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Systematic conservation planning, a widely used approach to identify priority lands and waters, uses efficient, defensible, and transparent methods aimed at conserving biodiversity and ecological systems. Limited financial resources and competing land uses can be major impediments to conservation; therefore, participation of diverse stakeholders in the planning process is advantageous to help address broad-scale threats and challenges of the 21st century. Although a broad extent is needed to identify core areas and corridors for fish and wildlife populations, a fine-scale resolution is needed to manage for multiple, interconnected ecosystems. Here, we developed a conservation plan using a systematic approach to...
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Habitat has changed unfavorably during the past 150 y for the desert tortoise Gopherus agassizii, a federally threatened species with declining populations in the Mojave Desert and western Sonoran Desert. To support recovery efforts, we synthesized published information on relationships of desert tortoises with three habitat features (cover sites, forage, and soil) and candidate management practices for improving these features for tortoises. In addition to their role in soil health and facilitating recruitment of annual forage plants, shrubs are used by desert tortoises for cover and as sites for burrows. Outplanting greenhouse-grown seedlings, protected from herbivory, has successfully restored (>50% survival)...
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The Aleutian shield fern Polystichum aleuticum is endemic to the Aleutian archipelago of Alaska and is listed as endangered pursuant to the U.S. Endangered Species Act. Despite numerous efforts to discover new populations of this species, only four known populations are documented to date, and information is needed to prioritize locations for future surveys. Therefore, we incorporated topographical habitat characteristics (elevation, slope, aspect, distance from coastline, and anthropogenic footprint) found at known Aleutian shield fern locations into a Geographical Information System (GIS) model to create a habitat suitability map for the entirety of the Andreaonof Islands. A total of 18 islands contained 489.26...
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Interstitial water temperature within spawning habitats of salmonids may differ from surface-water temperature depending on intragravel flow paths, geomorphic setting, or presence of groundwater. Because survival and developmental timing of salmon are partly controlled by temperature, monitoring temperature within gravels used by spawning salmonids is required to adequately describe the environment experienced by incubating eggs and embryos. Here we describe a simple method of deploying electronic data loggers within gravel substrates with minimal alteration of the natural gravel structure and composition. Using data collected in spawning sites used by summer and fall chum salmon Oncorhynchus keta from two streams...
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Reserve design is a process that can address ecological, social, and political factors to identify parcels of land needed to sustain wildlife populations and other natural resources. Acquisition of parcels for a large terrestrial reserve is difficult because it typically occurs over a long timeframe and thus invokes consideration of future conditions such as climate and urbanization changes. In central Florida, a new protected area, the Everglades Headwaters National Wildlife Refuge, has been authorized by the United States Government. The new refuge will host important threatened and endangered species and habitats, as well as be located to allow for species adaptation from climate change impacts. For this study...
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Northern pintail Anas acuta (hereafter, pintail) populations have declined substantially throughout the western US since the 1970s, largely as a result of converting wetlands to cropland. Managed wetlands have been developed throughout the San Francisco Bay estuaries to provide wildlife habitat, particularly for waterfowl. Many of these areas were historically tidal baylands and plans are underway to remove dikes and restore tidal action. The relationship between tidal baylands and waterfowl populations is poorly understood. Our objective was to provide information on selection and avoidance of managed and tidal marshland by pintails. During 1991–1993 and 1998–2000, we radio-marked and relocated 330 female pintails...
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Recent records of mountain lions Puma concolor and concurrent declines in desert bighorn sheep Ovis canadensis mexicana on Kofa National Wildlife Refuge in Arizona, United States, have prompted investigations to estimate the number of mountain lions occurring there. We performed noninvasive genetic analyses and identified species, individuals, and sex from scat samples collected from the Kofa and Castle Dome Mountains. From 105 scats collected, we identified a minimum of 11 individual mountain lions. These individuals consisted of six males, two females and three of unknown sex. Three of the 11 mountain lions were identified multiple times over the study period. These estimates supplement previously recorded information...
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We used satellite telemetry to study autumn migration timing, routes, stopover duration, and final destinations of mallards Anas platyrhynchos captured the previous spring in Arkansas from 2004 to 2007. Of those mallards that still had functioning transmitters on September 15 (n  =  55), the average date when autumn migration began was October 23 (SE  =  2.62 d; range  =  September 17–December 7). For those mallards that stopped for >1 d during migration, the average stopover length was 15.4 d (SE  =  1.47 d). Ten mallards migrated nonstop to wintering sites. The eastern Dakotas were a heavily utilized stopover area. The total distance migrated per mallard averaged 1,407 km (SE  =  89.55 km; range  =  142–2,947...
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In coastal South Carolina, many wetlands are impounded and managed as migratory waterfowl habitat. Impoundment effects on fish production and habitat quality largely are unknown. We used the size-frequency method to estimate summer production of fish guilds in three impoundments along the Combahee River, South Carolina. We predicted that guild-specific production would vary with impoundment salinity, which ranged from 3 to 21 practical salinity units. We expected that marine species that use the estuary as nursery habitat would have greatest production in the impoundment with the highest salinity regime, and that species that inhabit the upper reaches of the estuary would have greatest production in the impoundment...
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Within the U.S. portion of the Central Flyway, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service manages waterfowl on numerous individual units (i.e., Refuges) within the National Wildlife Refuge System. Presently, the extent of waterfowl use that Refuges receive and the contribution of Refuges to waterfowl populations (i.e., the proportion of the Central Flyway population registered at each Refuge) remain unassessed. Such an evaluation would help determine to what extent Refuges support waterfowl relative to stated targets, aid in identifying species requiring management attention, inform management targets, and improve fiscal efficiencies. Using historic monitoring data (1954–2008), we performed this assessment for 23 Refuges...
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Mead's milkweed Asclepias meadii, a long-lived perennial herb of tallgrass prairie and glade communities of the central United States, is a species designated as threatened under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. Challenges to its successful management include the facts that much about its life history is unknown, its age at reproductive maturity is very advanced, certain life stages are practically unobservable, its productivity is responsive to unpredictable environmental events, and most of the known populations occur on private lands unprotected by any legal conservation instrument. One critical source of biological uncertainty is the degree to which fire promotes growth and reproductive response in the plant....
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A common strategy for recovering endangered species is ensuring that populations exceed the minimum viable population size (MVP), a demographic benchmark that theoretically ensures low long-term extinction risk. One method of establishing MVP is population viability analysis, a modeling technique that simulates population trajectories and forecasts extinction risk based on a series of biological, environmental, and management assumptions. Such models also help identify key uncertainties that have a large influence on extinction risk. We used stochastic count-based simulation models to explore extinction risk, MVP, and the possible benefits of alternative management strategies in populations of Roanoke logperch Percina...
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The bull trout Salvelinus confluentus, a stream-living salmonid distributed in drainages of the northwestern United States, is listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act because of rangewide declines. One proposed recovery action is the reconnection of tributaries in the Lemhi Basin. Past water use policies in this core area disconnected headwater spawning sites from downstream habitat and have led to the loss of migratory life history forms. We developed an adaptive management framework to analyze which types of streams should be prioritized for reconnection under a proposed Habitat Conservation Plan. We developed a Stochastic Dynamic Program that identified optimal policies over time under four different...
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Many National Wildlife Refuges (Refuges) have impaired water quality resulting from historic and current land uses, upstream sources, and aerial pollutant deposition. Competing duties limit the time available for Refuge staff to identify and evaluate potential water quality issues. As a result, water quality–related issues may not be resolved until a problem has already arisen. This study developed a geospatial approach for identifying and prioritizing water quality issues affecting natural resources (including migratory birds and federally listed species) within Refuge boundaries. We assessed the location and status of streams pursuant to the Clean Water Act in relation to individual Refuges in Oregon and Washington,...
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Multibeam imaging sonars have considerable potential for use in fisheries surveys because the video-like images are easy to interpret, and they contain information about fish size, shape, and swimming behavior, as well as characteristics of occupied habitats. We examined images obtained using a dual-frequency identification sonar (DIDSON) multibeam sonar for Atlantic sturgeon Acipenser oxyrinchus oxyrinchus, striped bass Morone saxatilis, white perch M. americana, and channel catfish Ictalurus punctatus of known size (20–141 cm) to determine the reliability of length estimates. For ranges up to 11 m, percent measurement error (sonar estimate – total length)/total length × 100 varied by species but was not related...
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The Landscape Conservation Cooperatives (LCCs) are a network of partnerships throughout North America that are tasked with integrating science and management to support more effective delivery of conservation at a landscape scale. In order to achieve this integration, some LCCs have adopted the approach of providing their partners with better scientific information in an effort to facilitate more effective and coordinated conservation decisions. Taking this approach has led many LCCs to begin funding research to provide the information for improved decision making. To ensure that funding goes to research projects with the highest likelihood of leading to more integrated broad scale conservation, some LCCs have also...
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Ethical treatment of research animals is required under the Animal Welfare Act. This includes trapping methodologies that reduce unnecessary pain and duress. Traps used in research should optimize animal welfare conditions within the context of the proposed research study. Several trapping techniques are used in the study of lesser prairie-chickens, despite lack of knowledge of trap injury caused by the various methods. From 2006 to 2012, we captured 217, 40, and 144 lesser prairie-chickens Tympanuchus pallidicinctus using walk-in funnel traps, rocket nets, and drop nets, respectively, in New Mexico and Texas, to assess the effects of capture technique on injury and survival of the species. We monitored radiotagged,...
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We conducted the first systematic inventory of birds in the lowlands (areas ≤100 m above sea level) of the Alaska Peninsula during summers of 2004–2007 to determine their breeding distributions and habitat associations in this remote region. Using a stratified random survey design, we allocated sample plots by elevation and land cover with a preference for wetland cover types used by shorebirds, a group of particular interest to land managers. We surveyed birds during 10-min counts at 792 points across 52, 5 km × 5 km sample plots distributed from south of the Naknek River (58.70°N,157.00°W) to north of Port Moller (56.00°N,160.52°W). We detected 95 bird species including 19 species of shorebirds and 34 species...
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Freshwater mussels (Unionidae) are among the most imperiled groups of organisms in the world, and the lack of information regarding species distributions, life-history characteristics, and ecological and biological requirements may limit the protection of remaining mussel populations. We examined the influence of hydrologic factors on the occurrence of the Suwannee Moccasinshell Medionidus walkeri, a federally threatened freshwater mussel species, endemic to the Suwannee River Basin in Georgia and Florida. We also evaluated the influence of survey effort on detection of Suwannee Moccasinshell during field surveys. We compiled all recent (2013–2016) mussel survey records in the Suwannee River Basin. We calculated...
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Sightings of the now-feared-extinct ivory-billed woodpecker Campephilus principalis in 2004 in the Big Woods of Arkansas initiated a series of studies on how to best manage habitat for this endangered species as well as all woodpeckers in the area. Previous work suggested that densities of other woodpeckers, particularly pileated Dryocopus pileatus and red-bellied Melanerpes carolinus woodpeckers, might be useful in characterizing habitat use by the ivory-billed woodpecker. We estimated densities of six woodpecker species in the Big Woods during the breeding seasons of 2006 and 2007 and also during the winter season of 2007. Our estimated densities were as high as or higher than previously published woodpecker density...