into their planning processes to achieve socially and biologically balanced outcomes. This symposium offers insights into the ways human dimensions research can inform management on how to adapt to these social pressures. It will highlight examples of human dimensions research applied to management decisions and facilitate increased interaction among human dimensions researchers and specialists in SEAFWA member states and other conservation related organizations.

Objectives


  • Promote the exchange of information, knowledge, as well as greater research collaboration, across human dimensions disciplines and between academics and practitioners in the southeastern U.S.

  • Share with attendees the common and critical issues that have been encountered in the field of human dimensions by academics and practitioners in the southeastern U.S

  • Identify useful concepts, frameworks, measures, and methods to address contemporary human dimensions problems in the southeastern U.S.

  • Heighten awareness among attendees of the value of human dimensions insights within fisheries and wildlife management decision-making in the southeastern U.S.

  • Recommend techniques to enhance scientific rigor within human dimensions research in the southeastern U.S. 


Monday November 2, 2015 1:00pm - 1:10pm EST
Swannanoa

1:00pm EST

Distribution and Conservation Status of the Grandfather Mountain Crayfish
Todd Ewing, North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission; Roger Thoma, Midwest Biodiversity Institute, Inc.; Jesse Pope, Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation; William Russ, North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission; Stephen Fraley, North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission

The Grandfather Mountain Crayfish (Cambarus eeseeohensis) was described in 2005 from the Linville River in western North Carolina and considered to be endemic to the main stem Linville River upstream of Linville Falls. Because of its limited distribution and the presence of exotic crayfish in the Linville River watershed, this species is considered imperiled. However, there has been limited survey effort for this species and information about the actual threats is limited. Surveys were conducted in 2011 throughout the Linville River watershed and surrounding watersheds to better determine the distribution of the Grandfather Mountain crayfish. Targeted surveys were also conducted in areas known to contain exotic crayfish in an effort to determine if they negatively affected the Grandfather Mountain crayfish. An evaluation of land ownership and water quality classifications was also conducted to determine what protections were in place. Surveys found the Grandfather Mountain crayfish to be widely distributed throughout the Linville River watershed in headwater streams, mid-order tributaries and the main stem Linville River. The species was also found in the adjacent Watauga River and Johns River watersheds. Grandfather Mountain Crayfish numbers in areas with exotic crayfish are similar to those in other parts of the species’ range. A large portion of the current range is in public ownership and a high percentage of the streams have water quality classifications that provide protections. The Grandfather Mountain Crayfish appears to be at low risk of extinction but should remain a priority for monitoring.

Monday November 2, 2015 1:00pm - 1:20pm EST
Ballroom Salon A

1:00pm EST

Changing Landscapes by Coalition
Martin Blaney, Brad Carner, A.J. Riggs, Tom Foti, George Rheinhardt, McRee Anderson –Pine-Oak Ecosystem Restoration Partnerships of Arkansas

The conservation partnerships in Arkansas have evolved during the last 30 years, but it was the outbreak of insects on federal lands our state experienced in 1999, resulting in a million acres of damaged and dying oaks, that served as a catalyst solidifying our coalition. The decades of fire suppression and limited forest management on these lands since the early 1900s fostered major changes in the health of our forests through densification coupled with the loss of important habitat types for many species of wildlife. Research and historical data provided evidence that the Interior Highlands was more open woodlands than forests in previous centuries. Once the conservation partnerships began ecological restoration projects, the floristic response of native herbaceous plants in restored communities further convinced us that our combined management efforts were crucial in meeting the strategies outlined in our Wildlife Action Plan and National Forest Plans. The Coalition’s initial strategic plan outlined the importance of providing restored demonstration areas on public lands, using them to help gain support from the public. Other landscape-level projects began to be implemented throughout the state using various grants and conservation programs as funding sources on both private and federal lands. The support provided by partners in both personnel and budgets increased our capacity to initiate more landscape restoration around the state and with partners in Missouri. This presentation is intended to offer a perspective of the scale of restoration efforts at which this partnership operates and to encourage other states in similar efforts.

Monday November 2, 2015 1:00pm - 1:20pm EST
Windsor B

1:00pm EST

Time-activity Budgets of Dabbling Ducks and Shorebirds in Managed Tidal Impoundments and Adjacent Tidal Marshes
Gretchen E. Nareff, West Virginia University; Sara H. Schweitzer, North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission; Ernie P. Wiggers, William E. Mills -Nemours Wildlife Foundation

Managed tidal impoundments are man-made wetlands constructed from natural tidal marshes with embankments and water control structures that manage water levels using tidal cycles. In South Carolina, 28,000 ha of managed tidal impoundments potentially provide important habitat for migrating and resident wildlife. The importance of traditionally-managed tidal impoundments relative to natural tidal marsh to migratory birds is poorly understood. Examining how birds allocate their time on managed tidal impoundments and natural tidal marshes can provide insight into whether birds are using these resources similarly or for different biological needs. We examined diurnal activity of Blue-winged Teal, Green-winged Teal, Greater Yellowlegs, and Lesser Yellowlegs to determine how these focal species used managed tidal impoundments and tidal marshes along the coast of South Carolina. Overall, frequency of behaviors differed between bird groups (teal and yellowlegs; F5, 5 = 7.4, P = 0.023) and between wetland types (managed tidal impoundments and unmanaged tidal marshes; F5, 5 = 8.3, P = 0.018). Proportion of time birds foraged was greater on tidal marshes (F1, 151 = 34.1, P < 0.0001), while proportion of time spent loafing (F1, 151 = 23.2, P < 0.0001) was greater on managed tidal impoundments. The greater proportion of time spent loafing on managed tidal impoundments suggest these wetlands provide body-maintenance opportunities not available in tidal marshes. Our results reveal the importance of managed tidal impoundments to migratory shorebirds and dabbling ducks within the coastal landscape. These managed habitats provide abundant, available food resources and protected roosting sites.

Monday November 2, 2015 1:00pm - 1:20pm EST
Ballroom Salon B

1:00pm EST

1:00pm EST

Back to the Future: Learning to Hunt for Food
Keith Warnke, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

Monday November 2, 2015 1:00pm - 1:50pm EST
Cherokee

1:00pm EST

1:00pm EST

1:00pm EST

SYMPOSIUM OVERVIEW
Fisheries and wildlife management consists of scientific knowledge about the biological components of fisheries and wildlife resources as well as the social, cultural, economic, and political forces that shape conservation policies and decisions. The field of human dimensions of fisheries and wildlife management explores how and why human thought and behavior influences fisheries and wildlife conservation; helps optimize management strategies for fisheries and wildlife populations; and identifies how management strategies impact human-wildlife relations. In the southeastern United States, rapid human population growth and changing human demographics are applying new pressures to fisheries and wildlife populations and management. With these changes arises a critical need for state wildlife agencies to gather and apply human dimensions research into their planning processes to achieve socially and biologically balanced outcomes. This symposium offers insights into the ways human dimensions research can inform management on how to adapt to these social pressures. It will highlight examples of human dimensions research applied to management decisions and facilitate increased interaction among human dimensions researchers and specialists in SEAFWA member states and other conservation related organizations.

Monday November 2, 2015 1:00pm - 5:20pm EST
Swannanoa

1:10pm EST

What is Human Dimensions of Wildlife and Why Do We Need It?
Ann Forstchen, Human Dimensions Coordinator, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

Implications and obligations to use HD under public trust and good governance principles: Understanding broad perspectives

Monday November 2, 2015 1:10pm - 1:30pm EST
Swannanoa

1:20pm EST

Cambarus (Hiatacambarus) Chasmodactylus, New River Crayfish (Decapoda: Cambaridae) Range Wide Assessment 2015
William T. Russ, North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission; Zach J. Loughman, West Liberty University; Roger F. Thoma, Midwest Biodiversity Institute, Inc.; Brian T. Watson, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries; Todd D. Ewing, North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission

The New River Crayfish, (Cambarus (Hiaticambarus) chasmodactylus), was first collected in 1890 from the New River, in Wytheville, VA; it was later described from the East Fork of the Greenbrier River, Pocahontas County, West Virginia. The New River Crayfish, historical distribution was limited to the New River Basin from the Greenbrier River sub-basin in West Virginia, upstream to the headwaters of the South Fork of the New River in North Carolina. A complete range-wide assessment was coordinated with various organizations and agencies from West Virginia, Virginia, and North Carolina. General species information was summarized including species description, taxonomy, habitat use, life history, and current distribution. All historical and recent collections were combined and spatially displayed using GIS software. The New River Crayfish was collected in three 8-digit HUCS and 14 counties with the majority of occurrences in the Upper New and Greenbrier sub-basins. It was present in 92, 12-digit HUCS and in ~100 different streams throughout the range. Information that pertained to the five factors for federal listing were addressed. Given the wide distribution of this species in the New River basin, the high abundances where it occurs, the lack of any major threats, and the various protections in place for the streams in the New River basin, the New River Crayfish population is considered stable and does not warrant federal listing at this time.

Monday November 2, 2015 1:20pm - 1:40pm EST
Ballroom Salon A

1:20pm EST

Southeast Aquatic Connectivity Program: Assessing Connectivity in Southeastern Rivers
Kathleen Hoenke, Southeast Aquatic Resources Partnership (SARP)

Fragmentation of river habitats by dams is one of the primary threats to aquatic species in the United States. Barriers limit the ability of sea-run fish species to reach preferred freshwater spawning habitats and prevent resident fish populations from moving among habitats critical to their life requirements. To help address this problem, SARP, together with the Nature Conservancy (TNC) has completed a large scale assessment of dams in the Southeastern US. The project, funded by the South Atlantic Landscape Conservation Cooperative (SALCC), helps support planners and managers in their efforts to target fish passage and other aquatic connectivity projects where they have the most benefit. The Southeast Aquatic Connectivity Project provides opportunities to improve aquatic connectivity by prioritizing dams based on their potential ecological benefits if removed or bypassed. In addition to SEACAP, other smaller scale assessments have been completed in North Carolina and the Tennessee Cumberland river basins. With the completion of these assessments, SARP together with American Rivers and other partners have formed a Connectivity Program with the goals of: 1) Creating a regional GIS based fish barrier inventory and assessments. 2) Providing technical support and training for assessment tools to facilitate on the ground restoration from assessment results and 3) Initiate Connectivity Teams in the 14 SARP states and bring these teams together to initiate and develop working relationships.

Monday November 2, 2015 1:20pm - 1:40pm EST
Windsor A

1:20pm EST

Changes in Coastal Salinities will Affect Seed Availability for Waterfowl in Submerged Aquatic Vegetation Beds and Coastal Marshes in the Northern Gulf of Mexico
Kristin Elise DeMarco, Eva R. Hillmann –Louisiana State University Agricultural Center; Mike Brasher, Ducks Unlimited, Gulf Coast Joint Venture, National Wetlands Research Center; Megan La Peyre, U.S. Geological Survey, Louisiana Fish and Wildlife Cooperative Research Unit, Louisiana State University Agricultural Center

As coastal ecosystems are increasingly exposed to the effects of sea-level rise (SLR), habitats will undergo community and species-level changes. Submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) beds are prevalent in shallow water environments and will be some of the first impacted by SLR. In the northern Gulf of Mexico (nGoM) wintering waterfowl are closely linked to SAV as their seeds, rhizomes, and leafy material are valuable food resources. Accordingly, their abundance and composition influence the carrying capacity of coastal marshes for waterfowl. Despite the documented importance of SAV within coastal ecosystems, and specifically to waterfowl, little is known about their distribution across salinity zones or the potential impacts of SLR on their abundance. We estimated SAV cover and seed biomass in coastal marshes from Texas to Alabama in summer 2013 to determine patterns and relationships to salinity zone, water depth and geographic location. We found significant differences in total seed biomass (SAV, emergent vegetation, woody species) among salinity zones; seed biomass was greatest in fresh and brackish marshes, exceeding the potential “giving-up threshold” for waterfowl of 5 g m-2. Although mean total cover of SAV was similar across salinity zones, mean SAV seed biomass was highest in fresh marsh. As local SLR models predict altered salinities along the nGoM, these findings suggest concurrent changes in spatial distribution and abundance of seed resources for waterfowl. Understanding variation in seed and SAV resources across salinity zones is critical to predict and manage for potential changes in coastal ecosystems in response to climate change.

Monday November 2, 2015 1:20pm - 1:40pm EST
Ballroom Salon B

1:20pm EST

Conserving Open Pine Conditions and Biodiversity in Working Forested Landscapes
Rachel E. Greene, Raymond B. Iglay –Mississippi State University; Kristine O. Evans, Gulf Coastal Plains and Ozarks Landscape Conservation Cooperative; Darren A. Miller, Weyerhaeuser Company; T. Bently Wigley, National Council for Air and Stream Improvement

Open canopy conditions in southeastern pine (Pinus spp.) forests were historically maintained by frequent fire and other disturbances, without which canopies close, limiting value of pine stands for many endemic, disturbance-adapted species. Managed pine forests can emulate historical open pine conditions, although exact mechanisms are seldom examined at large spatial scales and throughout typical stand rotation lengths. Therefore, we examined structural conditions and associated biodiversity and open pine focal species responses to 5 stand establishment intensities and 4 mid-rotation practices (prescribed fire, selective herbicide, fire and herbicide combination, and thinning) in managed loblolly pine (P. taeda L.) in the southeastern Coastal Plains. We quantified structural conditions (e.g., basal area) from 19 publications and used meta-analyses to calculate 1,742 biodiversity and 169 effect sizes for open pine focal species from 42 publications. Biodiversity metrics generally decreased as stand establishment intensity increased, but those reductions appeared to be short-term (< 3 years). Birds and open pine focal species responded positively to chemical stand establishment relative to a mechanically-prepared control. Post-thin stands receiving mid-rotation management can approximate open pine structural conditions. Mid-rotation management elicited positive and neutral species-specific responses from vegetation, birds, and small mammals, but short-term responses of herpetofauna and invertebrates were often negative following fire and herbicide applications. Continued research on under-represented taxa (e.g., herpetofauna and invertebrates) and long-term effects of management will further understanding of how silvicultural practices can produce and maintain open pine structural conditions and associated wildlife communities in working forested landscapes.

Monday November 2, 2015 1:20pm - 1:40pm EST
Windsor B

1:20pm EST

SYMPOSIUM OVERVIEW
The rich aquatic biodiversity of the Southeastern rivers and streams is continually threatened by habitat fragmentation and disruptions to natural flow regimes due to the installations of dams.   The southeast has the richest aquatic diversity of any temperate area in the world, yet has over 40,000 documented dams and hundreds of thousands of road crossings that drastically impact aquatic habitats and species communities.  Dam removal or fish passage projects have demonstrated success in restoring natural habitat conditions and increase diversity of aquatic organisms.  Over the past few years, these types of restoration projects have increased in the Southeast, yet cannot outpace the number of new dams installed each year.  Dam removal projects can be intimidating to many project managers because they generally require significant amounts of money, extensive permitting, are often delayed, and can initially be perceived negatively by the public.  This symposium aims to help develop a fish passage community of practice throughout the Southeast by highlighting successful dam removal projects, identify lessons learned and recommend key factors to minimize the intimidation often encountered around dam removal projects.

Monday November 2, 2015 1:20pm - 4:40pm EST
Windsor A

1:30pm EST

Acquiring Human Dimensions Information: Descriptions of Qualitative and Quantitative Methods in a Digital Age
Christopher Serenari, Human Dimensions Specialist, North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission & Ron Reitz, Social Scientist, Missouri Department of Conservation

Monday November 2, 2015 1:30pm - 2:00pm EST
Swannanoa

1:30pm EST

Speculation in the Smokies
Sergeant Chad Arnold, North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission

Monday November 2, 2015 1:30pm - 2:05pm EST
OFFSITE: Sheraton Four Points, Vanderbilt Room

1:30pm EST

NIC Presentation
Robert Chandler

Monday November 2, 2015 1:30pm - 2:15pm EST
Alexander

1:40pm EST

Using Hierarchical Models to Evaluate Factors Affecting Occupancy, Abundance, and Detection Probabilities in Southern Coastal Plain Streams
Kasey C. Pregler and Yoichiro Kanno, Clemson University; Mark Scott, Kevin M. Kubach, and Andrew Gelder, South Carolina Department of Natural Resources

The southeastern United States contains one of the most diverse freshwater fish assemblages in North America. Species-habitat interactions are still poorly understood in southern coastal plain streams at the local scale, and this information is critical for the management of coastal plain assemblages. To fill in some of these data gaps we investigated the relative importance of local scale habitat covariates on fish occupancy within 264 South Carolina coastal plain stream reaches. We evaluated species-habitat relationships by developing hierarchical, multi-species models for 45 species using 3-pass depletion data collected by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources. We also investigated covariates to detection and abundance, as well as interactions between sites and species. Modeling results suggest species-specific occupancy, abundance, and detection probabilities differ by local scale habitat covariates, and detection probabilities vary considerably across species and sites. This information provides much needed context on how assemblages are operating at the local scale.

Monday November 2, 2015 1:40pm - 2:00pm EST
Ballroom Salon A

1:40pm EST

North Atlantic Aquatic Connectivity Collaborative: Assessing Road Stream Crossings in the Northeast
Erik Martin, The Nature Conservancy; Scott Jackson, University of Massachusetts; Jessica Levine, The Nature Conservancy; Melissa Ocana, University of Massachusetts; Alex Abbott, USFWS Gulf of Maine

The fragmentation of aquatic habitats by roads and road-stream crossings, such as culverts, is a primary threat to aquatic species. These barriers limit the ability of fish, amphibians, and other wildlife to move freely throughout their habitats or adjust their distribution in response to climatic changes. Road-stream crossings also limit the ability of water to flow freely during extreme storm events. This often results in culvert failures and road washouts, as happened on a large scale during Hurricanes Irene and Sandy. Strategic replacement or upgrade of road-stream crossings can both increase habitat connectivity and enhance resiliency of road infrastructure to storm damage. With support from the North Atlantic Landscape Conservation Cooperative and DOI Hurricane Sandy Mitigation funds, the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, The Nature Conservancy, and expert partners throughout thirteen states have banded together to form the North Atlantic Aquatic Connectivity Collaborative (NAACC). The NAACC is a participatory network of practitioners united in their efforts to enhance aquatic connectivity. The NAACC is: 1) developing unified protocols for road-stream crossing assessments that can be used to identify bridges and culverts for upgrade or replacement, 2) launching an online assessment training program, 3) creating an online database to be a common repository for crossing assessment data, and 4) supporting efforts to conduct assessments in target areas throughout the region. The project will support planning and decision-making by providing tools and information on where restoration projects are likely to have the most benefit on aquatic connectivity and to some degree, storm resiliency.

Monday November 2, 2015 1:40pm - 2:00pm EST
Windsor A

1:40pm EST

Assessing the Economic Value of Tundra Swans in Eastern North Carolina
Kristin Frew, North Carolina State University; M. Nils Peterson, North Carolina State University; Joe Fuller, North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission; Erin Sills, North Carolina State University; Chris Moorman, North Carolina State University

North Carolina provides wintering habitat for 60-70% of the eastern population of tundra swans (Cygnus columbianus). Proposed land use changes in the region (e.g., wind farm development) may impact tundra swans, and information regarding the value of tundra swans is needed to guide conservation planning. We addressed this need by determining the market and non-market value of tundra swans in North Carolina. We surveyed tourists at USFWS national wildlife refuges (NWR) in eastern North Carolina (n = 350), tundra swan hunters (n = 1,485), and North Carolina residents (n = 413). We used the Impact Analysis for Planning (IMPLAN) model to estimate tourist and hunter impacts on the regional economy. Annual value added for winter season tourists at one wildlife refuge (Mattamuskeet NWR) totaled $1.63 million ($136/tourist) and swan hunter impacts totaled $1.03 million ($205/ hunter) (2013 USD). We used contingent valuation methods (dichotomous choice with a follow-up bid) to estimate non-market value of tundra swans and compared groups using ANOVA. The average annual willingness to pay (WTP) for North Carolina residents ($14.22) was approximately half that of tundra swan hunters ($25.9) and tourists ($27.63). Importance of tundra swan conservation was greater for tourists (xˉ=3.60) than for hunters (xˉ=2.71) and residents (xˉ=2.69; F=140, p

Monday November 2, 2015 1:40pm - 2:00pm EST
Ballroom Salon B

1:40pm EST

Meta-analysis of Landscape Conservation Plan Evaluations
Michaela Foster, M. Nils Peterson, Frederick Cubbage –North Carolina State University; Gerard McMahon, Department of Interior, Southeast Climate Science Center

Studies evaluating the quality and content of many types of plans have grown in recent decades. However, none of the planning meta-analyses have focused on landscape conservation planning studies. This focus is needed because landscape conservation planning differs from other types (e.g., hazards mitigation, urban planning) in that planners often come from natural resource backgrounds, must plan in compliance with federal and state planning mandates, and typically operate under the assumption that natural resources have a use value and are common pool resources. We identified ten landscape conservation planning studies in peer reviewed literature, identified the plan components being evaluated and the methods used in each study, and compared our findings to the two other land use planning meta-analyses in the literature. We found that landscape conservation planning evaluation studies followed many of the same practices as the general body of evaluation studies but tended focus more on goals, policies, implementation, and coordination. Compliance and stakeholder engagement were key gaps in landscape conservation plan evaluation studies. These findings highlight a need for more emphasis on compliance and stakeholder engagement as key elements of landscape conservation planning. We also found that landscape conservation planning studies largely incorporated best practices for evaluation methodology. However, few studies provided the evaluation tool, noted pretesting it, or reported intercoder reliability scores, and these methods should be incorporated and reported in future landscape conservation planning research. Future work could link planning efforts, planning laws and mandates, and plan quality to planning outcomes.

Monday November 2, 2015 1:40pm - 2:00pm EST
Windsor B

1:50pm EST

The Locavore Angler/Hunter: Myth or Reality?
Lincoln Larson, Clemson University

Monday November 2, 2015 1:50pm - 2:40pm EST
Cherokee

2:00pm EST

Freshwater Fish and Mollusk Population Restoration in Western North Carolina
Stephen J. Fraley and William T. Russ, North Carolina Wildlife Resource Commission

Water quality and habitat improvements can improve aquatic species diversity; however, barriers may exist where species are extirpated or small relict populations may hinder recovery. Opportunities to restore populations were identified in western North Carolina, and strategies developed and implemented for target reaches and species. Captive propagation at the Conservation Aquaculture Center, Marion State Fish Hatchery and partner facilities is part of the restoration strategy for seven species, including the federal-listed Appalachian Elktoe (Alasmidonta raveneliana) and Spotfin Chub (Erimonax monachus). Translocation from source populations is also used to help restore many species. For over a decade, the partnership known as the Pigeon River Recovery Project has worked to restore fish and mollusk species in both Tennessee and North Carolina. Efforts in the Cheoah River (Little Tennessee R. system), a regulated river recently improved by flow and substrate restoration, include both augmentation of an existing relict population of Appalachian Elktoe and reintroduction of Spotfin Chub and other species. Cooperative efforts to reintroduce Sicklefin Redhorse (Moxostoma sp. nov.) to the Oconaluftee River and augment the Tuckasegee River population (Little Tennessee River system) have had mixed results. Translocations to reintroduce Slippershell (A. viridis) in Little River (French Broad system), and propagation supporting a pilot study of potential restoration sites in three streams in the Little Tennessee system, are in progress. Projects on the horizon include addition of North Carolina waters to the cooperative Lake Sturgeon (Acipenser fulvescens) restoration project in the Tennessee River system and pilot studies for reintroduction potential at multiple localities.

Monday November 2, 2015 2:00pm - 2:20pm EST
Ballroom Salon A

2:00pm EST

The Undamming of Virginia
L. Alan Weaver, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries

The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries works with federal, non-government and private partners to provide fish passage by removing impediments or constructing fishways. There are approximately 1,300 dams in Virginia’s Chesapeake Bay watershed and at least 550 dams in Virginia’s Albemarle Sound drainage. When feasible, dam removal is preferred due to the additional benefits of stream restoration and boating safety improvements. Each project is unique, but there are several key steps that must be achieved, not always in order, for a removal project to be successful. Owner cooperation is a must and should be achieved as early as possible. It is common to hold community and local government meetings to advance projects with the intention of garnering neighbor and community cooperation, but sometimes only “informed consent” is a realistic goal. Complete engineering design is often needed to obtain permits; however, relatively simple removals may be permitted as designed by credentialed restoration staff. Holding pre-permit application site meetings with as many of the permitting agencies as possible can be invaluable. Early communication with the state historic preservation office can save time and money to develop historical mitigation plans, which are often necessary. Funding can be challenging but is usually not the limiting factor. Twenty dams have been removed in Virginia including four within the Albemarle Sound Drainage reopening over 400 miles. Monitoring fish community response is effective for confirming fish passage targets and bolstering support for future projects. Lessons learned from several Virginia dam removal projects will be highlighted.

Monday November 2, 2015 2:00pm - 2:20pm EST
Windsor A

2:00pm EST

Partnerships in Human Dimensions Research
Kirsten Leong, Program Manager, Human Dimensions of Biological Resource Management, US National Park Service

Monday November 2, 2015 2:00pm - 2:20pm EST
Swannanoa

2:00pm EST

Analysis of Alabama Wood Duck Banding and Recovery Records, 1970-2012
Gary R. Hepp, Alyson Webber –Auburn University; Jud Easterwood, Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries

The wood duck (Aix sponsa) is the most common breeding duck in Alabama and is especially important to duck hunters in the Atlantic and Mississippi Flyways. Approximately 1.5 million wood ducks are harvested annually in the U.S. Banding is a critical component of waterfowl management, because banding data provide information on annual survival and harvest rates as well as the distribution of the harvest. Pre-season (July-September) banding data are especially important for monitoring wood duck populations, because other approaches for population monitoring often are not used. In this study, we conducted analyses of pre-season bandings of wood ducks in Alabama from 1970 to 2012. During this period of time, 35,000 wood ducks were banded and 2,900 were recovered and reported to the Bird Banding Lab. We plotted the direct and indirect band recovery distributions by age and sex of wood ducks banded in Alabama and estimated the distances traveled between banding and recovery locations. Next, we used Brownie models in Program MARK to estimate band recovery (f) and annual survival (S) rates and developed a number of a priori models to examine effects of age, sex, and time on survival and recovery rates. We selected the best approximating model using QAICc values that were adjusted for both small sample size and over dispersion (c-hat). Finally, we calculated wood duck harvest rates and compared differences in harvest rates between years with two and three bird bag limits.

Monday November 2, 2015 2:00pm - 2:20pm EST
Ballroom Salon B

2:00pm EST

Enhancing Wildlife Habitat in Forested Wetlands Across the Mississippi Alluvial Valley: An Example of Collaborative Landscape Conservation
Donald Locascio Jr., Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries; Keith McKnight, Lower Mississippi Valley Joint Venture

The history of the Mississippi Alluvial Valley is one of exploration and conversion of an internationally significant forest resource to predominantly agricultural land use. Yet it is also one of dedicated natural resource managers collaborating across disciplines to better understand and apply the art, science, and practice of bottomland hardwood forest restoration and management to provide sustainable habitat for wildlife. In 2004, the Lower Mississippi Valley Joint Venture’s Management Board chartered an inter-agency, inter-disciplinary working group to further investigate and address forest management as it relates to enhancing wildlife habitat. The LMVJV’s Forest Resource Conservation Working Group drafted a document entitled “Restoration, Management, and Monitoring of Forest Resources in the Mississippi Alluvial Valley: Recommendations for Enhancing Wildlife Habitat”. The document was accepted by the LMVJV Management Board in 2007 and was subsequently adopted by all participating state and federal wildlife agencies managing lands within the Mississippi Alluvial Valley. Through outreach activities these management recommendations have been adopted by additional governmental agencies, non-governmental organizations, and private non-industrial landowners sharing a common interest for wildlife conservation through management of their landholdings. Further, the expertise, broad perspective, and collaborative approach of this Working Group has led to the development of enriched and expanded partnership activities on behalf of forest resources within the LMVJV. This presentation will discuss the collaborative effort of the Forest Resource Conservation Working Group in hopes it can be used to inform for others in their efforts to improve and enhance wildlife habitat across large landscapes.

Monday November 2, 2015 2:00pm - 2:20pm EST
Windsor B

2:05pm EST

Arkansas Game and Fish Chaplain Program
Lieutenant Kenneth Key and Chaplain Sterling Claypoole, D. Ed. Min. – Arkansas Game and Fish Commission

Monday November 2, 2015 2:05pm - 2:40pm EST
OFFSITE: Sheraton Four Points, Vanderbilt Room

2:20pm EST

Characterization of the Migratory Phenotype of Lake Sturgeon
Justine Whitaker and Amy Welsh, West Virginia University; Darryl Hondorp, U.S. Geological Survey; James Boase, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; Stuart Welsh and George Merovich, West Virginia University

In Lake St. Clair of the Great Lakes system, lake sturgeon (Acipenser fulvescens) are partial migrants, with some individuals out-migrating to lakes and others residing in the river year-round. To characterize the migratory phenotype, we analyzed morphometrics, epigenetics, and genetic differentiation using neutral markers. Blood samples and photographs were collected from 150 telemetered fish. Genetic differentiation was analyzed using microsatellites to determine if there was gene flow between the river residents and the lake migrators. Lake sturgeon (n=153) were analyzed at 12 microsatellite loci and Bayesian analysis was performed to determine population differentiation. Based on the microsatellite loci, it appeared that there is only one population in the St. Clair River system, indicating gene flow among river residents and out-migrators. We used photographs to obtain 17 morphometric characters for 60 telemetered fish (35 residents, and 25 out-migrators). Morphometric data, analyzed with Principal component analysis (PCA), did not support morphologic differences between migratory phenotypes. For the epigenetic analysis, differential methylation was measured using the methylation sensitive (MS)-AFLP protocol on 14 individuals (7 migrants and 7 residents). An AMOVA performed for individual loci detected two restriction sites that were nearly statistically different (ɸ=0.05, P=0.063). Locus 118 and 153 were methylated in four of seven individuals of the migrant phenotype, but were unmethylated in all resident individuals. Two additional years of data will be added to increase the power of this analysis. It appears epigenetic changes were the only differences between the two phenotypes and may be the most useful tool for evaluating rapid adaptation in the presence of substantial gene flow.

Monday November 2, 2015 2:20pm - 2:40pm EST
Ballroom Salon A

2:20pm EST

Crossing Clear Water: New Partnerships Leverage Diverse Funders to Accelerate Reconnection
Damon Hearne, Trout Unlimited

Amassing threats to Southern Appalachian brook trout here in the southeast beg swift action.  Innovative partnerships and outreach techniques are one of the most important aspects of pushing back against these threats. Existing on the southernmost edge of the species’ range, the Southern Appalachian brook trout is in an increasingly vulnerable position.  With projections that habitat loss in the southeast could reach as high as 80% with a warming climate if climate change resiliency actions are not taken.  Trout Unlimited (TU) has undertaken a range of actions to secure the future of our only native trout, and this session will outline some of these new and thus-far successful strategies.     The presenter will talk about four significant strategies:  1) New partnerships – you will learn about TU’s relatively young aquatic organism passage (AOP) program and strategies that have helped it leverage over ~$1 million in project funds in just three years.   We will also discuss a new and unique partnership with high potential –the Little Tennessee Native Fish Conservation Partnership.  2) Project management and oversight – We’ll talk briefly about how TU completes work on National Forest lands and works with local contractors, including current project photos and lessons learned.  3) Outreach and Education – TU is undertaking a significant effort to spread the word about Stream Simulation AOP designs.  In addition to sharing a brief round-up of resources, we will unveil a new AOP poster aimed at design professionals and decision makers and talk about the collaborative design process.  

Monday November 2, 2015 2:20pm - 2:40pm EST
Windsor A

2:20pm EST

Applying Human Dimensions in Decision-making
John Organ, Chief of the U.S.G.S. Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units

Monday November 2, 2015 2:20pm - 2:40pm EST
Swannanoa

2:20pm EST

Movements and Timing of Long Distance Movements of Mottled Ducks on the Georgia and South Carolina Coasts
Kaylee M. Pollander, University of Georgia; Greg D. Balkcom, Georgia Wildlife Resources Division; Michael J. Chamberlain, University of Georgia

Mottled ducks (Anas fulvigula) inhabit various coastal marsh habitats, ranging from freshwater prairies to saline coastal marshes in the southeastern United States. The species is considered nonmigratory, but there is little information detailing individual movements within short or long temporal periods. Likewise, as residents mottled ducks are assumed to maintain home ranges, but band returns and coarse-scale telemetry data collected by previous studies suggests that movements away from maintained home ranges may occur. However, fine-scale data are also lacking in regards to the frequency and timing of movements outside of the home range. In August 2014, we captured and outfitted 9 mottled ducks (7 males and 2 females) with satellite GPS transmitters, which recorded 4 locations per day. Our objectives were to document daily distance traveled, document duration, timing, and distances traveled on excursions outside established home ranges, and document timing, duration, and distances traveled by mottled ducks to establish new home ranges. We determined distances between GPS locations using a Euclidean distance function. We found that average daily distances moved from capture through present varied from 72 m to 21,279 m (mean = 8,559 m, SE = 4,779 m). Three individuals left established home ranges and established new home ranges 46,232 m to 245,765 m (mean = 150,013 m SE = 83,518 m) away from their original home range. These new home ranges were established in ≤3 days. Four individuals made excursions outside their home range averaging 65,717 m (SE = 17,248 m); all returned to their previous home ranges in ≤4 days. These data suggest that mottled ducks in Georgia and South Carolina should be managed as one population rather than two separate populations.

Monday November 2, 2015 2:20pm - 2:40pm EST
Ballroom Salon B

2:20pm EST

Strategic Conservation Planning in a Private Lands State
Amie Treuer-Kuehn, Texas Parks & Wildlife Department

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), MoRap and other partners recently completed a seven year project to map the current status of Texas' vegetation communities, the "Ecological Mapping Systems of Texas" (EMS-TX). This effort resulted in one of the largest statewide vegetation and abiotic datasets in the US. Strategically applying these data at a landscape level has been identified as a need by government agencies, NGOs and others providing conservation planning on a state or regional scale. Filling this need, TPWD is mapping "Texas Ecological Indices" (TEI), to identify areas where limited resources would make the biggest impact towards restoration or recovery and provide a tool to avoid ecologically diverse or sensitive areas. Ecologically significant areas are identified based on scientific knowledge, species data, and the EMS-TX. TEI provides decision support for public or private landscapes and streamlines big data to support landscape level planning incorporating the most current data.

Monday November 2, 2015 2:20pm - 2:40pm EST
Windsor B

2:30pm EST

2:40pm EST

Refreshment Break
Monday November 2, 2015 2:40pm - 3:20pm EST
Windsor Corridor

3:15pm EST

3:20pm EST

Spotted Bass Population Structure and Diet in Wadeable and Non-wadeable Streams Draining the Lake Pontchartrain Basin
J. Brian Alford, University of Tennessee; Brian Heimann, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries

Spotted Bass (Micropterus punctulatus) provide a popular recreational fishery resource in Southeastern U.S. free-flowing river basins. They can be caught by anglers in wadeable (< 1 m deep) headwater streams or in non-wadeable portions of rivers. Our study compared Spotted Bass population structure from free-flowing wadeable (N = 154 from 21 sites) and non-wadeable (N = 435 from 32 sites) streams in the Lake Pontchartrain Basin of Mississippi and Louisiana to determine if these fisheries should be managed separately due to differences in food resources, growth, recruitment, and mortality rates. Spotted Bass were sampled during April-November 2009-2012 and were captured by hook-and-line angling, boat-mounted electrofishing, and seines. Size structure was similar between stream types and suggested slow-growing populations with few quality-sized fish (PSS-Q ≤ 24). Relative weight was higher for non-wadeable stream fish (mean Wr = 91) than wadeable stream fish (mean Wr = 85). Maximum theoretical size was greater for wadeable stream fish (Linf = 386 mm TL) than non-wadeable stream fish (Linf = 349 mm TL), but von Bertalanffy growth trajectories were very similar. Total annual mortality (A) calculated from weighted catch curves was 45% and 43% for non-wadeable and wadeable stream populations, respectively. Equilibrium yield models suggested that, for non-wadeable streams only, a maximum size limit of 305-331 mm TL would allow for greater yield-per-recruit at the current level of presumed exploitation (µ = 20%) and conditional natural mortality (cm = 0.25-0.45). Yield-per-recruit in wadeable streams would decline by 10% under the same scenarios.

Monday November 2, 2015 3:20pm - 3:40pm EST
Ballroom Salon A

3:20pm EST

Lessons From Around the World: Balancing Socioeconomic Factors, Hydropower Development, Land-use Change and Fisheries Ecology for a Sustainable Future of the Mekong River Ecosystem
Stephen J. Walsh, U.S. Geological Survey

The Mekong River is one of the great rivers of the world, with an exceptional freshwater fish diversity surpassed only by the much larger Amazon and Congo basins. Fisheries of the Mekong basin are of critical socioeconomic importance, providing food security for over 60 million people. Fisheries resources of the region, however, are increasingly jeopardized by rapid population growth, hydrologic alteration, and a myriad of associated land-use changes. The U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) has a long-standing history of working with scientists and governments in Southeast Asia to foster informed economic development in the Lower Mekong River Basin. Developing nations of the region are benefitting from technical assistance provided by DOI scientists to better inform management and planning decisions. Notable issues pertaining to hydropower expansion include improved fish-passage design and core ecological research and monitoring approaches that draw on past experiences from large-river management programs in the U.S. and other developed countries. As a case example, biologists of the U.S. Geological Survey and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are providing guidance to the government of Lao PDR to assess critical research gaps and build capacity and institutional infrastructure for addressing key issues regarding fish migration, ecology, and genetics. Funding and logistical support is provided by the U.S. Agency for International Development and U.S. State Department.

Monday November 2, 2015 3:20pm - 3:40pm EST
Windsor A

3:20pm EST

3:20pm EST

Occupancy of Large Canids in Eastern North Carolina
Mikayla Seamster, Christopher Inscore, David T. Cobb –North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission

We used camera traps to estimate detection and occupancy of radio-tagged and untagged red wolves, coyotes, and red wolf-coyote hybrids (Canis rufus, C. latrans, and C. rufus X C. latrans) and black bears (Ursus americanus) in Hyde County, N.C. This pilot study was to determine these variables among species and compare them between private and public lands. We also conducted spotlight counts of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) to evaluate large prey availability. Large canids occurred throughout the public lands sampled, but occupancy of tagged individuals was low (0.412). Estimated occupancy of large canids throughout the study area was 0.737 with an estimated detection of 0.051. Occupancy of untagged canids was twice that of collared canids, but detection was similar. Results suggest that our sample sizes (i.e., number of cameras) were too low. Because of low sample sizes and low detection rates, additional research is needed to fine-tune occupancy rates within and among species and land classifications, and thereby provide a landscape-scale perspective on the distribution, and potential implications, of large carnivores in southeast coastal landscapes. Among others, detailed recommendations for continuing research include increased distribution, density, and duration of camera observation collections.

Monday November 2, 2015 3:20pm - 3:40pm EST
Windsor B

3:20pm EST

The Bird Matrix- Development of a Model for Assessing Forest Structural Needs to Maximize Bird Species Evenness and Vegetative Structural Diversity
Ryan Jacobs, Gordon Warburton –North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission

Vegetative structure is an essential component of ecological diversity. It is often a primary concern for wildlife when determining the suitability of a site for breeding. Structural heterogeneity across a landscape is an important component for insuring a diversity of both habitats and wildlife. Because of the difficulty to adequately assess vegetative structure needs, traditional forest management has focused on the development of specific forest types and age classes with little regard to the importance of vegetative structure for ecological diversity. Commonly, wildlife management has centered on single species approaches for determining vegetative structural needs, with little consideration of multiple species requirements and interactions at the landscape level. To estimate the various structural class requirements needed by wildlife, we developed a model which categorized multiple bird species by structural classes and elevations used for breeding in Western North Carolina. Using a two method approach, considering both the complete overlap of territories and no overlap of territories, we provide an overview of the proportion of various structural classes ranging from early seral herbaceous areas to closed-canopy forests needed to maximize evenness and promote diversity among multiple bird species. Although the results describe a theoretical forest where bird species evenness is maximized, we believe they allow forest managers to examine trade-offs and implications for various management decisions.

Monday November 2, 2015 3:20pm - 3:40pm EST
Ballroom Salon B

3:20pm EST

Louisiana’s Bolton Case
Officer Wayne Parker, Louisiana Wildlife Enforcement

Monday November 2, 2015 3:20pm - 3:55pm EST
OFFSITE: Sheraton Four Points, Vanderbilt Room

3:20pm EST

3:20pm EST

Legal Session 1

  • Liability and Indemnification Issues in WL Agencies

  • State/Agent liability Implications (resulting personnel acting as instructors for NASBLA training)

  • Hunting Accidents

  • Land Acquisitions (SC as beneficiaries of Mitigation Property)

  • Migratory Bird Treaty Act

  • Additional Legal Topics for Discussion


Monday November 2, 2015 3:20pm - 5:00pm EST
Eagle

3:40pm EST

Contribution of Black Crappie Fingerlings Stocked into Lake Hickory, 2007–2012
Kevin Hining, Kin Hodges, David Yow –North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission

Lake Hickory is a 1,660-ha impoundment on Catawba River in western North Carolina and has historically been a popular fishing destination for Black Crappie Pomoxis nigromaculatus. Beginning in 2000, trapnet surveys conducted by the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC) began to show a decline in catch rates of Black Crappie, and angler complaints became more common as well. While the reason for the decline is not known, the establishment of Alewife Alosa pseudoharengus and White Perch Morone americana coincided with reductions in catch rates of Black Crappie. In an effort to improve the Black Crappie population, NCWRC began an experimental stocking program in 2007. From 2007–2012, Black Crappie fingerlings were marked with oxytetracycline (OTC) and stocked annually into Lake Hickory. Annual assessments of initial poststocking survival of OTC marked fish (79–98%) and OTC mark efficacy (96–100%) were high. Black Crappie were collected using trapnets (2008–2012), and electrofishing (2008, 2010, and 2011). All captured Black Crappie were aged, and otoliths from fish born during or after 2007 were examined for an OTC mark. Trapnets were more effective at collecting potentially stocked and stocked Black Crappie than electrofishing, possibly as a result of younger recruitment age to trapnets. Year-class contributions ranged from 0%–95%. As of the 2012 trapnet survey, approximately half (48%) of the Black Crappie collected with trapnets that were born during or after 2007 bore an OTC mark. Continued stocking of Black Crappie fingerlings is recommended, along with routine trapnet surveys to verify contributions of stocked fish and overall improvements to the Lake Hickory Black Crappie population.

Monday November 2, 2015 3:40pm - 4:00pm EST
Ballroom Salon A

3:40pm EST

Using Smartphone Apps and Partnerships to Locate Your Next Barrier Removal Project
Emily M. Granstaff, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Biologists possess great knowledge of fish barriers across the southeast region. However, most of these data are not compiled or easily accessible in a standardized format. Wouldn’t it be great to capture and review this type of information by simply pulling out your smartphone? By crowdsourcing data collection efforts with the help of existing capacity and mobile technology, we can collect, edit, and share fish barrier data more effectively and efficiently. The resulting product is a spatial database that can be maintained in real time by multiple partners at a low-cost and used by project managers to locate new barrier removal projects. During this session, we will share lessons learned from this approach applied in the Tennessee and Cumberland River basins.

Monday November 2, 2015 3:40pm - 4:00pm EST
Windsor A

3:40pm EST

3:40pm EST

Conservation of Whooping Cranes in North Alabama
Sarah Lessard, Wayde Morse, Chris Lepczyk –Auburn University

The Whooping Crane (Grus Americana) is a federally endangered bird that was nearly extirpated in the first half of the 20th century due to unregulated hunting and loss of habitat. Once numbering several thousand individuals the crane was reduced to approximately 21 individuals by the early 1940s. During the past 75 years the species has rebounded to approximately 600 individuals. Although the crane population has grown markedly, it still remains a rare species that faces a number of threats to its continued survival, including loss of wetland habitat, predation, expansion of wind energy facilities, and illegal human take. As part of the species recovery there have been several attempts to re-establish new populations in several locations across the US. Thirty-four of the 95 Whooping Cranes in the eastern migratory population spent part of the winter of 2014-15 in northern AL at the Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge. There have been several poaching incidents documented in north Alabama. A survey using the Dillman (2009) approach was developed to understand wildlife value orientations, and general and specific norms, beliefs, attitudes, and emotional disposition regarding conservation and poaching of Whooping Cranes. Behavioral intentions regarding conservation actions and reporting of poaching are also asked. The survey will be administered to a sample of 1,000 individuals during August of 2015 within a 3 county region where the Wildlife Refuge is located. Analysis of the factors that influence conservation and poaching behavioral intent will be presented.

Monday November 2, 2015 3:40pm - 4:00pm EST
Ballroom Salon B

3:40pm EST

Effects of Season and Habitat Characteristics on Coyote Scat Deposition Patterns
William D. Gulsby, University of Georgia; Charlie H. Killmaster, John W. Bowers –Georgia Department of Natural Resources; James D. Kelly, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation; Karl V. Miller, University of Georgia

Scat-based surveys are commonly used to index coyote (Canis latrans) abundance or spatial distribution. However, seasonal changes in coyote diets can influence rates and spatial patterns of scat deposition due to unequal prey distribution among habitat types. We used compositional analysis to evaluate spatiotemporal patterns in coyote scat deposition on B.F. Grant (BFG) and Cedar Creek (CC) Wildlife Management Areas in central Georgia during January 2010-April 2012. We collected 283 coyote scats on BFG and 206 on CC. Seasons were based on seasonal prey selection and included December-May, June-August, and September-November. We identified the habitat types available within 100-m of survey routes and scat locations and observed significant habitat-specific spatial patterns in coyote scat deposition among seasons. Landscape context affected scat locations on the two areas. Scats were disproportionately located in open and/or early successional habitats on the diverse, fragmented landscape of BFG, whereas mature forest was the highest-ranking habitat on the relatively homogenous landscape of CC. Distribution of survey routes along with timing and scale of surveys are important when planning scat-based coyote surveys. However, the relative importance of each factor may vary depending on habitat composition and landscape characteristics within sites. Spatiotemporal trends in scat deposition were similar to previous telemetry-based reports of seasonal habitat selection by coyotes and may provide information on broad-scale habitat selection at a lower cost than capture and telemetry.

Monday November 2, 2015 3:40pm - 4:00pm EST
Windsor B

3:55pm EST

Technology in Law Enforcement
Major Stephen Adams, Georgia Department of Natural Resources

Monday November 2, 2015 3:55pm - 4:30pm EST
OFFSITE: Sheraton Four Points, Vanderbilt Room

4:00pm EST

Temporal Patterns of Angler Use and Mortality of Stocked 229-mm Channel Catfish in Twenty Small Texas Impoundments
Charles Munger, Lynn Wright, John Dennis, John Moczygemba, Mike Gore, Dennis Smith –Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

The study was conducted on 20 selected lakes in Texas between 0.4 and 4.0 ha with 10 located in urban environments and the other 10 in rural locations. Lakes were stocked with adipose-clipped channel catfish (Ictalurus punctatus) and surveyed with baited hoop nets. Angler effort was estimated using game cameras. Urban angling effort was significantly higher than rural angling effort overall and by season except for summer. Winter had the lowest angling effort. Angling effort indicated a stocking effect where angler effort declined significantly two weeks following stocking. Hoop net catch rate was not significantly different between urban and rural lakes. Five of the lakes had no recaptures of any stocked channel catfish and five lakes had stocked fish essentially disappear within 4 months of stocking. There was no significant difference in mortality rates or condition indices between rural and urban channel catfish. Angling effort was lowest on lakes with no survival and lakes with six month survival and highest on lakes where stocked fish disappeared within the six month target period indicating anglers may be removing these fish from the population. The 229-mm channel catfish stocking program is providing angler opportunity in Texas. Management options are presented concerning the statewide stocking program.

Monday November 2, 2015 4:00pm - 4:20pm EST
Ballroom Salon A

4:00pm EST

Restoring Aquatic Habitats and Recovering Species One SHU at a Time
Jeffrey R. Powell, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; Patrick E. O’Neil, Geological Survey of Alabama; Paul D. Johnson, Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources; William Pearson, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Daphne, Alabama

Alabama’s rivers are recognized for their freshwater biodiversity with more than 310 native fishes, 180 mussels, 160 snails, and 85 crayfishes, many of which are critically imperiled. In an effort to conserve this unique fauna, preserve watershed health and integrity, improve water quality, and most importantly, build trust among the citizens of Alabama; the Alabama Rivers and Streams Network (ARSN) has identified 51 high priority watersheds known as Strategic Habitat Units (SHU). SHUs focus conservation activities on Alabama’s more than 225 listed and imperiled fishes, mussels, snails, and crayfishes. SHUs are primarily based on the number and presence of federally listed and state priority species, but they also consider the number and magnitude of threats (e.g., presence of barriers), the presence of designated critical habitat(s), and the presence of key habitat components required for individual species. Goals of the SHU process can be broken down into four major areas: assessment, restoration, recovery, and monitoring. Assessment activities are conducted by ARSN members to develop a basic understanding/baseline of current conditions; habitat restoration efforts are implemented by working with landowners, agencies, NGOs, and industry; species restoration is achieved through propagation and culture, followed by reintroductions into areas of their former range; and monitoring is continually conducted to track the stage of the project.

Monday November 2, 2015 4:00pm - 4:20pm EST
Windsor A

4:00pm EST

Case 3 – Managing for Nongame Species: The Importance of Understanding the Human Dimensions
Belyna Bentlage, Purdue University (NEW PRESENTER - REPLACED LINDA PROKOPY)

Monday November 2, 2015 4:00pm - 4:20pm EST
Swannanoa

4:00pm EST

Advancing Species Distribution Models to Identify Optimal Restoration Sites for Bachman's Sparrow (Peucaea aestivalis)
Bradley A. Pickens, North Carolina Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, North Carolina State University; Paul Taillie, North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission; Scott Anderson, North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission; John P. Carpenter, North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission; Jeffrey F. Marcus, The Nature Conservancy; Jaime A. Collazo, U.S. Geological Survey, North Carolina Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, North Carolina State University

The longleaf pine ecosystem occupies only 3-5% of its historic range, and recently, a great emphasis has been placed on restoration of longleaf pine savanna. One of the most recognized indicators of regularly burned pine savanna is the Bachman's Sparrow (Peucaea aestivalis). The species' need for herbaceous groundcover, and its sensitivity to fragmentation, makes the species a multiscale indicator of ecological condition. The Bachman's Sparrow is an indicator species for the South Atlantic Landscape Conservation Cooperative and is a priority species in North Carolina as well as most states within its range. In this study, our objectives were to use spatial data to quantify species–habitat relationships, develop a species distribution model for North Carolina, and use a fire scenario to identify areas that could be readily converted to Bachman's Sparrow habitat. We used a resource selection function to compare habitat of presence locations with pseudo-absence locations. Presence data were obtained from three distinct studies. Spatial data were obtained from the LANDFIRE program, National Landcover Database, and The Nature Conservancy's Terrestrial Resilience project for the southeast. Our results showed Bachman's Sparrow relationships with evergreen land cover, mean canopy cover, heterogeneity in canopy cover, connectedness, and proportion of habitat within 3 km. Several interactions also existed. According to validation data, the model was 87% accurate in North Carolina. The fire scenario demonstrated that many areas near existing habitat could benefit Bachman's Sparrow with the reintroduction of fire. Additionally, the spatial patterns are beneficial for understanding relationships with current and projected urbanization.

Monday November 2, 2015 4:00pm - 4:20pm EST
Ballroom Salon B

4:00pm EST

Habitat Characteristics Associated with Daytime Resting Sites of Raccoons in a Longleaf Pine Ecosystem
R. Brian Kirby, University of Tennessee; L. Mike Conner, Joseph W. Jones Ecological Research Center; Lisa I. Muller, University of Tennessee; Michael Chamberlain, University of Georgia

Raccoons (Procyon lotor) are a significant predator of ground-nesting species such as gopher tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus) and northern bobwhite (Colinus virginianus). We examined 269 daytime resting sites (DRS) for 31 radio-collared adult raccoons (18 M, 13F) during 2014-2015 in a longleaf pine ecosystem (Pinus palustris) in southwestern Georgia, USA to understand factors affecting use. We evaluated 26 a priori models using an informative theoretic approach. The top 5 models (∆ AIC < 5), representing 95% of the predictive weight, included the predictors tree diameter, tree type, presence of nearby hardwood, and distances to pine, hardwood, mixed forest and agriculture. Raccoons readily used all available forest types; however, they were less likely to use pine trees (β = -3.575, SE = 0.442) compared to hardwoods, and preferred large diameter trees (β = 0.013, SE = 0.004). When comparing use by gender, the global model received full support. For DRS, females were less likely to use larger trees (β = -0.014, SE = 0.004) and were found further from agriculture (β = -0.005, SE = 0.001) and primary roads (β = -0.001, SE = 0.000) than males, but female DRS were closer to wetlands (β = 0.002, SE = 0.000) than male DRS. Removal of mature hardwoods in the longleaf pine ecosystem may be used as a nonlethal means to manage raccoons to reduce nest predation. However, hardwoods are beneficial to other wildlife within the longleaf pine matrix, and this should be considered before implementing excessive hardwood removal.

Monday November 2, 2015 4:00pm - 4:20pm EST
Windsor B

4:10pm EST

4:15pm EST

Brandt Information Services Presentation
Richard Wise and Tiffani Santagati

Monday November 2, 2015 4:15pm - 5:00pm EST
Alexander

4:20pm EST

Potential Paradigm Shift: Managing an Estuarine Striped Bass Population in the Absence of Natural Reproduction
Kyle T. Rachels, Benjamin R. Ricks – North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission

The Neuse River, originating in piedmont North Carolina and draining to Pamlico Sound, historically supported locally important commercial and recreational Striped Bass fisheries. Population declines, habitat degradation, and a lack of fisheries data hindered attempts to manage the population throughout the 20th century. Initial management efforts consisted of intermittent stocking events, a 12-in minimum length limit (MLL), and a 25 fish daily creel limit. Beginning in 1982, more conservative regulations were enacted to restore the population, culminating in an 18-in MLL, a protective 22–27 in slot limit on the spawning grounds, restricted season lengths, and a 2 fish creel limit in 2008. Annual stocking events were initiated in 1992, with a transition from non-natal to endemic-source broodstock occurring in 2012. The 1998 removal of a low-head dam enabled access to an additional 127 km of spawning habitat. Despite recent management efforts, there is little evidence for increased population abundance, mortality is high, and the age-structure is truncated. Analysis of parentage based tagging indicates the 2010–2013 year-classes are almost exclusively hatchery fish with growth rates considerably higher relative to Striped Bass in adjacent systems. The lack of wild reproduction may necessitate a shift in management of the population, potentially away from a restoration focus and instead towards a put-grow-take fishery for recreational anglers. Since the population is subject to two state-agency jurisdictions and multiple commercial and recreational fisheries, future management will require inter-agency collaboration for population enhancement.

Monday November 2, 2015 4:20pm - 4:40pm EST
Ballroom Salon A

4:20pm EST

Conserving Large Landscapes Through Dam Removal
Erin McCombs, American Rivers

Dam removal is gaining momentum as a restoration tool to increase aquatic connectivity, public safety, and recreational opportunities. Over 80,000 dams exist on our streams nationwide. While some of these dams are still providing energy through hydropower and protecting communities as flood control, the vast majority of these structures are no longer serving their intended purpose like powering saw mills, grist mills, or textile mills. With limited resources and thousands of small and medium sized dams to prioritize for removal, information to guide the process is of principal importance. This presentation will attempt to guide resource managers to the best practices for prioritizing and removing dams and offer case studies from completed projects in North Carolina as well as elsewhere in the Southeast, Northeast, and Midwest. General steps for a dam removal will be covered including initial reconnaissance, site visits, planning meetings, fundraising, design and engineering, community outreach, permitting, project implementation, and monitoring.

Monday November 2, 2015 4:20pm - 4:40pm EST
Windsor A

4:20pm EST

4:20pm EST

Co-Urbanization of Humans and Coyotes
Michael Drake, Christopher Moorman, Christopher Deperno –North Carolina State University; Colleen Olfenbuttel, North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission; M. Nils Peterson, North Carolina State University

Throughout the United States, both humans and coyotes (Canis latrans) have been urbanizing at a rapid rate. While there is a growing body of research on coyotes in an urban context, it is unclear how a larger and more urban human population will affect coyotes. We sought to address this issue by administering surveys to greenway users in Raleigh, North Carolina. In a pretest for what will become a larger study, we sampled 30 individuals and related their rural/urban background to their perceptions of coyotes. Increases in the urban density of the respondents’ backgrounds correlated with increases in their level of agreement with the statements ‘I support having wild coyotes in Raleigh’ (R2=.155, p

Monday November 2, 2015 4:20pm - 4:40pm EST
Windsor B

4:20pm EST

Determining Breeding Origins and Stopover Patterns of Four Migrant Songbird Species in Northern Alabama Using Stable Isotope and Molecular Methods
Mercedes Bartkovich, Dr. Yong Wang –Alabama A&M University

Determining the breeding, or natal, origin of a population of migratory birds is essential for understanding factors that could be responsible for population changes. Migratory bird species have different migratory and energy reserve strategies that vary based on sex, age class, and breeding origin. This research examines the breeding origins and stopover patterns of four Neotropical migratory songbird species: Wood Thrush (Hylocichla mustelina; n=85), Eastern Wood-pewee (Contopus viren; n=79), Gray Catbird (Dumetella carolinensis; n=123), and Ovenbird (Seiurus aurocapilla; n=120). During the fall of 2007 and 2008 in the Walls of Jericho, Jackson Co., AL, 407 individuals were captured, banded, measured, and had two tail rectrices removed. Molt origin of these individuals was estimated using stable hydrogen isotope (deuterium) analysis of the collected feathers. In conjunction with isotope analysis, DNA extraction and polymerase chain reaction will be performed to determine the gender of each individual since these species are sexually monomorphic. Preliminary analyses indicate that the Ovenbird had the broadest and most northerly breeding grounds, while the Wood Thrush, Eastern Wood-pewee and Gray Catbird had more southerly breeding origins. There was a negative relationship between the deuterium values and timing of migration, meaning that individuals that bred the furthest north migrated through our stopover site later in the season. Examining breeding sites and stopover patterns, such as timing of migration and energetic conditions, will improve our understanding of the connectivity of migratory songbirds and enable the development of more effective conservation strategies for these bird populations.

Monday November 2, 2015 4:20pm - 4:40pm EST
Ballroom Salon B

4:30pm EST

Tasers in Wildlife Law Enforcement
Captain David O’Neal and Sergeant Josh McConnell – North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission

Monday November 2, 2015 4:30pm - 5:00pm EST
OFFSITE: Sheraton Four Points, Vanderbilt Room

4:40pm EST

Living on The Edge: Persistence of the Fringe Striped Bass Population
Nathan G. Smith, David L. Buckmeier –Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

The lower Trinity River and Trinity Bay is the southern fringe of striped bass Morone saxatilis native range and current distribution. At this southern limit, water temperatures often exceed reported tolerances for striped bass. We evaluated the likelihood that this fringe striped bass population can persist by examining their life history characteristics, their movements and habitat use, and the occurrence of thermal refuges in lower Trinity River. We estimated ages of spawning adult striped bass from 2006 to 2011 to describe life history characteristics, and used ultrasonic telemetry from 2008 to 2010 to evaluate movements and habitat use, and identify thermal refuges. Striped bass in the Trinity River matured earlier, had higher mortality rates, and shorter longevity than striped bass populations near the center of the species range. In the Trinity River, high mortality and short lifespan limited female adult striped bass to only 2 or 3 spawning opportunities. While striped bass used the entire reach of river from Lake Livingston Dam to Trinity Bay, over half of the individuals known to survive through at least one summer spent the summer months near a known thermal refuge associated with Lake Livingston Dam. No other thermal refuges were discovered. Additional degradation of thermal conditions in the Trinity River jeopardizes the persistence of striped bass in this system because it will likely further truncate age structure and reduce spawning opportunities.

Monday November 2, 2015 4:40pm - 5:00pm EST
Ballroom Salon A

4:40pm EST

Looking Forward: Creating a Culture of Human Dimensions
Nick Wiley, Executive Director, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

Monday November 2, 2015 4:40pm - 5:00pm EST
Swannanoa

4:40pm EST

Factors Affecting Coyote Food Use in Florida
Lauren N. Watine, William M. Giuliano –The University of Florida

The coyote (Canis latrans) is a relatively new predator to the Southeast implicated in the decline of numerous wildlife species, and pet and livestock depredation. However, little is known about coyote effects on important wildlife (e.g., white-tailed deer [Odocoileus virginianus]; hereafter, deer) and domestic (e.g., domestic cats and livestock) species in recently colonized systems such as Florida. Our goal was to understand factors affecting coyote food use, particularly the importance of deer. We collected 263 coyote carcasses throughout Florida, USA (2011-2015), removed their gastrointestinal tracts, and identified food items via micro- and macroscopic characteristics. Morisita’s index (Cλ) was used to assess dietary overlap among coyote groups (e.g., sex, age, season, etc.). A contingency table and likelihood–ratio statistic (G) were used to examine the effects of sex, age, body mass, condition, season (e.g., calendar, calving, and deer), location (e.g., north, central, and south Florida), and collection method (e.g., hunted, trapped, road-killed) on the use of major (e.g., major [e.g., small, medium, and large mammals, insects, mast, etc.], management [e.g., small and large game, livestock, and other], and deer [e.g., deer and other]) food categories among coyote groups. Coyotes had a diverse diet, with 9 food items occurring in ≥5% of the overall diet. There was high dietary overlap between animals of different sex, age, body mass, and season. Generally, coyotes used game more frequently during winter and spring than in summer or fall, with the greatest use of deer occurring during the general gun harvest and fawning seasons.

Monday November 2, 2015 4:40pm - 5:00pm EST
Windsor B

4:40pm EST

Louisiana Waterthrush and Benthic Macroinvertebrate Response to Shale Gas Development
Petra B. Wood, U.S. Geological Survey, West Virginia Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, West Virginia University; Mack W. Frantz* and Douglas A. Becker, West Virginia Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, West Virginia University

Because shale gas development is occurring over a large landscape, an understanding of effects on headwater stream communities is needed. We examined effects of shale gas development (well pads and associated infrastructure) on Louisiana Waterthrush (Parkesia motacilla) and benthic macroinvertebrate communities in 12 West Virginia headwater streams in 2011. Streams were classed as impacted (n=6) or unimpacted (n=6) by shale gas development. We quantified waterthrush demography (nest success, clutch size, number of fledglings, territory density), a waterthrush Habitat Suitability Index (HSI), the EPA Rapid Bioassessment Protocol habitat index (RBP), and benthic metrics including a genus-level stream quality index (GLIMPSS) for each stream. For statistical tests, we set significance a priori at alpha

Monday November 2, 2015 4:40pm - 5:00pm EST
Ballroom Salon B

5:00pm EST

Discussion/Invite to organizational session of SEAFWA Human Dimensions Working Group
Ann Forstchen, David Cobb, Christopher Serenari, Kerry Linehan

Monday November 2, 2015 5:00pm - 5:20pm EST
Swannanoa
 
Tuesday, November 3
 

8:00am EST

Effects of Silver Carp Introductions on White Crappie and Largemouth Bass in Floodplain Lakes of the Yazoo River Basin, Mississippi
Nathan Aycock, Darrin Hardesty, Jerry Brown, Chad Washington – Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks

The invasive silver carp continues to quickly expand its range throughout the United States. Studies have shown the negative effects these fish can have on native planktivores in large river systems, yet their effect on sport fish species is less well known, especially in floodplain lakes connected to large rivers. During the historic flooding of the Mississippi River in 2011, silver carp juveniles gained access to some oxbow lakes in the Yazoo River Basin where they had previously not been present. MDWFP sampling from pre-flood and post-flood indicates substantial changes to the white crappie population at these lakes after silver carp entered the system, including decreased abundance, decreased growth rates, and significantly lower relative weight values. In other nearby floodplain lakes where silver carp are not present, crappie abundance either remained the same or increased after the flooding, and there was no change in fish condition. Similar trends in abundance was found for largemouth bass, with numbers falling dramatically for the lakes where silver carp were introduced and number increasing or staying the same for the lakes where silver carp were not introduced. A decrease in prey species abundance, especially gizzard shad and bluegill sunfish, after silver carp introductions may be driving these trends. Our data shows the dramatic impact silver carp can have on sport fish populations in floodplain lakes.

Tuesday November 3, 2015 8:00am - 8:20am EST
Victoria

8:00am EST

Current and Spatially Explicit Capture-Recapture Analysis Methods for Infrared Triggered Cameras Density Estimation of White-tailed Deer
Jared Beaver, Craig Harper, Lisa Muller, P. Seth Basinger, Matthew Goode –University of Tennessee; Frank T. van Manen, U.S. Geological Survey

Use of infrared-triggered camera (hereafter; camera) surveys for white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus; deer) population density estimation, while popular among land managers, does not currently provide an estimate of precision critical for accurate density estimation. We believed that incorporating spatial aspects of sampling into the analytical process would allow a means for providing both estimates of precision associated with density estimates and an ability to calculate effective capture area. We conducted camera surveys for deer in Units 1 (1,385 ha) and 2 (1,488 ha) at Arnold Air Force Base, Tennessee, USA, August 2010. We used spatially explicit capture-recapture (SECR) data with Program DENSITY to fit a spatial detection function (g0; probability of detection at a single detector at a distance from the center of the home range) and estimate antlered male density from individuals identified based on antler criteria. Antlered male density estimates were similar between camera surveys using traditional sampling techniques (abundance estimated based on recaptures of recognizable antlered males from camera images; 2.0 males/km2 and 2.6 males/km2) and SECR density estimation (1.6 males/km2 [SE = 0.33, g0 = 0.24] and 2.5 males/km2 [SE = 0.56, g0 = 0.14]), for Units 1 and 2, respectively. Both estimation methods indicated lower deer density in Unit 1 versus 2. Analysis of camera surveys using spatial modeling uses the data from the spatial distribution of cameras and does not require the assumption of equal detectability. Use of spatial modeling can improve current camera survey methods by providing both a measure of precision that is currently lacking from traditional camera analysis methods and including spatial distribution of captured deer. Spatial modeling should be explored further as a possible means of enhancing our understanding of potential biases associated with behavioral responses to the use of bait as an attractant.

Tuesday November 3, 2015 8:00am - 8:20am EST
Ballroom Salon A

8:00am EST

Predicting Aquatic Ecosystem Health in the Southeastern United States
Joshua Epstein, Ben Baiser, William Pine, Christina Romagosa –University of Florida; Catherine Phillips, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Species represent a wide range and combination of traits, (i.e., behavior, feeding) some of which are unique and essential to ecosystem functioning, and some which are redundant within a community. This “functional diversity” (FD) is not always mirrored by traditional measures of species richness. Here we take a trait-based approach to explore patterns of FD in fish communities across the southeastern US. We obtained species presence/absence data from the MARIS and USGS Nonindigenous Aquatic Species databases, and scored trophic traits for the 386 fish species using the Virginia Tech FishTraits Database, primary literature, USFWS reports, and fish identification texts. We calculated species richness and FD (using the functional dispersion metric) for 121 sub-basins in the southeastern US. In general, we found high functional diversity throughout the eastern highland and Appalachian regions and lower functional diversity in the Coastal Plain and Piedmont areas. Our results suggest that sub-basins with similar species richness but different FD values are likely a result of differences in river channelization, development, and habitat complexity. Going forward, we plan on relating FD to additional ecosystem health indicators (i.e., impervious surface and percent natural cover) to reveal potential correlations.

Tuesday November 3, 2015 8:00am - 8:20am EST
Ballroom Salon B

8:00am EST

It Takes a Hunter to Make a Hunter and Beyond
Walter “Deet” James, North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission

Tuesday November 3, 2015 8:00am - 8:30am EST
OFFSITE: Asheville Community Theatre

8:00am EST

8:00am EST

Open Discussion on Topics
Open Discussions on the following topics will occur throughout the day:

  • Using technology to enhance licensing, vessel registration, big game reporting, event registration, etc.

  • Web sites/Social media/Bulk emails

  • Mobile applications/Mobile web sites

  • GIS Applications and IT’s role in GIS

  • Big Data/Data Analytics

  • IT Staffing, training, and retention in the rebounding economy

Tuesday November 3, 2015 8:00am - 9:40am EST
Alexander

8:00am EST

Legal Session 2: Part 1

  • Liability and Indemnification Issues in WL Agencies

  • State/Agent liability Implications (resulting personnel acting as instructors for NASBLA training)

  • Hunting Accidents

  • Land Acquisitions (SC as beneficiaries of Mitigation Property)

  • Migratory Bird Treaty Act

  • Additional Legal Topics for Discussion


Tuesday November 3, 2015 8:00am - 9:40am EST
Eagle

8:00am EST

8:00am EST

8:00am EST

SYMPOSIUM OVERVIEW
States have historically played a critical role in the management and conservation of both game and non-game species. In cooperation with the Fish and Wildlife Service, states have demonstrated success with conservation of listed species on private lands through programs like the Safe Harbor Program for the red-cockaded woodpecker. Recent trends point to an increasing role for states, particularly with regard to at-risk species. Policy proposals at the federal level are placing an increased emphasis on the role of states as facilitators of voluntary pre-listing conservation actions by private entities. State-led initiatives in the western U.S. are receiving attention as possible models for large-landscape conservation. And here in the southeast, States are collaborating to conserve at-risk species.

In light of these changes, the objective of this panel is to seed a broader conversation about the emerging frameworks and strategies that states might employ in the Southeast to achieve large-landscape conservation for multiple species. The large number of species in the southeast that will require status reviews will require enhanced data sharing and collaboration and an ecosystem-based approach to conservation. Speakers on the panel will provide insight into regional and national trends creating both needs and opportunities for states. Speakers will also review successful programs, present an overview of on-going and emerging efforts and discuss the challenges of large-scale programs for multiple species. This will set the stage for a discussion of the factors that have influenced the design and uptake of conservation approaches in the past, as well as the barriers and opportunities for implementation of new conservation frameworks and strategies in the region going forward.

Tuesday November 3, 2015 8:00am - 12:00pm EST
Windsor A

8:20am EST

Population Dynamics of Introduced Flathead Catfish Occurring in Two Atlantic Coastal Plain Rivers: Comparisons of Age, Size Structure, Growth, Mortality and Management
Timothy F. Bonvechio*, Georgia Department of Natural Resources; Jason E. Marsik, Carl W. Bussells -South Carolina Department of Natural Resources

This study evaluated and compared the population dynamics of introduced flathead catfish (Pylodictis olivaris) populations from the Satilla River, Georgia with the Little Pee Dee River, South Carolina. Both of these Atlantic lower coastal plain rivers are characterized as black water, low productivity systems that historically supported very popular redbreast sunfish (Lepomis auritus) fisheries but invasion histories and the management regimes adopted by the two state agencies managing these populations has contrasted. Presumably due to an active flathead removal, the Satilla River flathead population is characterized as having high relative abundance, high mortality, variable but fast growth rates and a truncated size and age structure containing mostly younger fish with a maximum age of 12 sampled. On the contrary, the Little Pee Dee flathead population has received much less removal attention and regularly receives redbreast sunfish stocking. The Little Pee Dee population is characterized as having a high relative abundance, but variable and slow growth rates and a more balanced size and age structure, containing fish up to age-26. This study expands our knowledge base of introduced flathead catfish population dynamics along the Atlantic coastal plain and provides a few examples of how agencies in the Southeast have met the challenge of managing an introduced apex predator.

Tuesday November 3, 2015 8:20am - 8:40am EST
Victoria

8:20am EST

Movement with the Moon: White-tailed Deer Activity and Solunar Events
Jeffery D. Sullivan, Stephen S. Ditchkoff – Auburn University; Bret A. Collier, Louisiana State University; Charles R. Ruth, South Carolina Department of Natural Resources; Joshua B. Raglin, Norfolk Southern Railway, Brosnan Forest

White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) are predominately crepuscular; however, the general populace believes that deer activity is also influenced by lunar factors. This belief is demonstrated by the countless “solunar charts” claiming to provide peak periods of deer activity. However, while research has identified solar and lunar influences on behavioral patterns in some species, few studies describe these effects on white-tailed deer. Our goal was to determine if solunar charts can predict periods of increased activity in white-tailed deer. Thirty-eight adult male, white-tailed deer were equipped with GPS collars programmed to collect locations every 30 minutes from August-December during 2010-2012. Deer were classified as active or inactive between consecutive GPS fixes based upon a 38.44 meter threshold for total distance moved. We used logistic regression to model the odds of activity dependent on solunar events. On days furthest from the full or new moon, deer were less likely to be active during moonrise and moonset periods, and more likely to be active during moon overhead and moon underfoot periods, than during surrounding times. On days with greater proximity to the new or full moon the probability of activity during moonrise and moonset periods increased from 0.429 to 0.660 and 0.464 to 0.652, respectively, while decreasing during moon overhead and moon underfoot periods from 0.597 to 0.467 and 0.576 to 0.364, respectively. These data suggest events identified by solunar charts have some association with deer activity. However, the relationships between lunar events and lunar phase expressed in solunar charts may be misleading.

Tuesday November 3, 2015 8:20am - 8:40am EST
Ballroom Salon A

8:20am EST

Using Seasonal Abundance Patterns to Improve Monitoring Programs and Conservation Decision-Making: An American Alligator Example
Abigail J. Lawson, Clemson University; Patrick G.R. Jodice, U.S. Geological Survey, South Carolina Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Clemson, University; Clinton T. Moore, U.S. Geological Survey, Georgia Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, University of Georgia

Robust species monitoring programs are a cornerstone of successful wildlife management. Abundance, occupancy, and other demographic data derived from monitoring efforts are frequently used to inform management decisions (e.g., harvest rates). However, reliability of monitoring data is heavily influenced by study design components, such as seasonal timing and replication. For example, seasonal variation in a species’ habitat use in surveyed areas may violate assumptions of geographic closure (i.e., temporary emigration) resulting in inaccurate population estimates. Alternatively, environmental conditions that influence detectability may further reduce estimate precision. Here we estimated seasonal abundance of adult American alligators (Alligator mississippiensis) in rivers within South Carolina. Alligator use of riverine habitat varies among sexes, and with the seasonal timing of reproductive activities. Therefore, we sub-divided the alligator’s active period (approximately March – October) into three reproductive seasons in which to estimate abundance: breeding; nesting; and post-nesting. We annually conducted two replicate nightlight surveys per season on 4 survey routes (N = 6 surveys/route/year). The surveyed areas encompass a large portion of the alligator’s South Carolina distribution, yet also capture smaller-scale habitat variation (e.g., salinity). Here we present preliminary analysis results from two years of data collection, each spanning three reproductive seasons. We further examine whether the existing monitoring design is appropriate given the assumptions needed for population estimation (e.g., N-mixture models). The approaches described here can be readily extended to other wildlife species or sampling issues in which monitoring programs are used to make management recommendations, particularly for harvested species.

Tuesday November 3, 2015 8:20am - 8:40am EST
Ballroom Salon B

8:30am EST

8:40am EST

Sleeping Giants: the Ecology and Impacts of Domestic Invasive Large Catfish
Thomas J. Kwak; U.S. Geological Survey, North Carolina Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, North Carolina State University

Large North American ictalurid catfishes (channel catfish, blue catfish, flathead catfish) have been widely introduced in the United States beyond their native ranges. These domestic invasive species receive less scientific and media attention relative to exotic fish introductions, but their ecological impacts may be equally or more severe. They have been implicated for the decline of sport fishes, imperiled fishes, and amphibians. Introduced flathead catfish are of special concern, because they are an aggressive obligate carnivore with great potential to alter native fish assemblages. Since the 1950s, they have been introduced into southeastern U.S. Atlantic Slope rivers from Florida to Pennsylvania, established by releases of few individuals. The flathead catfish has been considered easily collected by electrofishing, of low densities, with sedentary behavior, restricted to freshwater, and feasible to manage in restricted river units, but recent research suggests that electrofishing is an inefficient gear, it occurs in dense populations, individuals migrate throughout a drainage, it tolerates brackish waters, and populations must be managed at the basin scale. Management of introduced catfish focuses on limiting dispersal among basins, public education, and encouraging harvest. Additional research is needed to elucidate the effects on native fishes and develop and assess alternative population control measures.

Tuesday November 3, 2015 8:40am - 9:00am EST
Victoria

8:40am EST

8:40am EST

Agency Approaches to Management of Public Alligator Harvest Programs in the Species’ Eastern Range
Tara Gancos Crawford, Georgia Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, University of Georgia; Clinton T. Moore, U.S. Geological Survey, Georgia Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, University of Georgia; Greg Balkcom, Georgia Department of Natural Resources; Arnold M. Brunell, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission; Kristina J. Brunjes, Georgia Department of Natural Resources; Joseph W. Butfiloski, South Carolina Department of Natural Resources; Cameron Carter, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission; Harry Dutton, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission; Nik Heynen, University of Georgia; Chris Nix, Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources; Richard Tharp, Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources; Greg Waters, Georgia Department of Natural Resources; Allan Woodward, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

State wildlife management agencies strive to satisfy varied and sometimes competing stakeholder interests by providing consumptive and non-consumptive recreational opportunities, reducing human-wildlife conflicts, and maintaining wildlife populations in perpetuity for ecological benefits. Alligator management provides examples of the issues managers face when pursuing optimal policies to achieve these objectives in balance. Although alligators are distinctive among the suite of traditional game species, uncertainties that undermine management decisions – including those related to species’ life history, responses to management, and quality of monitoring data – are characteristic of the challenges facing all wildlife managers. As an initial step towards establishing a structured decision making process that can account for these issues in policy-making in the eastern portion of the species’ range, we investigated the diversity of policies employed by public alligator harvest management programs in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina. We describe commonalities and distinctions among regulations and approaches adopted by these programs, and highlight the consequences and opportunities that emerge from the socio-ecological contexts in which these programs operate. This work serves as the foundation for an emerging adaptive harvest management framework that can govern recurrent policy decisions for multi-objective public alligator harvest programs across this landscape. A prototype framework will be tailored to the unique regulatory context in which each program operates, but will capitalize on the collective expertise and data that exist among the collaborating agencies. This effort will provide an informative case study for evaluating proposed decision-support tools and approaches that may be applied for other species.

Tuesday November 3, 2015 8:40am - 9:00am EST
Ballroom Salon B

8:40am EST

Influences of Prescribed Fire and Herbicide Applications on Forage Availability for Cervids in the Cumberland Mountains, Tennessee
Jordan S. Nanney, Craig A. Harper, David A. Buehler, Gary E. Bates – University of Tennessee

Closed-canopy forests dominate the landscape in many parts of the eastern United States and often lack a well-developed forest understory, which limits nutrition available for cervids. We evaluated the influence of timber harvest combined with prescribed fire and/or herbicide treatments in mixed-hardwood stands on forage availability for elk (Cervus elaphus) and white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), July-August 2013 and 2014, in east Tennessee. We compared forage availability in closed-canopy mature forest (MATFOR) and 6 timber harvest treatments (timber harvest alone (HARV), early-growing season fire (EBURN), late-growing season fire (LBURN), herbicide alone (HERB), herbicide and early-growing season fire (EB_HERB), and herbicide and late-growing season fire (LB_HERB)). Forage was measured by collecting leaf material of herbaceous and woody plant species considered selected by elk or deer in the literature. Forage availability in MATFOR (133 kg/ha : 118 lb/ac) was less than all timber harvest treatments. More forage was available in HARV (1,276 kg/ha : 1,139 lb/ac), EBURN (1,135 kg/ha : 1,013 lb/ac), LBURN (1,321 kg/ha : 1,178 lb/ac), and HERB (1,151 kg/ha : 1,127 lb/ac) than EB_HERB (814 kg/ha : 726 lb/ac) and LB_HERB (893 kg/ha : 797 lb/ac). Additionally, we compared vegetation composition among timber harvest treatments. Herbaceous species coverage did not differ (P = 0.062); although woody species coverage did differ among treatments (P = 0.0124). Woody species coverage in LB_HERB (17%) was less than HARV (50%), EBURN (46%), and LBURN (41%), but similar to EB_HERB (28%) and HERB (32%). Combining herbicide and prescribed fire following timber harvest appears to be an effective technique to increase forage for cervids and facilitate the transition of young forest to early successional plant communities in the eastern United States.

Tuesday November 3, 2015 8:40am - 9:00am EST
Ballroom Salon A

9:00am EST

Black Bass Population Dynamics in Lake Norman: North Carolina After the Introduction of Alabama Bass
Lawrence G. Dorsey, North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission; Michael A. Abney, Duke Energy Environmental Center

Unauthorized introductions of new fish species have altered existing fisheries for decades. This is no different for black bass (Micropterus spp.) but most evaluations of these introductions have focused on genetic integrity and hybridization among existing and introduced fisheries. Since 1993, Duke Energy Corporation has surveyed the black bass population at Lake Norman, North Carolina annually to monitor the effects of heated effluent from adjacent power plants. These annual surveys, while intended to monitor existing fisheries, documented the introduction of Alabama bass (Micropterus henshalli) for the first time in 2001 and subsequent expansion of Alabama bass throughout the reservoir. As Alabama bass expanded in density and locations through the reservoir, the existing largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides) population declined. Mean CPUE of Alabama bass for the reservoir overall exceeded largemouth bass mean CPUE within five years of Alabama bass introduction. While the sampling scheme used was effective at documenting changes in population dynamics between the two species in the reservoir as a whole, it was not effective at documenting changes in population dynamics in all areas of the reservoir. Additional samples collected in 2010 and 2013 in the upper area of the reservoir indicated that largemouth bass were thriving in creek and cove areas off of the main lake channel; whereas, historical sample sites suggested Alabama bass were the predominant black bass. This study illustrated that while standardized sampling was a sound method for sampling black bass, considerations must be made for species introductions in relation to the habitats sampled through the standardized protocols.

Tuesday November 3, 2015 9:00am - 9:20am EST
Victoria

9:00am EST

9:00am EST

Adult White-tailed Deer Seasonal Home Range and Habitat Composition in Northwest Louisiana
S. Kathryn Hasapes, Christopher E. Comer – Austin State University

Despite decades of interest and research, many questions remain about seasonal movements and habitat use of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), particularly in the Southeast. The advent of GPS-based telemetry has made detailed studies of year-round movements feasible. We assessed monthly habitat use using compositional analysis for adult male (n = 15) and female (n = 15) deer at Barksdale Air Force Base in northwestern Louisiana using GPS radiocollars collecting locations at hourly intervals over approximately one year. Males had larger monthly home ranges (97-380 ha) than females (44-181 ha), particularly in fall and winter; however, habitat use was similar between sexes. Early-successional habitats, such as shrub communities, were used preferentially by both sexes throughout the year, as were mature bottomland hardwood stands. Thinned hardwood stand and wetland habitats were used less than expected. Food plots and fields were used preferentially when they were small and widely dispersed on the landscape but large openings were avoided. Our results suggested that deer of both sexes were able to obtain resources to support their year-round needs in a seasonally consistent, relatively small area and that management to benefit deer at the site has been generally successful in producing high quality habitat.

Tuesday November 3, 2015 9:00am - 9:20am EST
Ballroom Salon A

9:00am EST

Description of the Rod and Reel Capture Method for American Alligators
Bradley A. Strickland, Mississippi State University; Francisco J. Vilella, U.S. Geological Survey; Ricky Flynt*, Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks

A rod and reel method for the live capture of alligators (Alligator mississippiensis) is becoming increasingly popular for state biologists, hunters, and scientists. However, this method has not been described in any detail outside of brief instructions in state alligator hunting guides. Given the recent increase in affordability and availability of heavy tackle equipment, we review the advantages of this method over traditional capture methods. Overall, we provide a much-needed description of the rod and reel method for the efficient, safe, and humane capture of alligators in scientific research.

Tuesday November 3, 2015 9:00am - 9:20am EST
Ballroom Salon B

9:10am EST

Shad in the Classroom
Danielle Pender, North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences

Tuesday November 3, 2015 9:10am - 9:40am EST
OFFSITE: Asheville Community Theatre

9:20am EST

Response of Fish Populations to Extreme Low Water in Toa Vaca Reservoir, Puerto Rico
Cynthia N. Fox, J. Wesley Neal – Mississippi State University

Extended periods of low water can reduce fish abundance, redistribute fish within available habitats, and influence fish health. Reservoir drawdowns followed by drought events in Puerto Rico provided an opportunity to examine the effects of low water level on fish relative abundance, condition, and spatial distribution in Toa Vaca Reservoir. We sampled the fish community (α=0.1) using electrofishing and frame trawls in 2012 at normal pool (162 m above NVGD), and in 2013 following a prolonged water level decline. Largemouth bass catch rates were higher in 2013 (F=9.27, P=0.006) than in 2012, with bass distributions shifting to lower (F=13.80, P=0.006) and middle (F=10.46, P=0.012) sections of the reservoir. Relative weight of largemouth bass decreased from 103 in 2012 to 99 in 2013 (F=18.77, P

Tuesday November 3, 2015 9:20am - 9:40am EST
Victoria

9:20am EST

9:20am EST

Fine-scale Movements of Adult Male White-tailed Deer in Northeastern Louisiana During the Hunting Season
Taylor N. Simoneaux, Bradley S. Cohen, Elizabeth A. Cooney, Rebecca M. Shuman, Michael J. Chamberlain, Karl V. Miller –University of Georgia

Understanding movement patterns of adult male white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) is critical to explaining population dynamics, predation interactions, gene flow, and disease spread of this demographic. Relatively few studies have investigated movement ecology of mature male deer, although recent trends in hunter-harvest selectivity have led to an increased representation of this cohort in many herds. Multiple co-occurring variables influence spatiotemporal variation in deer movements, but individuals should move at an optimum rate to maximize individual health and fitness while minimizing high-risk encounters. We used GPS telemetry data from 24 adult male deer (≥ 2.5 years old) in northeastern Louisiana to determine fine-scale movement patterns during the 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 hunting seasons. We calculated half-hour step lengths and performed generalized linear mixed models to examine the effects of habitat, age, breeding chronology, photoperiod, and refugia from hunting on step length. We used information-theoretic approaches to identify the most parsimonious model. On average, older individuals moved less and deer moved more in agriculture and mature hardwood areas. Movements were greatest during the rut, especially at crepuscular and night hours. Our most parsimonious model predicted mature males tended to be more crepuscular in refuge areas where they were infrequently hunted compared to adjacent lands which were open to hunters the entirety of the season. Mature males seem to modify movements to avoid hunter predation, particularly if predation risk is chronic. Decreased disturbance from hunting may prevent deer from developing related-antipredator behaviors, thereby facilitating successful harvest of these animals upon initiation of hunting.

Tuesday November 3, 2015 9:20am - 9:40am EST
Ballroom Salon A

9:20am EST

Renovating a 60 year-old Wetland Management Area for the Future
Matt Bowyer, Frank Nelson, Keith Cordell –Missouri Department of Conservation

The wetlands of southeastern Missouri have a long history of alteration. Since the 1950’s, Duck Creek Conservation Area has been managed by the Missouri Department of Conservation to provide wetland habitat for waterfowl and other wetland dependent species within this altered landscape. Over time our philosophy of wetland management, the implications of infrastructure design, and the interaction of natural features has evolved. Based on a hydrogeomorphic assessment of the larger Mingo basin surrounding Duck Creek we identified the four following objectives to renovate the aging wetland management area: 1) restore natural water flow patterns where possible, 2) mimic natural water regimes, 3) restore natural vegetation communities, and 4) accommodate public uses that are consistent with resource objectives. A multi-disciplined team of biologists and engineers used a basin wide digital elevation model, aerial photos, and field observations to examine the landscape features and identify opportunities to rehabilitate wetland system processes to achieve these objectives. Levees were notched in specific locations to create broad spillways, thereby connecting historic drainages during flood events. Rehabilitating the topographic diversity by cutting sloughs, tearing down high cross levees and putting low levees on the contours, and tying these features in with water control structures reconfigured the depth and distribution of shallowly flooded habitats on portions of the area. These steps have reduced several chronic management challenges, increased the wetland habitat diversity, and enhanced the wetland function of the area. This in turn should increase the quality of public use on Duck Creek in the future.

Tuesday November 3, 2015 9:20am - 9:40am EST
Ballroom Salon B

9:40am EST

Refreshment Break
Tuesday November 3, 2015 9:40am - 10:20am EST
Windsor Corridor

10:20am EST

Using Angler Diaries to Provide Cost-Effective Information on an Emerging Blue Catfish Fishery in Lake Wylie, North Carolina
David Goodfred, North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission

Blue Catfish (Ictalurus furcatus) fisheries management has increased in importance for numerous natural resource agencies; however, methods to collect beneficial population information on ictalurids often have been obscured by gear selectivity, seasonal variability in catch rates, and low precision of estimates of population metrics. Additionally, effective collection methods (e.g., gill nets) often require increased staff effort and multi-day sampling approaches, and mortality of target and non-target species often is high. In 2010–2011, North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC) biologists conducted electrofishing and trot line surveys in response to increasing angler interest in an emerging Blue Catfish fishery in Lake Wylie, North Carolina. Survey results were poor, as one Blue Catfish was collected using all gear types. As an alternate approach, in 2012–2014, NCWRC biologists distributed angler diaries to provide baseline Blue Catfish and Channel Catfish (I. punctatus) population information and bolster communication lines with stakeholders. Although numbers of angler diary participants were low, 418 Blue Catfish and 864 Channel Catfish were caught, measured, weighed, and released during the survey period, thus providing beneficial stock assessment information with minimal effort.

Tuesday November 3, 2015 10:20am - 10:40am EST
Victoria

10:20am EST

10:20am EST

Bobwhite Restoration: NBCI Coordinated Implementation Program
Thomas V. Dailey, National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative; Reggie E. Thackston, Georgia Department of Natural Resources; John J. Morgan, Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources; Donald F. McKenzie, National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative; Chuck Kowaleski, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department; K. Marc Puckett, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries

Northern Bobwhites (Colinus virginianus) and species that live in the same farmlands, native grasslands, shrublands and woodlands have declined precipitously over 5 decades largely because of agricultural intensification and inadequate management of natural plant succession. In 2011, the National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative (NBCI), a 25-state consortium of state wildlife agencies and partners, published a spatially-explicit restoration plan, NBCI 2.0, based on hypothesized habitat-population relationships. In 2014, NBCI published the Coordinated Implementation Program (CIP) with the intent of implementing strategic habitat conservation. The CIP facilitates conservation planning via NBCI Focal Tiers, a geographic hierarchical system including Focal Areas, Focal Landscapes, and Focal Regions, smallest to largest, respectively. NBCI Focal Areas include a nationally coordinated monitoring and data program, with a goal of measuring and demonstrating, in at least one focal landscape (ca. 2,400 ha in area) in each state, that within 5-10 years, habitat management can achieve prescribed bobwhite densities. Population responses of a suite of grassland/shrubland birds are also measured. In this presentation we review progress across NBCI Focal Tier landscapes, including: 1) Acres of management achieved via outside funding as reported by state agencies in the NBCI Inventory; 2) A novel NBCI-specific funding program facilitated by Georgia Department of Natural Resources, and 3) NBCI Focal Area growth in >12 states. Through the multi-faceted NBCI, state agencies and partners are achieving conservation results for bobwhites and other species.

Tuesday November 3, 2015 10:20am - 10:40am EST
Ballroom Salon A

10:20am EST

Reproductive Biology and Denning Ecology of the American Black Bear (Ursus americanus) in an Isolated Population in Central Georgia, USA
Casey A. Gray, Michael K. Hooker, Michael J. Chamberlain –University of Georgia

The American black bear (Ursus americanus) population in central Georgia has become geographically and presumably reproductively isolated from the larger, more continuous northern and southern Georgia black bear populations due to habitat fragmentation and human development. Using non-invasive genetic sampling, a companion study has estimated approximately 150 bears in the population. Understanding the biological and ecological requirements of small, isolated wildlife populations is imperative for maintaining or promoting population growth. During 2012-2014, we studied the reproductive biology, cub survival, and den selection of black bears in central Georgia. We visited dens of 13 females and documented production of 24 cubs of the year (COY). We tracked and obtained visual observations of COY for 11 family units (19 COY) to estimate survival for a 6-month period. Mean litter size was 1.85 ± 0.1 (SE). Mean survival rate for the first 6 months of life was 0.765 ± 0.1 (SE). We evaluated den selection at multiple spatial scales. We assessed microhabitat characteristics at den sites (n=27), and examined effects of landscape characteristics on den selection (n=23). Our findings indicate the importance of early successional habitats within the densely forested landscape in which the central Georgia population exists. Areas associated with upland forests were particularly important due to their higher topography and availability of dense understory vegetation. Information on reproductive ecology gained from this study will be beneficial in developing management recommendations for a sustainable bear population and provide data needed to further assess population viability and sustainability.

Tuesday November 3, 2015 10:20am - 10:40am EST
Ballroom Salon B

10:20am EST

10:20am EST

Legal Session 2: Part 2

  • Liability and Indemnification Issues in WL Agencies

  • State/Agent liability Implications (resulting personnel acting as instructors for NASBLA training)

  • Hunting Accidents

  • Land Acquisitions (SC as beneficiaries of Mitigation Property)

  • Migratory Bird Treaty Act

  • Additional Legal Topics for Discussion


Tuesday November 3, 2015 10:20am - 11:45am EST
Eagle

10:20am EST

Open Discussion on Topics continued
Open Discussions on the following topics will occur throughout the day:

  • Using technology to enhance licensing, vessel registration, big game reporting, event registration, etc.

  • Web sites/Social media/Bulk emails

  • Mobile applications/Mobile web sites

  • GIS Applications and IT’s role in GIS

  • Big Data/Data Analytics

  • IT Staffing, training, and retention in the rebounding economy

Tuesday November 3, 2015 10:20am - 12:00pm EST
Alexander

10:40am EST

Lessons Learned: Large-scale use of Low Cost Side Scan Sonar
Thomas Litts, Georgia Department of Natural Resources; Adam Kaeser, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; Tanner Williamson, Miami University; Reuben Smit, Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission; Melanie Riley, Georgia Department of Natural Resources

Diadromous fish, those that migrate between saltwater and freshwater, are ecologically important in Georgia’s coastal rivers. In Georgia, several diadromous fish populations, including Atlantic and shortnose sturgeon, are federally listed as endangered or threatened; due in part to habitat loss and degradation. The characterization and assessment of habitat is a major challenge in Georgia’s large and turbid Coastal Plain river systems inhabited by sturgeon. To gain a better understanding of sturgeon habitats in four of Georgia’s Coastal Plain rivers (Altamaha, Ocmulgee, Oconee, and Savannah) the Georgia Department of Natural Resources utilized low-cost side scan sonar to map, classify and quantify substrates and habitat in nearly 1,000 river kilometers. Lessons learned and results from this large-scale mapping initiative will be presented.

Tuesday November 3, 2015 10:40am - 11:00am EST
Victoria

10:40am EST

Black Bear (Ursus americanus) Denning Ecology in Urban/Suburban Habitats
Nicholas P. Gould, North Carolina State University; Colleen Olfenbuttel, North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission; Christopher S. Deperno, North Carolina State University

Little is known about the denning ecology of American black bear (Ursus americanus) populations in urban and suburban habitats. As the human population continues to increase and growth continues unabated, understanding the effects of disturbance on black bear den site selection in urban and suburban habitats is an important tool for wildlife managers. During October 2014 – March 2015, we monitored 24 GPS-collared bears (21 females, 3 males) in and around Asheville, North Carolina. Fifteen out of 20 dens (19 female, 1 male) were categorized as ground dens, four as tree dens, and one was located underneath a front porch (adult male). Seventeen of 18 denning females produced 45 cubs ( = 2.5). Additionally, we documented four litters of four and seven litters of three cubs. Three females with yearlings and two males remained active all winter, likely due to an abundant mast crop. Den sites were located primarily in ‘developed, open space’ (n = 11) and ‘deciduous forest’ (n = 10); one den was located in flood plain habitat, 5 m from a river edge. The average distances to paved road, major interstate, and the nearest anthropogenic feature (e.g., a residence) were 132 m (range: 15 – 488 m), 2825 m (range: 40 – 7262 m), and 109 m (range: 11 – 479), respectively. Overall, 40% (8/20) of den sites and 34% (range: 0 – 92%) of all bear locations during this first year, were located inside the Asheville city limits.

Tuesday November 3, 2015 10:40am - 11:00am EST
Ballroom Salon B

10:40am EST

The Influence of Supplemental Feeding and Predator Trapping on Northern Bobwhite Quail Harvest
John Henry Harrelson, Mark D. Jones -North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission

Northern bobwhite quail (Colinus virginianus) populations have declined for decades across the southeastern United States. Wildlife managers have developed multiple methods of population management in recent years that are designed to complement effective habitat management. Two of the more popular tools are the use of supplemental feeding and year-round nest predator trapping. Sleepy Creek Farms (SCF) is a 25,746 acre farm in southern Bladen County, NC that has a 6,430 acre quail management area. SCF instituted an aggressive feeding and trapping program in 2013. Since June 2013, all harvested quail locations were marked, all quail crops dissected, and every successful predator trapping event was recorded. Harvest declined 68% between the two seasons while hunting effort remained similar. The presence of supplemental feed in quail crops was not dependent upon the birds’ location in relation to the feed trail indicating that most harvested birds ate the feed. The frequency of supplemental feed in quail crops did not differ throughout the hunting season indicating no seasonal effects. However, native seed presence in crops was linked to availability throughout the season. Quail harvest locations were not dependent upon predator trap locations or the success rate of individual traps. The continued harvest decline was not altered by supplemental feeding and predator trapping. Conditions created by year-round trapping and supplemental feeding could be contributing to the creation of a predator sink, increasing the likelihood of predator-related mortality for quail.

Tuesday November 3, 2015 10:40am - 11:00am EST
Ballroom Salon A

10:40am EST

Discussion: State Experience with Conservation Frameworks in the Region: Lessons-Learned, Future Needs, and Emerging Opportunities.
This discussion will build on the information presented at the symposium. It will take the form of a moderated discussion, springing from a few central questions that will be posed to the attendees (below). The objective will be to learn from experiences in other states while establishing region-wide patterns in priorities, framework use, and future needs.
1. What have been State Wildlife Agency experiences with large-scale conservation of listed or at-risk species in the southeast on private lands? What opportunities and needs do you anticipate In the future? How do these experiences vary across the region and over time?
2. What have been the policy frameworks or tools that have been used and what are the lessons-learned, good or bad?
3. Based on these experiences and future management priorities, are impending needs reflected in existing tools and approaches? If so, how can these be leveraged and scaled? If not, what is missing and how can the gap be filled (research, policy, resources, all of the above)?

Tuesday November 3, 2015 10:40am - 12:00pm EST
Windsor A

11:00am EST

Predicted Effects of Climate Change will Change the Spatial Distribution of Dominant SAV Biomass Resources in Shallow, Estuarine Waters Along the Northern Gulf of Mexico
Eva R. Hillmann, Kristin Elise DeMarco –Louisiana State University Agricultural Center; Megan La Peyre, U.S. Geological Survey, Louisiana Fish and Wildlife Cooperative Research Unit, Louisiana State University Agricultural Center

Coastal ecosystems are dynamic and productive but vulnerable to changes associated with global climate change. Despite their limited areal extent, submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) exists in coastal ecosystems as foundation species and performs important ecological functions including provision of habitat and food resources. Yet, the limited understanding of factors controlling SAV distribution and abundance within the extensive fresh to saline coastal habitats along the northern Gulf of Mexico (nGoM) restricts the ability of models to accurately predict resource availability. We sampled 384 potential coastal SAV sites across the nGoM in 2013 and 2014, and examined community and species-specific SAV distribution and biomass in relation to year, salinity, turbidity and water depth. After two years of sampling, 13 species of SAV were documented, with three species (Ceratophyllum demersum, Myriophyllum spicatum, Ruppia maritima) accounting for 54% of above-ground biomass collected. Above-ground biomass was highest in 2014 freshwater habitats as compared to all other year and habitat combinations. SAV below-ground material accounted for 19% of total biomass in fresh habitat, and over 26% of total biomass in intermediate, brackish and saline habitats. Above-ground biomass of the dominant species was partially explained by water depth, turbidity and salinity. Understanding the environmental drivers that influence SAV distribution across salinity zones, as well as the allocation of SAV biomass fractions will ultimately enable more accurate predictive modeling and management of SAV resources under different scenarios of restoration and climate change.

Tuesday November 3, 2015 11:00am - 11:20am EST
Victoria

11:00am EST

Food Habits of Black Bears in Urban versus Rural Alabama
Laura Garland, Connor Ellis, Todd Steury – Auburn University

Little is known about the food habits of black bears (Ursus americanus) in Alabama. A major concern is the amount of human influence in the diet of these bears as human and bear populations continue to expand in a finite landscape, and bear-human interactions are increasing. To better understand dietary habits of bears, 143 scats were collected during the fall months of 2010-2014. Food items were generally classified into the major categories of vegetation, animal prey, and human (cultivated) food. Plant items were classified down to the lowest possible taxon via DNA analysis, as this category composed a majority of the scat volumes. Frequency of occurrence was calculated for each food item. The most commonly occurring foods included: Nyssa spp. (black gum, 25.2%), Poaceae (grass, 24.5%), Quercus (acorn, 22.4%), and Vitis genus (muscadine grape, 8.4%). Interestingly, despite the proximity of these bear populations to suburban locations, we estimated that their diet composition, at least during the period sampled, remained mostly composed of wild plant matter instead of human food; only 19.6% of scats contained corn and no other human foods were encountered. Also, dietary composition did not differ between bears living close to urban areas compared to bears occupying more rural areas. Thus, bears in Alabama do not appear to be relying on humans for food, although further research and monitoring is warranted.

Tuesday November 3, 2015 11:00am - 11:20am EST
Ballroom Salon B

11:00am EST

Neonate Resource Use and Selection Following Translocation of Northern Bobwhite
Theron M. Terhune, II, D. Clay Sisson, William E. Palmer –Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy; H. Lee Stribling, retired, Auburn University

Reintroductions and translocations have become a common conservation option to fulfill biodiversity preservation or restoration objectives. Tranlocation of Northern Bobwhites (Colinus virginianus) has been successfully used to establish, re-establish and augment existing populations in the southeastern United States. The success of translocation is predicated on birds surviving, reproducing and successfully rearing young toward the ultimate goal of eliciting a favorable population response. However, knowledge of nest site selection and subsequent brood resource use is deficient. Resource use and selection following translocation is poorly understood and has not been adequately quantified for bobwhite broods. We studied resource use of neonates by radio-tracking translocated (n = 38) and resident (n = 34) brooding adults on a private property in Marion County, Georgia following translocation during 2003 and 2004. Brooding adults selected for fields and burned piney woods. We did not observe a difference in brood resource selection between years, group (translocation, resident) or time of season. Fall recruitment is crucial to population growth of an r-selected species, and appropriate resource use and habitat selection by broods following translocation is linked to habitat availability and quality on release sites. Knowledge of brood resource use for translocated birds compared to resident birds provides valuable information to help guide translocation efforts. This study underscores the importance of quality brood habitat management using frequent fire and brood habitat creation on release areas prior to translocation.

Tuesday November 3, 2015 11:00am - 11:20am EST
Ballroom Salon A

11:20am EST

Evaluation of Oyster Reef Restoration in Coastal Georgia: An Assessment of Restoration Method and Monitoring Metrics
Shaneese Mackey, Tiffany Taubenheim, Dionne Hoskins –Savannah State University

Oyster reef restoration projects were created in Georgia to replace reefs lost to overfishing or degraded oyster habitat. The benefits of a restored oyster include increased biological diversity and enhanced of water quality. Nineteen sites, (seven natural and 12 restored) were monitored from 2011 to 2015 during the summer with three years of sampling data. Percent cover of live oysters, shell, mud, barnacles, and Spartina alterniflora were measured at each site for three transects subdivided into 1-m^2 quadrats perpendicular to the shoreline and extending to the marsh edge to the mean low water line at low tide. Rugosity, or topographic complexity, reef height, and elevation were also measured at each of the quadrats within each transect. Data were analyzed using Excel and SAS (Cary, N.C.) to assess the change in percent cover, rugosity, height, and slope overtime. Natural sites generally had greater densities of oysters in the upper reef than in the lower reef, while newly restored oyster reefs had greater densities of oysters in the lower reef. The percent cover of oysters monitored in this study should reflect these same characteristics and over time it is expected that restored reefs will transition into a natural reef like appearance. Results from this study suggest more sites that were restored using different methods, shell bags or spat sticks, should be compared in order to understand which method would most effective.

Tuesday November 3, 2015 11:20am - 11:40am EST
Victoria

11:20am EST

Black Bear Genetic Diversity and Health in Alabama
John Draper, Auburn University; Lisette Waits, University of Idaho; Todd Steury, Auburn University

Black bears (Ursus americanus) have been restricted to a very small population in the Mobile River Basin (MRB) since the 1920's. Recently bears have been immigrating back in to the north eastern corner of the state and establishing a new breading population in and around Little River National Preserve. Both of these populations are very small with minimal if any genetic exchange with other populations. The MRB population has extremely low genetic diversity with an observed heterozygosity of Ho=0.287, effective heterozygosity of He = 0.217 and an average number of alleles per locus of Na= 2.125. All indicating isolation with little to no genetic exchange with an outside population. The north eastern population however has much higher genetic diversity with, Ho = 0.569, He = 0.484 and Na = 4. The relative youth of this newly established breeding population makes predicting future genetic health more difficult. There has not been sufficient time since colonization to allow for drift to begin to take effect, or for the level of continuing immigration to be observed or quantified. However baselines for this population have now been established and the existence of a healthy breeding population of black bears has been confirmed in north eastern Alabama.

Tuesday November 3, 2015 11:20am - 11:40am EST
Ballroom Salon B

11:20am EST

Effects of Prescribed Burning on Resource Use by Northern Bobwhites in Coastal South Carolina
Diana McGrath, Theron M. Terhune II –Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy; James Martin, University of Georgia

Understanding animal resource use and selection is a central theme of wildlife science and management. Animals that inhabit disturbance mediated systems—such as the case of northern bobwhites (Colinus virginianus) and pine (Pinus sp.) savanna—are adapted to certain intensities of disturbance (e.g., fire frequency, spatial extent, and seasonality). Furthermore, intraspecific variation in resource use and selection may allow the population to persist in these highly variable environments. We studied resource use of northern bobwhites at the population and individual level on a private property in Georgetown County, South Carolina. A total of 338 individuals were radio-tagged and monitored 3-4 times weekly via VHF telemetry for 3 years. Covariates related to the application of prescribed fire were derived from telemetry locations via a geographic information system. We used a hierarchical conditional logistic regression model in a resource selection function framework to model the data. Two spatial scales were considered including the study site (second-order) and the home ranges (third-order). We found that distance to burn edge and time-since-burn had a great effect on resource selection as indicated from selection ratios. These effects showed a positive relationship between resource use and proximity to burn edge and 2 years since fire. Individual variation was minor at the second-order scale but prevalent at the third-order scale. We recommend prescribe fire be applied frequently (i.e., every 2 years) and in the smallest patches that are operationally feasible.

Tuesday November 3, 2015 11:20am - 11:40am EST
Ballroom Salon A

11:20am EST

Evaluating Environmental Education Programs
Kathryn Stevenson, Nils Peterson, North Carolina State University

Tuesday November 3, 2015 11:20am - 12:00pm EST
OFFSITE: Asheville Community Theatre

11:40am EST

Evaluation of Biological and Physical Parameters of Natural and Restored Oyster Reefs in Georgia
Tiffany Taubenheim, Savannah State University; Matthew Ogburn, Smithsonian Environmental Research Center; Dionne Hoskins, NOAA Fisheries

Small scale oyster restoration projects have often lacked long term monitoring using standardized methods. Little is known about how functions like water filtration, promotion of species richness, or shoreline stabilization can be developed using different restoration methods in the construction of restored reefs. The purpose of this study was to test quick and inexpensive methods for monitoring physical and biological parameters of natural and restored oyster reefs. Oyster density, percent cover, reef height, and reef rugosity (structural complexity) were collected during the summer and fall at nineteen sites; twelve restored reefs and seven natural reefs. Natural reefs had higher mean oyster densities, height, and rugosity than restored reefs throughout the study. Mean oyster density at restored reefs increased in the upper section and decreased in the lower section over the monitoring period resembling patterns on natural reefs. Mean reef height and rugosity increased from 2011 to 2012, but decreased in 2013. The methods used in the present study revealed that most restored reefs had higher percent cover and density of live oysters than natural reefs, but did not yet share all of their biological and physical characteristics.

Tuesday November 3, 2015 11:40am - 12:00pm EST
Victoria

11:40am EST

Identifying Public Attitudes Toward Recovery and Management of Black Bears in Alabama
Michael Heneghan, Wayde Morse – Auburn University

Although black bear (Ursus americanus) populations in Alabama have been low since the early part of the 20th century, increased sightings over the past decade have facilitated discussion on restoring populations throughout the species native range in the state. The plans and actions of state and federal wildlife agencies should correspond to the values, desires and needs of the public that they represent. Specific management goals, like black bear recolonization, require a comprehensive understanding of public values and how these values influence attitudes and corresponding behaviors that may either help or hinder the efforts of wildlife management agencies. Limited research has been performed that aims at identifying the public’s preferred management actions in response to specific black bear conflict scenarios, considering both bear encounter type and frequency. We developed a mail in questionnaire for 3,000 randomly selected residents in two distinct regions of Alabama where natural black bear recovery is believed to be taking place. The objectives of the questionnaire are to (1) identify preferences for black bear management actions; (2) understand public concerns regarding human-bear conflict; (3) gauge the public’s willingness to change behavior in order to facilitate bear recovery; and (4) assess the level of knowledge on black bear biology and behavior among residents. Data will be analyzed in order to better understand the preferences and desires of Alabama residents as it pertains to black bear populations near their communities. Results of public preferences for management actions in response to specific bear-human encounter scenarios will be presented.

Tuesday November 3, 2015 11:40am - 12:00pm EST
Ballroom Salon B

11:40am EST

Managing Native Warm-Season Grass Stands with Herbicide
Jarred M. Brooke, Craig A. Harper –University of Tennessee

Conservation practices within the Conservation Reserve Program encourage landowners to plant native grasses (NWSG) and forbs to improve habitat for northern bobwhite (Colinus virginianus). However, without management, stands of NWSG become too dense and can be invaded by non-native species reducing the quality for target wildlife species. We investigated the use of 3 herbicides at 2 rates to reduce NWSG and 5 herbicides to control sericea lespedeza (Lespedeza cuneata), a common invasive species in the Mid-South. We applied herbicide to reduce NWSG at 4 sites in Kentucky and Tennessee in 2013-2014. We applied herbicide to control sericea lespedeza at 3 sites in Kentucky in 2013. We recorded vegetation composition at the end of the first growing season (1GAT) and the beginning of the second growing season (2GAT) after treatment. Both rates of glyphosate and imazapyr reduced NWSG cover 1GAT, but only the full rate of clethodim reduced NWSG. Both rates of glyphosate and the full rate of imazapyr reduced NWSG cover 2GAT. Herbicides containing triclopyr, fluroxypyr+triclopyr, glyphosate, and metsulfuron-methyl reduced coverage of sericea 1GAT. However, only glyphosate, triclopyr, and fluroxypyr+triclopyr reduced sericea 2GAT. We recommend broadcast application of imazapyr (53.1% active ingredient (AI), 24 oz/acre) or glyphosate (42% AI, 2 qt/acre) to reduce dense NWSG. However, if desirable forbs are present, especially legumes, imazapyr should be used. We recommend glyphosate, fluroxypyr+triclopyr (16% and 45% AI, 12 oz/acre), or triclopyr (44%, 32 oz/acre) to control sericea lespedeza. Glyphosate can be used if both rank NWSG and sericea lespedeza are problematic.

Tuesday November 3, 2015 11:40am - 12:00pm EST
Ballroom Salon A

11:45am EST

12:00pm EST

Lunch Break
Tuesday November 3, 2015 12:00pm - 1:00pm EST
N/A

12:00pm EST

1:00pm EST

How to Stock and Market Alabama State Lakes to Increase Angler Visits
Wayde Morse, Jessica Quintana, Elise Erwin, Terry Hanson –Auburn University

Alabama’s State Lakes Program was established in the 1950s to provide low cost opportunities for anglers in areas where few opportunities exist. Use of these lakes has declined and there is interest in understanding the best management framework that would attract new users. Recreationists are motivated to participate in angling in preferred settings to realize desired experiences. Anglers have non-activity specific motivations for selecting a site including; enjoyment of nature, family bonding, and the escape from personal-social pressures among others. Activity specific motivations examples include; catching a trophy fish, developing fishing skills, and to catch fish to eat. Recreationists will have different preferred social situations (solitude, or family friendly) and different preferences for facilities (secure parking, bait shop) and management (catch restrictions, management presence). Critical attributes of the biophysical setting include the species preferences, number and size of fish available, water type preferences (lakes, rivers, reservoirs), fishing manner (boat, shore, pier), and other factors (boat ramp, easy access to water). An estimated 15% of licensed Alabama anglers use the State Lakes. A study was designed that elicited information on the motivations, social, managerial, and environmental setting preferences, and how the number of fish caught influenced the number of trips taken. The survey was distributed at 5 of Alabama’s State Lakes (350) and to a random sample of licensed anglers (3,000). Comparisons were made across all motivations, setting preferences, and fish/trip relationships. Results will be presented in the context of how to stock and market State Lakes to increase angler visits.

Tuesday November 3, 2015 1:00pm - 1:20pm EST
Victoria

1:00pm EST

Quantifying Women’s Attitudes and Barriers to Participating in a Community-Based Conservation Program in Western Belize
Amanda Kaeser, Adam Willcox –University of Tennessee

With deforestation and degradation contributing to massive habitat loss and large percentages of greenhouse gases emissions, it is imperative that better ways be found to reduce the destruction of the world’s forests. Community-based conservation (CBC) programs whose goals are to conserving local forest ecosystems have been shown to work in some developing countries. To address illegal deforestation issues, communities surrounding the Vaca Forest Reserve (VFR) in western Belize have created a CBC program to increase community member presence in the reserve doing sustainable activities and to empower local forest management. However, many barriers to community involvement still persist, specifically with regard to women. With mounting research showing the many benefits of having women involved in CBC efforts, the purpose of this research was to quantify the attitudes and barriers to women participating in a CBC program in western Belize. We conducted 500 surveys in May-June 2015, with the women in the communities surrounding the VFR, to measure their interest in, attitudes toward, and possible barriers to participating in a CBC program. The women’s intent to participate in CBC activities will be modeled using the Reasoned Action Approach in order to identify the attitudinal, normative, and control constructs that best predicts their participation. Understanding the relative importance of these constructs and how they influence women’s participation will allow stakeholders to design an effective conservation program to engage women in forest conservation enterprises.

Tuesday November 3, 2015 1:00pm - 1:20pm EST
OFFSITE: Asheville Community Theatre

1:00pm EST

1:00pm EST

Reptile and Amphibian Survey with Focus on Fossorial Snakes of Cleburne County, Alabama
Christopher Pellecchia, George Cline, Robert Carter, Chris Murdock –Jacksonville State University

Seven small “fossorial” snake species may be found in east-central Alabama: The Southern Ringneck Snake (Diadophis punctatus), the Dekay’s Brown Snake (Storeria dekayi), the Northern Red-bellied Snake (Storeria occipitomaculata), the Southeastern Crowned Snake (Tantilla coronata), the Rough Earth Snake (Virginia striatula), the Smooth Earth Snake (Virginia valeriae), and the Worm Snake (Carphophis amoenus). These smaller, secretive snakes and their roles in the herpetofaunal communities are often overlooked by larger or more dangerous species. This study will be to focus a population survey on these seven species at Boy Scouts of America’s Camp Seqouyah (a 1387 acre property) in Cleburne Co, Alabama. Pitfall traps, drift fences, and coverboards have been placed at six sites (three upland and three lowland) spread across the property to facilitate monitoring of these species. Special focus will be placed on the interactions between the rear-fanged and occasionally ophiophagus, D. punctatus, and the six other target species. All species of reptiles and amphibians recorded as “by-catch” during this survey will be recorded and used to update state and county records of this region of Alabama.

Tuesday November 3, 2015 1:00pm - 1:20pm EST
Ballroom Salon B

1:00pm EST

Using GPS Telemetry Data to Determine Roadways Most Susceptible to Deer-Vehicle Collisions
David W. Kramer, Thomas Prebyl* –University of Georgia; James H. Stickles, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission; Brian J. Irwin, U.S. Geological Survey, Georgia Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research, University of Georgia; Nathan P. Nibbelink, Robert J. Warren, Karl V. Miller –University of Georgia

More than 1 million wildlife-vehicle collisions occur annually in the United States. The majority of these accidents involve white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), and result in >$4.6 billion in damage and >200 human fatalities. Prior research has used collision locations to assess site-specific as well as landscape features that contribute to risk of deer-vehicle collisions. As an alternative approach, we calculated road-crossing locations from data obtained from 25 GPS-instrumented white-tailed deer near Madison, Georgia (n=154,131 hourly locations). We identified crossing locations by creating movement paths between subsequent GPS points and then intersecting the paths with road locations. We were able to calculate the frequency of deer crossings at any point along a roadway. Using AIC model selection, we determined whether 10 local and landscape variables were successful at identifying areas where higher frequencies of deer crossings were likely to occur. Our findings indicate that traffic volume, distance to riparian areas, and the amount of forested area influenced the frequency of road crossings. Roadways that were predominately located in wooded landscapes and 200-300 meters from riparian areas were crossed frequently. Additionally, we found that areas of low traffic volume (i.e., county roads, etc.) had the highest frequencies of deer crossings. Analyses utilizing records of deer-vehicle collision locations cannot separate the relative contribution of deer crossing rates and traffic volume. Increased frequency of road crossings by deer in low-traffic, forested areas may lead to a greater risk of deer-vehicle collision than would be anticipated based upon traffic volume alone.

Tuesday November 3, 2015 1:00pm - 1:20pm EST
Ballroom Salon A

1:00pm EST

Distribution and Deployment of Field Forces
Captain Jeff Swift-Georgia Department of Natural Resources

Tuesday November 3, 2015 1:00pm - 1:35pm EST
OFFSITE: Sheraton Four Points, Wolfe-Vance Room

1:00pm EST

Open Discussion on Topics continued
Open Discussions on the following topics will occur throughout the day:

  • Using technology to enhance licensing, vessel registration, big game reporting, event registration, etc.

  • Web sites/Social media/Bulk emails

  • Mobile applications/Mobile web sites

  • GIS Applications and IT’s role in GIS

  • Big Data/Data Analytics

  • IT Staffing, training, and retention in the rebounding economy

Tuesday November 3, 2015 1:00pm - 2:40pm EST
Alexander

1:00pm EST

SYMPOSIUM OVERVIEW
Biological conservation is dependent upon field research, modeling tools, and broad monitoring programs to better understand how changing landscapes affect fish and wildlife species and communities.  Human population growth, land use, urban and suburban sprawl, resource extraction, invasive species, disease, and climate are contributing to a rapidly changing environment in the South.  In this symposium, speakers address US Forest Service research studies related to ecosystems that are especially vulnerable to broad scale changes... and implications for fish and wildlife species that depend on them.  Selected topics help land owners and natural resources managers explore options for planning, and responding to, important landscape scale changes in the South.

Tuesday November 3, 2015 1:00pm - 2:40pm EST
Windsor A

1:20pm EST

Assessing Southern Flounder (Paralichthys lethostigma) Populations in the Northern Gulf of Mexico
Adrian Stanfill, Dennis DeVries, Russell Wright –Auburn University

Southern flounder, Paralichthys lethostigma, is a commercially and recreationally important flatfish species in the northern Gulf of Mexico. Estimates of age and growth of southern flounder from Barataria Bay, Louisiana, Mobile Bay, Alabama, and Apalachicola Bay, Florida were investigated by analyzing thin sections of sagittal otoliths from specimens collected from July 2014 to June 2015. To examine whether evidence suggests impacts of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill on southern flounder population dynamics, as well as quantify potential regional differences, sites were chosen to capture a gradient of potential impact from the oiling event, with the greatest potential impacts in Louisiana marshes and progressively less oil exposure moving eastward. Growth was quantified using von Bertalanffy equations and did not differ among regions. Significant differences in length-frequency distributions were observed for southern flounder across all three regions, being larger in Alabama versus Louisiana and Florida. We also examined weight-length relationships of the form W = aLb. The values of the exponent b for Louisiana, Alabama, and Florida were b = 3.2752, b = 3.1788, and b = 2.8448, respectively, indicating that southern flounder collected from Louisiana and Alabama coastal waters put on more weight per length than did fish from Florida coastal waters. To further distinguish these populations, we are currently quantifying their otolith microchemistry to determine the natal habitat that fish used as well as identifying any potential oil markers across the regional gradient.

Tuesday November 3, 2015 1:20pm - 1:40pm EST
Victoria

1:20pm EST

Understanding Stakeholder Attitudes and Involvement in Habitat Conservation Plans and the Endangered Species Act
Kyle Rodgers, Adam S. Willcox –University of Tennessee

The introduction of the Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) tool through an amendment of the Endangered Species Act in 1982 enabled the US Fish and Wildlife Service to authorize incidental take of endangered species that occurs from otherwise legal activities. The HCP must describe the anticipated impacts and how these will be mitigated. In return, applicants receive “no surprises” assurance that limits future uncertainty and cost. HCPs are intended to be a regulatory mechanism that facilitates stakeholder partnerships and resolves conflict between economic development and listed species. Despite this emphasis on stakeholder involvement, limited attention has been given to critical social science aspects of HCP development. In June-July 2015, we will conduct 15 semi-structured key informant interviews to examine the attitudes, beliefs, and perceptions toward endangered species and habitat conservation planning held by the US Fish and Wildlife Service employees, state fish and wildlife agency staff, and other HCP participants in the southeastern US. Interviews will consist of open-ended questions that address interviewee’s involvement with HCPs, perceptions of the effectiveness of HCPs, and understanding of public attitudes towards conservation, endangered species, and HCPs. We will record, transcribe, and analyze interviews for major themes using Nvivo10 software. Interviewee responses will be analyzed individually and across stakeholder groups to explore differences in perceptions. Results from our research will provide insight into essential questions about people’s attitudes towards conservation of endangered species and current planning efforts, and the effectiveness of the planning process. Ultimately, results will inform recommendations to improve Habitat Conservation Plans.

Tuesday November 3, 2015 1:20pm - 1:40pm EST
OFFSITE: Asheville Community Theatre

1:20pm EST

1:20pm EST

Factors Influencing the Frequency of Carnivore Road Mortality
Forrest E. Cortes, Todd D. Steury –Auburn University

Road mortality has been implicated as the most important transportation-related influence on wildlife populations. We examined the influence of distance to nearest vegetation, speed limit, and distance to urban center on carnivore road mortality frequency. We drove predetermined routes along 2-lane and 4-lane roadways and located carcasses within the shoulders of the road in East-Central Alabama. Carcasses were identified to species, and geographic coordinates of carcass locations were loaded into a GIS processing package for analysis. Properties of kill sites were compared statistically to those of randomly chosen sites along the same roadways. We found that for each 10-meter decrease in distance to vegetation, a site was 1.21 times as likely to be a road kill site (p = 0.044). Our results also indicated that for each 10 km decrease in distance to an urban area, a site was 2.14 times as likely to be a road kill site; however the results were not statistically significant (p = 0.091). Additionally, for each 1 km increase in distance to water, a site was 1.47 times as likely to be a road kill site; again the results were not statistically significant (p = 0.153). Finally, for each 10 mph increase in speed limit, a site was 1.40 times as likely to be a road kill site; the results were not statistically significant (p = 0.145). Our results suggest that transportation managers can most positively affect wildlife near roads by increasing the distance from road to vegetation.

Tuesday November 3, 2015 1:20pm - 1:40pm EST
Ballroom Salon A

1:20pm EST

Long-term Population Ecology and Large-scale Movement Patterns of Gopher Tortoises (Gopherus polyphemus) in Southwestern Georgia
Alexander D. Wright, University of Georgia & Joseph W. Jones Ecological Research Center; Jeffrey Hepinstall-Cymerman, University of Georgia; Lora L. Smith, Joseph W. Jones Ecological Research Center; Clinton T. Moore, U.S. Geological Society, Georgia Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, University of Georgia

Habitat loss, fragmentation, and degradation have led to an estimated 80% range-wide decline of gopher tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus) populations across the southeastern Coastal Plain. Recently, the gopher tortoise was identified as a candidate for federal listing under the Endangered Species Act in the eastern part of its range. We report on a project that is part of a collaborative research effort developing an adaptive landscape planning and decision framework to be implemented by the Georgia DNR for the statewide conservation of gopher tortoise populations. Currently, we are investigating the population dynamics (survivorship rates, dispersal rates, and recruitment rates) and functional connectivity of four study populations at Ichauway, an ~11,200 ha reserve in southwestern Georgia, where tortoises were previously marked/recaptured between 1995 and 1999. Our preliminary results demonstrate a difference in survivorship among size-classes (Juvenile, Subadult, and Adult) and sites, and a difference in recruitment rates among sites. We will present data on dispersal distances, which will be used to examine hypotheses that dispersal rates differ among sites due to differences in tortoise density and resistance to movement of the surrounding landscape, as well as among size-classes due to differences in predation risk. To protect a long-lived species such as the gopher tortoise into perpetuity, it is critical to understand these processes and behaviors at larger spatial and temporal scales. By further understanding these integral parts of tortoise ecology, we can better understand and evaluate the connectivity of known populations to inform reserve design and decision analysis for the species’ conservation.

Tuesday November 3, 2015 1:20pm - 1:40pm EST
Ballroom Salon B

1:35pm EST

Patrolling Mountain Trout Water
Officer Forrest Orr-North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission

Tuesday November 3, 2015 1:35pm - 2:05pm EST
OFFSITE: Sheraton Four Points, Wolfe-Vance Room

1:40pm EST

Characteristics, Conservation and Management of a Trophy Alligator Gar Population in the Middle Trinity River, Texas
David L. Buckmeier, Nathan G. Smith, J Warren Schlechte –Texas Parks and Wildlife Department; Allyse M. Ferrara, Nicholls State University; Kirk Kirkland, Kirkland's Gar Fishing Guide Service, Trinity, Texas

The middle Trinity River in Texas supports one of the premier trophy Alligator Gar fisheries in the world. Published data on Alligator Gar life history and population characteristics are sparse, yet these data are needed to inform conservation and management. Using data from over 850 fish collected between 2007 and 2014, we describe the size structure, population abundance, angler exploitation, and vital rates of this unique population. Collection of fish relied heavily on angler cooperators and included a three year mark-recapture effort and the removal of sagittal otoliths from fish harvested by bow anglers. Size structure and population abundance data revealed why this population supports such a popular fishery. Size structure was broad (fish ranged from 46 to 241 cm) and trophy-sized Alligator Gar (> 180 cm) comprised more than 23% of the sample. Density of adult Alligator Gar was also higher than reported for other systems and annual estimates of abundance of fish ≥ 107 cm ranged from 8,565 to 9,229 fish. Annual total mortality was estimated to be 8.63% of which angler exploitation comprised less than 5%, similar to other long-lived populations. Individual length at age was highly variable; however, growth curves were generally similar to previous studies. While more restrictive regulations (e.g. harvest quotas or permits) may be required in the future as angling pressure continues to increase, the middle Trinity River currently provides a unique trophy Alligator Gar fishery that we believe can be sustainably managed into the foreseeable future.

Tuesday November 3, 2015 1:40pm - 2:00pm EST
Victoria

1:40pm EST

Evaluating How We Asses CWD Risk in North Carolina: From Large Scale Field Sampling to Out-of-state Hunting
Maria Baron Palamar, Allison Nolker -North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission

In North Carolina we have been CWD testing free ranging and clinical cervids since 1999. In 2002 and 2004 the NCWRC implemented a CWD surveillance strategy around captive cervid facilities considered the primary risk for disease introduction to our wild deer. In 2003-2004 the first state-wide CWD surveillance effort was implemented, to be repeated every 5 years. By 2008-2009 this effort was duplicated, yielding 1,488 samples. Finally, in 2013-2014, our largest effort ever, 3,887 samples from across the State were tested. Intensive surveillance increases confidence the disease does not currently occur, and/or shortens the duration of time before disease first detection. A large sampling effort with negative results can also be the source of a false sense of security in a State with high deer densities, presenting challenges for biologists to explain a “not detected” result to the public and policy makers in a time of regulatory uncertainty. Nevertheless, large sampling efforts provide educational opportunities for field staff, the public and cooperating hunters, generating a knowledge trickling effect and a sense of ownership. Another poorly studied, possible source of CWD is the ingression of high risk cervid parts collected by out-of-state hunters. Lack of inter-state communication and data sharing, as well as regulation variability amongst States, only exacerbate the risk. Results from a newly developed survey to be delivered to natural resources agencies across the U.S. and one specific to taxidermists in NC, will allow us to better understand our out-of-state hunting population and minimize the risk of CWD introduction.

Tuesday November 3, 2015 1:40pm - 2:00pm EST
OFFSITE: Asheville Community Theatre

1:40pm EST

1:40pm EST

Captive Breeding and Husbandry Techniques of Rhinoceros Iguanas (Cyclura cornuta)
Christopher Pellecchia, Jacksonville State University

Rock Iguanas, Cyclura spp., are an increasingly rare group of lizards, endemic to the dry, rocky forest habitat of the Caribbean Islands. Conservation organizations, zoos, and local governments have made great strides over the past few decades in their efforts to preserve this genus of reptiles in its natural habitat. However, several of these species, classified as critically endangered, required “headstart” programs to revive functionally extinct Cyclura populations. Proper captive husbandry techniques are the foundation of a successful captive breeding program for any rare species. One of these species, the Rhinoceros Iguana, Cyclura cornuta, is a large, heavy-bodied, lizard found only on the island of Hispaniola. This charismatic and complex species may live up to 70 years, which requires diligence and commitment by any animal caretaker. This presentation will briefly outline the minimum care requirements for the proper care and successful breeding of Rhinoceros Iguanas in captivity. These care methods may be applied directly to any other species of Rock Iguana or altered as a template for use with other species of rare reptiles.

Tuesday November 3, 2015 1:40pm - 2:00pm EST
Ballroom Salon B

1:40pm EST

County-level Factors Affecting Deer-vehicle Collisions in Tennessee
Murray Gheesling, Eric Pelren, Bradley Ray, Jessica Cobb –University of Tennessee at Martin

The primary wildlife collision concern for drivers in Tennessee is white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus). Our study examines county-level variables and deer-vehicle collisions (DVCs) in order to identify factors most responsible for DVCs in the state. Areas of DVCs are not randomly distributed. We assessed the relationship among DVCs, year, deer harvest levels (previous year and current year), human population, area km2, municipal km2, road km, cropland ha, and forested land ha for all 95 counties in Tennessee from 2004-2012 using Poisson regression analysis with log-link function and Akaike Information Criterion (AIC) modeling. We tested 13 a priori models. Results showed the all-variable model was most accurate, although models containing harvest previous year vs. harvest current year ranked higher even though the former was initially found to be insignificant. Our results suggest that DVCs in Tennessee are a complex matrix of variables. Our recommendations for management are quality deer management, roadside vegetation maintenance, fencing, and driver education including seasonal DVC awareness through media.

Tuesday November 3, 2015 1:40pm - 2:00pm EST
Ballroom Salon A

2:00pm EST

Inducing a Check in Age-0 Alligator Gar
Richard A. Snow, Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation; James M. Long, U.S. Geological Survey, Oklahoma Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Oklahoma State University

Accurate age and growth information is essential for a complete knowledge of life history, growth rates, age at sexual maturity, and average life span in fishes. Alligator gar is becoming increasingly managed throughout its range and because this species spawns in backwater flooded areas, their offspring are prone to stranding in areas with limited prey, potentially affecting their growth. Because fish growth is tightly linked with otolith growth and annulus formation, the ability to discern marks not indicative of annuli (age checks) in alligator gar would give mangers some insight when estimating ages. Previous studies have suggested that checks are often present prior to the first annulus in otoliths of alligator gar, affecting age estimates. We investigated check formation in otoliths of alligator gar in relation to growth and food availability. Sixteen age-0 alligator gar were marked with OTC to give a reference point and divided equitably into two groups: a control group with abundant prey and an experimental group with limited prey. The experimental group was given 2 g of food per week for 20 days and then given the same prey availability as the control group for the next 20 days. After 40 days, the gar were measured, sacrificed, and their sagittae removed to determine if checks were present and how daily age estimates differed. None of the alligator gar in the control group showed checks and their growth was consistent. However, checks were visible on 14 of the 16 otoliths in the experimental group along with low growth during the first 20 days when prey was limited and accelerated growth after prey availability was increased. Age estimates of fish in the control group were more accurate than those in the experimental group, showing that fish growth as a function of prey availability likely induced the checks by compressing daily ring formation. Whether environmental factors other than prey availability similarly affect check formation is an area in need of study.

Tuesday November 3, 2015 2:00pm - 2:20pm EST
Victoria

2:00pm EST

2:00pm EST

2:00pm EST

Evaluating the Effects of Commercial Scent Attractants on Mammal Behavior and Populations at Cowden Plantation, Jackson, SC
Katlyn Gill, Bradford Minter, Valerie West, Eric Numfor, Bruce Saul –Georgia Regents University

The primary purpose of this study was to observe the effects of commercial scent attractants on the behaviors of the mammal populations at Cowden Plantation near Jackson, SC. In this study, white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), feral hogs (Sus scrofa), coyotes (Canis latrans), bobcats (Lynx rufus), and raccoons (Procyon lotor) were observed responding to the following attractants: Bobcat Anal Glands, Coyote Urine, Bobcat Urine, and Imitation Catnip. Cuddeback (IR and Black Flash) trail cameras were placed at ten different locations in open and forested habitats to monitor species occurrences and reactions via pictures and videos. Scents were rotated once a week at each location, and all sites included one control week. In summary, each camera went through a 5 week rotation with a different scent (or a control) deployed each week. Three trials were conducted per camera, making this a 15 week study. Population densities were measured based on the number of images captured with scents compared to images captured without scents. Animal behavior was monitored through video and categorized into four different scent reaction groups: Smelled, Repelled, Rubbed Against, and Tasted. The most mammal activity occurred around Bobcat Urine. Coyotes and bobcats reacted to the three animal scents in more open habitats, while other mammal species showed reactions in wooded or both habitats. The imitation Catnip had the most behavioral responses on feral hogs in both habitats.

Tuesday November 3, 2015 2:00pm - 2:20pm EST
Ballroom Salon A

2:00pm EST

Poor biosecurity could lead to disease outbreaks in amphibian populations
Matthew Gray, Jennifer Spatz, Davis Carter, and Debra Miller – University of Tennessee

Outbreaks of ranavirus and chytrid fungus have contributed to amphibian population declines. It has been suspected that biologists could contribute to pathogen outbreaks through poor biosecurity practices during sampling. Biologists frequently co-house captured amphibians and do not change gloves between handling different individuals. We tested whether these poor biosecurity practices could facilitate transmission of ranavirus from infected to uninfected wood frog (Lithobates sylvaticus) tadpoles, and increase the likelihood of mortality. Co-housing tadpoles for only 15 minutes with 10% of individuals initially infected resulted in transmission and mortality of 50% of uninfected tadpoles. Not changing gloves between individuals when 10% were initially infected resulted in transmission of ranavirus and mortality of 70% of uninfected tadpoles. More extreme mortality was observed when tadpoles were co-housed for longer durations, or when the initial infection prevalence was >10%. Our results indicate that poor biosecurity practices can cause pathogen transmission between individuals, which could lead to disease outbreaks and decrease survival in populations. Biologists should change gloves or decontaminate them between handling individuals, and not co-house animals.

Tuesday November 3, 2015 2:00pm - 2:20pm EST
Ballroom Salon B

2:05pm EST

Palmetto Shooting Complex & the SCDNR Youth Open – A Model for Collaboration
Captain John W. “Billy” Downer, II-South Carolina Department of Natural Resources

Tuesday November 3, 2015 2:05pm - 2:40pm EST
OFFSITE: Sheraton Four Points, Wolfe-Vance Room

2:20pm EST

Seasonal Abundance, Age Structure, Gonadosomatic Index, and Gonad Histology of Yellow Bass Morone Mississippiensis in the Upper Barataria Estuary, Louisiana
Cynthia N. Fox, Mississippi State University; Allyse M. Ferrara, Nicholls State University; Andy Fischer, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries; Quenton C. Fontenot, Nicholls State University

The yellow bass (Morone mississippiensis) is a common, yet lesser known species of the Mississippi River drainage basin. To describe population level gonad development, seasonal abundance, and age and growth, yellow bass were collected biweekly with monofilament gill nets from 14 November 2008 to 17 November 2009 from the upper Barataria Estuary (UBE) in south Louisiana. Mean catch per unit effort (CPUE) for each sample date was used to describe the relative abundance of yellow bass in the UBE. CPUE was highest from February-April, indicating yellow bass use the UBE seasonally. Yellow bass abundance peaked as temperatures reached 18-22°C. Total length (TL; mm), weight (WT; g), and gonadosomatic index (GSI) were measured from each fish collected (N = 1,061). Age was estimated using sagittal otoliths and annulus formation was confirmed by marginal increment analysis. Gonad samples (N = 200), from fish collected throughout the year, were examined histologically to determine spawning period. Although yellow bass age ranged from 1 to 4 years, the population was dominated (95%) by the 2 year old age class. GSI noticeably decreased as temperatures reached 18-22°C, indicating spawning had occurred. Spawning activity was confirmed by the presence of post-ovulatory follicle complexes (POCs) in female gonads collected from January 2009 – April 2009. The use of the UBE by yellow bass in early spring was related to spawning activity and not water quality. This study provides important seasonal use, age, and reproductive data for yellow bass in the lower Mississippi River drainage basin.

Tuesday November 3, 2015 2:20pm - 2:40pm EST
Victoria

2:20pm EST

CANCELLED: Hooked Up: A Review of Marine Recreational Hook Regulations in the United States —Accessibility, Science and Recommendations
Walter Rogers Brie Elkington – East Carolina University, Department of Biology; Anthony Overton*, Alabama A&M University

The effects of fish hook type on hooking location and post release mortality of recreationally and commercially targeted fish species have been well studied. We examined how fisheries management agencies along the coastal United States have incorporated fish hook science into fisheries regulations, and how visible and accessible those regulations are to anglers. We reviewed state and federal marine recreational hook regulations on natural resource agency websites of 23 states and four National Oceanographic Atmospheric Administration-National Marine Fisheries Service federally managed regions. To assess the accessibility of hook regulations and bag limits to anglers, we conducted an online survey. Federal regulations generally mandate the use of non-offset circle hooks and/or barbless hooks for anglers targeting popular recreational species. State regulations varied; 69% of states had regulations and/or recommendations regarding the use of various hook types, and the remaining states having no regulations. Survey results suggested that website design is a key factor for disseminating fishing regulations. Survey participants found that easily accessing to hook regulations varied among states where two states had easily accessible regulations. We suggest that resources agencies make hook regulations more visible and readily available to anglers in an attempt to promote sustainable fishing practices.

Tuesday November 3, 2015 2:20pm - 2:40pm EST
OFFSITE: Asheville Community Theatre

2:20pm EST

Working SAFELY for Conservation: Planning Around High-Risk Activities (NOTE: TIME CHANGE)
Amy Ewing, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries

Fulfilling the important mission of the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) often requires staff to engage in inherently dangerous activities such as working near or on large water bodies, traversing difficult terrain, working outdoors in inclement weather, handling dangerous animals, and working with large machinery. Whether such activities are performed by staff alone or with a team, by experts or novices, risk of accident and injury is an inherent part of the work faced by DGIF's non-sworn staff, including biologists, professional engineers, volunteers, and contractors, during performance of their work duties. In late 2013, an interdisciplinary, inter-agency team was formed that, with support from Bureau and Agency leadership, spent the following 18 months meeting with VDGIF leadership, field staff, and Law Enforcement's Communication's Center (dispatch) to identify VDGIF’s highest-risk activities and to develop practicable procedures to avoid, minimize, and mitigate risk around those activities. Leveraging newer technologies and increased learning around communication were the cornerstones of the resulting “High-Risk Activity Communication Planning Guidance”, currently being implemented across the Commonwealth. State-wide implementation of the “High-Risk Activity Communication Planning Guidance” has resulted in greater confidence from our leaders, our staff, and their families that the health and safety of our VDGIF family is our highest priority. Equipped with this confidence and the tools necessary to appropriately and efficiently address any unforeseen safety issues, VDGIF’s non-sworn field staff are free to manage Virginia's wildlife and the landscapes they depend upon across the Commonwealth, both on private property and on the over 200,000 acres the Department owns and manages.

Tuesday November 3, 2015 2:20pm - 2:40pm EST
OFFSITE: Asheville Community Theatre

2:20pm EST

2:20pm EST

Grain Type, Feeding Method and Environmental Influences on Aflatoxin Formation in Wildlife Feed
Leah L. Dale, Timothy J. O’Connell –Oklahoma State University

Aflatoxins are produced by toxigenic strains of Aspergillus flavus and A. parasiticus and are considered the most toxic of all naturally occurring mycotoxins. Wildlife may be exposed to aflatoxins in agricultural grains during supplemental feeding and baiting practices. We assessed aflatoxin formation in supplemental feed to identify factors that contributed to development. Greenhouse trials were conducted in August, September, and December of 2013 in Payne County, OK, with average greenhouse temperatures of 27°C, 23°C, and 15°C, respectively. We employed a split-plot design to compare aflatoxin concentrations for experimental units (n = 96) within each trial. Experimental units varied by grain type (milo vs. corn), feeding method (broadcast vs. piled), precipitation presence (dry vs. wet), and duration (1, 2, 3, and 4 weeks). During the August and September trials, all of the experimental units involving piled grain in wet conditions developed and accumulated aflatoxin concentrations exceeding the 20 ppb action level for animal feed. Corn piled in wet conditions resulted in the highest individual concentration of 3230 ppb. Results suggest that potential aflatoxicosis in wildlife can be reduced by selecting milo instead of corn, broadcasting grain instead of distributing in piles, and limiting the length of time that grain persists before ingestion. Feeding should be avoided during wet conditions when daily temperatures exceed 18°C. Those involved in wildlife feeding/baiting are urged to weigh the possible benefits with the known risks that baiting and supplemental feeding may pose to wildlife species.

Tuesday November 3, 2015 2:20pm - 2:40pm EST
Ballroom Salon A

2:20pm EST

The Effects of Forest Disturbance on the Oviposition Site Preference of Amphibians Found in Upland Hardwood Forests on the mid-Cumberland Plateau in Southern Tennessee
Lacy E. Rucker, Yong Wang –Alabama A&M University; Callie J. Schweitzer, USDA Forest Service

Because of their sensitivity to habitat disturbance, amphibians’ response to silviculture practices has gained interest among researchers and conservationists. The effects of these practices on adult egg deposition have yet to be fully explored, although the importance of this is germane to sustaining these animals. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the impact of forest disturbance, distance from a forest edge, and the effect of light intensity on the breeding pool preference of amphibians in upland hardwood forests on the mid-Cumberland Plateau of southern Tennessee. One of three silviculture treatments (control, shelterwood, and oak shelterwood) were applied to stands and replicated resulting in 14 research stands. A single pool array will be placed at distance of 10, 50, and 100 meters from the edge within treatment stands and replicated for a total of 42 pool arrays. Pool arrays will contain three artificial mesocosms; each pool will be assigned a screen to manipulate light intensity. Artificial pools will be monitored over two peak-breeding seasons from April to September. The amphibian population will be estimated using opportunistic encounter surveys, visual encounter surveys, and dip-net surveys conducted every 7-10 days, and morphometric data will be recorded on all collected individuals. The results of this study will improve our understanding of forest disturbance on the community ecology of amphibians, and will also provide forest managers and private landowners the knowledge to help reduce negative impacts of forest management techniques on amphibian populations while managing for oak regeneration on the Cumberland Plateau.

Tuesday November 3, 2015 2:20pm - 2:40pm EST
Ballroom Salon B

2:40pm EST

Refreshment Break
Tuesday November 3, 2015 2:40pm - 3:20pm EST
Windsor Corridor

3:20pm EST

Largemouth Bass Fishery Characteristics and Relationships with Hydrology in the Ouachita River, Arkansas
Kyler B. Hecke, University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff; Eric L. Brinkman, Brett A. Timmons -Arkansas Game and Fish Commission; Michael A. Eggleton, University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff

During 2008-2010, two different studies were used to assess the previously unstudied largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides) fishery in the Felsenthal Reservoir region of the lower Ouachita River, Arkansas. Size structure measures were acceptable for largemouth bass (PSD = 59, PSDP = 21), and the population exhibited good condition (mean Wr = 105, range 70-141). von Bertalanffy growth model parameters were L∞ = 513 mm, K = 0.324 and to = -0.314; catch-curve analysis indicated 51% total annual mortality. Based on an earlier study in the Arkansas River, we hypothesized that increased river flows might negatively affect largemouth bass growth. To test this hypothesis, back-calculated growth increments were determined for largemouth bass (n = 460), and compared across three flow categories derived from historical data for the Ouachita River. Mean June-October (i.e., corresponding with the largemouth bass growing season) flows from individual years were categorized as “high-flow”, “low-flow”, and “average-flow” when values exceeded the 75th percentile, were less than the 25th percentile, or between the 25th and 75th percentiles, respectively. Two-way factorial ANOVA analyses using back-calculated age and flow classifications as main effects indicated that largemouth bass growth differed (P = 0.0231) across the hydrologic regimes. Pairwise post-hoc least-squares means test comparing individual back-calculated ages indicated reduced bass growth during high-flow years, with the effect most pronounced for the age 2-4 cohorts. Results suggested that high-flow periods typically beneficial to fishes in large river-floodplain systems may be dampened or non-existent in more highly regulated river systems such as the lower Ouachita River. Knowledge of fish growth-hydrology relationships may be important in the future in light of predicted effects of climate change, which include increased frequencies of hydrologic extremes.

Tuesday November 3, 2015 3:20pm - 3:40pm EST
Victoria

3:20pm EST

CANCELLED: Understanding Motivations of Natural Resource Professionals and Students in Texas
Maria F. Mejia, Kerry Griffis-Kyle – Texas Tech University

Professional societies in the field of natural resources have stressed the importance of recruiting students to careers in this profession. The Bureau of Labor Statistics also sees an increase in jobs within the field of natural resources over the next seven years, because baby-boomers are retiring and the opportunity for job growth within this field. Recruiting and retaining individuals in this field has been challenging, as there are many factors, both barriers and stimuli that can influence these processes. Our work will investigate the motivations of natural resource professionals that work in state and federal agencies, nonprofit organizations, academia, and students at higher education institutions within the state of Texas. We will (1) quantify intrinsic and extrinsic motivation (2) and identify recruiting moments that positively and negatively affected individuals to pursue a career/degree in this field. This work will provide insights into diversifying the workforce in natural resource careers as the field continues to grow.

Tuesday November 3, 2015 3:20pm - 3:40pm EST
OFFSITE: Asheville Community Theatre

3:20pm EST

The NC Wildlife Resources Commission Green Growth Toolbox: Outcomes from Five Years of Training and Technical Assistance to Local Governments
Kacy Cook, NC Wildlife Resources Commission; Catherine Deininger, Biocenosis LLC; Brooke Massa,  NC Wildlife Resources Commission; Allison Schwarz Weakley, NC Natural Heritage Program  

More centralized development patterns that conserve, buffer and connect priority wildlife habitats could contribute to landscape-scale wildlife and biodiversity conservation in North Carolina, which has more urban sprawl regions than any state. In response the NC Wildlife Resources Commission and the NC Natural Heritage Program partnered to provide local governments with the Green Growth Toolbox (GGT), the Conservation Planning Tool and the NC Natural Heritage Data Explorer. These tools make biodiversity conservation data, information, recommendations and maps accessible to development planners and communities through training, online resources and technical assistance. We will discuss implementation of these tools by communities and conservation partnerships. Technical assistance and training have been provided over five years by two to three full time staff in any one year for 50 to 30 percent of their time. From 2010 to 2015 we conducted 21 full-day GGT trainings to over 400 local planners and decision-makers. We are aware of at least 12 land use plans, three long-range transportation plans and 5 ordinances or ordinance reviews that have employed technical assistance or use of the Green Growth Toolbox. We will discuss case studies based on interviews with local planners. The Chatham County Conservation Subdivision Ordinance has been used by three developers whose approved plans would conserve hundreds of acres of relatively unfragmented wildlife habitat and over 100 foot stream buffers.  We will also present an analysis of community needs from GGT training workshop evaluations. Program results will also be available via the Green Growth Toolbox webpage at www.ncwildlife.org/greengrowth

Tuesday November 3, 2015 3:20pm - 3:40pm EST
Windsor A

3:20pm EST

Lessons from Silicon Valley: Using Multidisciplinary Approaches to Develop Online Conservation Tools
Hilary Morris, Louise Vaughn –South Atlantic Landscape Conservation Cooperative

The South Atlantic LCC is a partnership of federal, state, and local organizations committed to sustaining the region’s natural and cultural resources for current and future generations. The Conservation Blueprint is a living spatial plan for the conservation actions needed to accomplish that goal—a shared vision of the future of the South Atlantic. Data-driven Blueprint Version 2.0, released in June, uses indicators to identify priority conservation areas by measuring the integrity of terrestrial, freshwater, and marine ecosystems. It considers future change by explicitly modeling the threats of sea level rise and urbanization. Currently, more than 400 individuals from over 100 organizations have actively participated in the development of the Blueprint. The Conservation Blueprint can be accessed via two online platforms: the Conservation Planning Atlas (CPA) and the Simple Viewer. The CPA is a science-based mapping platform that allows users to access publicly available spatial data, perform basic analyses, and create maps. The Simple Viewer is an intuitive custom interface for exploring the Blueprint, the indicators used to develop the Blueprint, and a small suite of ancillary data sets summarized at a sub-watershed level. The South Atlantic LCC developed and refined these online Blueprint viewers through in-depth interviews with Blueprint users and paper prototyping techniques borrowed from the software development field. This multidisciplinary approach has increased stakeholder engagement and awareness—a vital step in collaborative conservation—and improved the accessibility of the Blueprint. Today, conservation practitioners are already implementing the Blueprint to inform action and investment across the geography.

Tuesday November 3, 2015 3:20pm - 3:40pm EST
Ballroom Salon B

3:20pm EST

Prevalence of Six Viral and Bacterial Diseases in Wild Hogs in South Carolina (2007-2014)
Susan R. Sullivan, William C. Bridges Jr. – Clemson University; Katherine W. McFadden, South Carolina Cooperative Fish & Wildlife Research Unit, Clemson University; John J. Mayer, Savannah River National Laboratory; Patrick G.R. Jodice, South Carolina Cooperative Fish & Wildlife Research Unit, Clemson Univeristy; Greg K. Yarrow, Clemson University

The wild hog (Sus scrofa) is an invasive species that can pose a serious threat to native ecosystems, the domestic livestock industry, and human health. It is estimated that wild hog damage in the United States amounts to roughly $1.5 billion each year; however, this estimate could substantially increase if wild hogs transmitted a viral or bacterial disease to the country’s domestic livestock industry. From 2007-2014, blood and nasal secretion samples were collected from 753 wild hogs in South Carolina to test for 6 selected diseases including classical swine fever, swine brucellosis, pseudorabies virus, porcine circovirus, porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome, and swine influenza virus all of which can be transmitted to domestic livestock. The sex, age class, and geographic location of each wild hog sampled were also recorded. Results indicate that age class was significantly associated with swine brucellosis, pseudorabies virus, and porcine circovirus prevalence. Sex was significantly associated with porcine circovirus prevalence as well. Positive swine brucellosis, pseudorabies virus, and porcine circovirus samples were found in 44.4-92.3% of counties sampled. All domestic swine operations in the United States are currently free of swine brucellosis and pseudorabies virus; however, our results suggest that wild hogs could be reservoirs of these diseases with the potential to infect domestic livestock. Because wild hogs are present in every county of South Carolina, this information is crucial to determine disease hotspots in the state and can be shared with at-risk individuals, such as hunters or farmers, and domestic livestock operations in affected counties.

Tuesday November 3, 2015 3:20pm - 3:40pm EST
Ballroom Salon A

3:20pm EST

Implementation of the Patrol Rifle in Conservation Law Enforcement
Lieutenant Mark Rich, North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission

Tuesday November 3, 2015 3:20pm - 3:55pm EST
OFFSITE: Sheraton Four Points, Wolfe-Vance Room

3:20pm EST

Open Discussion on Topics continued
Open Discussions on the following topics will occur throughout the day:

  • Using technology to enhance licensing, vessel registration, big game reporting, event registration, etc.

  • Web sites/Social media/Bulk emails

  • Mobile applications/Mobile web sites

  • GIS Applications and IT’s role in GIS

  • Big Data/Data Analytics

  • IT Staffing, training, and retention in the rebounding economy

Tuesday November 3, 2015 3:20pm - 5:00pm EST
Alexander

3:20pm EST

SYMPOSIUM OVERVIEW
The USGS suggests that the threat to ecosystems from development patterns and current practices, in the Southeast U.S., rivals threats from climate change (Terando et al. 2014).  Encroachment of major development adjacent to existing conserved lands and within landscapes with habitat connectivity is of particular concern.  Local governments have significant influence over the pattern of development and development standards through local land-use-related planning, policy-making and development design. This symposium will attempt to examine the role that wildlife biologists can effectively play in affecting landscape scale wildlife habitat conservation by informing and working with local governments in the land use planning process.  The objectives of this symposium revolve around providing case studies and lessons learned to wildlife agencies and professionals so that they may assess the effectiveness of investing in wildlife habitat conservation through local land use planning.  Specifically our symposium objectives are to:
1. Increase the understanding of wildlife professionals regarding the role of local land-use-related planning in the potential to conserve wildlife habitats across landscapes.
2. Provide case studies and lessons learned from land-use-planning related projects conducted by wildlife biologists in collaboration with local governments.
3. Examine different approaches to working with local governments to enhance landscape-scale wildlife habitat conservation.

Tuesday November 3, 2015 3:20pm - 5:00pm EST
Windsor A

3:40pm EST

Catch and Release Impacts Trophy Bass Fishery in Arkansas
Jeremy T. Risley, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission; Ronald L. Johnson, Arkansas State University

Lake Monticello in southeastern Arkansas is a renowned largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides) lake where anglers fish to catch a trophy bass. The size structure and potential harvest of the bass population was evaluated in the context of the existing 406 – 533 mm total slot limit (TSL) in addition to other potential slot limits. The largemouth bass population was sampled using nighttime boat-mounted electrofishing conducted during 2006 - 2007. Memorable-sized bass represented 17% of the total sample by length. With the existing TSL, 35% of the fish sampled were under, 52% were within, and 13% were above the slot. More importantly, males were concentrated within the slot, and did not grow out of the existing slot. A proposed TSL of a 483 - 559 mm increased the number of fish potentially harvested below the slot and fewer fish dying, particularly males, within the slot. Voluntary release rates were 88% and 86% for bass and non-bass anglers, respectively. A mail-in survey of 249 anglers revealed most (77%) strongly agreed or agreed with “I practice catch and release fishing for largemouth bass”, and 70% rarely or never harvested LMB. Efforts need to be made to encourage harvest of fish below the slot for improving the trophy bass fishery at Lake Monticello. With the obvious impact on the local economy, every effort needs to be taken to ensure that Lake Monticello remains a trophy bass fishery in the future as the majority of the anglers fishing indicated they were fishing for trophy largemouth bass.

Tuesday November 3, 2015 3:40pm - 4:00pm EST
Victoria

3:40pm EST

3:40pm EST

Conserving Nature’s State and the Resilient Landscapes Initiative: Putting into Practice a Strategy for Wildlife in a Changing Climate
David Ray, The Open Space Institute

Wildlife and its habitat have adapted to climate changes for ages by shifting distributions, colonizing and establishing new territory, finding suitable micro-climates that allow them to persist, and producing offspring whose characteristics enhance adaptation. The problem is that that this takes time—generations—but the climate is changing faster than at any time in recorded history, and the landscape is fragmented by roads, dams, development, and other barriers to movement. How do we ensure that the southeastern landscape will continue to support its vast wildlife and botanical diversity? That nature will continue to provide the wealth of materials, food, medicines and clean water we depend on? The Nature Conservancy’s resilience analysis has identified the places where the land’s inherent natural resilience is the highest. Three characteristics are key: diverse topography provides micro-climate options; local connectedness provides access to those options; and diverse elevation and soil/geology combinations provide different settings to meet different species needs. Many new and comprehensive datasets were used to map the locations of these “natural strongholds” that are most likely to buffer wildlife from the uncertain qualities and effects of climate change. The Open Space Institute has partnered with TNC and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation to put the resilience science and data into action through the Resilient Landscapes Initiative, including land protection funding totaling $11 million and over a dozen “catalyst” conservation planning projects. This presentation will discuss the underlying science and data, lessons learned, relevance to SWAPs, and balancing biotic and abiotic information.

Tuesday November 3, 2015 3:40pm - 4:00pm EST
Ballroom Salon B

3:40pm EST

Enhanced Wildlife Rabies Surveillance at the Landscape Level in Support of a Multi-state Oral Rabies Vaccination Program
Jordona D. Kirby, Kathleen M. Nelson, Dennis Slate, Richard B. Chipman –USDA, APHIS, Wildlife Services, National Rabies Management Program

Rabies remains a significant public health and wildlife management challenge in the U.S., with costs of managing rabies exceeding $300 million annually. Oral rabies vaccination (ORV) began in the 1990s, to prevent the raccoon (Procyon lotor) rabies variant from spreading to populated areas in New Jersey and Massachusetts. USDA, APHIS, Wildlife Services’ (WS) involvement in ORV began in Texas during 1995 to prevent the spread of canine rabies variant in coyotes (Canis latrans). Wildlife Services received its first federal appropriation for rabies management in 1998, and the program expanded with a primary focus on preventing the westward spread of raccoon rabies. In 2015, WS and cooperators distributed >10.1 million baits to combat raccoon rabies in 14 eastern states, and canine, gray fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus) and skunk (Mephitis mephitis) rabies in Texas. Enhanced rabies surveillance includes testing of suspicious-acting and road-killed animals within proximity to ORV zones and other strategic areas. Enhanced surveillance coupled with public health surveillance provides more comprehensive information on the spatial distribution of rabies. From 2005-2014, WS collected >82,000 surveillance samples from 24 states and tested 83% with a field-based diagnostic test. Fifteen of 24 states confirmed 1,274 rabid animals that would not have been tested through traditional public health surveillance. The ORV program has led to: no appreciable spread of raccoon rabies, elimination of canine rabies in coyotes, and near elimination of gray fox rabies in Texas. The WS rabies management program represents one of the largest coordinated landscape-level wildlife disease management programs in North America.

Tuesday November 3, 2015 3:40pm - 4:00pm EST
Ballroom Salon A

3:55pm EST

Operation Raptor
Lieutenant Michael Paul Thomas, South Carolina Department of Natural Resources

Tuesday November 3, 2015 3:55pm - 4:30pm EST
OFFSITE: Sheraton Four Points, Wolfe-Vance Room

4:00pm EST

Establishment of a Trophy Largemouth Bass Fishery in a Georgia Small Impoundment
Timothy F. Bonvechio, Georgia Department of Natural Resources; Joseph J. Rydell, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission

The low-density stocking of female-only largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides), in combination with stocking of forage species and a catch-and-release regulation, provided a trophy fishery at Ocmulgee Public Fishing Area (Bleckley/Pulaski, County, GA). For spring 2012, angling and electrofishing data yielded similar numbers of trophy (> 3.6 kg) bass present. Of the 180 largemouth bass collected with angling and electrofishing, 34.4 % exceeded 3.6 kg and 8.8 % exceeded 4.5 kg. Angler catch rates of trophy largemouth bass were exceptionally high, taking on average only 7.35 angler hours to catch a 3.6 kg fish. Von Bertalanffy growth equations revealed that growth was fast taking female largemouth bass only 3.87 and 5.19 years to reach 457 and 508 mm TL, respectively. Mean relative weight (Wr) average across all size groups was 119. Based on our results, we produced 1 trophy (> 4.5 kg) largemouth bass for every 2.8 ha of reservoir. Despite incidental male introduction, the ratio of females to males was 7.5:1 at the conclusion of this study 8 years later. Although not immune to human error, a program designed to stock only females appears to be a viable option in keeping bass densities low and producing a high number of trophy bass. This option also accommodates anglers that ascribe to a high voluntary release mentality, as it caters to a low recruitment and high growth scenario. KEYWORDS: Female-only, low density, (Micropterus salmoides), trophy largemouth bass

Tuesday November 3, 2015 4:00pm - 4:20pm EST
Victoria

4:00pm EST

Integrating Wildlife Conservation into Urban Planning
George R. Hess, NC State University; Christopher E. Moorman, NC State University; Janette R.R. Thompson, Iowa State University; Courtney L. Larson, Colorado State University

In his address to the 1986 National Wildlife Federation symposium, Executive Vice President Jay Hair said … “Very simply, the individuals who plan and build our cities and our growing suburbs determine both the quality and quantity of wildlife habitat that remains.” He was talking about architects, developers, landscape architects, and urban planners as de facto wildlife managers. Wildlife professionals working in metropolitan regions should become familiar with the languages and processes by which they grow. Comprehensive plans describe the desired future for a community, zoning ordinances divide them into districts and describe the development allowed in each, and development ordinances enumerate regulations for each zone. The emerging framework of green infrastructure provides an opportunity for wildlife conservation to become integrated into these planning processes. For this to occur, wildlife professionals must become involved in these processes, either directly or through alliances with people and organizations who are. We will present two case studies, illustrating different approaches to integrating wildlife conservation into the fabric of metropolitan regions. The Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan, adopted as part of its comprehensive plan by Pima County, AZ, in 2001, is a landscape-scale approach to conserving biological diversity. The WakeNature Preserves Partnership is a voluntary collation of land management agencies in Wake County, NC, devoted to organizing and providing resources to identify the most valuable open spaces within Wake County and build capacity for their appropriate management and long-term stewardship. Our chapter on this topic is part of the recently released book, Urban Wildlife Conservation.

Tuesday November 3, 2015 4:00pm - 4:20pm EST
Windsor A

4:00pm EST

Evaluation of Cytochrome b PCR-RFLP to Distinguish DNA of Southeastern U.S. Carnivore Species
Dusty J. Harrell, Jean Fantle-Lepczyk, Todd D. Steury –Auburn University

Non-invasively collected fecal samples are an important method of monitoring wildlife species. However, similarity in feces appearance amongst sympatric species can complicate identification and thus negatively impact accuracy of estimates generated. In order to efficiently and unambiguously identify carnivore species from fecal DNA samples, Bidlack et al (2007) developed a PCR-RFLP protocol to distinguish among a suite of western North American carnivores. While the technique was effective for the seven species included in the study, we investigated how the technique would apply to carnivore species in the southeastern US. We collected tissue and scat samples from Alabama populations of Bidlack et al’s (2007) seven carnivore species, as well as samples from three additional carnivore species (black bear, domestic dog, and domestic cat) that are locally common and that could potentially complicate the identification process. We extracted DNA using QiaAMP stool and tissue DNA extraction kits by Qiagen. We used polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to amplify a 196 base pair polymorphic region of cytochrome b from the extractions. We then evaluated how three restriction enzymes (HpaII, DdeI, HpyCH4V) would cut the amplified region at species-specific locations. Using this technique, we were able to distinguished among DNA from coyote, grey fox, striped skunk, domestic dog, opossum, and river otter. However, bobcat and domestic cat cut in the same location, as did black bear and raccoon. Thus, this method can potentially be an accurate and inexpensive method of identifying carnivore scat in the southeastern U.S. However care must be taken to consider limitations.

Tuesday November 3, 2015 4:00pm - 4:20pm EST
Ballroom Salon A

4:00pm EST

Prioritizing Mitigation Sites Across North Carolina Using an Ecosystem Functions Approach
Dean Urban, Lydia Olander – Duke University; Lawrence Band, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; John Fay, Duke University; Jonathan Duncan, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

The Division of Mitigation Services at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in North Carolina is tasked with prioritizing sites for Department of Transportation mitigation activities. Their goal is to concentrate these activities in areas that will provide the best functional uplift in terms of species habitat, water quality, and water quantity to riparian, wetland, and aquatic ecosystems throughout the state. A team of researchers from Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has devised a new prioritization process with an ecosystem functional approach at its core. It embeds existing data and models (e.g., StreamStats, SPARROW) and species distribution or habitat modeling tools (e.g., GLMs) into an online tool that enables users to calculate the uplift potential of mitigation practices on four ecosystem functions: hydrology, water quality, geomorphology/hydraulics, and habitat. The tool will also offer users the opportunity to assign weights to each of these ecosystem functions and thus adjust their overall importance to the calculation. This revised prioritization process will result in a more transparent understanding of mitigation opportunities at a landscape scale, focusing efforts in areas with the greatest potential ecosystem benefits while also highlighting potential tradeoffs between ecosystem functions. These outcomes are demonstrated with results from two pilot studies conducted in the Catawba and Tar-Pamlico river basins.

Tuesday November 3, 2015 4:00pm - 4:20pm EST
Ballroom Salon B

4:20pm EST

Evaluation of Stocking All Female Largemouth Bass to Provide Quality Fisheries in Alabama Ponds
Michael J. Maceina, Steven M. Sammons, Ronald P. Phelps –Auburn University

Excessive largemouth bass Micropterus salmoides recruitment in small impoundments causes density-dependent growth depression, causing populations to become slow growing with length distributions skewed towards smaller fish. To address this issue, we conducted three trials that evaluated stocking all female largemouth bass (F-LMB) in two small Alabama ponds (0.5 and 2.0 ha). Sex of age-1 largemouth bass was determined with insertion of a micro pipette in the urogenital pore to detect ovarian tissue or eggs. Fish were individually tagged and stocked at 38-40 age-1 F-LMB/ha into ponds that contained pre-established sunfish Lepomis spp. populations. Electrofishing, angling, and rotenone collected F-LMB over a 2.5 to 5 year period among the three trials. Sex was correctly identified for 179 of the 180 F-LMB stocked; one male was detected in the first trial which resulted in successful largemouth bass reproduction and termination of this trial. Average annual survival rates for F-LMB were high and ranged from 0.74 to 0.95. Growth was rapid the first 2 years after stocking as 3-year old fish reached an average of 429 to 459 mm and 1.37 to 1.66 kg. However, 2 years after stocking, growth was nil in two of three trials even though relative weights of F-LMB were generally greater than 100. Where F-LMB growth continued, average size approached 500 mm and 2.2 kg 3 years after stocking. In one trial where growth and relative weights declined, removal of about 30% of the F-LMB inhabiting the pond and stocking advance-size nile tilapia Oreochromis niloticus fry (25-75mm TL) resulted in average weights increasing from 1.30 to 2.34 kg in 1 year. Stocking F-LMB offers an attractive alternative in ponds to create a low density largemouth bass population that displays fast growth and high survival when catch-and release fishing is primarily practiced.

Tuesday November 3, 2015 4:20pm - 4:40pm EST
Victoria

4:20pm EST

Incorporating Land Use Planning with Transportation Planning to Improve Wildlife Mitigation Measures
Travis Wilson, Division of Habitat Conservation, North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission

Whether development drives the road or the road drives the development land use planning and transportation planning are conjoined. Inherently transportation projects are laid across the landscape to address a purpose and need established in response to growth or desired growth in the region. Linear transportation facilities have long been recognized for their impacts to fish and wildlife on a landscape scale. Numerous miles of roadway are already in place and more will be planned. In North Carolina, we have worked with our Department of Transportation to address many natural resource scenarios during the project planning process. Solutions to avoid and mitigate impacts to fish and wildlife and retain habitat connectivity have been developed on both a site specific and programmatic levels. Although NC has been successful incorporating highway permeability measures into projects across the state, there have been lost opportunities and locations where needs where not fully addressed. This presentation will look at some of these scenarios to see where they were successful, where they came up short, and how the process can and has adjusted to improve our success in implementing wildlife mitigation measures into transportation projects.

Tuesday November 3, 2015 4:20pm - 4:40pm EST
Windsor A

4:20pm EST

Managing Field Sample Collection Activities to Detect Presence and Prevalence Rate of Chronic Wasting Disease in White-tailed Deer in North Missouri
Chad N. Smith, Missouri Department of Conservation

The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) has been testing for the presence of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in the state since 2002 and has collected more than 43,000 samples. The first case of CWD in Missouri was detected in a captive white-tailed deer in February of 2010 in Linn County. Since that time, MDC has conducted intensive targeted sampling near the location of CWD positive captive and free-ranging deer. Over the last five years, in the vicinity of detected positive cases, MDC has worked cooperatively with hunters, landowners, businesses and citizens to determine prevalence and distribution of the disease. MDC has invested significant staff time and resources in collecting samples during fall hunting seasons. MDC has also coordinated additional post-hunting season sampling efforts. All of these sampling efforts have impacted the work loads and priorities of many MDC staff with the greatest impact being on staff whose duty assignments are closest to the locations where the disease has been detected. These staff are responsible for leading on-the-ground sample collection activities. In total, nearly 550 MDC staff have logged more than 67,000 hours at an estimated cost of 1.2 million dollars since confirmation of the first positive in February of 2010. CWD sample collection and disease detection requires a multifaceted approach. During the firearms deer hunting season, MDC staff collect samples in the field from hunter-harvested deer and from deer brought to commercial meat processors. In addition, taxidermists are contracted to collect and submit samples to the MDC Wildlife Health Unit. After the close of Missouri’s deer hunting seasons, MDC staff and cooperating landowners conduct targeted culling of deer in areas near confirmed positive CWD cases and collect additional samples. MDC has also focused on educating the public about CWD. These outreach efforts are critical and have included one-on-one contacts, numerous public meetings, media campaigns, billboards and many other activities. Monitoring CWD in Missouri has been and will continue to be a significant commitment of staff time and resources.

Tuesday November 3, 2015 4:20pm - 4:40pm EST
Ballroom Salon A

4:20pm EST

Prescribed Fire and Overstory Thinning Increase Bat Activity in Tennessee Hardwood Forests
Maxwell R. Cox, Emma V. Willcox, Patrick D. Keyser, Andrew L. Vander Yacht –University of Tennessee

We examined bat response to prescribed fire and overstory thinning in Tennessee hardwood forests. We used acoustic recording of bat echolocation calls to assess bat activity in hardwood forest stands subject to 4 prescribed fire and overstory thinning treatments (dormant and growing season fire with high [DormH and GrowH] or low overstory thinning [DormL and GrowL], as well as untreated controls. We classified recorded echolocation call sequences to species using automated identification software. To minimize errors in species classification of recorded calls, we combined similar species in groups based on call characteristics. We found total bat activity (P ≤ 0.001), as well as activity of LANY (eastern red bat [Lasiurus borealis] and evening bat [Nycticeius humeralis]; P = 0.001), EPLA (big brown bat [Eptesicus fuscus] and silver-haired bat [Lasionycteris noctivagans]; P ≤ 0.001), PESU (tricolored bat [Perimyotis subflavus]; P = 0.001), and LACI (hoary bat [Lasiurus cinereus]; P = 0.005) was greater in DormH and GrowH stands. Activity of these bat species was inversely related to live overstory basal area, being lower in Control, DormL and GrowL stands where basal area was higher (P ≤ 0.001). Our results suggest these basal area reductions reduce structural clutter leading to improved foraging and commuting conditions for bats, particularly larger bodied species with low call frequencies that are adapted to more successfully fly and forage in open conditions. In areas where conservation of these bat species is a priority, prescribed fire and overstory thinning may provide useful tools for their management.

Tuesday November 3, 2015 4:20pm - 4:40pm EST
Ballroom Salon B

4:30pm EST

4:40pm EST

Contribution, Size and Diet of Stocked Largemouth Bass in Three Aquatic Vegetation Types in Toledo Bend Reservoir
Daniel E. Ashe, M. Todd Driscoll, J. Warren Schlechte -Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department stocks Toledo Bend Reservoir annually with juvenile Florida Largemouth Bass (Micropterus salmoides floridanus). Studies suggest that Largemouth Bass stockings often result in variable and low contributions to cohort abundance. We explored effects of aquatic vegetation on stocking success by stocking juvenile Florida Largemouth Bass marked with a pelvic fin clip in three species of aquatic vegetation (hydrilla Hydrilla verticillata, coontail Ceratophyllum demersum, and Eurasian watermilfoil Myriophyllum spicatum) in Toledo Bend Reservoir. Stocking sites received 10,000 fingerlings (mean TL=35 mm) and consisted of 2 km of contiguous habitat. Study sites were stocked in May-June 2010 (n=6) and May-June 2013 (n=5) and sampled with boom mounted electrofishing 3-weeks post-stocking. Contribution of stocked fish was estimated. Diet and size of the stocked fish were compared to that of naturally produced fish. Contribution of stocked fish ranged from 0-10% across all sites (mean=3.2%) and no significant differences were detected among the three aquatic vegetation types. We detected no significant differences between total length or diet of stocked and naturally produced fish among the different vegetation types. Our agency protocol for stocking Florida Largemouth Bass is to stock fingerlings into the best littoral habitat without specifying vegetation type. Our results support the continuation of this protocol as there were no differences in contribution, total length, or diet of stocked fish by vegetation type. Results of this study relative to contribution of stocking efforts were similar to previous studies.

Tuesday November 3, 2015 4:40pm - 5:00pm EST
Victoria

4:40pm EST

4:40pm EST

Parasitology and Serology of Free-Ranging Coyotes (Canis latrans) in North Carolina
Maria B. Palamar, North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commision; M. Colter Chitwood, Morgan; B. Swingen, Marcus A. Lashley –North Carolina State University; James R. Flowers, Charles S. Apperson –College of Veterinary Medicine, North Carolina State University; Colleen Olfenbuttel, North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission; Christopher E. Moorman, Christopher S. DePerno –North Carolina State University

Coyotes (Canis latrans) have recently expanded into the eastern United States and can serve as a source of pathogens to domestic dogs (Canis lupus familiaris), livestock, and humans. We examined free-ranging coyotes from central North Carolina, USA, for select parasites and seroprevalence against viral and bacterial agents of interest. Most coyotes (81%) had ticks, with Amblyomma americanum detected on 83% of those with ticks. Fifteen (47%) coyotes tested positive for heartworms (Dirofilaria immitis) with higher detection rates in adults (75% compared to 22% in juveniles). Serology revealed antibodies against canine adenovirus (71%), canine coronavirus (32%), canine distemper virus (17%), canine parvovirus (96%), and Leptospira spp. (7%). We did not detect antibodies against Brucella abortus or B. canis. Because coyotes are widespread newcomers to the eastern United States and due to their roaming behavior, they could increase the risk of infections from economically important diseases (e.g., brucellosis), thus, understanding disease presence in the coyote population is important.

Tuesday November 3, 2015 4:40pm - 5:00pm EST
Ballroom Salon A

4:40pm EST

Winter Activity and the Presence of Pseudogymnoascus Structans on Bats Captured in the Southeastern United States
Riley Bernard, Emma Willcox, Gary McCracken –University of Tennessee

In the Northeast, unusual winter activity of bats has been attributed to white-nose syndrome (WNS). Winter activity of bats in the Southeast, where winters are warmer, may not be unusual. To investigate winter activity and WNS epidemiology on bats in the Southeast, we collected long-term acoustic data and epidermal swab samples from bats captured outside of five hibernacula in Tennessee. Acoustic and capture data were collected during winters 2011−12, 2012−13, and 2013−14. We recorded activity outside of hibernacula at temperatures as low as -13°C, with peak activity occurring during warm winter nights, where temperatures exceeded 0°C. Epidermal swabs were collected from captured bats, representing 10 species, with approximately 46% of the bats captured found positive for Pseudogymnoascus destructans (Pd). Fungal load and prevalence varied among species and across years, with Myotis lucifugus, M. septentrionalis, M. sodalis, and Perimyotis subflavus having the highest fungal loads and prevalence among all species captured. On average, bats positive for Pd had lower body condition indices than those that were Pd negative (p < 0.0004). Prevalence of Pd was highest during winter 2013−14; however, mean fungal load decreased each hibernation period. We found that bats in the Southeast remain active throughout winter, regardless of the presence of Pd, suggesting southern bat populations may react differently to the presence of Pd and WNS. This information will allow for more specific conservation efforts in the region, while also informing managers of species-specific behaviors and regional differences of the disease.

Tuesday November 3, 2015 4:40pm - 5:00pm EST
Ballroom Salon B
 
Wednesday, November 4
 

8:00am EST

Southeast Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies
Ed Carter, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency

Wednesday November 4, 2015 8:00am - 8:05am EST
Ballroom Salon C

8:00am EST

8:00am EST

Comparison of Growth of Selectively Bred and Resident Largemouth Bass in Texas Reservoirs
Michael S. Baird*, Timothy J. Bister, Mukhtar A. Farooqi, Thomas J. Hungerford, J. Warren Schlechte, Dijar J. Lutz-Carrillo, Juan G. Martinez – Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) began the ShareLunker program in 1986 to promote public involvement in the management of trophy Largemouth Bass Micropterus salmoides (LMB) fisheries in Texas. The program provides anglers an opportunity to donate trophy LMB (≥ 5.9 kg) to a selective breeding and stocking program managed by TPWD, with the goal of increasing the production of trophy-sized fish in Texas reservoirs. Although the program was known to be successful at promoting trophy LMB fishing in Texas, it was not known whether the selective breeding results in a growth advantage and subsequent increase in the likelihood of producing trophy-sized LMB. We assessed the efficacy of the ShareLunker program by comparing the mean growth of stocked ShareLunker offspring with naturally-produced resident LMB offspring in six reservoirs at age-4. ShareLunker offspring were significantly heavier than resident cohorts (1.2 kg versus 1.0 kg, respectively), but not significantly longer. Our results suggest that the stocking of selectively bred LMB may be an effective tool to enhance trophy LMB production in stocked populations. Key words: Largemouth Bass, Florida genetics, age and growth, selective breeding

Wednesday November 4, 2015 8:00am - 8:20am EST
Windsor B

8:00am EST

Assessing the Feasibility and Value of a Sustainable, Huntable Elk Population in North Carolina
Marion Deerhake, RTI International; Jennifer Murrow, University of Maryland; Katherine Heller, RTI International; David Cobb, Brad Howard -North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission

Elk were introduced in 2001 to the Cataloochee area of Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GRSM). In 2008, the National Park Service transferred responsibility for elk management outside GRSM to the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (NC WRC). Expansion of elk outside of GRSM boundaries presents additional recreational opportunities for residents and tourists but also increases human-elk conflict and associated property damage, cost of preventive action, and administrative burden for NC WRC staff. NC WRC commissioned an integrated biological, economic, and social assessment of the feasibility and value of maintaining a sustainable, huntable elk population outside GRSM in North Carolina. Biologically, we found that the projected population of elk would likely grow in areas where they currently exist, even with modest harvest rates of 4 to 6 males per year. A nearby source herd and large, less developed landscapes promote herd sustainability. Even without hunting, establishing additional elk herds in areas remote from the current population would likely fail if herds experience even slightly lower survival and recruitment due to higher levels of elk/human conflict. Economically, the elk herd would continue to be positive for North Carolina’s economy, increasing tourism and conveying net benefits that could total millions of dollars per year, depending on the scenario.

Wednesday November 4, 2015 8:00am - 8:20am EST
Ballroom Salon A

8:00am EST

Herpetofauna and Plant Communities of Pine Plantations, Streamside Management Zones, and Mature Cove Hardwood Forests on Industrial Timberland Areas of Central Mississippi, of C Area, Webster County, Mississippi
Jeanne C. Jones, Mississippi State University; Darren A. Miller, Weyerhaeuser Company; B. Nicole Hodges, Aaron Posner –Mississippi State University

We studied herpetofauna and plant communities of cove hardwoods, pine plantations, and streamside management zones on an industrial timberland, Old Cove Landscape (OCL), from 2008 - 2011. Managed by Weyerhaeuser Company, OCL was located in Webster County, MS and characterized by rolling topography and forests of pine (Pinus spp.) plantations, mixed pine-hardwood forests, and coves dominated by > 60 year old hardwood forests. Forested coves were surrounded by loblolly pine (Pinus taeda) plantations of various age classes and interspersed streamside management zones that were typified by mixed pine-hardwood forest corridors. We recorded 10 species of reptiles, 12 species of amphibians, and over 180 species of plants in all habitat types within OCL. The greatest number of species and individuals of amphibians were detected in forested coves. Salamander species richness and abundance of streambank and plethodontid salamanders (Eurycea spp. and Plethodon mississippi) were greatest in cove forests. Regression modeling indicated abundance of selected salamander species was positively associated with deciduous tree cover, shaded forest floor conditions, and deadwood. Streamside management zones supported the greatest abundance and species richness of reptiles. Community similarity indices indicated that herpetofauna communities of coves and SMZs were > 50% similar. Because SMZs and mature cove forests supported a diversity of reptiles and amphibians that were adapted to habitat conditions of mixed deciduous-pine and mature hardwood forests, retention of these habitat types can be important for conservation of herpetofauna within managed forest landscapes. This information is being used by Weyerhaeuser Company for updating conservation plans for OCL.

Wednesday November 4, 2015 8:00am - 8:20am EST
Ballroom Salon B

8:00am EST

SYMPOSIUM OVERVIEW
The network of landscapes and seascapes, an essential element of the Southeast Conservation Adaptation Strategy (SECAS), is developing through collaboration, science and technology, and leadership from state fish and wildlife agencies, federal agencies, non-government organizations, and large-scale conservation partnerships convening by way of the Landscape Conservation Cooperatives (LCCs). The Southeast Climate Science Center (SECSC) works with the LCCs to identify global change-related information needed by the broad conservation community, and promotes decision science relevant to current and future conservation challenges.

The Southeast Conservation Adaptation Strategy is already presenting a more comprehensive and collective vision for conservation in the southeast United States. Identifying the most important lands and waters that will meet the needs of fish and wildlife for future generations is not the only outcome of SECAS, but it is a critically important element. Building on conservation planning efforts already in place, SECAS brings to the broad conservation community a spatially explicit depiction of the network of landscapes and seascapes…. the emerging conservation blueprint.

The unique role of SECAS is to identify and support the steps necessary to regionally plan, implement, and evaluate actions that sustain habitat, mitigate threats, and adapt to future conditions. Strategic planning and implementation are iterative steps, looking far into the future but focused on the next steps. This symposium will present recent progress and suggest important next steps for key elements of this conservation adaptation strategy, 1) network of landscapes and seascapes, 2) conservation collaborations, and 3) landscape change information.

Guided by a conservation blueprint that represents the landscape conservation priorities of the conservation community, SECAS provides the comprehensive vision for a desired future conservation landscape that will guide decision making to generate more robust conservation outcomes between now and 2060 in the Southeast United States.

Wednesday November 4, 2015 8:00am - 12:00pm EST
Ballroom Salon C

8:05am EST

Conservation blueprints are critical as they present a comprehensive vision for future conservation
Greg Wathen, Gulf Coastal Plains & Ozarks Landscape Conservation Cooperative

Wednesday November 4, 2015 8:05am - 8:15am EST
Ballroom Salon C

8:15am EST

Landscape Conservation Design: Longleaf Pine in the Coastal Plain
Rua Mordecai, South Atlantic Landscape Conservation Cooperative

Wednesday November 4, 2015 8:15am - 8:25am EST
Ballroom Salon C

8:15am EST

8:20am EST

Parentage-Based Tagging (PBT) and Nuclear Identification of Largemouth Bass stocked into Lake Allatoona, Georgia
Bryant R. Bowen, Jim Hakala – Georgia Department of Natural Resources; Eric Peatman, Auburn University; Brandon Barthel, Fish and Wildlife Research Institute

Black bass are the most sought after sport fish in the country. Many states, including Georgia, have black bass management at the top of their priority list. Largemouth bass are found in Lake Allatoona, but currently, are less abundant than Alabama bass. Both largemouth and Alabama bass are native to the impoundment, but the population balance has shifted towards Alabama bass dominance over time. Over the last decade there has been a growing call from consumptive users on this lake to enhance fishing quality by increasing largemouth bass abundance. As such, an experimental supplemental largemouth bass stocking program was initiated in 2012. Georgia “intergrade” largemouth bass were produced and stocked for the study from different brood sources across the state. Our goal is to utilize 18 microsatellite markers and develop SNP markers to determine the genetic composition of these hatchery production stocks. These data will then be available for Parentage-Based Tagging (PBT) to enable us to track stocking success of the different alleles over time. These data will provide useful, innovative techniques to aid fisheries biologist in managing the largemouth bass fishery in Lake Allatoona, GA.

Wednesday November 4, 2015 8:20am - 8:40am EST
Windsor B

8:20am EST

GPS Telemetry Collar Performance and Effects on Elk Habitat Use in the Rugged Mountains of Southwest Virginia
James Vance, The University of Virginia's College at Wise

Telemetry collars using Global Positioning System (GPS) technology have been widely employed in wildlife space and resource use studies, yet the habitat-induced fix-rate bias and positional errors are a serious concern. To facilitate a study of the spatial ecology of relocated elk into Virginia, we investigated the bias and precision of the Advanced Telemetry Systems (ATS) Iridium/GPS location collars placed on the elk. We deployed collars at twenty fixed sites varying by habitat and terrain conditions in the rugged mountains of southwest Virginia. We used a multiple linear regression model and predicted that variability in fixes would decrease as elevation increased and increase as slope increased. We also predicted that variability in fixes would increase while the fix rate would decrease when collars were under deciduous and coniferous cover types as opposed to open or brushy areas. We found that aspect, percent canopy cover, and height from ground to top of collar did not significantly affect the variability in fixes. Additionally, slope did not affect the fix rate. Finally, we conducted a Monte Carlo simulation to determine the effects of locational errors on elk presence in 7 habitat types taken from Landsat Imagery by adding random errors to the coordinate fixes. The overall average percent change in the number of fixes in each habitat type for all 30 realizations was 8.96% indicating that the uncertainty in locational fixes should be acknowledged and accounted for in future spatial ecology studies.

Wednesday November 4, 2015 8:20am - 8:40am EST
Ballroom Salon A

8:20am EST

Habitat Characteristics Associated with Burrows of Gopher Tortoises (Gopherus polyphemus) and Non-burrow Locations on a Mississippi Military Installation
Katherine E. Edwards, Jeanne C. Jones, David L. Evans, Scott D. Roberts – Mississippi State University; Alexis Londo, The Ohio State University; Scott A. Tweddale, U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center; Zhaofei Fan, Mississippi State University

Since federal listing of western populations of gopher tortoises (Gopherus polyphemus), tortoise population recovery and habitat restoration efforts have been implemented at Camp Shelby Joint Forces Training Site, Mississippi. We studied plant community and edaphic features around tortoise burrows and at non-occupied locations in 2007. We investigated relationships between burrow presence and habitat characteristics through decision tree and logistic regression analyses. Burrow occurrence was positively related to stem counts of woody plants and species richness of native legumes and negatively related to overstory canopy coverage, and maximum tree height. Cross-validation procedures predicted presence of burrows for 91% of observed outcomes. Tortoise burrows were most often found on side slopes of sand ridges where overstory canopy coverage was < 60% and conditions were adequate for burrowing, nesting, basking, and establishment of food plants. Our study sites exhibited woody plant coverage > 45% at ground and midstory levels and < 50% coverage of herbaceous plants. Advancement of these conditions over time can produce suboptimal habitat quality yet tortoises may continue to utilize home burrows due to burrow site fidelity, interspersion of desirable food plants, and suitable soils for burrowing. Advancing shrub and sapling cover on our study sites were potentially related to reduced fire return intervals and burning bans associated with forest damage from 2005 landfall of Hurricane Katrina. Design and interpretation of tortoise habitat studies should consider many factors, including edaphic and vegetation conditions, history of habitat management, temporal effects on vegetation succession, activity status of burrow, and burrow site fidelity.

Wednesday November 4, 2015 8:20am - 8:40am EST
Ballroom Salon B

8:25am EST

Landscape Conservation Design: Shortleaf pine woodlands in the Ozark Highlands
Todd Jones-Farrand, Gulf Coastal Plains & Ozarks Landscape Conservation Cooperative

Wednesday November 4, 2015 8:25am - 8:35am EST
Ballroom Salon C

8:35am EST

Landscape Conservation Design: Southwest Florida and the Panther National Wildlife Refuge
Steve Traxler, Peninsular Florida Landscape Conservation Cooperative; Beth Stys, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

Wednesday November 4, 2015 8:35am - 8:45am EST
Ballroom Salon C

8:40am EST

A New Frontier: Establishing Hybrid Striped Bass in Lake Norman, North Carolina
N. Corey Oakley, North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission

Lake Norman has had numerous introductions of non-native fish. These introductions have had various effects on established fish populations in the reservoir. Alewife Alosa pseudoharengus and Blueback Herring Alosa aestivalis (river herring) introductions of the mid 1990s caused a decline in the Striped Bass Morone saxatilis fishery. Striped Bass foraged on river herring in the hypolimnion of Lake Norman during summer months each year. As the metalimnion becomes hypoxic during the summer, Striped Bass become trapped in the hypolimnion and eventually die when it becomes hypoxic. Striped Bass fish kills have become more frequent and severe since 2004. In 2013, the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission began replacing the Striped Bass fishery with a hybrid Striped Bass (M. saxatilis X M. chrysops) fishery. Biologists expect that hybrid Striped Bass will not inhabit the hypolimnion during summer months and have better growth, condition, and survival than Striped Bass in Lake Norman. Angler and gill net data from 2014 indicate that hybrid Striped Bass are growing rapidly and exhibit average condition during the first two years of life. Fish captured weigh between 1,200–1,700 g. Rapid growth of hybrid Striped Bass has increased the popularity of the new fishery. Growth rates, condition values, severity of fish kills, and frequency of escapement will be the criteria used to determine if the new hybrid Striped Bass fishery is successful at Lake Norman.

Wednesday November 4, 2015 8:40am - 9:00am EST
Windsor B

8:40am EST

Evaluation of Potential for Antler-based Selective-Harvest Regimes to Influence Cohort-Specific Antler Size of Male White-tailed Deer in Florida
Bradley S. Cohen, University of Georgia; Erin H. Leone, Elina P. Garrison, Cory R. Morea, Steve M. Shea –Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission; Karl V. Miller, University of Georgia; Michael J. Cherry, Joseph W. Jones Ecological Research Center; James H. Stickles, James D. Kelly –Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

Antler-point restrictions (APRs) intended to increase the mean age of harvested male white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) could select against larger-antlered males within each age cohort, resulting smaller antler size of the residual population. To test this hypothesis, we examined if antler-scores within age cohorts differed after APRs were changed to reduce harvest of 1.5-year-old males on 23 Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) in Florida. These WMAs, which required a legal antlered deer to have at least one antler > 5 inches in length or at least one antler with 2 or more points, all subsequently implemented a more restrictive APR requiring legal males to have at least one antler with 3 or more points. We used generalized linear mixed models of harvest data to assess effects of geographic region, age class, and pre-APR type (5-inch or forked), and the interactions of these variables on gross Boone and Crockett (GBC) scores after implementation of the 3-point APR. Deer not meeting the 3-point criterion prior to the 3-point APR and antlered deer ≥ 1.5 years old during the same year the 3-point APR was implemented were excluded from analysis. The 3-point APR increased protection of the 1.5-year-old age class across regions (p < 0.001). Only on WMAs previously having a 5-inch antler restriction did GBC scores increase post-3-point APR (p = 0.001). To minimize the chance of high-grading, APRs should be evaluated across habitats and on a site-specific basis to optimize protection of target cohorts and harvest of non-target cohorts.

Wednesday November 4, 2015 8:40am - 9:00am EST
Ballroom Salon A

8:40am EST

Linking Demography and Landscape Resistance to Assess Functional Connectivity of Gopher Tortoise Populations in Georgia
Bryan L. Nuse, Georgia Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, University of Georgia; Jeffrey Hepinstall-Cymerman, University of Georgia; Clinton T. Moore, U.S. Geological Society, Georgia Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, University of Georgia; Matt Elliott, Georgia Department of Natural Resources

Functional connectivity between animal populations can be difficult to assess, especially for long-lived species. However, understanding connectivity is critical to conservation strategy, because the degree of connectivity among patches determines whether metapopulation principles should be applied. The gopher tortoise is a keystone species in fire-dependent pine forests of the southeastern USA, and is a candidate for federal listing under the Endangered Species Act in the eastern part of its range. Tortoises may live as long as 6-10 decades, and generally maintain fairly small home ranges (< 1 to a few hectares). Consequently only a few long-term population studies have been performed. Several of these have reported infrequent long-distance movements (1-2 kilometers), however. We developed a Bayesian population model that uses recently acquired survey data, published demographic and movement rates, and habitat attributes to predict two features of gopher tortoise populations: density, and the potential for a patch to export individuals. The Bayesian modeling framework allows incorporation of various hypotheses regarding unknown population processes, such as fecundity. We use our model in combination with a movement resistance map to identify complexes of habitat patches that may be functionally connected, and within which metapopulation processes may be expected to operate. This information is being used as part of a larger tortoise conservation planning tool that will guide land protection actions by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

Wednesday November 4, 2015 8:40am - 9:00am EST
Ballroom Salon B

8:45am EST

Landscape Conservation Design: Coastal Prairie and Marshes in the Texas mid Coast
Blair Tirpak, Gulf Coast Prairie Landscape Conservation Cooperative; Amie Treuer-Kuehn, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

Wednesday November 4, 2015 8:45am - 8:55am EST
Ballroom Salon C

8:55am EST

Landscape Conservation Design: Grasslands and Rivers of the Southern High Plains
James Broska, Great Plains Landscape Conservation Cooperative

Wednesday November 4, 2015 8:55am - 9:05am EST
Ballroom Salon C

9:00am EST

Making It Our Plan: Collaborating with Stakeholders to Revise North Carolina’s Trout Management Plan
Kerry J. Linehan, Jacob M. Rash – North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission

Diverse groups of anglers fish trout waters managed by the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (Commission), and in 2008, trout anglers contributed approximately $174 million to North Carolina’s economy. Thus, the Commission initiated a management planning process in 2010 that included using angler survey data and collaborating with trout anglers and resource management partners to revise the 1989 Trout Management Plan. Staff facilitated five focus groups with anglers to discuss their thoughts regarding trout management. Focus group participants represented trout anglers affiliated with organized angling groups, anglers unaffiliated with organized angling groups, and trout angling guides. After compiling focus group data, an advisory committee consisting of affiliated anglers, unaffiliated anglers, and guides was formed. Their charge was to provide input as the Commission formed and refined program areas and goals. During advisory committee meetings information exchange was aided by presenting background information, clarifying Commission and participants’ roles, and explaining the goals and limitations of the process. Additionally, the Commission sought to include a variety of management partners throughout the revision process. Input meetings were held with staff representing multiple Commission divisions and other state, federal, and non-governmental resource management partners. Through this collaborative revision process the Commission was able to obtain a suite of qualitative data that provided rich, in-depth information that would not have been captured otherwise. As a result, these data were integrated with existing scientific survey data to craft five critical program areas and specific goals for each within the Commission’s new trout management plan.

Wednesday November 4, 2015 9:00am - 9:20am EST
Windsor B

9:00am EST

A Rapid Ecological Assessment of Open Pine Woodland and Savanna Systems in the Gulf Coastal Plain and Ozarks Landscape Conservation Cooperative
Toby Gray, Kristine Evans –Gulf Coastal Plains and Ozarks Landscape Conservation Cooperative, Geosystems Research Institute, Mississippi State University; Todd Jones-Farrand, Gulf Coastal Plains and Ozarks Landscape Conservation Cooperative, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

As part of its mission to facilitate ecosystem conservation at a large landscape scale, the Gulf Coastal Plains and Ozarks Landscape Conservation Cooperative (GCPO) conducted a rapid ecological assessment of open pine woodlands and savanna as one of nine priority systems within its geography. We assembled spatial data layers representative of desired ecological states (e.g., canopy cover, basal area, etc.) and combined them in an additive mapping procedure to assess amount, configuration, and condition of open pine. Input layers included a “pine mask” of ecological systems currently dominated by pine (from USGS GAP), published estimations of basal area (USFS) and canopy cover (MRLC), and unpublished estimations of midstory density, midstory basal area, and average tree diameter per acre (USFS). Data layers were processed to reflect threshold conditions for open pine defined in the GCPO Integrated Science Agenda. The additive mapping procedure assigned score values to each input layer, then processed the summed scores to identify areas of the greatest concentration of desired open pine conditions. Results indicate that open pine in desired conditions comprise about 1.7 million acres (

Wednesday November 4, 2015 9:00am - 9:20am EST
Ballroom Salon B

9:00am EST

Ungulate Population Fluctuations in South Florida: Predators, Fire, and Floods
Michael J. Cherry, Joseph W. Jones Ecological Research Center; Elina Garrison, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission; Richard B. Chandler, University of Georgia; David B. Shindle, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; Cory R. Morea, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission; L. Mike Conner, Joseph W. Jones Ecological Research Center; Robert J. Warren, Karl V. Miller -University of Georgia

In southern Florida, white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus, hereafter deer) and feral swine (Sus Scrofa) are important game species and prey resources for an assortment of predators, including the endangered Florida panther (Puma concolor coryi). Harvest and aerial monitoring data suggest both ungulate species have experienced population declines in portions of South Florida. For example, feral swine harvest on Big Cypress National Preserve averaged 125.7 head/year during 1993–2003 and 2.4 head/year during 2004–2015 (F1, 20 = 51.6, P

Wednesday November 4, 2015 9:00am - 9:20am EST
Ballroom Salon A

9:05am EST

Landscape Conservation Design: Rivers and Streams of the Tennessee River Basin
Paul Leonard, Clemson University; Matthew Cimitile, Appalachian Landscape Conservation Cooperative (PLEASE NOTE: PAUL LEONARD HAS REPLACED JEAN BRENNAN AS PRESENTER) 

Wednesday November 4, 2015 9:05am - 9:15am EST
Ballroom Salon C

9:15am EST

Landscape Conservation Design: Caribbean Cays
Brent Murry, Caribbean Landscape Conservation Cooperative

Wednesday November 4, 2015 9:15am - 9:25am EST
Ballroom Salon C

9:20am EST

First case of a Myxobolus cerebral (Whirling disease) in trout in North Carolina
Raphael Orelis-Ribeiro, Matthew R. Womble, Jackson R. Roberts, Candis Ray – Southeastern Cooperative Fish Parasite & Disease Project, School of Fisheries, Auburn University; Jacob M. Rash, Doug A. Besler – North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission; Stacey Lafrentz, Cova R. Arias, Stephen A. Bullard* – Southeastern Cooperative Fish Parasite & Disease Project, School of Fisheries, Auburn University

The myxozoan parasite Myxobolus cerebralis was introduced into North America in the mid-twentieth century with infected brown trout (Salmo trutta) imported from Europe and is now recorded in 24 states and 26 countries. This parasite is the causative agent of whirling disease; an economically and ecologically devastating disease of salmonids, especially rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss). Heavily-infected (diseased) fishes exhibit “whirling” behavior (tail chasing, disequilibrium, erratic swimming) plus skeletal and pigment abnormalities that are obvious to and can alarm anglers. The first occurrence of infection by M. cerebralis in rainbow trout, brown trout, and oligochaetes from North Carolina was confirmed in July 2015. Herein, we report on the prevalence of infections among rainbow trout, brown trout, and oligochaetes from streams and culture settings, discuss the geographic distribution of M. cerebralis in North America more broadly, and detail the clinical signs of whirling disease that indicated the presence of the disease in North Carolina. This comprises the first documented occurrence of the pathogen and corresponding disease in the southeastern United States south of Virginia.

Wednesday November 4, 2015 9:20am - 9:40am EST
Windsor B

9:20am EST

Efficacy of Landscape Scale Oak Woodland and Savanna Restoration at Multiple Spatial and Temporal Scales
H. Tyler Pittman, Arkansas Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, University of Arkansas; David G. Krementz, U.S. Geological Survey, Arkansas Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, University of Arkansas

The loss of historic ecosystem conditions has led to forest managers over the past 12 yrs implementing woodland and savanna ecosystem restoration on a landscape scale (≥10,000 ha) in the Central Hardwoods. Managers are attempting to restore and conserve these ecosystems through the reintroduction of disturbance, mainly short-rotation early-growing-season prescribed fire. Short-rotation early-growing season prescribed fire in the Central Hardwoods typically occurs from immediately before bud break, through bud break and before leaf out, and fire events occur on a three to five yr interval. We initiated our study to examine the impact and efficacy of short-rotation early-growing season prescribed fire as a restoration tool on vegetation characteristics. We collected vegetation measurements at 70 locations annually from 2011 to 2012 within and around the White Rock Ecosystem Restoration Area (WRERA), Ozark-St. Francis National Forest, Arkansas, USA and used generalized linear models to understand changes in vegetation structure. We found the number of large shrubs (>5 cm base diameter) decreased and small shrubs (

Wednesday November 4, 2015 9:20am - 9:40am EST
Ballroom Salon B

9:20am EST

The Effects of Tillage on Shot Concentrations in Dove Fields
Kelly E. Douglass, David T. Cobb -North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission; Phillip D. Doerr, North Carolina State University

Despite the research on lead (Pb) shot deposition and ingestion by mourning doves (Zenaida macroura), there has been no research to determine how management practices may be used to effectively reduce Pb shot concentrations in fields managed for dove hunting. We measured shot concentrations in 5 publicly managed mourning dove fields in North Carolina to determine if concentration levels were significantly affected by tillage. We used a complete block design with 12 plots, each of which received a combination of the following planting and management treatments: 3 crops (sunflower (Helianthus annuus), millet (Setaria italica or Brachiaria ramosa), or corn (Zea mays)) and 2 treatments (till or no-till). Soil samples (N = 4,204) were collected before, during, and after dove hunting seasons for 2 years from August 2007 to August 2009. Data were analyzed using a generalized linear mixed model, with a negative binomial distribution, to evaluate differences in shot concentrations among crops and seasons, and between treatments and areas of high and low hunter effort. Shot concentrations differed among seasons and crops and between areas of high and low hunter effort, including a significant interaction between crop and effort. We could not detect any significant effect of treatment, indicating that tillage does not reduce shot concentrations in dove fields. Managers could effectively reduce shot concentrations in dove fields and, therefore, reduce Pb exposure to doves, by limiting hunter access and/or effort or requiring nontoxic shot on managed dove fields.

Wednesday November 4, 2015 9:20am - 9:40am EST
Ballroom Salon A

9:25am EST

9:25am EST

9:35am EST

Southeast Conservation Planning Atlas – Spatially Explicit Data Development from Landscape Conservation Cooperatives
Jason Duke, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; Kristine Evans, Gulf Coastal Plains & Ozarks Landscape Conservation Cooperative; Amy Keister, South Atlantic Landscape Conservation Cooperative; Blair Tirpak, Gulf Coast Prairie Landscape Conservation Cooperative

Wednesday November 4, 2015 9:35am - 10:05am EST
Ballroom Salon C

9:40am EST

Parasitic copepod (Lernaeopodidae: Salmincola) infections in gill and buccal cavity of rainbow trout and brook trout in North Carolina
Matthew R. Womble, Raphael Orelis-Ribeiro, Jackson R. Roberts –, Southeastern Cooperative Fish Parasite & Disease Project, Auburn University; Jacob M. Rash, Doug A. Besler –North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission; Cova R. Arias, Stephen A. Bullard* – Southeastern Cooperative Fish Parasite & Disease Project, Auburn University

Salmincola (Copepoda: Lernaeopodidae) comprises 17 species that infect the epithelial surfaces (gill, buccal cavity) of 11 genera of freshwater fishes assigned to Salmonidae, Esocidae, Cottidae, and Gadidae of North America, Europe, and Asia. Southeastern United States trout fisheries comprise rainbow trout Oncorhyncus mykiss, brook trout Salvelinus fontinalis, and brown trout Salmo trutta. Of which, two (rainbow trout and brook trout) are infected by species of Salmincola: S. californiensis infects gill of rainbow trout [primarily] and brook trout in 13 states; whereas, S. edwardsi infects gill of brook trout (primarily) and rainbow trout in 4 states. Salmincola spp. have direct life cycles (not requiring an intermediate host) and are associated with fish disease such that infections on wild and cultured fish are cause for legitimate concern, amplified biosecurity, and routine monitoring. For example, infections on farmed rainbow trout may cause appetite inhibition, liver discoloration, and gill lamellar hyperplasia associated with loss of respiratory function. In the present report, Salmincola infections were observed in the gill and buccal cavity of rainbow trout from a private trout farm on the Watauga River (81% prevalence; 6.6 mean intensity), from adjacent sites on that river (11% prevalence; 2.0 mean intensity), and from the West Fork Pigeon River as well as from gill and buccal cavity of brook trout from the upper Cullasaja River. Grossly, heavily-infected rainbow trout from the hatchery exhibited alterations to the normal gill filament architecture that indicated a reduction in functional respiratory surface. Histopathology and scanning electron microscopy revealed branchial epithelium hyperplasia, occluded interlamellar water channels, and inflammation indicative of a chronic lesion associated with attachment and/or feeding of mature female copepods. The marked lesion could be interpreted as a ‘mismatched’ host-parasite relationship, speculatively resulting from a recent introduction of the parasite, or that of the rainbow trout strain, into the Watauga River. To our knowledge, this is the first confirmed occurrence of Salmincola in rivers of North Carolina and the Southeastern United States, although anecdotal reports of previous Salmnicola infections among hatchery-reared fishes in the region exist.

Wednesday November 4, 2015 9:40am - 10:00am EST
Windsor B

9:40am EST

Successful Bottomland Hardwood Restoration in West Tennessee
Damon B. Hollis, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency; Scott E. Schlarbaum, University of Tennessee

Regenerating bottomland hardwoods, primarily oaks, has become a subject of considerable interest to land managers in the southeastern United States, particularly within the Lower Mississippi River Alluvial Valley. Most bottomland regeneration programs have found success to be problematic on sites where the natural hydrology has been disrupted and/or are subjected to frequent flooding. Since 2000, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) has worked closely with the University of Tennessee’s Tree Improvement Program (UT-TIP) and two State Nurseries to successfully implement bottomland hardwood plantings in West Tennessee. Acorns were collected in the planting sites’ vicinity and taken to the nursery, which produced high-quality seedlings that were, by virtue of the seed collections, locally adapted to the planting sites. Species were matched to site by establishing altitudinal gradients prior to planting, as changes in elevation in many bottomland sites are difficult to visually discern. To date, over 3.6 million seedlings have been planted on approximately 3300 hectares with a resulting survival of >80 percent. This restoration approach is more resource demanding than past restoration attempts that simply purchase seedlings with scant regard for quality or seed source and do not match species to site. The high probability of success, however, justifies the additional expense. Future plantings will eventually incorporate seedlings that are genetically improved for early growth and seed production from orchards developed by the UT-TIP. TWRA’s tree plantings greatly benefit wildlife in a landscape dominated by row crop cover.

Wednesday November 4, 2015 9:40am - 10:00am EST
Ballroom Salon B

9:40am EST

Survival and Recruitment of Male Eastern Wild Turkeys Succeeding Implications of No-Jake Harvest Regulation in Arkansas
Douglas C. Osborne, University of Arkansas; Jason P., Honey, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission

Recruitment of sub-adult male eastern wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo silvestris; hereafter, juvenile) into the 2-year old male age-class is vital to maintain sustainable population dynamics, hunter harvest rates, and hunter satisfaction. In Arkansas, statewide spring turkey harvest has declined at an annual rate of 23% since 2003. To alleviate this declining trend and increase adult male turkey carryover into the spring hunting season the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission eliminated the fall turkey season during 2009 and implemented a statewide no-jake harvest regulation during 2011 (youth hunters are exempt and allowed to harvest one juvenile male turkey annually). The annual spring harvest rate of adult male turkeys has increased 15.7% since changes to the hunting regulations. We estimated survival rates of 41 juvenile male turkeys in Arkansas during 2013–2014 using satellite Global Positioning System (GPS) transmitters. We tracked juvenile male turkeys in 2 distinct physiographic regions of Arkansas that exhibited differing spring turkey harvest strategies including the Ozark Mountain region with unrestricted hunting access and the Gulf Coastal Plain with permit-only access. Juvenile survival appeared to be greater in the upland mixed hardwoods of the Ozark Mountains (0.71) compared to the short-rotation pine (Pinus spp.) plantation landscape of the Gulf Coastal Plain (0.51). However, survival rates of those juveniles that lived to become adults (>14 months of age) was greater in the Gulf Coastal Plain (0.75) where permit-only hunting for spring turkey is practiced compared to the Ozark Mountains (0.21) where hunter access was unrestricted. Overall, recent changes to turkey harvest regulations have been perceived positively by Arkansas turkey hunters as they report seeing and hearing more gobbling males while hunting during the 2014 spring season. We suggest the no-jake harvest regulation was an effective management tool for improving adult male carryover and subsequently turkey hunter success and satisfaction in Arkansas.

Wednesday November 4, 2015 9:40am - 10:00am EST
Ballroom Salon A

10:00am EST

Refreshment Break
Wednesday November 4, 2015 10:00am - 10:20am EST
Windsor Corridor

10:20am EST

Contribution of Stocked Brown Trout and Rainbow Trout in Apalachia Reservoir, NC
Amanda M. Bushon, Jacob M. Rash, A. Powell Wheeler, David L. Yow –North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission

Apalachia Reservoir is a 445-ha impoundment in western North Carolina that contains suitable trout habitat year-round and Blueback Herring (Alosa aestivalis), an abundant cold-water forage base. As such, the impoundment was a good candidate for experimental put-grow-and-take trout stockings, with the potential to produce a trophy trout fishery. The objective of this four-year study was to determine the appropriate size and species of stocked trout to utilize within Apalachia Reservoir. Beginning in December 2012, the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission began stocking Brown Trout (Salmo trutta) and Rainbow Trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) at two different sizes, 255 and 356 mm mean total length (TL). All trout were marked with visible implant elastomer and coded wire tags prior to stocking to differentiate year and size classes. During 2013 and 2014 gill-net collections, recaptured Brown Trout lengths ranged from 271–585 mm TL (n=30); no Rainbow Trout were collected in gill-net samples either year. Brown Trout recaptured during 2014 and 2015 electrofishing samples ranged in length from 222–594 mm TL (n=49), while Rainbow Trout lengths ranged from 251–498 mm TL (n=98). Preliminary results suggest that Brown Trout are achieving larger sizes at faster rates than Rainbow Trout. In addition, a twelve-month creel survey began in December 2014 to assess angler catch and harvest rates of stocked trout.

Wednesday November 4, 2015 10:20am - 10:40am EST
Windsor B

10:20am EST

Feral Swine Damage Management vs. Population Control (Measuring Performance)
Rod Pinkston, JAGER PRO

According to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Wildlife Services (WS), the definition of Integrated Wildlife Damage Management (IWDM) is “the integration and application of all approved methods of prevention and management to reduce wildlife damage. The IWDM approach may incorporate cultural practices, habitat modification, animal behavior management, local population reduction or a combination of these approaches.” This definition implies the national focus is to reduce the damage caused by feral swine; not necessarily reduce their population. Feral pigs should not be considered as wildlife under the IWDM definition. They are an invasive species which threaten human health and safety, agriculture, natural resources, property and are a vector of diseases for humans, domestic animals and wildlife. There is no justification to incorporate cultural practices, modify habitat or manage the behavior of an invasive species. Lethal population control is the only credible option for feral swine. The JAGER PRO definition of Integrated Wild Pig Control (IWPC) is “a strategic approach using a series of innovative lethal control methods and technologies implemented in a specific sequence based on seasonal food sources. Emphasis is placed on efficient removal of the entire sounder at one time to eliminate escapes, method education and reproduction. The control strategies continually change throughout the various seasons to effectively target adaptive survivors.” This presentation will apply the elimination of 672 feral pigs within the 4,816 acre target area of the Georgia Environmental Protection Division’s 319(h) grant project to demonstrate the benefits of measuring performance to make strategic decisions and optimize mission success.

Wednesday November 4, 2015 10:20am - 10:40am EST
Ballroom Salon A

10:20am EST

The Oak Ridge Reservation: Integrated Management for a Heritage Resource
Patricia D. Parr, J. William Johnston – Advocates for the Oak Ridge Reservation

The very deliberate and secretive siting of the World War II Manhattan Project in Oak Ridge, TN resulted in a significant, though unintended, ecological resource. Today approximately 20,000 acres of fairly undeveloped land, within the 34,000 acre Oak Ridge Reservation (ORR), surround areas developed for federal mission work. With public access restricted, the land recovered from the pre-1940’s primarily agricultural land uses to become native vegetation communities, mostly hardwood forests. The ORR is unique and valuable within the region as the largest contiguous protected land ownership in the southern Valley and Ridge Physiographic Province. Management of ORR forests and associated ecosystems has evolved considerably over the past 70+ years. Building on past achievements in erosion control and timber marketing as early goals to current ones of managing a diverse, healthy forest ecosystem in support of Department of Energy research, sequestration of carbon, and other federal missions has widened the vision for management of the forest and created new opportunities. The overall goal of forest management for the ORR is to manage the forest resources of the ORR in support of current and potential future missions, while maintaining forest health, adaptability, and diversity. Present federal missions include operation of research, development, and production for national security efforts; research and development in support of national energy initiatives; and environmental restoration to address legacies of past research, development, and production activities. Additionally, compelling history combined with the significant biological resources provides the framework for creating the new Manhattan National Historic Park.

Wednesday November 4, 2015 10:20am - 10:40am EST
Ballroom Salon B

10:30am EST

The Role of the SE Climate Science Center in supporting the development and early roll out of SECAS
Gerard McMahon, Department of Interior SE Climate Science Center

Wednesday November 4, 2015 10:30am - 10:40am EST
Ballroom Salon C

10:30am EST

10:40am EST

Managing Change in the Southeast: Implications of Climatic and Land Use Changes for Conservation Goals and Adaptation Responses
Bruce Stein, National Wildlife Federation; Kirstin Dow, University of South Carolina

Wednesday November 4, 2015 10:40am - 10:55am EST
Ballroom Salon C

10:40am EST

Brown Trout Population Response to Trophy Regulations and Reservoir Discharge in a Large, Southeastern U.S. Tailwater
David P. Dreves, Jeff R. Ross -Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources; Jarrad T. Kosa, U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Reservoir tailwaters can be an important resource for developing quality trout fisheries, especially when managed with special regulations. The objective of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of a 508 mm minimum length limit and a one-fish-per-day creel limit on improving the size structure of the brown trout Salmo trutta population in the Cumberland River below Lake Cumberland, Kentucky. The purpose of the new regulations, which did not include gear or bait restrictions, was to increase the numbers of quality (381-507 mm total length) and trophy-size (≥ 508 mm total length) brown trout in the 121 km tailwater. A significant increase in brown trout electrofishing catch per unit effort was observed across years for small (< 381 mm), quality, trophy-size trout, and all sizes combined. As brown trout electrofishing and angler catch rates increased over time, no corresponding decrease in growth or condition was observed. Annual reservoir discharge was positively correlated with warmer water temperatures and lower dissolved oxygen in the tailwater. Growth and condition of brown trout in the tailwater were inversely correlated with annual discharge from the reservoir. The trophy regulations resulted in an increase in abundance and larger sizes of brown trout in the tailwater without any observed negative density-dependent impacts.

Wednesday November 4, 2015 10:40am - 11:00am EST
Windsor B

10:40am EST

Building a Southeast At-Risk Species Data Coordination Program
Edward J. Laurent, Connecting Conservation; Becky Gwynn, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries

Many species were recently petitioned to be federally listed as Threatened or Endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act, and it is likely that many more species will be in the near future. In order to assist the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) in determining whether the petitions are warranted, the Wildlife Diversity Committee of the Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies has established a Southeast At-Risk Species (SEARS) Data Coordination Program. This major undertaking seeks to “crowdsource” knowledge and data about petitioned species, whereby subject matter experts are requested to participate in compiling information needed for the species assessment process. We are establishing groups for each species on the Griffin Groups collaboration platform (https://griffingroups.com) that focus on filling in sections of a document containing descriptions, with citations, of the species’ life history and status, links to tables describing threats and actions, a registry of research and monitoring projects, links to recommended data collection protocols, as well as data repositories that contain historical observations. These crowdsourced products will then be used by the USFWS for assessing the petitions, as well as for capacity and needs assessments to determine additional ways to improve the efficiency and comprehensiveness of the assessment process. More information and a list of species groups is here: https://griffingroups.com/drive/view/302106

Wednesday November 4, 2015 10:40am - 11:00am EST
Ballroom Salon B

10:40am EST

Human-Wildlife Conflict: An Agency Approach to an Emerging Issue
Alexander Gulde, Catherine Kennedy –Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

Human-wildlife conflict resolution and mitigation has become a top priority for fish and wildlife agencies. Constituents often demand rapid response and assistance from agency personnel in resolving conflict situations with wildlife. Florida has experienced a constant increase in calls for assistance from the public over the last 10 years, and has begun the process of transitioning from being merely reactive to conflict situations to engaging proactively on human-wildlife conflict issues. This ongoing process includes organizational changes, allocation of staff and fiscal resources, and declaring human-wildlife conflict one of the agency's strategic planning priorities. The FWC’s goal is to implement an integrated programmatic approach across the agency to minimize adverse impacts associated with native and non-native fish, wildlife and plants. Successful efforts should minimize human health and safety, environmental, social and economic impacts. This presentation details the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's approach to human-wildlife conflict mitigation and resolution from the perspective of the FWC's organizational setup and strategic planning efforts, and how the agency integrates human dimensions of wildlife research into its strategies. It will address the challenges associated with developing comprehensive approaches to conflict situations and discuss some specific steps the agency is taking to reach its goal.

Wednesday November 4, 2015 10:40am - 11:00am EST
Ballroom Salon A

10:55am EST

11:00am EST

Trout Population Monitoring within Nantahala River Bypass Reach, Macon and Swain Counties, North Carolina, in Response to Recreational Flow Releases
Amanda M. Bushon, Jacob M. Rash, Christopher J. Goudreau –North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission

Recreational flow releases were established within Nantahala River Bypass Reach through the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission relicensing of Duke Energy’s Nantahala Project. In 2012–2013, the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, in conjunction with other resource managers, attempted to monitor the influence of recreational flow events on wild trout populations within Nantahala River Bypass Reach and Nantahala Tailwater. Monitoring included temperature loggers, fish population sampling, and fish held in live cages during the flow events. Temperature effects of release events were most pronounced during late summer and fall releases. Densities and standing crop estimates of adult wild trout did not vary substantially among the sample dates; however, age-0 Rainbow Trout were not present during the last sample date at either site. Short-term effects of the releases were not apparent in fish held in live cages. Although recreational releases have the potential to affect wild trout populations, stocking trout in the bypass reach remains a viable management approach.

Wednesday November 4, 2015 11:00am - 11:20am EST
Windsor B

11:00am EST

Florida’s Wildlife Assistance Program: Addressing, Mitigating, and Preventing Human-Wildlife Conflict
Catherine Kennedy, Alexander Gulde –Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC)

Human-wildlife conflict management is a pivotal issue currently on the forefront of wildlife conservation. Successful conservation campaigns result in rebounding faunal populations which are in turn faced with unprecedented pressure from human presence and resource competition. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC) Wildlife Impact Management Section employs seven full-time biologists who assist the public with an increasing volume of wildlife conflict complaints by providing technical assistance over the phone and coordinating field response to both native and non-native conflict wildlife situations. The Wildlife Assistance Program fosters continued public support for conservation by helping people understand local ecology and species life history within a framework of conflict mitigation and responding as necessary to maintain public safety as well as prevent, when possible, the establishment of invasive populations. Call data is newly being assessed on a landscape level to identify patterns of seasonal habitat use by wildlife and allow FWC biologists to proactively address recurring conflicts, reducing dissatisfaction with wildlife presence in order to achieve peaceful coexistence. These data will provide a framework to allow the design, development, and implementation of effective long-term campaigns that promote statewide conservation and coexistence with Florida’s wildlife to preserve and protect natural, native populations.

Wednesday November 4, 2015 11:00am - 11:20am EST
Ballroom Salon A

11:00am EST

The emergence of large scale conservation from wildlife corridors to climate adaptation
Gary M. Tabor, Center for Large Landscape Conservation

Given the growing impacts of climate change, and the needs of seven billion people on the planet and their cumulative influence on nature, large scale conservation is emerging as a new conservation approach. And surprisingly this large scale response is often driven by bottom up collaborative approaches. Another surprise is that the growth of this sector is happening at an exponential rate.  In 1994, I helped co-found one of the first large scale conservation efforts known as Yellowstone to Yukon; today there are over 250 self-identified large landscape efforts in North America and there are an equal number emerging around the globe -- and similarly for large scale seascape efforts.  In addition we are seeing more regional state, provincial and federal large scale initiatives in the U.S. and Canada from the Western Governors Association's wildlife corridor initiative to the Landscape Conservation Cooperatives.  This talk will survey the opportunities presented by this new paradigm for conservation.

Wednesday November 4, 2015 11:00am - 11:20am EST
Ballroom Salon B

11:05am EST

The South Atlantic Conservation Blueprint: From Planning to Action
Hilary Morris, South Atlantic Landscape Conservation Cooperative

Wednesday November 4, 2015 11:05am - 11:15am EST
Ballroom Salon C

11:05am EST

11:15am EST

11:20am EST

Bridgewater Tailrace, NC: Historical and Contemporary Approaches to Managing a Quality Trout Fishery
C. Wood, D. Goodfred, J. Rash, D. Besler –North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission

Bridgewater Tailrace is a 29-km waterway extending from Lake James to Lake Rhodhiss in western North Carolina. An 18-km reach is classified as Special Regulation Trout Waters by the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC) and managed as a put-grow-and-take trout fishery. This reach was stocked each spring from 1996–2008 with 25,000–50,000 fingerling (25–75 mm total length) Brown Trout (Salmo trutta) in an effort to establish a high-quality tailrace fishery. Early results suggested stocking efforts were successful; however, subsequent evaluations from 2003–2009 demonstrated recruitment of stocked fish was highly variable and negatively correlated to water temperature. Recent upgrades to Bridgewater Hydro Station led to a new stocking approach by NCWRC that may ameliorate historical issues. In 2012, the NCWRC initiated a five-year study to evaluate annual stockings of 10,000 advanced fingerling (200–255 mm total length) Brown Trout. Fish were marked with coded wire tags and stocked during late fall after the threat of elevated water temperatures. Preliminary results from 2012–2015 suggest the fishery is improving: catch-per-unit-effort (CPUE; fish/hour) increased and percent contribution of stocked fish is high and consistent among survey years. Four year classes of stocked Brown Trout occur within the fishery; however, age structures indicate elevated mortality between ages one and two. Additionally, CPUE of stocked age-one Brown Trout declined between spring and fall samples within a single year, suggesting elevated temperatures during late summer and early fall continue to impede recruitment into the fishery.

Wednesday November 4, 2015 11:20am - 11:40am EST
Windsor B

11:20am EST

Conservation Planning Atlas: Connecting Conservation Practitioners to Large Landscape Data
Kristine O. Evans, Gulf Coastal Plains and Ozarks Landscape Conservation Cooperative, Geosystems Research Institute, Mississippi State University; Blair E. Tirpak, Gulf Coast Prairie Landscape Conservation Cooperative, U. S. Geological Survey, National Wetlands Research Center; Amy Keister, South Atlantic Landscape Conservation Cooperative, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; Ed Laurent, Connecting Conservation; Yvonne Allen, Gulf Coastal Plains and Ozarks Landscape Conservation Cooperative, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; K. Gregg Elliott, Gulf Coastal Plains and Ozarks Landscape Conservation Cooperative, K. Gregg Consulting, Inc.

Modern advances in technology are rapidly producing high-resolution geospatial data products that have fueled the ability to incorporate broader landscape contexts into conservation planning. However, valuable geospatial data products often fail to reach the hands of local conservation practitioners, potentially leading to decisions made in the absence of quality scientific information. Conservation Planning Atlases (CPA) are free, publicly available, online mapping environments built upon the Conservation Biology Institute’s DataBasin platform and developed specifically to deliver cutting-edge geospatial science products to managers and decision makers. CPAs provide an easy-to-navigate web forum developed to discover, download, and upload geospatial data; build, save and export multi-layer maps; and work collaboratively in conservation planning with built-in group capacity. CPAs are valuable tools for conservation practitioners who cannot access a GIS system or have limited resources to learn a full GIS. They also provide a valuable geospatial clearinghouse for GIS practitioners, and collaboration platform for local and large-scale group conservation planning. We present case studies of decision support tools from four Southeastern CPAs (Gulf Coastal Plains and Ozarks LCC [http://gcpolcc.databasin.org/]; Gulf Coast Prairie LCC [http://gcplcc.databasin.org/]; South Atlantic LCC [http://salcc.databasin.org/]; Southeast Region [http://seregion.databasin.org/]). These include alligator gar habitat suitability and inundation frequency in the Mississippi Alluvial Valley, mottled duck coastal habitat assessment in Louisiana and Texas, conservation blueprint progress in the South Atlantic, and use of CPAs for development of a comprehensive regional Southeast Conservation Adaptation Strategy (SECAS). Science delivery tools like CPAs increase efficiency and effectiveness in incorporating large landscape conservation into local management decisions.

Wednesday November 4, 2015 11:20am - 11:40am EST
Ballroom Salon B

11:20am EST

North Carolina Wildlife Damage Control Agent Customer Survey
Merril Cook, Daron Barnes, Brad Gunn, Kerry Linehan -North Carolina Wildlife Resource Commission

The Wildlife Damage Control Agent (WDCA) Program was established in 1995 to provide North Carolina citizens direct assistance with wildlife caused problems; provide public officials assistance with wildlife damage demands; provide income opportunities for citizens; and to assure that private citizens engaged in nuisance wildlife control are aware of relevant laws and approved methods of wildlife handling. To evaluate the success of the WDCAs’ performance, we conducted a statewide survey during late summer and fall of 2013, examining the views and opinions of 3,337 WDCA customers. Our questions focused on a brief description of the situation, the initial contact with the WDCA, the methods the WDCA explained and used, and the satisfaction with the WDCA’s service. Of those who responded (n=845; 29%), most customers indicated that they were satisfied with the services provided by the WDCA; many finding the agent prepared, knowledgeable, and timely relative to job completion. Additionally, customers indicated the WDCAs were respectful, polite, and responsive to follow ups or further issues. The survey provided insights to the success of the program and the impression left with the WDCA customer, which can be used to further relationships between the NCWRC, WDCAs, and WDCA customers. By gathering the opinions of the WDCA customer, we are able to expose and address potential gaps in professionalism, management practices, and work ethics. Management implications can improve technical guidance in training courses, the WDCAs’ understanding their role to the general public, and avenues the Commission uses to provide information to the general public.

Wednesday November 4, 2015 11:20am - 11:40am EST
Ballroom Salon A

11:35am EST

11:40am EST

Use of Trail Cameras to Assess Angler Use on Two Wild Trout Streams in Wilkes County, North Carolina
Kevin J. Hining, Jacob M. Rash – North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission

Wednesday November 4, 2015 11:40am - 12:00pm EST
Windsor B

11:40am EST

Wildlife in the Cloud: Using Technology to Enhance Human-Wildlife Conflict Management
Sarah Barrett, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) experienced an increase in the number of human-wildlife conflict calls from the public over the last few decades. Several species programs adopted individual electronic databases to better track the increasing reports. As technology quickly advanced over the last several years and human-wildlife call volume increased, the programs outgrew their existing individual databases. Therefore, FWC adopted a new, multi-species Wildlife Incident Management System (WIMS) that uses an out-of-the-box, cloud based solution, Salesforce, that was modified to FWC requirements using outside vendors. This solution has allowed programs to combine resources to obtain a superior single product that also incorporates many species that were not previously being tracked. This database allows the Office of Information Technology to focus its resources on a single program verses numerous databases that use different programming. The new system has many features that have streamlined staffs’ duties. WIMS maintains caller contact information in one place allowing staff to see all related interactions with the resident, regardless of species. Built in mapping allows staff to see emerging trends and visualize events over defined distances or time. Previously manual tasks are now automated allowing staff to identify appropriate contracted trappers and electronically assign work orders. Trappers can update results from the field through a ‘self-service portal’ feature. The system is flexible and can grow as new species programs are incorporated. It is an efficient and comprehensive approach to collecting, managing, and analyzing human-wildlife conflict information, while providing excellent customer service.

Wednesday November 4, 2015 11:40am - 12:00pm EST
Ballroom Salon A