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Mortalities of Florida manatees (Trichechus manatus latirostris) have significantly increased this winter, especially along the East Coast of Florida, leading to the declaration of an Unusual Mortality Event (UME). Carcasses are exhibiting signs of starvation, related to a lack of food resources from persistent algal blooms and cold stress. These conditions are expected to continue through at least next winter. We will perform health assessments with our partners and attach GPS telemetry tags for current information on habitat use. We will perform habitat surveys at sites used by manatees, determine available species composition and extent, and collect data to inform carrying capacity estimation. Specific objectives...
Categories: Project; Tags: 2022, LCC, SSP-QR FWSR4
The ACF basin, from headwaters in north Georgia, to the Apalachicola Bay and estuary, is a focal geography in the Southeast and provides habitat to a diversity of species, including over 30 federally-listed T&E species, and over 30 species proposed for ESA listing, cross-taxa. Allocation of water for multiple uses in the ACF basin has been contentious for decades (e.g., FL v. GA, SCOTUS ruling issued 27 June 2018. A 4.5 day structured decision making (SDM) workshop with experienced SDM coaches is a necessary component to further ongoing adaptive management (AM) processes in the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint (ACF) River Basin.
Lake Sturgeon reintroduction efforts in the Coosa River began 20 years ago. Research conducted 3-5 years after the first stocking occurred indicated that recruits from each year class were surviving and growing. However, total survival of initial stockings was low, and few Lake Sturgeon have been collected by Georgia DNR in subsequent years. Only 88 Lake Sturgeon have been captured since 2008 from over 313,000 fry that have been collectively stocked into the system. This project will inform fisheries managers on the overall success of the reintroduction program by estimating the total population size, determining survival rates, characterizing the age structure, quantifying growth and condition, determining habitat...
Categories: Project; Tags: 2022, LCC, SSP-QR FWSR4
In the eastern portion of its range (east of the Mobile and Tombigbee Rivers in Alabama, Georgia, Florida, and South Carolina), the gopher tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus) is a Candidate species for federal listing as a Threatened species by the USFWS. There is a gap in knowledge of tortoise population structure and habitat use in coastal areas particularly along barrier islands, which may impact the listing decision. This proposed project would help fill that gap by conducting line-transect surveys for tortoise burrows, assessing fine-scale habitat use through radio-telemetry and determining population connectivity through genetic analyses. The objectives of the study are: 1. Identifying habitats used by gopher...
Native freshwater mussels of the family Unionidae are experiencing high imperilment status due to habitat alteration and destruction, pollution and poor water quality, and the introduction of aquatic invasive species. The Southeastern, Mid-Atlantic, and Midwestern regions of the United States contain the greatest biodiversity of native freshwater mussels in the world and are now at even greater risk from the continued stresses of human-mediated changes to the landscape through urban and rural development, mining activities, climate change, nutrient influx and their associated impacts to water and sediment quality. The specific objectives of this study are to (1) Compare the relative sensitivity of early life stages...
With the onset and advance of whitenose syndrome (WNS) across USFWS Regions 2-6 managers realized that then current Indiana bat presence and absence survey guidelines were likely insufficient due to population declines. The objectives of this study are: 1. Continue to test automated bat identification software following USFWS and USGS jointlydeveloped protocols and standards as submitted to USFWS over the study period and report findings 2. Establish and operate zero-crossing, frequency division survey sites in representative upland, riparian and field-edge habitat in areas with recent past (since advent of WNS) or currently known Indiana bat maternity colonies in KY, TN, VA, IN and NY. 3. Establish and operate...
States within the south Atlantic region of the United States contain a high density of wetlands important to waterfowl and other waterbirds. Managed tidal impoundments in the region are likely one of the most important available habitat types for focal species such as the mottled duck (Anas fulvigula) and eastern black rail (Laterallus jamaicensis). However, concern exists about eventual loss or possible decommissioning of coastal manage impoundments because of sea-level rise and tropical-storm induced flooding that impedes managers from implementing effective waterfowl management strategies. Thus, landscape-scale research is needed in the south Atlantic region to obtain estimates of food abundance in a variety...
Categories: Project; Tags: 2022, LCC, SSP-QR FWSR4
The Black Rail (Laterallus jamaicensis) is the most secretive of the secretive marsh birds and one of the least understood bird species in North America. The Eastern Black Rail (L. j. jamaicensis) is listed as endangered in five states along the Atlantic Coast and is under review for federal listing. Historical population size was likely in the tens of thousands but is now believed to be in the hundreds or low thousands (Watts 2016). Within the United States, Eastern Black Rails breed within three general geographic areas within the United States - the Atlantic Coast, the Gulf Coast and the Midwest-Great Plains. The Atlantic Coast has generally been considered to support the largest breeding population throughout...
The Black-capped Petrel is globally endangered with a breeding population estimated at ~1,000 pairs. The only confirmed breeding areas are located on Hispaniola in mountainous areas 1,500 – 2,000 m above sea level. Petrels nest in the thick and mesic understory and excavate burrows. Threats include habitat disruption driven by anthropogenic activities. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service predicted that the two major breeding areas on Hispaniola are likely to face extirpation by 2070 and, if no additional nest sites are found, this would represent a potential loss of up to 85-95% of the currently known breeding population. Two recent events appear to have substantially impacted nesting activity and breeding success...
Categories: Project; Tags: 2022, LCC, SSP-QR FWSR4
Invasive wild pigs pose an existential threat to the protection, management, and restoration of Federal trust resources throughout much of the Southeastern US. Long-term studies of wild pig impacts to plants, animals, and the ecosystem functions that support them are lacking and are needed to inform management strategies and direct efforts at resources most at risk of adverse impacts. This study is one component of a longer-term, collaborative ecosystem services assessment by the project team to estimate wild pig impacts to the quantity and value of ecosystem services. Our findings will be used to estimate the benefits of baseline and intensified pig removal. Although we are using the South Arkansas NWR Complex...
Categories: Project; Tags: 2022, LCC, SSP-QR FWSR4
Yellowcheek Darter (Etheostoma moorei) is a fish endemic to the Little Red River watershed in Arkansas (Fig. 1). As a result of threats, geographic isolation and declining abundance, the species was listed as endangered in 2011. Populations have declined, in part, due to intense seasonal stream drying and inundation of lower stream reaches (Fig. 1). It is hypothesized that in headwater streams where periodic drying is common, habitat selection influences Yellowcheek Darter distribution and abundance. Seasonal drought is typical in this region, and as drying occurs, individuals must move from riffles into neighboring pools, move into the hyporheic zone, migrate large distances to a persistent riffle, or perish. It...
Managing and restoring salt marshes and mangroves requires standardized data that show which areas are most vulnerable to sea-level rise and other factors. The unvegetated-vegetated marsh ratio (UVVR) is a standard measurement that can identify areas that may be deteriorating and losing vegetation. In the southeast region of the FWS, other data identify how these areas have been keeping up vertically with sea-level rise, through SET measurements. These two measurements cover lateral (UVVR) and vertical (SET) processes, but have not been compared in detail. Our objectives are to 1) use the UVVR to calculate the distribution of vulnerable wetlands and 2) compare those distributions with trends from the SET measurements....
Categories: Project; Tags: 2022, LCC, SSP-QR FWSR4
Much of the focus of Red Knot research and conservation over the past twenty years has largely focused on just a few sites along the Atlantic flyway, primarily in the mid-Atlantic region. The major cause of the Red Knot population decline in the 1990’s through 2003 was mostly attributed to declining horseshoe crab numbers in Delaware Bay due to their overharvest for the commercial bait industry. Substantial focus has been placed on improving horseshoe crab populations through better horseshoe crab management in the Delaware Bay region and on improving horseshoe crab and shorebird habitat in Delaware Bay. This work has likely halted the decline in the numbers of Red Knots passing through Delaware Bay: populations...
Categories: Project; Tags: 2019, LCC, SSP-QR FWSR4
The overarching goal of this project is to evaluate the FWS and State of Florida condition that requires beach tilling (to a depth of 3 feet) three years post-beach nourishment (and restoration) projects because of the perceived threat of sand compaction to nesting sea turtles and incubating sea turtle clutches. The FWS mandates this requirement throughout all southeastern states and FWC mandates it throughout Florida. This requirement, based on anecdotal data along Atlantic Florida beaches, guides our intent to target northern Gulf of Mexico beaches, to include Northwest Florida initially. At the request of the FWS, we propose to investigate if removal of this requirement will be detrimental, maintain or improve...
Categories: Project; Tags: 2022, LCC, SSP-QR FWSR4
Nile monitors (Varanus niloticus), a large carnivorous lizard, are established in the C-51 Basin in Palm Beach County in close proximity to the Artur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge (Lox NWR, Figure 1). They were first sighted in 2007 and breeding was confirmed in 2011 (Ketterlin-Eckles et al. 2017). They have been confirmed as far east as I-95 along the C-51 and west to within 2 kilometers of Stormwater Treatment Area (STA) 1E. Nile Monitors are semi-aquatic habitat generalists and in their native range of sub-Saharan Africa are found in both freshwater and estuaries. In Florida, they are most often found along networks of vegetated canal banks. They are diet generalists consuming invertebrates,...
Categories: Project; Tags: 2019, LCC, SSP-QR FWSR4
This project will evaluate the resiliency of an aquatic community to a catastrophic event and the reestablishment of that community in Flat Creek above and below a potential movement barrier. Sampling methods will target life history stages of each species and the collection of habitat and geomorphic data (e.g., slope, water velocity, pool-to-pool spacing, pool depth, and channel substrate). These data will assist FWS and GDNR to evaluate (1) how quickly different aquatic guilds establish following species kills resulting from toxic pollutant spills, droughts or similar impacts; (2) which species/guilds’ re-colonization is inhibited by movement barriers; and (3) how re-colonization of this reach, where known habitat...
Categories: Project; Tags: 2019, LCC, SSP-QR FWSR4
Crayfish are considered keystone species that impact multiple aquatic trophic levels, substantially influence aquatic production through the processing of course particulate organic matter and serve as prey for more than 200 species (DiStefano 2005). Out of 571 crayfish species and subspecies worldwide, 77 percent are native to North America. Approximately 50 percent of North American crayfish are considered in need of protection, primarily due to the spread of invasive crayfish. One of these crayfish species, Faxonius marchandi (Mammoth Spring Crayfish), is a narrow-ranged endemic occurring in the Ozark Highlands of northern Arkansas and southern Missouri and is under consideration by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife...
The goal of restoring native aquatic species assemblages has remained elusive in many southeastern streams. In Alabama, the Locust Fork watershed (a Strategic Habitat Unit) includes a large percentage of Alabama’s legacy and coal mining production. Endemic species expected to occur here are largely absent whereas wide ranging species remain present. In the watershed there are eight federally listed aquatic species, including plicate rocksnail, and four at-risk species, including two at risk endemic snails (black mudalia and hispid elimia). Effects of contaminants on these listed species are poorly understood, especially for the snails. The objectives of this study are to determine effect concentrations of chemicals...
Categories: Project; Tags: 2024, CASC, SSP-QRP FWSR4