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SEAFWA 2018 has ended
The following schedule is from the 72nd Annual Conference of the Southeastern Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies which was held October 21-24, 2018 in Mobile, Alabama. 

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Saturday, October 20
 

3:00pm

4:00pm

 
Sunday, October 21
 

6:30am

8:00am

8:00am

Speaker Ready Room Open
Sunday October 21, 2018 8:00am - 5:00pm
Baypointe Suite

8:00am

8:30am

9:00am

12:00pm

12:00pm

Exhibitor Set-Up
Sunday October 21, 2018 12:00pm - 5:00pm
2nd Level Foyer

1:00pm

1:00pm

1:00pm

1:30pm

2:00pm

2:30pm

Refreshment Break
Sunday October 21, 2018 2:30pm - 3:30pm
2nd Level Foyer

3:00pm

3:00pm

3:30pm

4:00pm

Student & Professional Meet and Greet
All students are invited to attend this informal meet and greet for a briefing on all the student-related activities and quick conference breakdown. There will be time for questions and networking, as well as a “business card challenge”. The challenge for students: network with as many professionals as possible and collect their business cards. The student who collects the most will receive a prize, which will be awarded at the Student/Mentor lunch! Cash bar, and light refreshments will be available.

Sunday October 21, 2018 4:00pm - 5:00pm
Clipper

5:00pm

Women in Conservation Mixer - Sponsored by Aspira
This is a great opportunity to meet other women in the conservation field. Cash bar and light hors d'oeuvres will be served.

Sunday October 21, 2018 5:00pm - 6:00pm
Jubilee Suite

6:00pm

Welcome Reception at the USS Alabama Battleship! - Sponsored by Brandt Information Services, Inc. and National Shooting Sports Foundation
Join your colleagues and celebrate the start of the 72nd Annual SEAFWA Conference at the USS Alabama Battleship – an American warship from WWII, nicknamed “The Mighty A". Relax and mingle with old friends and make new connections. Enjoy a full buffet featuring southern favorites, as well as complimentary beer and wine. Location: 2703 Battleship Parkway, approximately 10 miles from the hotel. Shuttle transportation will be provided to and from the Renaissance beginning at 6:00pm. Last shuttle to depart from the ship will be 9:45pm.

Sunday October 21, 2018 6:00pm - 9:00pm
Offsite
 
Monday, October 22
 

7:00am

7:00am

7:00am

7:00am

Exhibits Open
Monday October 22, 2018 7:00am - 5:00pm
2nd Level Foyer

7:00am

Speaker Ready Room Open
Monday October 22, 2018 7:00am - 5:00pm
Baypointe Suite

8:00am

PLENARY SESSION
8:00AM | Opening Remarks
  • Welcome by Marianne Hudson, Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division
  • Color Guard
  • National Anthem
  • Opening Remarks by Christopher M. Blankenship, Commissioner, Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
  • Natural Biodiversity and Ecosystems of Alabama Video

9:00AM – 10:00AM | Public Attitudes Toward Fish and Wildlife Management in the Southeast
  • Mark Damian Duda, Executive Director, Responsive Management

10:00AM - 10:45AM | The Changing Face of Wildlife User Demographics
  • Charles F. Sykes, Director, Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division

11:00AM - 11:45AM | Challenges and Potential Solutions to Developing Future Wildlife Professionals
  • Dr. William D. Gulsby, Assistant Professor of Wildlife Ecology and Management, School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences, Auburn University

11:45AM - 12:00PM | Closing Remarks 

Plenary Speakers
avatar for Mark Damian Duda

Mark Damian Duda

Executive Director, Responsive Management
Mark Damian Duda is executive director of Responsive Management, a survey research firm specializing in natural resource and outdoor recreation issues. Over the past 30 years Mark has conducted over 1,000 studies on how people relate to conservation. He is the author of more than... Read More →
avatar for Dr. William D. Gulsby

Dr. William D. Gulsby

Assistant Professor of Wildlife Ecology and Management, School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences, Auburn University
Dr. Will Gulsby received his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Wildlife Ecology and Management from the University of Georgia. In 2015, he was hired as an assistant professor in the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences at Auburn University. He currently teaches or co-teaches courses in... Read More →
avatar for Charles F. Sykes

Charles F. Sykes

Director, Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division
Chuck Sykes has been the Director of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries at the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources since December 2012.  His life as always been about conservation.  From hunting and fishing in Choctaw County to his hands-on experience, time in the field... Read More →


Monday October 22, 2018 8:00am - 12:00pm
Bon Secour Bay Ballroom

8:30am

Spouse/Guest Tour - Bellingrath Gardens and The Estuarium
This tour begins with a visit to Bellingrath Gardens and Home, a creation of Coca-Cola bottling pioneer Walter Bellingrath and his wife Bessie Morse Bellingrath. We will break for a delicious, Mobile seafood lunch followed by a visit to Dauphin Island. The Estuarium in Dauphin Island is an exciting educational public aquarium highlighting habitats of coastal Alabama. NOTE: Meet in the hotel's main lobby at 8:15am. for 8:30am departure. Pre-registration required - $50 per person.

Monday October 22, 2018 8:30am - 4:00pm
Offsite

9:30am

12:00pm

Attendee Lunch on Your Own
Monday October 22, 2018 12:00pm - 1:00pm
N/A

12:00pm

12:00pm

Student/Mentor Lunch - Sponsored by Southern Division American Fisheries Society
The Student/Mentor Lunch is a great opportunity for students and fish and wildlife professionals to interact in a small group, informal setting. There is no fee for the luncheon, but you must pre-register and indicate the topics about which you are most interested (e.g., nongame conservation, outreach and education, fish and wildlife management, law enforcement, legal, IT/Licensing). Enjoy a meal and conversation about career development, transitioning from school, qualifications needed for various professions, and the realities of working in the natural resources field, among other topics. The winner of the Student Networking Challenge will be announced during the lunch.

Monday October 22, 2018 12:00pm - 1:00pm
Mobile Bay Ballroom

12:00pm

12:00pm

1:00pm

1:00pm

Wildlife Administrators Meeting
Monday October 22, 2018 1:00pm - 5:00pm
Clipper

1:20pm

Fisheries 1 Track: Stocking of Advanced-Size, Delta-Strain Largemouth Bass in Two Estuarine Creeks and a Freshwater Impoundment in Southwest Alabama
AUTHORS:  David L. Armstrong, Jr., Tommy R. Purcell – Alabama Wildlife & Freshwater Fisheries Division; Ryan Peaslee, Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries

ABSTRACT:  The Mobile-Tensaw Delta (MTD) is an 8231-ha oligohaline, tidal estuary that supports a popular largemouth bass, Micropterus salmoides, fishery. This system is productive, with an abundant bass population and above-average recruitment to age-1. Subsequently, recruitment of the 2004 year-class was poor and angler concerns peaked. We anticipated improvements in the fishery by stocking advanced-size fingerlings. Intuitively, stocking larger, older fish reared on live food should provide a competitive advantage over native fish assuming, 1) Reduced recruitment of wild competitors, 2) Size stocked fish > wild fish at stocking. As this is an expensive venture, we tested this proposal in two tidal watersheds, Byrnes Lake and Threemile Creek, and a freshwater control, Monroe County Lake which was stocked with delta bass during 1999. During, 2010-2013, a total of 16,380 advanced-size, delta-strain largemouth bass were tagged and stocked. Mean total length (mm) of sub-sampled hatchery fish ranged from 135-256 mm and were approximately 10 mo old at stocking. Recapture rates of stocked bass were low (2.2%) and varied across cohorts, ranging from 1 to 31% with age-1 fish comprising 79% of stocked recruits. Wild fish CPUE was > stocked fish across RSD groups and survival of age-1 fish was higher than stocked fish in most years. Prior to our study, wild bass recruitment improved and stocking rates were below target numbers, contributing in part to low contributions of advanced-size delta bass > age-1. Supplemental stockings should not occur where natural reproduction exceeds a certain threshold.

Monday October 22, 2018 1:20pm - 1:40pm
Bon Secour Bay I

1:20pm

SYMPOSIUM-01: Introduction to Symposium
AUTHOR: Cindy Dohner, former Southeastern Region USFWS Director

Monday October 22, 2018 1:20pm - 1:40pm
Grand Bay I

1:20pm

SYMPOSIUM-02: Evaluating Wood Duck Nest Boxes and Advancing Recruitment
AUTHORS: Paul Schmidt, Paul Schmidt Consulting for Conservation; Dr. Ernie Wiggers, Nemours Wildlife Foundation; Dr. Richard Kaminski, James C. Kennedy Waterfowl and Wetlands Center, Clemson University

ABSTRACT: Waterfowl and wildlife experts of federal, state, and non-governmental organizations, universities, and private land managers from Delaware through Florida assembled 20-22 February 2018 at Nemours Wildlife Foundation in South Carolina. The purpose of this facilitated workshop was to identify research priorities which will enhance our ability to conserve and manage habitats, species, and populations of waterfowl in the south Atlantic Flyway. Because it ranks at the top in birds harvested in many states in this region, one of the highest priority needs was to evaluate factors affecting nest site selection and recruitment of wood ducks. Likely, tens of thousands of artificial nest structures for wood ducks and other cavity nesters have been deployed across eastern North America. However, there are few studies that have adequately measured wood duck recruitment and examined the association among micro- and macro-habitat features associated with box placement and recruitment. Technology, such as Passive Integrated Transponders (PIT tags), is being used in California to examine these questions in ways not previously possible and these techniques can be applied in other regions of the wood duck range. Wood duck recruitment studies are needed to guide future placement of nest structures and possibly move existing structures to superior locations that promote recruitment. For this research to have the greatest application it should be done across multiple states and landscapes. This will require building coordinated organizational and financial partnerships and include funding through the private sector.

Monday October 22, 2018 1:20pm - 1:40pm
Grand Bay II

1:20pm

Wildlife 1 Track: Effects of Loblolly Pine Thinning Intensity on White-tailed Deer Forage and Stand Economics
AUTHORS: Kent A. Keene, William D. Gulsby – School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences; Allison G. Colter, James A. Martin – Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources; Darren A. Miller, Weyerhaeuser Company; Karl V. Miller, Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources

ABSTRACT: Planted stands of loblolly pine (Pinus taeda) represent approximately 19% of forested land in the southeastern U.S. Accordingly, public and private landowners are often challenged with managing these stands for both timber production and wildlife habitat for a variety of species, including white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus; deer). However, the tradeoffs among thinning intensity, deer forage production, and stand economics have not been quantified. Thus, we designed an operational-scale, manipulative experiment to evaluate the effects of three thinning treatments (i.e., residual basal areas of 9, 13, and 18 m2/ha), with and without prescribed fire, on percent cover and biomass of preferred deer forage and net present value (NPV) of five loblolly pine stands (36-53 hectares/stand) in Georgia’s Piedmont. We implemented thinning treatments during March-July 2017 and measured understory vegetation during July-September 2017. Overall, understory vegetation increased in all treatments in the first year following thinning, although percent cover of deer forage did not differ among 9 m2/ha (mean = 16.4, SD = 13.3), 13 m2/ha (mean = 16.6, SD = 12.2), or 18 m2/ha (mean = 18.9, SD = 13.1) treatments. During the late dormant season of 2018, we applied prescribed fire to half of each treatment unit. We expect differences in deer forage to manifest over the next two years of monitoring, during which we will also use timber growth models to compare NPV among treatments. The results of this research will assist private landowners and state agencies with timber management decisions on lands managed for multiple objectives.

Monday October 22, 2018 1:20pm - 1:40pm
Bon Secour Bay II

1:20pm

Marketing, R3 & Communications 1 Track: Partnering with the Industry in Your Community
AUTHORS:  Josh Gold, Archery Trade Association

ABSTRACT:  The pathway of a novice archer to a self-sustaining bowhunter can take years, and everyone’s path seems to be different. But what we do know is that it cannot be accomplished alone. The archery and bowhunting industry plays a crucial role in this pathway, and why not start that connection in your own backyard.ATA wants to help connect you with local and regional industry partners that will lead to more participants. Industry partners have the knowledge, equipment, and passion to assist in areas that others may not, and can play a key role along a new participants pathway to becoming a hunter.During this presentation, we will discuss successful partnerships, best practices when approaching industry partners, tools available for everyone’s use, and how these partnerships can come together to reach our end goal, creating new participants in a sport we all love. Join us for an open and ongoing discussion to make archery and bowhunting accessible to everyone, in every community.

Monday October 22, 2018 1:20pm - 2:00pm
Riverboat

1:20pm

Legal Track. Employment Law CLE
William (Bill) Lancaster, Armbrecht Jackson, LLP

Bill has earned an "AV" rating by Martindale Hubbell and been named as an Alabama "Super Lawyer" in Employment Litigation Defense in 2008, 2009 and 2015. Over the last 32+ years he has handled a variety of cases throughout the Southeast and has tried over 100 jury and non-jury cases to judgment.

Monday October 22, 2018 1:20pm - 2:20pm
Windjammer

1:20pm

1:40pm

Fisheries 1 Track: Rethinking Florida Bass Stocking as a Fishery Management Tool
AUTHORS:  John S. Hargrove, Tennessee Technological University; Mark W Rogers*, U.S. Geological Survey

ABSTRACT:  For over 50 years state management agencies throughout the United States have introduced Florida Bass (Micropterus floridanus) into populations of Largemouth Bass (M. salmoides) for the explicit purpose of altering population characteristics such as growth rates and maximum size. Associated with these efforts, significant research has been directed towards understanding how the characteristics of the recipient environment (e.g., predator density) and stocking practices (e.g., density, fish size, or timing) are likely to influence the efficacy of stocking efforts. Efforts to understand the mechanisms that produce changes in the size characteristics of stocked populations (e.g., average size, maximum size) have received less attention however. Knowledge of how the stocking of hatchery-reared Florida bass changes recipient populations is of importance in order to ensure that management efforts are successful at meeting predetermined goals while minimizing potential deleterious consequences (e.g., outbreeding depression or the loss of genetic adaptations). Our review summarizes the primary literature that has quantified changes in phenotype and genotype resulting from Florida Bass stocking efforts, identifies knowledge gaps that hinder management decisions, and provides recommendations for future research.

Monday October 22, 2018 1:40pm - 2:00pm
Bon Secour Bay I

1:40pm

SYMPOSIUM-01: Conservation Value of Private, Working Forests: The Role of Forest Management, Certification and Best Management Practices for At-risk Species
AUTHORS: T. Bently Wigley, National Council for Air and Stream Improvement, Inc.; Darren A. Miller, Weyerhaeuser Company

ABSTRACT: Privately owned, working forests, which are actively managed to produce revenue from timber production and other activities, are an important landscape feature in the southeastern United States and produce a significant proportion of the nation’s wood supply. These forests, which usually are heterogenous mosaics of forest cover types and ages, also provide clean water, recreational opportunities, carbon sequestration, habitat, and other benefits. At-risk species, such as those that have been proposed or petitioned for listing under the Endangered Species Act or that are of conservation interest for other reasons, are among the plant and animal species supported by working forests. Many at-risk species in the Southeast are associated with open-canopy pine forests and aquatic or riparian ecosystems. Open-canopy conditions are common in working pine forests due to silvicultural choices (e.g., planting density) and activities, such as forest thinning, selective herbicides to manage hardwood midstory vegetation, and prescribed fire. Forestry best management practices (BMPs), which are very effective at protecting water quality, are implemented at a high rate on working forests. Therefore, streamside management zones and stringers are common landscape features that benefit aquatic and riparian species. Under the auspices of forest certification programs, forest managers must consider biodiversity conservation, retain stand-level elements, protect sensitive ecological areas, limit final harvest unit size, plan harvests to ensure landscape heterogeneity, and protect known occurrences of at-risk species. Because of sustainable active management, working forest landscapes support a large suite of species and make important contributions to regional efforts to conserve at-risk species.

Monday October 22, 2018 1:40pm - 2:00pm
Grand Bay I

1:40pm

SYMPOSIUM-02: Managing Nest Boxes for Wood Ducks: What Have We Learned?
AUTHORS: Gary R. Hepp, School of Forestry & Wildlife Sciences, Auburn University; Robert A. Kennamer, Savannah River Ecology Laboratory

ABSTRACT: Artificial nesting structures have been used to enhance the availability of wood duck (Aix sponsa) nest sites for the last 80 years. Nest boxes have been erected in every state, and some states and private organizations have very active nest box programs. Nest boxes have been the focus of much research including the earliest work by Frank Bellrose and Art Hawkins. Using these studies, we will review the proper management of nest boxes that will include nest box design, frequency of maintenance, spacing and placement, brood parasitism, and their potential impacts on local and continental wood duck populations. Finally, with the regeneration of hardwood forests in much of eastern North America, we will address the question of whether nest boxes are still needed.

Monday October 22, 2018 1:40pm - 2:00pm
Grand Bay II

1:40pm

Wildlife 1 Track: In Search of Does: Male White-tailed Deer Exhibit Unique Movement Patterns During the Breeding Season
AUTHORS: Ashley M. Jones, Steve Demarais, Ryo Ogawa, Garrett M. Street, Bronson K. Strickland – Mississippi State University; William T. Mckinley, Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks

ABSTRACT: Mate searching strategies in male white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) have been attributed to random walks informed by olfactory cues, with little variation assumed across individuals. Recent research in the arid southwestern U.S. demonstrated repeated visitation of focal areas by 56% of bucks during the breeding season, presumably as a strategy for locating receptive does. We evaluated focal area use during the breeding season of 30 adult male deer in south eastern U.S. deciduous forests. Sixty-seven percent of mature male deer exhibited focal area use, providing evidence that the focal area search strategy persists across other portions of the white-tailed deer’s range. Understanding that different patterns in mate searching behavior exist among groups of males and that spatial memory contributes to an animal’s mating strategy could aid management and hunting efforts.

Monday October 22, 2018 1:40pm - 2:00pm
Bon Secour Bay II

2:00pm

Fisheries 1 Track: Development of a Swab Protocol for an Angler-driven Program to Promote the Genetic Assessment of Black Bass Populations
AUTHORS: Lauren E. Davis, Sarah E. Johnson, Eric Peatman – School of Fisheries, Aquaculture and Aquatic Sciences, Auburn University

ABSTRACT: Black basses (Micropterus spp.) represent some of the most highly sought after game fishes in North America. Efforts to improve recreational bass fisheries have led to the widespread stocking of black bass species, often facilitating introgressive hybridization between endemic and non-native species. Currently, most genetic sampling aimed at monitoring black bass populations is conducted using fin clips stored in ethanol. In order to expand the collection of DNA samples to hard-to-obtain specimens or subpopulations, we established a simple angler-driven protocol that includes a minimally invasive buccal swab kit and room temperature return and storage within a breathable sleeve. Here, we tested duration of swabbing (3, 5, 10 seconds), swab location (tongue, cheek), holding temperature (23°C, 35°C), storage variability (21-54°C), storage duration (1 week, 1 month, 4 months), and time between extraction and genotyping (1 week, 2 week, 3 week) to determine the best methodology for downstream DNA extraction and SNP genotyping. We also developed a rapid and inexpensive DNA extraction method to be used on buccal swab and fin clip samples. Our results indicated no significant effect of swab location, holding temperature, storage variability, or storage duration (p>0.05), demonstrating the robustness of the protocol. While longer swabbing duration increased DNA yield, it had no impact on genotyping accuracy. Anglers consistently recovered sufficient DNA for successful genotyping in pilot studies on Lake Martin and Lake Eufaula, Alabama. Our results indicate that buccal swabbing is a viable approach for applications that require engaging the angling public in genetic sample collection.

Monday October 22, 2018 2:00pm - 2:20pm
Bon Secour Bay I

2:00pm

SYMPOSIUM-01: Implementing State Agency Conservation of At-risk Species with Private Forest Owners
AUTHORS: Anna Huckabee Smith, South Carolina Department of Natural Resources

ABSTRACT: State wildlife agencies are charged with being the advocate for and the steward of the state’s natural resources. This is a daunting task, considering the vast number of plants and animals residing within a state’s borders. State agencies need to cultivate partnerships with federal agencies, land trusts, and other conservation organizations, but perhaps one of the biggest allies in conservation is private landowners. These can be in the form of individuals or corporations and businesses whose properties contain valuable habitats for native species as well as provide ecological services such as carbon sequestration and protecting water quality.Attracting landowners to partner with state agencies can be complicated as the right combination of trust and motivation must be found for it to succeed. Using South Carolina as an example, this presentation explores some of the challenges involved in garnering landowner involvement and support and shares some success stories that have been accomplished over the years. Of the total acreage of the state, 88% is in private ownership, making it uniquely suited for investigating ways to involve landowners in the conservation of federally listed, at-risk, and other priority species. Ideas for future collaborations and programs are examined based on lessons learned and new initiatives on the horizon.

Monday October 22, 2018 2:00pm - 2:20pm
Grand Bay I

2:00pm

SYMPOSIUM-02: Using Nest Boxes to Learn About and Help Manage Cavity-nesting Ducks
AUTHORS: Gary R. Hepp, School of Forestry & Wildlife Sciences, Auburn University; Robert A. Kennamer, Savannah River Ecology Laboratory

ABSTRACT: Much of what we know about the breeding ecology of cavity-nesting ducks like wood ducks has come from studies of individuals that used nest boxes. Few studies of females using natural cavities have been completed because of the difficulty in finding and accessing active nest sites. We will highlight long-term studies of nest-box populations of wood ducks that have provided important information about general nesting biology, behavioral ecology, population ecology, and demographic parameters like survival and recruitment. Nest boxes that are accessible can be checked often to monitor nesting activities, nest success, and to capture and band breeding females and ducklings. In subsequent years, recapture of marked individuals has provided estimates of survival and recruitment and also has revealed high levels of nest site fidelity and natal philopatry. Investigating factors important in explaining variation in female survival and duckling recruitment can help to focus future management actions. Actively monitoring nest boxes to collect these data, however, often takes considerable effort and resources on the part of management agencies. Use of citizen scientists is an excellent way to help maintain nest box programs. We will highlight efforts of the California Wood Duck Program (CWDP) which was started in 1991 by the California Waterfowl Association. In 2017, 522 CWDP volunteers monitored 5,960 nest boxes that produced 38,441 ducklings.

Monday October 22, 2018 2:00pm - 2:20pm
Grand Bay II

2:00pm

Wildlife 1 Track: Strategic Use of Deer Management Cooperatives in Conservation Planning
AUTHORS: Hunter P. Pruitt, Mark D. McConnell, Gino J. D'Angelo, Bynum B. Boley – University of Georgia; Brian P. Murphy, Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA)

ABSTRACT: Deer management cooperatives (DMCs) are a novel approach by private landowners and hunters to voluntarily and collaboratively work ‘to improve the quality of wildlife, habitat, and hunting experiences on their collective acreages’. By aggregating multiple properties under cooperative management, hunters and landowners may facilitate highly connected managed areas within the landscape matrix. The potential increase in cooperative habitat management conducted within DMCs may increase conservation value within the surrounding landscape. Thus, DMCs may provide a method to counter decreasing connectivity between habitat patches, while simultaneously increasing active habitat management to the benefit of species other than white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus). To test the effect of DMCs on landscape connectivity, we compared landscape composition and configuration between 32 DMCs, covering over 190,000 acres across four U.S. states (Georgia, Michigan, Missouri, and New York), and adjacent landscapes using FRAGSTATS® software. We found greater amounts of various ‘wildlife centric’ land cover within DMCs in all four states, and lesser amounts of ‘agriculture centric’ land cover within DMCs in three of four states. We also surveyed DMC members in the previously mentioned states, with the addition of Texas, totaling over 480 responses to better understand factors leading to successful DMC implementation. We found differing motives for DMC formation, conducted importance-performance analysis (IPA) to evaluate aspects of current DMC success or failure, and describe member willingness to engage in habitat management. We conclude that landscape-level differences, triggered by DMC landowner motivations, may provide conservation benefits to other game and non-game cohabitating species not previously described.

Monday October 22, 2018 2:00pm - 2:20pm
Bon Secour Bay II

2:00pm

Marketing, R3 & Communications 1 Track: The Economic Significance of Fish and Wildlife Recreation in the (Southeast) U.S.
AUTHORS: Rob Southwick, Tom Allen – Southwick Associates

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

Monday October 22, 2018 2:00pm - 2:40pm
Riverboat

2:20pm

Fisheries 1 Track: Evaluating the Utility of an Age-Length-Key in Estimating Growth Parameters: A Largemouth Bass Example
AUTHORS: Sean Lusk, Chris Middaugh – Arkansas Game and Fish Commission

ABSTRACT: Sound fisheries management revolves around a basic understanding and estimates of population vital rates. One of the most commonly evaluated population vital rates is growth. Evaluating growth allows biologists to make inferences about long term environmental conditions and the outcome of various management practices. As such, proper evaluation of growth is pivotal to making best management decisions. In the Southeastern United States, arguably the most heavily managed and evaluated freshwater species is the Largemouth Bass. Largemouth Bass growth is often evaluated via a Von Bertalanffy growth curve fit to weighted mean lengths-at-age. Weighted mean length-at-age can be calculated using either only aged fish, or all fish collected in a sample after assigning ages to unaged fish using an age-length-key. Potentially, the method used to calculate weighted mean length-at-age can influence parameter estimates derived from the Von Bertalanffy growth curve. In this study, we use empirical age data from a Largemouth Bass population to inform a simulation model comparing final Von Bertalanffy parameters calculated using both methods of determining weighted mean length-at-age. We simulate a range of sample sizes and variabilities in collected data and compare resulting Von Bertalanffy parameter estimates to the values used to inform the simulation. Preliminary results indicate that both methods were similar in accuracy in predicting Von Bertalanffy parameters, but using an age-length-key was generally more precise by decreasing relative error in some simulations.

Monday October 22, 2018 2:20pm - 2:40pm
Bon Secour Bay I

2:20pm

SYMPOSIUM-02: Ecology and Management of Wood Duck Ducklings and Broods in North America
AUTHORS: J. Brian Davis, Mississippi State University; Richard M. Kaminski, Clemson University

ABSTRACT: Duckling survival is an important driver of annual fall and breeding season population recruitment in North American ducks. Although wood ducks (Aix sponsa) nest in natural cavities that generally are more protected from predators than nests of ground-nesting ducks, hens and broods use myriad habitats post-hatch that often contain diverse predator communities and unpredictable resources, such as seasonally dynamic wetlands and associated foods. We will explore a brief history of methods used to investigate survival and recruitment of wood ducks, such as tracking radiomarked females and ducklings, use of web tags and plasticine-filled leg bands on ducklings, and new electronic monitoring technologies (e.g., passive transponder tags [PIT]). We also will explore regional differences and patterns in wood duck duckling survival and recruitment using available data. Wood ducks are among the most difficult ducks to study given their use of forested/scrub-shrub and other densely vegetated wetlands. In future studies of the species, new marking and other technologies should be implemented to determine habitat-specific survival and annual recruitment throughout the species’ range and identify suitable macro- and micro-habitats for placement of artificial nest boxes to ensure their locations are not ‘ecological traps.’

Monday October 22, 2018 2:20pm - 2:40pm
Grand Bay II

2:20pm

Wildlife 1 Track: Variation in White-tailed Deer Antler Size: The Effects of Age, Landscape Composition, and Physiographic Province
AUTHORS:  Kathleen B. Quebedeaux, Andrew R. Little*, Nathan P. Nibbelink, Gino J. D'Angelo – Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, University of Georgia; Charlie H. Killmaster, Georgia Department of Natural Resources-Wildlife Resource Division; Karl V. Miller, Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, University of Georgia

ABSTRACT:  Spatial variation in landscape composition can influence phenotypic expression in wildlife species and can improve management efforts to express certain phenotypic traits. We evaluated the influence of age, landscape composition, and physiographic province on white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) antler characteristics using data from 16,622 male deer (age range: 1.5–3.5+ years old) harvested between 1997–2016 across 5 physiographic provinces in Georgia, USA. Age and physiographic province influenced antler size index (ASI; P < 0.001). ASI of yearling males was greatest (x ¯ = 53.37; SE = 0.39) in the Upper Coastal Plain and least (x ¯ = 46.23; SE = 0.51) in the Lower Coastal Plain physiographic province. Given the differences in ASI among physiographic provinces, we evaluated how landscape composition within each physiographic province influenced ASI of 7,325 yearling (1.5- year old) males. Yearling ASI was positively related to increasing coverage of cultivated crops and suburban-urban areas (e.g., parks, small housing developments). Conversely, evergreen and deciduous forested cover consistently had a negative effect on ASI, except in the Ridge and Valley physiographic province where evergreen was positively related to ASI. Wildlife managers and hunters should recognize the effects of age, landscape composition, and physiographic province when setting antler size expectations.

Monday October 22, 2018 2:20pm - 2:40pm
Bon Secour Bay II

2:20pm

SYMPOSIUM-01: Federal Tools for Conservation of At-risk Species on Private Working Forests
AUTHORS: Mike Harris, At-Risk Species Coordinator and Lauren Ward – U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Region 4

ABSTRACT: Given the extent of private lands in the Southeast and the growing number of listed and petitioned species in the region, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has recognized the need for tools for the conservation of at-risk and listed species on private lands. These tools include Candidate Conservation Agreements with Assurances, Safe Harbor Agreements, and in cooperation with the Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Working Lands for Wildlife Program. Although there are numerous examples of the successful application of these tools, challenges remain in the conservation of at-risk species on private lands. This presentation will review the existing tools for conservation of at-risk and listed species on private working forests, discuss landowner concerns with existing tools, and identify new approaches that could expand the accessibility, use, and impact of existing conservation tools.

Monday October 22, 2018 2:20pm - 3:00pm
Grand Bay I

2:30pm

Legal Track. Lionfish Epidemic – Overview of the Problem, Applicable Laws, and Future Considerations
PRESENTER: Scott Bannon, Director of Marine Resources, Alabama

Monday October 22, 2018 2:30pm - 3:30pm
Windjammer

2:40pm

Fisheries 1 Track: Comparison of Otoliths and Scales in Estimating Age of Redbreast Sunfish and Green Sunfish in an Urban Watershed
AUTHORS: Peter C. Sakaris, Jesse J. Sunga, Jessica N. Coover – Georgia Gwinnett College

ABSTRACT: As human populations grow and expand in urban landscapes, we need to strengthen our understanding of how anthropogenic activities that degrade instream habitats affect the life history and ecology of fishes in urban streams. Population-level studies typically require age estimation of fish, but populations in small rivers and streams are generally smaller than those in large rivers or reservoirs. Therefore, non-lethal aging methods are recommended to minimize the potentially negative effects of sampling on population size. Accordingly, our main goal was to compare otoliths and scales as structures for estimating the age of redbreast sunfish and green sunfish in an urban watershed. Reader agreement was greater for otoliths (88-89%) than for scales (73-79%) for both species, and reader bias was greater for scales than otoliths. Readers were significantly more confident in their aging of otoliths versus scales. In general, scales overestimated the otolith-derived ages of young fish, and underestimated the otolith-derived ages of old individuals. Mean estimated ages were not significantly different between otolith-based and scale-based ages for both species, and population age structure histograms were generally similar between structures. Scales underestimated maximum age by one year for the redbreast sunfish and two years for the green sunfish. Our assessment also indicated that annual survival estimates derived from catch-curve analyses may differ between otoliths and scales. We recommend that biologists use scales to estimate the ages of redbreast sunfish and green sunfish, but only when a non-lethal aging method is required and/or small populations are being assessed.

Monday October 22, 2018 2:40pm - 3:00pm
Bon Secour Bay I

2:40pm

SYMPOSIUM-02: Combining Waterfowl and Breeding Bird Survey Data to Estimate Wood Duck Breeding Population Size in the Atlantic Flyway
AUTHORS: Pamela Garrettson, Guthrie Zimmerman – U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

ABSTRACT: We report on work that combined data from the Atlantic Flyway Breeding Waterfowl Survey (AFBWS) and the North American Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) to estimate the number of wood ducks in the United States portion of the Atlantic Flyway from 1993 to 2013. The AFBWS is a plot-based survey covering most of the northern and central portions of the Flyway; when analyzed with adjustments for survey time of day effects, these data can be used to estimate population size. The BBS provides indices of wood duck abundance. Although factors influencing change in BBS counts over time can be controlled in BBS analysis, BBS indices alone cannot be used to derive population size estimates. We used AFBWS data to scale BBS indices for Bird Conservation Regions (BCR), basing the scaling factors on the ratio of estimated AFBWS population sizes to regional BBS indices for portions of BCRs common to both surveys. We summed scaled BBS results for portions of the Flyway not covered by the AFBWS with AFBWS population estimates to estimate a mean yearly total of 1,295,875 (mean 95% CI: 1,013,940–1,727,922) wood ducks. Scaling factors varied among BCRs from 16.7 to 148.0 (mean = 68.9, 95% CI: 53.5–90.9). Flyway-wide, population estimates from the combined analysis were consistent with alternative estimates derived from harvest data. We discuss the assumptions, advantages and drawbacks associated with this method, and possible extensions of this technique to other portions of wood duck range.

Monday October 22, 2018 2:40pm - 3:00pm
Grand Bay II

2:40pm

Wildlife 1 Track: Evaluation of Methods to Increase Deer Forage and Turkey Brooding Cover in Coastal Plain Hardwood Stands
AUTHORS: Mark A. Turner, William D. Gulsby – Auburn University; Craig A. Harper, University of Tennessee

ABSTRACT: Previous research has indicated canopy reduction and prescribed fire can improve habitat quality for white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) and wild turkey (Meleagris gallapavo) in hardwood forests of the Central Hardwoods and Appalachian regions. However, species composition of Coastal Plain hardwood forests is different and there remains concern that prescribed fire may result in unacceptable damage to many of these species. We designed an experiment to assess the value of using prescribed fire following canopy reduction to improve habitat quality for deer and turkeys in Coastal Plain hardwoods. In January – February 2018, we reduced canopy coverage by approximately 50% in 4, 10-ha hardwood stands in the Upper Coastal Plain of Alabama. We primarily targeted and treated low wildlife value species by girdling and spraying trees in half of each stand with triclopyr (Garlon® 3A) and a mixture of triclopyr and imazapyr (Arsenal® AC) in the other half of each stand. We used these herbicide treatments to evaluate nontarget tree response to imazapyr. We used the girdle-and-squirt method because the size and species composition of many stands within the region is such that commercial harvest is not a viable means of canopy reduction and because any landowner can implement this treatment on their property. We will implement low-intensity prescribed fire during fall/winter 2018/19. We will present preliminary results on herbicide efficacy and associated mortality, deer forage availability, and turkey brooding cover following the first year of data collection (summer 2018).

Monday October 22, 2018 2:40pm - 3:00pm
Bon Secour Bay II

3:00pm

3:20pm

Fisheries 1 Track: Movement of Acoustic-tagged Largemouth Bass Between Lake Mattamuskeet and Surrounding Canals in Relation to Changes in Lake Level
AUTHORS: Kevin Dockendorf, North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission

ABSTRACT: Largemouth Bass (Micropterus salmoides) are popular sportfish in Lake Mattamuskeet, a large (16,187 ha), shallow (mean depth < 1.0 m), lake surrounded by canals in coastal North Carolina. Lake levels are often observed < 0.5 m due to a combination of environmental and anthropogenic conditions such as summer evaporation, pumping of water into refuge impoundments, and periodic releases of lake water through water control structures. In contrast, relatively deeper water (1-2 m) is available within a network of canals connected to the lake which may provide alternative habitat during low or drought conditions. This study will test the hypothesis that Largemouth Bass movements into deeper, canal habitats are triggered by decreasing water levels in the main lake and dewatering of shoreline habitats. By May 2017, 31 VEMCO VR2W receivers were strategically placed in proximity to the canal connections to the lake. During May-June 2017, a total of 42 Largemouth Bass were collected, anesthetized, surgically implanted with VEMCO V9 acoustic transmitters (or tags), and released at seven locations; five in the lake and two in the canals. Receiver downloads between May 2017 and April 2018 revealed more than 342,000 detections of at least 34 acoustic-tagged Largemouth Bass. This survey will continue through February 2019 (extent of transmitter battery life) or until all acoustic-tagged Largemouth Bass are defined as dead. This study will provide valuable information regarding optimal water levels for Largemouth Bass in main lake habitats, while providing insights into environmental characteristics that elicit movement between available habitats.

Monday October 22, 2018 3:20pm - 3:40pm
Bon Secour Bay I

3:20pm

SYMPOSIUM-01: Forestry and Heirs’ Property: Obstacles and Synergies
AUTHORS: John Schellaus, Sarah Hitchner, Cassandra Johnson-Gaither, Mavis Gragg

ABSTRACT: The family-owned land is often the most significant source of intergenerational wealth. It also often has complicated legal challenges, such as heirs’ property, due to the nature of multi-person and intergenerational ownership. Natural Resource (NR) professionals can offer valuable information and connections to landowners. This presentation will give the NR professionals a basic understanding of this valued and complicated land ownership model. Participants will also be equipped with tools for educating and connecting landowners they already serve for agricultural and forestry needs.All Natural Resource professionals can benefit from a better understanding of heir’s property particularly those invested in land ownership resiliency or, at a minimum, tasked with informing landowners in their service territories.My intended outcomes would include actionable items like having the knowledge to discuss these situations with others:• Knowing how to answer key questions when discussing the legacy of their holdings• The best way to communicate with landowners about income generated off the land• Effects of protected species on their land• Forest Management planning options and opportunities• Land legacy and resolving tenure and title problems, knowing the resources that landowners should be offered, etc. • Participants will know how to explain the basic concept of heirs’ property; ways to link to forest and farm management; develop basic materials to provide landowners; and create asset maps that identify a local network of resources for land management.

Monday October 22, 2018 3:20pm - 3:40pm
Grand Bay I

3:20pm

SYMPOSIUM-02: Use of Next Boxes by Wood Ducks and Hooded Mergansers at Noxubee and Yazoo National Wildlife Refuges in Mississippi
AUTHORS: Alex D. Davis, J. Brian Davis – Mississippi State University; Richard M. Kaminski, Clemson University; Scott E. Stephens, Ducks Unlimited Canada.

ABSTRACT: Use of artificial nesting structures (hereafter, nest boxes) for wood ducks (Aix sponsa) have a storied history in North America. Nest boxes are often used by other species of cavity-nesting birds, including hooded mergansers (Lophodytes cucullatus). Previous experiments using conventional-sized and small experimental nest boxes (approximately half the size of conventional boxes) at two sites in Mississippi documented variable use and wood duck duckling survival relative to box size, study area, time of breeding season, and other factors. Herein, we report preliminary results for shared use of next boxes by wood ducks and hooded mergansers at Noxubee and Yazoo National Wildlife Refuges in Mississippi, monitoring them at both areas from 1994-1997. At Noxubee, we found 460 total nests in 122 nest boxes, and 356 (77%) nests were successful. Of the successful nests, 87 (~25%) contained eggs of both duck species. At Yazoo, we found 423 nests in 77 nest boxes, and 259 nests (61%) were successful. Of the successful nests, 25 nests (~10%) contained eggs of both species. These results are preliminary; however, the number of shared nests for these species in this four-year study represents some of the greatest reported in North America. Ongoing analyses will explore clutch sizes and other metrics among all nests, and in large and small next boxes on both refuges. These results will provide some basis for exploring potential consequences of shared use of nest boxes given the differences in life history between these cavity-nesting Anatids in these southern wetlands.

Monday October 22, 2018 3:20pm - 3:40pm
Grand Bay II

3:20pm

Wildlife 1 Track: The Effect of Baited Camera Stations on Eastern Wild Turkey Home Range and Movement
AUTHORS: Lee A. Margadant, Carolyn E. Moore, James B. Grand – Alabama Cooperative Research Unit.

ABSTRACT: Accurate estimates of population size and structure can inform decisions about species management. Baited camera surveys are a valuable tool for estimating population size and structure; however, camera surveys may be biased. When conducting camera surveys, we have little idea as to how bait effects the movements and home range of the species of interest, which could lead to biased estimates of occupancy and density. I marked adult female Eastern Wild Turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo silvestris) using transmitters with onboard GPS loggers to determine home ranges. I estimated home ranges using a minimum convex polygon (MCP), and determined core use areas within the home range using a fixed kernel density estimator (KDE). I deployed a bait station with each within the MCP and two weeks later generated a new home range to examine changes to the MCP and KDE. My hypothesis was that turkeys use of bait stations would change core use areas, but not home ranges; therefore, estimates of occupancy and density would not be affected. This research will help determine whether the use of bait could significantly affect estimates of the size and structure of turkey populations determined from camera surveys.

Monday October 22, 2018 3:20pm - 3:40pm
Bon Secour Bay II

3:20pm

Marketing, R3 & Communications 1 Track: Diversity and Inclusion Among All Animals in Conservation
AUTHORS:  Mr. David Buggs, Chief Diversity and Inclusion Director for the State of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

ABSTRACT:  This workshop will address the growing concern in the lack of diversity, inclusion and cultural awareness in the fields of conservation throughout the country. We will engage in the benefits when these elements are present and the consequences when these elements are lacking and not considered. We will engage in the benefits of the human element benefits being as diverse as the animals we research and protect; the negative impact and perceived barriers to why it does not exist; strategies that can bring changes and eliminate this field of isolation and strategies to embrace, change, encourage and growth more reflective of the community we serve.

Monday October 22, 2018 3:20pm - 4:00pm
Riverboat

3:20pm

3:30pm

Legal Track. Roundtable on Hot Legal Topics
Employment Issues - Department Policies and/or Handbook to be exchanged and discussed.  Internal procedures for handling employee complaints and complaints regarding agency officers.

Monday October 22, 2018 3:30pm - 4:50pm
Windjammer

3:40pm

Fisheries 1 Track: Quantifying Paddlefish and Largemouth Bass Behavior in a Small Impoundment Using Acoustic and Radio Biotelemetry
AUTHORS:  Henry Hershey, Dustin McKee, Dennis R. DeVries, Russell A. Wright – School of Fisheries, Aquaculture and Aquatic Sciences, Auburn University

ABSTRACT:  Knowledge of fish movement patterns is often required for management in both recreational and aquacultural settings, and telemetry (acoustic and radio) is a powerful technique for quantifying movement. Here we combine biotelemetry with position tracking to inform models of activity costs in the field. We tagged paddlefish Polyodon spatula and largemouth bass Micropterus salmoides in an 8.5-ha impoundment with both a combined acoustic/radio (for movement) and a coded electromyogram (for muscle activity) transmitter and tracked the fish for six months. Behavioral patterns were first quantified using Generalized Additive Models (GAMs) fitted to average hourly muscle activity measurements and average hourly swimming speed. Predicted trends in both data sources were very similar, suggesting a strong correlation. Largemouth bass activity peaked during dawn and dusk, while paddlefish activity peaked at night. These patterns were confirmed by fitting 2-state (low and high activity) Hidden Markov Models (HMMs) to the positional data. The predicted times of low and high activity were consistent between the GAMs and HMMs for both species. Behavioral states were also associated with specific microhabitats in the impoundment. These results and this approach can be applied to numerous other systems where quantifying fish behavior is desired.

Monday October 22, 2018 3:40pm - 4:00pm
Bon Secour Bay I

3:40pm

SYMPOSIUM-01: At-Risk Species Conservation on Large Private Working Forests
AUTHORS: James F. Bullock, Jr., Senior Vice President Forest Sustainability, Resource Management Service, LLC

ABSTRACT: One of the greatest areas of risk for large, privately owned working forests is having forest management or harvest activities modified or restricted by decisions made under the auspices of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). With court ordered listing decision evaluations and petitions for listing continually being submitted, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) will evaluate and make decisions on approximately 500 species by the end of 2023.Member companies of the National Alliance of Forest Owners (NAFO) are working proactively with the USFWS, state wildlife agencies, and other partners to position actively managed forests as contributing the the conservation of at-risk species, particularly species that need young forest, open canopy or riparian and aquatic habitats. This collaboration is based on mutual trust and the desire of all parties to build a lasting partnership that transcends administrations, personnel changes, and time.While arguably a still developing partnership, progress towards affecting species conservation and lasting change is already being demonstrated. Most importantly, the NAFO and USFWS led initiative is being touted as a foundation pillar for a national collaborative conservation initiative “Conservation without Conflict”.This presentation will discuss the founding and evolution of the NAFO member company led at-risk species initiative, and briefly discuss examples of conservation activities relative to specific species or habitats for a suite of species. It will conclude with a look to the future, and to “Conservation without Conflict” as the future model for species conservation on private working lands across the United States.

Monday October 22, 2018 3:40pm - 4:00pm
Grand Bay I

3:40pm

SYMPOSIUM-02: Nesting Duck Use, Production, and Selection of Nest Structures in Coastal South Carolina
AUTHORS: Gillie D. Croft, Department of Forestry and Environmental Conservation, Clemson University; Richard M. Kaminski, James C. Kennedy Waterfowl & Wetlands Conservation Center, Clemson University; Ernie P. Wiggers, Nemours Wildlife Foundation; Patrick D. Gerard, Department of Mathematical Science, Clemson University

ABSTRACT: We conducted a landscape-scale survey of nest-structure use and production by wood ducks (Aix sponsa), black-bellied whistling ducks (Dendrocygna autumnalis), and hooded mergansers (Lophodytes cucullatus) across coastal South Carolina during 2016-2017. Including 364 and 354 nest boxes surveyed in both years (n = 718), 61% were used by wood ducks, 15% by black-bellied whistling ducks, and

Monday October 22, 2018 3:40pm - 4:00pm
Grand Bay II

3:40pm

Wildlife 1 Track: Survival and Harvest Rates of Male Eastern Wild Turkeys in the Ozark and Ouachita Mountain Regions of Arkansas
AUTHORS: Douglas C. Osborne, University of Arkansas, Division of Agriculture, Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station

ABSTRACT: In 2011, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission implemented a no-jake harvest policy for adult hunters pursuing wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo silvestris) during spring. The objectives of this project were to: 1) estimate survival rates of adult and juvenile male turkey, to assess if the new harvest policy increased recruitment of jakes into the 2-year old age class, and 2) determine the harvest rates of adult males during the spring hunting season. During 2016-18, male turkeys were captured and marked with satellite transmitters in the Ozark (n=37 jakes; n=33 adults) and Ouachita (n=32 jakes; n=34 adults) Mountain regions of Arkansas. To model the influence of Time, BirdAge, and Region on adult and juvenile male survival, known fate survival estimates were conducted with staggered entry using the package RMark in Program R. Harvest rates were estimated using the Lincoln–Petersen method. Region and the null model were the most parsimonious models defining jake survival and accounted for 73.2% of the model weight, and suggest annual survival rates of jakes to be >98%. Time was the best performing model for adult survival, which was 81-85% during the 2-week hunting season. Collectively, harvest rates of adults were 36.4% during the 2017 and 2018 hunting seasons. Current and accurate estimates of adult and juvenile male survival and harvest rates are critical for managing agencies and for the future management of turkey populations under adaptive harvest management frameworks.

Monday October 22, 2018 3:40pm - 4:00pm
Bon Secour Bay II

4:00pm

(CANCELLED) Fisheries 1 Track: Florida's Freshwater Priority Resources: A Guide for Future Management
AUTHORS: Jennifer Bock, Stephen Rockwood, Beacham Furse, Donald Fox, David Douglas – Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

ABSTRACT: Florida’s freshwater habitats provide many essential functions including flood control and nutrient sequestration. While serving as habitat for many fish and wildlife species, wetlands also contribute significantly to the outdoor recreation industry. Despite these services, aquatic habitats continue to face many threats, such as urban encroachment, water withdrawals, water level stabilization, sedimentation, non-native species introduction, cultural eutrophication, and climate change. With Florida’s increasing human population, encroachment and development continues into natural areas, stressing aquatic habitats and the fish and wildlife that depend on healthy wetlands. This paper summarizes a GIS process for identifying publicly accessible freshwater resources and presents an optimization analysis for prioritizing those resources to guide future management considerations. Publicly accessible lakes, streams and freshwater forested and non-forested wetlands were identified, mapped and quantified as a function of variables representing their socio-economic value, fish and wildlife value and management emphasis (i.e. the need and opportunity for habitat restoration). Results prioritized 1235 sub-watersheds containing streams, 1835 conservation areas containing forested and/or non-forested wetlands and 324 lakes = 20.2 hectares. This prioritization provides a quantitative, science-based decision framework for managers to more effectively allocate resources to those sites that will provide the greatest ecological benefits resulting from restoration, enhancement, and management activities.

Monday October 22, 2018 4:00pm - 4:20pm
Bon Secour Bay I

4:00pm

SYMPOSIUM-01: Example of Cooperative Conservation on Private, Working Forests: Pilot Project for Gopher Tortoise in Alabama
AUTHORS: Chris Erwin, American Forest Foundation

ABSTRACT: The Alabama Tortoise Alliance, a collaboration of government, academic, NGOs, business interests and private landowners led by the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries is creating an adaptive action plan for future tortoise conservation efforts in Alabama. Two out of every three acres of private land in the US South is owned by families or individuals that can play an important role in recovery efforts. But with family owned lands, comes diverse goals, stand conditions and commitments to management. As such, in any conservation effort such as this, there is a need for a comprehensive engagement to activity plan that will raise awareness, prioritize prospects, provide service, and sustain the relationship beyond the initiative. This presentation will demonstrate one example currently underway in South Alabama.

Monday October 22, 2018 4:00pm - 4:20pm
Grand Bay I

4:00pm

SYMPOSIUM-02: Survival and Distribution of Black-Bellied Whistling Ducks (Dendrocygna autumnalis) in the Southeastern United States
AUTHORS: Gregory D. Balkcom, Wildlife Resources Division, Georgia Department of Natural Resources; Bradley S. Cohen, College of Arts and Sciences, Tennessee Technological University; Samantha E. Askin, Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, University of Georgia; Joseph Benedict, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission; James A. Rader, Ducks Unlimited, North Charleston, SC; J. Dale James, Ducks Unlimited, Ridgeland, MS; Bret A. Collier, School of Renewable Natural Resources, Louisiana State University Agricultural Center; Michael J. Chamberlain, Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, University of Georgia

ABSTRACT: Black-bellied whistling ducks (Dendrocygna autumnalis) are a neo-tropical migrant species distributed in coastal areas of northern South America, Central America, and southern North America. Despite their commonality, the population distribution, survival, and harvest-mortality of whistling ducks in the southeastern United States remains unclear. We used whistling duck sightings reported to eBird to delineate range expansion from 2006–2016 in Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina. Concurrently, we used band resighting and recovery data from 759 whistling ducks captured in 5 states (Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, Texas, and Louisiana) from 2014-2017 to construct a Barker model in program MARK, and calculate survival and annual recovery rate. We noted expanding whistling duck distribution in the southern Atlantic flyway, and populations during our study period had a relatively high annual survival rate and low recovery rate. Whistling duck distribution seems ubiquitous in coastal areas of the southern Atlantic flyway, and annual survival is high whereas harvest rates are low. Hence, we suggest state agencies consider facilitating increased harvest opportunities of black-bellied whistling ducks while simultaneously monitoring harvest and survival rates. Future research should continue to refine population vital rate estimates for whistling ducks, with an emphasis on understanding population abundance and harvest rates.

Monday October 22, 2018 4:00pm - 4:20pm
Grand Bay II

4:00pm

Wildlife 1 Track: Comparing Camera Survey Designs for Monitoring Eastern Wild Turkey Populations
AUTHORS: Skylar R. Keller, Carolyn E. Moore – Auburn University, Alabama Cooperative Research Unit; James B. Grand, U.S. Geological Survey, Alabama Cooperative Research Unit

ABSTRACT: In the state of Alabama, conflicting estimates of the size and productivity of Eastern Wild Turkey (Meleagris gallapavo silvestris) populations led biologists to seek repeatable, less biased survey methods. Monitoring population size and structure are key to successfully managing sustainable populations for the future. However, recent estimates of turkey populations were based on opportunistic surveys, expert opinions of turkey density, or population reconstruction from uncorrected harvest data. Game cameras are a cost-effective means of conducting wildlife surveys and are receiving increased use. However, the biases associated with survey design may influence their accuracy, and randomization of sites and use of bait increase costs. Our objectives were to: 1) determine whether estimates of productivity differed between camera surveys conducted on wildlife openings (WLO) versus randomly selected sites; and 2) determine whether the use of bait affected estimates of turkey populations from camera surveys. We conducted surveys at three study areas on WLO greater than one-half acre (n = 90), and at a stratified random sample of sites generated from a uniform 554-ha grid (n = 135) from July through August of 2017. Occupancy analysis was used to compare survey results from over 600,000 images. Our hypothesis was that occupancy would be greater at WLO than at randomly selected sites, and the use of bait would increase detection rate and estimates of occupancy. These results will be used to make recommendations for the design of surveys to monitor the effects of management on turkey populations.

Monday October 22, 2018 4:00pm - 4:20pm
Bon Secour Bay II

4:00pm

Marketing, R3 & Communications 1 Track: Social Media Roundtable
AUTHORS:  Moderator: Marianne Hudson, Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division

ABSTRACT:  A facilitated discussion about the use of social media in wildlife agencies.

Monday October 22, 2018 4:00pm - 4:40pm
Riverboat

4:20pm

(CANCELLED) Fisheries 1 Track: Population Status of Florida’s Species of Greatest Conservation Need from the Escambia Watershed
AUTHORS: John R. Knight, Jason H. O'Connor, Chelsea E. Myles-McBurney, Kayla J. Smith – Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

ABSTRACT: Research on rare and cryptic species allows us to determine population status and trends, filling knowledge gaps where data is typically lacking. With more comprehensive data we can create better and more effective conservation plans in the future for species of concern. In Florida, Crystal Darter (Crystallaria asprella), Gulf Sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrinchus desotoi), Saddleback Darter (Percina vigil), Pallid Chub (Macrhybopsis pallida), Southern Logperch (Percina austroperca), and River Redhorse (Moxostoma carinatum) are considered Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN). Each of these species requires gravel to complete a least a portion of their life cycle. Using a Siamese trawl, we sampled gravel and sand bars in the Escambia River, Florida from 15 December 2016 to 26 April 2018. We found that catch was dominated by the Saddleback Darter (CPUE = 5.5270 ± 0.503676). Pallid Chub (CPUE = 1.9162 ± 0.2551) and Southern Logperch (CPUE = 0.3567 ± 0.1000) were present but less common than the Saddleback Darter. Crystal Darter were relatively rare (CPUE = 0.0783 ± 0.020), but nearly 10 times more common at night compared to daytime sampling. A single River Redhorse was captured. Future studies will include benthic trawling of the Yellow and Choctawhatchee Rivers in Northwest Florida and continued sampling in the Escambia River, Florida.

Monday October 22, 2018 4:20pm - 4:40pm
Bon Secour Bay I

4:20pm

4:20pm

Wildlife 1 Track: Automated Techniques for Interpreting Game Camera Images from Surveys for Eastern Wild Turkeys
AUTHORS: Briana D. Stewart, Auburn University, Alabama Cooperative Research Unit; James B. Grand, U.S. Geological Survey, Alabama Cooperative Research Unit; Carolyn Moore, Auburn University, Alabama Cooperative Research Unit

ABSTRACT: Estimating eastern wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo silvestris; hereafter turkeys) population demographics precisely and accurately is essential for making effective harvest and habitat management plans. Demographic estimates once based on expert opinion or harvest data are now being collected through game camera surveys that can be repeated across space and time. However, game camera surveys usually result in large numbers of images that must be interpreted in a timely manner. Classifying these images based on expert review can be time-consuming, costly, and error-prone. To address these issues, we developed a model using supervised classification and machine learning in MATLAB (Mathworks, Inc.) to determine the presence of turkeys in images. The models were trained using 500-point features from 3,342 training images that were collected on two study areas at 44 locations and manually interpreted. We compared 23 image classification methods; the top five methods were: cubic support vector machine (SVM, 90.9% accuracy), quadratic SVM (90.3% accuracy), ensemble subspace k-nearest neighbor (KNN, 90.2% accuracy), fine KNN (89.9% accuracy), and medium gaussian SVM (88.0% accuracy). Cubic SVM was the most accurate method with omission rate of 4.04% and commission rate of 5.09%. The use of machine learning will greatly reduce the time required to interpret the thousands of photos that are often collected in game camera surveys, and with appropriate training data could be extended to other species of wildlife.

Monday October 22, 2018 4:20pm - 4:40pm
Bon Secour Bay II

4:20pm

4:40pm

Fisheries 1 Track: Development and Implementation of Freshwater Species Recovery in Alabama
AUTHORS:  Paul D. Johnson, Michael L. Buntin, Todd B. Fobian, Jesse T. Holifield, Thomas A. Tarpley – Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division, Alabama Aquatic Biodiversity Center

ABSTRACT:  In 2005 the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR) created the Alabama Aquatic Biodiversity Center (AABC) to address conservation needs of Alabama’s rarest riverine species. Alabama rivers host some 97 federally listed species, including the richest mollusk and crayfish species assemblages in the world. Many once wide-ranging species are now restricted to single or very few occurrences. The primary goal of the AABC is to establish new populations of critically rare species. This is achieved through captive propagation and reintroduction of conservation targets into unoccupied watersheds within their historical ranges. Additionally, because basic biological data for many species are lacking, the program supports primary research efforts (e.g., systematics, environmental physiology, life history, toxicology) through research partnerships with universities and other government laboratories. Cooperative efforts also extend towards habitat recovery in selected Alabama watersheds. Specifically the Geological Survey of Alabama (GSA) and the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) work cooperatively with the ADCNR to provide habitat and water quality data (GSA) and administrative support (USFWS) for critical habitats supporting these species. Current AABC reintroduction efforts have released over 175,000 individuals of 17 mollusk species, since 2010. All initial reintroduction's are persisting, but additional stockings are anticipated to successfully establish numerous reproducing populations.

Monday October 22, 2018 4:40pm - 5:00pm
Bon Secour Bay I

4:40pm

4:40pm

Wildlife 1 Track: Hunter Cooperator Data: What Is It Good For?
AUTHORS: Cody M. Rhoden, Gary Sprandel, John Morgan, Keith Wethington – Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources

ABSTRACT: Many state wildlife agencies collect population trend data for game species. These data are often used to capture annual population trends across time. In Kentucky, the Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources collects hunter cooperator data on small game species. Reported historically as animals encountered over time, the current study sought to analyze these data in novel ways to determine the power and suitability of observed trends over time. Power analyses for varying levels of statistical significance was followed by linear regression to determine the ability to detect changes with varying degrees of survey information. Results of these analyses validate long-term hunter cooperator data and the ability to confidently detect trends given a certain sample size and key hunting information. This analysis is encouraged for other state population indices. Results will inform the level of data collection and conclusions drawn from current and new state surveys of small game populations.

Monday October 22, 2018 4:40pm - 5:00pm
Bon Secour Bay II

5:30pm

Poster Session & Social
Come check out the posters and visit with poster authors who will be available to answer your questions and discuss their work. Enjoy hors d’oeuvres and cash bar. Click here to read poster abstracts.

Monday October 22, 2018 5:30pm - 7:00pm
Bon Secour Bay Ballroom & 2nd Level Foyer

5:30pm

(CANCELLED) Poster: Evaluation of Large-Scale Habitat Enhancement in Newly Inundated Fellsmere Reservoir
AUTHORS: Fontaine, B.V.; A.C. Bernhardt; T.R. Lange; P. M. Schueller - Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

ABSTRACT: Increasing human populations in Florida are expected to have effects on freshwater resources. The need for flood control and nutrient filtering impoundments will likely increase in the future. One of these impoundments, Fellsmere Water Management Area (FWMA) was flooded in 2016. The 10,000-acre property purchased by the St. Johns Water Management District was flat and monotypic agricultural land, not ideal for fish habitat. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) made habitat improvements in selected areas of the reservoir. Including roughly 1,800 acres that has been modified to create divots, ditches, humps, shelves and other land configurations that are expected to hold fish and enhance the sport fishery. The habitat enhancements cost more than one million dollars to complete. Therefore, research is needed to determine the impact that the created habitat will have on the fish community, and sport fishery. FWMA represents a unique opportunity to study biological, chemical, and physical responses to flooding. We have completed the second year of this five-year evaluation. Results of this evaluation are being processed and will be presented in poster format.

Monday October 22, 2018 5:30pm - 7:00pm
Bon Secour Bay Ballroom & 2nd Level Foyer

5:30pm

(CANCELLED) Poster: Integrating Human Dimensions Studies and Human-Wildlife Conflict Data to Develop a Targeted Awareness Campaign About Coyotes in Florida
AUTHORS:  Greg Kaufmann, Angeline Scotten*, Catherine Kennedy, Ann Forstchen, Ramesh Paudyal – Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

ABSTRACT:  The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) uses qualitative and quantitative data on people’s values, beliefs, attitudes, and understanding of wildlife species to optimize outreach efforts to reduce human-wildlife conflict. These data also help the agency develop and implement effective and acceptable programs on fish and wildlife management by reducing adverse impacts of fish and wildlife on Florida’s environment, economy, and human health and safety. Combining human dimensions information with human wildlife conflict incident data can serve as a powerful tool to help prioritize outreach efforts. In last few years, FWC has supported several research projects to gain a better understanding of human- coyote (Canis latrans) conflict across the state and public opinions across various demographics and geographic regions. The agency maintains a Wildlife Incident Management System (WIMS) database that records species-specific data related to human wildlife conflicts (including location, date, nature of incident, etc.). Human dimensions studies were conducted using focus groups, citizen surveys, and message testing. The research results in combination with the data collected in WIMS has helped FWC prioritize and target audiences for messaging related to coyote management. As a result, FWC has developed brochures, infographics, and hosted workshops in targeted areas in Florida as part of an on-going urban coyote and pet safety campaign.

Monday October 22, 2018 5:30pm - 7:00pm
Bon Secour Bay Ballroom & 2nd Level Foyer

5:30pm

(CANCELLED) Poster: Using Citizen Science to Engage Private Landowners in the Conservation of Northern Bobwhite Quail
AUTHORS: Don Buchanan, Arlo H. Kane, Jeff Pierce, Jennifer Goff – Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

ABSTRACT: Morning covey call counts to index Northern bobwhite quail (Colinus viginianus) populations are a common methodology used by biologists throughout the southeastern United States. Staff attempted to survey a single county using call counts adjacent to private lands to determine the feasibility of indexing bobwhite populations on private lands statewide. Initial attempts to locate bobwhite coveys were unsuccessful. We then decided to first determine the current statewide distribution on private lands to guide further surveys in Florida. For efficiency, we elected to create a bobwhite quail sightings page on the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) website and ask the public to record where they have seen or heard wild bobwhites on private lands. FWC’s Office of Information Technology created an interactive webpage that allows landowners to enter locations on a Google map, with their name, organization, email, and comments. In the first three months, 351 sightings on private lands were added to the website. Comments on the webpage were overwhelmingly positive toward the project and revealed the high level of interest in restoring bobwhites in Florida. Data from the website are now being used to evaluate locations for future workshops, surveys, and federal cost-share program boundaries. The project provided an innovative way to connect landowners interested in improving wildlife habitat with private lands biologists that provide technical or financial assistance. Other southeastern state agencies are now looking at using Florida’s web page to collect data for their state and a multi-state project is being considered.

Monday October 22, 2018 5:30pm - 7:00pm
Bon Secour Bay Ballroom & 2nd Level Foyer

5:30pm

Poster: Acoustic Recording Technology: An Application to Northern Bobwhite Populations
AUTHORS: Nathan G. Wilhite, Jessica L. Mohlman, Rachel R. Gardner – University of Georgia Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources; I.B. Parnell, Georgia Department of Natural Resources; James A. Martin, University of Georgia Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, Savannah River Ecology Laboratory (SREL)

ABSTRACT: Censuses, indices, and abundance estimates can provide insight into local wildlife populations. For many avian species, these methods are conducted via auditory surveys which may be more efficient due to the life history, ecology, habitat selection, and behavior of a species. The use of acoustic recording devices (ARDs) is a rapidly growing method used to bolster current auditory surveys; however, ARDs have not been evaluated for monitoring Northern Bobwhite (Colinus virginianus). Estimating bobwhite abundances has historically been difficult due to their secretive nature and irregularity in calling rates under various weather conditions. Despite this, robust estimates of abundance are especially important when the population is harvested. Our goal is to evaluate bias, precision, and efficiency of ARDs for bobwhites compared to standard covey call surveys. We used clusters of three Wildlife Acoustics’ Song Meter 3’s to conduct covey call surveys on Di-Lane Wildlife Management Area in Burke County, Georgia. We deployed 54 clusters of ARDs for 162 total recording hours. Using signal strength and time-of-arrival, we will analyze these recordings by applying acoustic spatial capture-recapture methods to ARD clusters to individually identify vocalizing coveys. We used spatially-explicit capture-mark-recapture for 26 nights across 262 traps as our baseline abundance estimate. Current models from trapping data predict a bobwhite abundance across the property of 1631 individuals (SE ±232). This study was conducted as a comparison to standard covey call surveys that were performed simultaneously. Results of this study will seek to determine the effectiveness and feasibility of ARDs for bobwhite population estimation.

Monday October 22, 2018 5:30pm - 7:00pm
Bon Secour Bay Ballroom & 2nd Level Foyer

5:30pm

Poster: Amphibian Oviposition Site Selection Preferences in Response to Leaf Litter Chemical Characteristics
AUTHORS: Rebekah Magee, Julia E. Earl – Louisiana Tech University

ABSTRACT: Leaf litter plays an important role in the forest ecosystem, as it impacts various processes and hinders erosion. While there is variability in the chemical and nutritional properties of leaf litter, the effects that these variables have on organisms within the environment is not well known. These different characteristics could play a role in the behavior of organisms, specifically animals that utilize ponds within the ecosystem, since the tree leaves leach these nutrients and compounds into these bodies of water. One type of these compounds are tannins, a type of organic secondary compound that has deleterious effect on tadpoles. Amphibians have complex life cycles, which involves laying their eggs in water. Female frogs tend to oviposit in ponds where their offspring will have the highest chance of survival, which increases their fitness in the environment. In order to evaluate this behavioral response, we placed 45 wading pools on Louisiana Tech University’s farm near a forest edge. These pools vary in the species of leaf litter input with fifteen different tree species treatments (including two invasive species), replicated three times. We measured the water quality (conductivity, pH, dissolved oxygen) over time within each pool. The tree frogs’ responses were measured by counting the number of eggs laid in each pool. We examined treatment effects by examining correlations between number of eggs laid and water quality, leaf chemistry, and treatment type. We predict a preference for environments with higher water quality and lower tannin concentrations.

Monday October 22, 2018 5:30pm - 7:00pm
Bon Secour Bay Ballroom & 2nd Level Foyer

5:30pm

Poster: An Evaluation of the Sandy Creek Nature Center Exhibit Hall and Visitors’ Intentions to Engage in Environmentally Conscientious Behavior
AUTHORS: Lynette Caseman, Sandy Creek Nature Center; Charlie Evans, Aaron Tremble, Ansley Vardeman – University of Georgia

ABSTRACT: The first purpose of the current study was to evaluate the effectiveness of the six main exhibits within the Sandy Creek Nature Center Exhibit Hall in order to make recommendations on how the exhibits can improve the connectivity of the hall and the rest of the property. The second purpose was to survey and evaluate the behavioral intentions of guests to act in an environmentally conscientious manner beyond Sandy Creek Nature Center in order to see if any enhancements that can potentially be made to existing exhibits to facilitate a connection between exhibit hall information and the SCNC property. Visitors to Sandy Creek’s Exhibit Hall were surveyed on knowledge of environmental concepts found throughout the hall’s six exhibits and were given behavioral intent questions on the possibility of engaging in environmentally conscientious behavior, such as recycling, in their everyday lives. Analysis through SPSS software determined a correlation between time spent at exhibits and knowledge gained from the exhibit. A positive correlation was also found between time spent at exhibits and behavioral intent to engage in environmental conscientious behavior in everyday lives. Overall, alternatives introducing more environmentally interpretive material to increase knowledge and environmentally conscientious behavior must be examined further using more surveys with longer time spans.

Monday October 22, 2018 5:30pm - 7:00pm
Bon Secour Bay Ballroom & 2nd Level Foyer

5:30pm

Poster: Auburn University Forestry and Wildlife Student Employment on the National Forests in Alabama
AUTHORS: G. Ryan Shurette, USDA Forest Service; Mark D. Smith, Ph.D., Alabama Cooperative Extension System and Auburn University

ABSTRACT: Since 2012, the National Forests in Alabama and Auburn University have partnered to provide students opportunity for real-world employment in applied forest and wildlife management on the National Forests. This project is executed through a participating agreement, in which the Forest Service provides funds for the University to use in hiring students currently enrolled in the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences. Positions can be part-time or seasonal (summer) internships and the students typically work under the supervision of National Forest district wildlife biologists, performing a variety of forestry and wildlife related jobs on federal lands. Feral swine control, endangered red-cockaded woodpecker monitoring and management, timber marking, forest stand exam inventory, and wildlife opening maintenance are some of the most common job tasks, but students may also have the opportunity to work within other program areas such as silviculture, recreation, or wildland fire management. Some students have even completed the Forest Service’s wildland fire and prescribed burning certification training and have returned to work for the Forest Service as an individual contractor (outside of the agreement) on western wildfire assignments. This student work program has been a huge success and has helped several students gain meaningful employment with the Forest Service and other federal natural resource agencies, inside and outside the state of Alabama. For more information, please contact Ryan Shurette (gshurette@fs.fed.us) or Mark Smith (mds0007@auburn.edu).

Monday October 22, 2018 5:30pm - 7:00pm
Bon Secour Bay Ballroom & 2nd Level Foyer

5:30pm

Poster: Camera Trap Effectiveness in Monitoring a Managed Feral Hog Population in the Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge
AUTHORS: Ryan Farney, Becca Wells, Dr. Michael J Shaughnessy Jr. – Northeastern State University

ABSTRACT: Feral hogs are known to cause extensive damage to native plant communities as well as native wildlife. Since their introduction in the 1500s feral hogs have been expanding their range to all parts of the United States. Feral hogs have been documented in the Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge (SNWR) in Vian Ok since 2014. Management at the refuge has applied intensive control efforts to remove the feral hog population from SNWR. Despite control efforts, the feral hog population has persisted. The objective of this study is to monitor the feral hog population within SNWR with a camera trap grid. Additionally, we hope to be able to measure the effectiveness of camera trapping in determining the efficacy of control efforts on feral hogs. We also intend to document the behavioral and physiological response of feral hog populations to control efforts. A 35 camera trapping grid has been established within SNWR. Cameras allow for the documentation of individuals, sounders, sounder fecundity and the immigration of new individuals into SNWR. The results from this study should reveal a greater understanding of feral hog population ecology, in turn allowing refuge personnel to more effectively manage feral hogs within SNWR.

Monday October 22, 2018 5:30pm - 7:00pm
Bon Secour Bay Ballroom & 2nd Level Foyer

5:30pm

Poster: Demographic Perspectives of Recreational Freshwater Fishing in Alabama
AUTHORS: Emily Nichols, Wayde Morse – Auburn University School of Forestry & Wildlife Sciences

ABSTRACT: Fishing license sales and expenditures which fund education and fisheries management and conservation represent a risk factor in the face of declining license sales and a changing demographic landscape. A better understanding of user groups will aid the state in working toward achieving recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) objectives and securing public support for recreational fisheries management. An initial socio-demographic analysis of historic fishing license sales data (2011-2017) has guided the development of qualitative inquiry concerning fishing participation and non-participation behaviors of Alabama residents. Through the use of focus groups, we are analyzing three population segments based on their historic levels of recreational fishing participation and predicted growth potential: White/Caucasian/Anglo, Hispanic/Latino, and Black/African American. Eight to twelve open-ended focus groups are currently being conducted in urban and rural areas across the state with Hispanic and African-American residents, and resulting information will be compared with existing knowledge about the White angling population. Focus group activity has allowed exploration of angling interest and participation across the groups, while addressing national R3 findings and recommended actions. These analyses will be used to further explain and predict patterns and trends in fishing participation.

Monday October 22, 2018 5:30pm - 7:00pm
Bon Secour Bay Ballroom & 2nd Level Foyer

5:30pm

Poster: Effects of a Lake Renovation on the Fish Community in Edward Medard Reservoir
AUTHORS:  Adrian Stanfill, Chris Anderson, and Bill Pouder – Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

ABSTRACT:  Edward Medard Reservoir (EMR) is a 770-acre reservoir located in Hillsborough County, Florida. A large-scale dewatering of EMR was conducted in 2009 by the Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD) to repair an aging dam. Trends in fisheries data prior to dewatering suggested declines in relative abundance/biomass of sportfish and increases in relative abundance/biomass of non-native fishes.  The dewatering event created a unique opportunity, and in collaboration with management partners, we eradicated the fish community while at low pool. Upon refill, we stocked hatchery produced sportfish (Bluegill, Black Crappie) and wild adult Largemouth Bass. Our objectives were to evaluate the influence of the renovation on sportfish and the fish community, respectively, and track the effectiveness of non-native eradication post-renovation. We used boat electrofishing following FWC’s LTM standardized sampling protocol in September-October for most years (2011 – 2015) except in 2009 when sampling occurred in May (before drawdown). When comparing pre (2009) versus post-renovation (2011), substantial changes to the fish community were observed. Decreases in Sailfin Catfish coupled with increases in Shad spp. and Redear Sunfish were the largest contributors to dissimilarity between these years. However, as pre-renovation data were compared to subsequent years (2012, 2013, 2014), the fish community gradually reverts to that observed in 2009 until an increase in Gizzard Shad in 2015. Renovation efforts proved to be successful in suppressing Sailfin Catfish, but Tilapia recovered by 2012. Commercial fishing for Tilapia was opened in 2013 and a shift in size structure of the population towards smaller individuals was observed.

Monday October 22, 2018 5:30pm - 7:00pm
Bon Secour Bay Ballroom & 2nd Level Foyer

5:30pm

Poster: Effects of Mid-rotation Management in Managed Loblolly Pine Stands on Vegetation Response and Northern Bobwhite Habitat
AUTHORS: Allison G. Colter, Karl V. Miller, Bronson P. Bullock – Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, University of Georgia; Darren A. Miller, Weyerhaeuser Company; Kristina L. Johannsen, Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife Resources Division; Kent A. Keene, William D. Gulsby – Auburn University School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences; James A. Martin, Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, University of Georgia

ABSTRACT: Managed loblolly pine (Pinus taeda) stands are common across the southeastern U.S. landscape. Although the primary purpose of these stands is often to produce income for forest landowners, they also provide habitat for a variety of wildlife species. Some species, such as northern bobwhite (Colinus virginianus; bobwhite), depend on a diverse herbaceous plant community, a condition that generally occurs soon after planting and post-thinning and can be maintained by mid-rotation treatments such as prescribed fire, and/or herbicides. To better understand economic and potential habitat value trade-offs, we used a split-plot design in a randomized complete block context to estimate effects of forest thinning intensity (i.e., 40, 60, and 80 ft2 acre-1 residual basal area) on bobwhite habitat conditions in five managed loblolly stands in the Piedmont of Georgia. We also examined how timing of forest thinning operations that occurred throughout the 2017 growing season affected vegetation conditions. We evaluated horizontal cover, obstructive cover, and food resource availability along 10 randomly placed 20-m line transects within each plot (n = 30). Pine litter represented most (60%) of the horizontal cover with remaining cover being vegetation (36%) and bare ground (4%). Food resource availability for bobwhite was 52% ± 1% of the total resources present among all treatments. The 40 ft2 ac-1 treatment had the least obstructive cover for bobwhites because of the lack of pine stems obstructing a raptor’s field-of-view. In 2018, we applied late dormant season prescribed fire treatments and we will continue to measure treatment effects

Monday October 22, 2018 5:30pm - 7:00pm
Bon Secour Bay Ballroom & 2nd Level Foyer

5:30pm

Poster: Habitat Preferences and Temporal Distribution of Forest Dwelling Bats in Northeastern Oklahoma
AUTHORS: Rusty Robison, Northeastern State University, Graduate Student; Dr. Michael Shaughnessy, Northeastern State University, Professor

ABSTRACT: Bats play important roles as aerial insect predators in the terrestrial ecosystems of northeastern Oklahoma. The bat community of northeastern Oklahoma is comprised of at least 10 species of vespertillionid bats, two of which are listed as threatened or endangered and one that is a species of conservation concern. The hibernation and overwintering requirements of cave-dwelling bats have been the subject of intense research. Less well known, however, are the foraging habitat requirements of these species along with information on habitat use and resource partitioning among competing species. We propose to better define the foraging habitats and vegetative associations of northeastern Oklahoma vespertillionid bats. We also intend to identify and model temporal and spatial patterns of habitat use among these species. Bat species will be acoustically sampled using passive monitoring equipment. Acoustic call data are identified to species, compiled according to habitat and modeled using satellite remotely sensed vegetation data. This research more accurately identifies the critical foraging habitats of bat species in northeastern Oklahoma. We expect to be able to better define patterns in temporal habitat use and provide more complete information regarding the spatial habitat associations of Oklahoma vespertillionid bats. The purpose of this research is to better define the foraging habitats and vegetative associations of Oklahoma vespertillionid bats. We hope to also be able to identify any seasonal shifts in habitat preferences of these bat species as well as model habitat preferences with remotely sensed vegetation data.

Monday October 22, 2018 5:30pm - 7:00pm
Bon Secour Bay Ballroom & 2nd Level Foyer

5:30pm

Poster: Habitat Selection of Male Eastern Wild Turkeys in Arkansas Mountain Regions During Reproduction Periods and Hunting Disturbances
AUTHORS: Joshua H. Nix, University of Arkansas at Monticello – School of Forestry and Natural Resources; Douglas C. Osborne, University of Arkansas – Division of Agriculture Experiment Station

ABSTRACT: Increases in outdoor human activity is known to adversely affect how wildlife use the landscape. In the Ozark and Ouachita mountain regions of northern Arkansas, anthropogenic activity increases periodically throughout the year through hunting activities. Wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) hunting season occurs during spring, concurrent with turkey breeding activities and may influence how male turkeys use the landscape. The objective of this study was to determine the biotic factors that influence habitat selection by male turkeys during breeding season, February-May. Additionally, we aimed to determine the impacts of anthropogenic disturbances (i.e. hunting) on wild turkey habitat selection. To address these objectives, we trapped 114 male turkeys from 2016-2018 prior to the hunting season, and fitted each captured male with a satellite transmitter to determine used locations. Using turkey location data, national land cover dataset, and discrete choice analysis, we were able to determine the habitat selection of male wild turkeys during reproductive activities and adjustments made as a result of increased human-wildlife interactions during hunting season on the landscape. Management of turkey populations may be facilitated as we gain a better understanding of male habitat selection and how anthropogenic disturbances may influence turkey habitat use.

Monday October 22, 2018 5:30pm - 7:00pm
Bon Secour Bay Ballroom & 2nd Level Foyer

5:30pm

Poster: Moist-Soil Seed Biomass and Duck Energy-Day Estimates in Pastures on Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge
AUTHORS: Joseph R. Marty, James Whitaker* – Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge*Presenting Author

ABSTRACT: We conducted a pilot study in fall 2017 to estimate above-ground moist-soil seed biomass and duck energy-days on approximately 86 ha of pastures/moist-soil wetlands on Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge, Cameron Parish, Louisiana. We collected data on plant species, stem count, and pressed seed heads from 50 random 1-m2 plots at five sites (n = 10 plots/site). Plants were sent to the University of Tennessee Wetlands Program for analyses. Seed-head area for each plant was scanned, and seed-head area (cm2) estimates used to predict dry seed mass (g) per plant. Pastures were dominated by Paspalum lividum (longtom) and less commonly, Echinochloa walterii (Walter’s millet), Polygonum hydropiperoides (swamp smartweed), and Cyperus odoratus (fragrant flatsedge). Seed production/plant was multiplied by plant density/m2 for each species, seed production was summed across species within a plot, and estimates were converted to kg/ha. Duck energy-day estimates were calculated using seed production, true metabolizable energy of seed, and the daily energy requirement of mallards. Seed production and duck energy-day estimates were averaged among plots, and the standard deviation and 95% confidence intervals calculated. Average moist-soil seed biomass among sites was 111 kg/ha. The pastures contained 51,480 duck energy-days and had the potential to support 468 ducks per day for 110 days. We classified this as low seed production (<200 kg/ha) and recommend investigating different management techniques such as timed drawdowns, rolling/buffaloing, disking, and herbicide use to increase moist-soil seed production.

Monday October 22, 2018 5:30pm - 7:00pm
Bon Secour Bay Ballroom & 2nd Level Foyer

5:30pm

Poster: Survival and Recovery Rates of Black-bellied Whistling Ducks (Dendrocygna autumnalis) Banded in Southwestern Louisiana
AUTHORS: Samantha A. Collins, James M. Whitaker*, William Strong – Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge*Presenting Author

ABSTRACT: The Black-bellied Whistling Duck (Dendrocygna autumnalis) has extended its range north and east since the 1970s and is now a common species in southwestern Louisiana. However, information on survival and movement for this species is lacking and it remains unclear what percentage of these birds are year-round residents. Band recovery data can be used to monitor populations by estimating annual survival, indexing harvest rate, and assessing movements. Banding efforts for Black-bellied Whistling Ducks have been conducted during the spring season throughout southwestern Louisiana since 2013. For banding years of 2013-2017, 1,474 normal, wild Black-bellied Whistling Ducks were banded and released in southwestern Louisiana. Hunters or landowners shot, recovered, and/or reported 86 birds (6%) with bands during this period. We report preliminary findings on encounter locations, annual survival, and harvest of this species from band recovery data for birds banded during these efforts.

Monday October 22, 2018 5:30pm - 7:00pm
Bon Secour Bay Ballroom & 2nd Level Foyer

5:30pm

Poster: Survival and Recovery Rates of Mourning Doves (Zenaida macroura) Banded on Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge
AUTHORS: James M. Whitaker, Samantha A. Collins – Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge

ABSTRACT: A national dove banding program was initiated in 2003 by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, in conjunction with many state wildlife management agencies, to better understand Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura) population trends and to provide harvest rate estimates for the species. The data gathered from this program and others are critical in the development of setting harvest season dates and bag limits for Mourning Doves. In addition, this information is used for annual harvest management plans and other strategic management plans that have large landscape level effects. Banding efforts for Mourning Doves have been conducted from 2010-2017 on or adjacent to Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge property in southwestern Louisiana. During this time, 831 normal, wild Mourning Doves were banded and released. Hunters or landowners shot, recovered, and/or reported 48 birds (6%) with bands during this period. We report preliminary findings on encounter locations, annual survival and harvest of this species from band recovery data for birds banded during these efforts.

Monday October 22, 2018 5:30pm - 7:00pm
Bon Secour Bay Ballroom & 2nd Level Foyer

5:30pm

Poster: Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency’s Winter Trout Program: A First Look into Angler Recruitment and Retention
AUTHORS: Brandon Simcox, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency

ABSTRACT: The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) stocks approximately 95,000 Rainbow Trout Oncorhynchus mykiss at 42 locations across the state during the winter months (November-March) to provide angling opportunities in areas with limited or no access to trout fisheries. Resource monitoring has been limited and little is known about angler demographics, motivations, recruitment and retention. Angler surveys were conducted from November 2017 to February 2018 at seven ponds across Tennessee ranging from 0.14 to 3.58 ha. Creel dates were stratified to match expected angler effort and cameras were placed at each location to determine angler use using time-lapse photography. A total of 214 individual anglers were interviewed during creel surveys. Total angling effort was estimated to be 5,682 hours expended at the 7 sites across an 8 week study period. Of the anglers interviewed, 37% were under 16 years of age or had less than 3 years total of trout fishing experience. Fifty percent of anglers had fished the Winter Trout Program less than 3 years. Additionally, 55% of anglers interviewed did not fish for trout outside of the Winter Trout Program. Most anglers (47%) became aware of the program through “word of mouth”, although directed marketing strategies were used. Digital media (e.g., facebook) was the second most popular way anglers learned about the program. Catch Rates averaged 1.10 fish/hr and 58% of anglers caught at least 1 fish by the time of interview. Overall, approximately 86% of anglers reported they were at least somewhat satisfied with the Winter Trout Program.

Monday October 22, 2018 5:30pm - 7:00pm
Bon Secour Bay Ballroom & 2nd Level Foyer

5:30pm

Poster: The Influence of Land-Use Change on Loggerhead Shrike Population Decline in Lincoln Parish, Louisiana
AUTHORS: Brittanie Loftin, Terri J. Maness – Louisiana Tech University

ABSTRACT: Since the 1940’s, the Loggerhead Shrike (Lanius ludovicianus) has faced population declines throughout its continental range. These population declines have been attributed to the spraying of biocides, changes in land-use, and increasing competition from human-tolerant species. Loggerhead Shrikes are a species of conservation concern in Louisiana due to population declines in the state. Louisiana Tech ornithology students collected information about shrike nest sites from 1976 - 1989. We used these data to determine if changes in land-use could explain the reduction in shrike population in Lincoln Parish. We used ArcGIS to plot the historic nest sites. Landscape features of 8ha nest site territories were characterized using four variables important for habitat selection in shrikes: perches, tree cover, open land, and water. The percent area in each variable was compared between historical and current maps to determine land-use changes. No shrikes were found at the historic nest sites during surveys conducted in 2016-2018, so all nesting territories were used in our analyses. The amount of open area significantly decreased, while perches and tree cover significantly increased. Shrikes need open land and perches for hunting. Our results suggest that the amount of open area for hunting is critical for sustaining Loggerhead Shrikes more so than the number of perches. This information can be used to improve conservation of shrikes in our area.

Monday October 22, 2018 5:30pm - 7:00pm
Bon Secour Bay Ballroom & 2nd Level Foyer

5:30pm

Poster: Using Time Lapse Cameras and a Roving Creel Survey to Evaluate a Tailrace Trout Fishery
AUTHORS:  Christopher McKee, Jay Haffner – Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division, Fisheries Section District III

ABSTRACT:  The Smith Lake Tailrace is Alabama’s only year-round trout fishery and is utilized by anglers throughout Alabama and bordering states. This put-and-take fishery is a valuable asset to Cullman and Walker Counties, as well as the entire state. The goals of this project were to determine angler use of the trout fishery, the percentage of stocked trout that are harvested, direct expenditures related to the fishery, and to identify any needed management actions to improve the fishery. An angler survey was conducted from June 2014 through May 2016 on the upper 2.5 mile reach. Concurrently, time lapse cameras were placed at parking areas to estimate effort. Anglers traveled from three states and thirty-one Alabama counties to fish for trout in the tailrace. Angler use was high at 7,400 hours of effort per mile of stream, which resulted in $181,300 of annual expenditures. However, anglers harvested only 16% of trout stocked throughout the course of the study.

Monday October 22, 2018 5:30pm - 7:00pm
Bon Secour Bay Ballroom & 2nd Level Foyer

6:00pm

7:00pm

Dinner on Your Own in Mobile
Monday October 22, 2018 7:00pm - 11:00pm
N/A
 
Tuesday, October 23
 

7:00am

7:00am

Breakfast with Exhibitors
Tuesday October 23, 2018 7:00am - 8:30am
2nd Level Foyer

7:00am

Speaker Ready Room Open
Tuesday October 23, 2018 7:00am - 3:00pm
Baypointe Suite

7:00am

7:00am

Exhibits Open
Tuesday October 23, 2018 7:00am - 7:00pm
2nd Level Foyer

8:00am

Fisheries 2 Track: Catch and Harvest of Targeted Sportfishes at Marben Public Fishing Area in Middle Georgia
AUTHORS: Hunter Roop, Neelam Poudyal, and Cecil Jennings - The University of Georgia

ABSTRACT: Public fishing areas (PFAs) in Georgia are intensively managed freshwater impoundments that provide a variety of excellent fishing opportunities to anglers. Current management efforts and fishing regulations at Marben PFA depend on understanding basic aspects of recreational fishing pressure, catch, and harvest. Accordingly, we conducted a roving creel survey during January – December 2013 to quantify sport fishing effort, catch and release, and fish catch by species, number, and weight in 14 Marben PFA lakes. Almost all of the anglers interviewed (99%) targeted a specific; of these anglers, 34.7% targeted a second species, and 5.7% targeted a third species. Sunfish (Lepomis spp.) ranked highest among primary, secondary, and tertiary targeted species; whereas, channel catfish (Ictalurus punctatus) was the highest ranked quaternary targeted species. Largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides) ranked second among primary, tertiary, and quaternary target species. Catches and harvest of targeted sportfish in Marben PFA varied considerably by species. Sunfish were the most abundant species by number and weight of fish caught (n=4,130) and harvested (n= 2,137; 252 kg) for the entire survey period. Black crappie (Pomoxis nigromaculatus) had the lowest reported catch (n = 228) and release (n = 38), while largemouth bass had the lowest observed harvest in number (n = 48) and weight (46 kg). Distribution of species targeted by Marben anglers differed from that of other Georgia anglers, who targeted largemouth bass, sunfish, and channel catfish, respectively. These findings imply that Georgia PFA fishery managers could give consideration to local management objectives when developing or managing local fisheries. Specifically, different angler may express fishing preferences that deviate from the State summary statistics. The smaller profile and intensive management of Marben PFA impoundments benefits anglers of varying skill levels and backgrounds equally, making it an ideal setting for recruiting new anglers while still challenging seasoned anglers.

Tuesday October 23, 2018 8:00am - 8:20am
Bon Secour Bay I

8:00am

SYMPOSIUM-03: Status Surveys for the Rattlesnake Master Borer Moth (Papaipema eryngii) in the Southeast Region
AUTHORS: Allison Fowler, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission; Dr. James Bess, Northland Environmental Services, LLC

ABSTRACT: The rattlesnake master borer-moth (Papaipema eryngii) is a critically imperiled species known from Arkansas, Missouri, Kentucky, North Carolina, and Illinois. This species is a candidate for federal listing. The species is an obligate of rattlesnake master (Yuccifolium eryngium). While the host plant is abundant across the Southeast region, only a few populations of the borer-moth are known to occur. Primary habitats are prairies and savanna woodlands. Recent surveys from Missouri yielded several new occurrences. It has been noted that the primary survey technique of attracting adults to light at night is not the best method for this species. Searches involving looking for larvae within the host plant have resulted in more success of detecting the species. Larvae sign on host plants is most noticeable in June and July. The results of Missouri surveys prompted other Southeastern states to take interest and in 2017, region-wide surveys were initiated using pooled funding from the Southeast At-Risk Species (SEARS) program. Surveys were conducted during summer 2017 in Arkansas and Tennessee. No new detections were made in Tennessee. In Arkansas, this project and a parallel project yielded new occurrences in 10 additional counties, greatly expanding the known distribution of this species in the state. Additional surveys are planned in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Florida in summer of 2018. The information gathered here will be an important component of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s species status assessment and will greatly contribute to our knowledge of the distribution and status of the species.

Tuesday October 23, 2018 8:00am - 8:20am
Grand Bay I

8:00am

8:00am

Wildlife 2 Track: Achievement-oriented Effects on Waterfowl-Hunt Quality at Mississippi Wildlife Management Areas
AUTHORS: Michael L. Schummer, Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture, Mississippi State University; Allison M. Smith, Department of Environmental and Forest Biology, State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry; Richard M. Kaminski, Kevin M. Hunt, Elizabeth St. James – Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture, Mississippi State University; Houston Havens, Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks

ABSTRACT: Waterfowl hunters participate in hunting for appreciative-, affiliative-, and achievement-oriented reasons. To investigate the influence of achievement-oriented factors on hunt quality, waterfowl hunters at four Mississippi Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) responded to a survey following hunting, 2009-2015. We used these questions to calculate a hunt quality score for each participant and tested whether variation in hunt quality was best explained by total number of ducks harvested, number of mallards harvested, total bag weight, or quality of ducks as table fare. We detected that hunt quality increased with total number of ducks and mallards harvested. Hunt quality scores varied positively with an increasing number of ducks harvested up to six total ducks (i.e., the daily allowable bag) and number of mallards up to three ducks (i.e., 1 less than the daily allowable bag during study). We detected that harvesting ducks, especially mallards, is important to hunters at Mississippi WMAs, and believe this metric should be considered in developing waterfowl management plans in Mississippi and elsewhere in the southeastern United States.

Tuesday October 23, 2018 8:00am - 8:20am
Bon Secour Bay II

8:00am

Marketing, R3 & Communications 2 Track: Using Partnerships to Market Programs
AUTHORS:  Kayla Becker, Archery Trade Association

ABSTRACT:  Everyone wants their classes and programs to fill up quickly with eager and enthusiastic students, but how do you fill those seats? Do you have a target audience and are you reaching them? Marketing your programs can be a difficult task when it is really broken down to evaluate if you are bringing in the audience you want. But using partnerships is a great way to help reach that target audience, and can benefit everyone involved in the partnership.Working with a variety of partners can help you reach very targeted audiences that you may want to participate in a program. For example, if you are running an advanced fly-fishing course, targeting audiences that have never been fishing in the first place may not be where to start. A partnership with a local fishing club would help target those already interested in fishing but would like to learn more.This can also be the case when finding instructors. Students relate better when they see an instructor they can relate to, so having instructors that relate to your target audience and from within the community is important.During this presentation, we will discuss successful partnerships, tools and strategies that can be used to market programs, and ways partners can collaborate to market their own and other programs together. Join us for an open and ongoing discussion to make archery and bowhunting accessible to everyone, in every community.

Tuesday October 23, 2018 8:00am - 8:40am
Riverboat

8:00am

Law Enforcement Track. Elements of Law Enforcement Recruiting
Texas Game Warden Kevin Malonson, Texas Game Warden Brandon Thacker and Arkansas Game Warden Jessica McBride

Tuesday October 23, 2018 8:00am - 8:45am
Bon Secour Bay III

8:00am

8:20am

Fisheries 2 Track: Public Lake Partnerships: A Strategy for Continuing the Tradition of Good Alabama Fishing
AUTHORS:  Ken Weathers, Matthew Marshall – Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division

ABSTRACT:  Providing quality angling opportunities at affordable prices in locations with few public water fishing areas has been a longstanding goal of the Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries (ADWFF) Public Fishing Lakes (PFL) Program. This program centers around small impoundments dispersed throughout the state that are intensively managed for largemouth bass, bluegill, shellcracker, crappie, and channel catfish by personnel of the Fisheries Section of the ADWFF. The day to day operation of the concessions and grounds maintenance is contracted to a Lake Manager in exchange for revenue associated with fishing and other related permits. For over 60 years, the Lake Manager model has been effective; however, as fishing trends and public recreational preferences changed, revenue at PFL’s declined. This problem has caused a reduction in Lake Manager retention and further depletes the limited funding required for necessary renovations and repairs to buildings and grounds where costs continue to rise. One solution for solving these problems is forming partnerships with local government entities. In the past, counties have been utilized in resurfacing access roads and parking lots at PFL’s, so seeking their assistance is not an entirely new concept. ADWFF has recently partnered with several municipalities through various contractual arrangements in order to operate five PFL’s. Although challenges exist with this new operational model, the benefits have outweighed the negatives giving optimism for the future.

Tuesday October 23, 2018 8:20am - 8:40am
Bon Secour Bay I

8:20am

SYMPOSIUM-03: Overview of Recent Surveys for At-risk Species in Oklahoma
AUTHORS: Mark D. Howery, Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation

ABSTRACT: In coordination with other wildlife diversity programs in the southeast, the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation has conducted, or provided the funding to conduct, surveys for a wide range of federally-petitioned species including the Oklahoma Salamander (Eurycea tynerensis), Rocky Shiner (Notropis suttkusi), Longnose Darter (Percina nasuta), Alligator Snapping Turtle (Macroclemys temminckii), Western Chicken Turtle (Deirochelys reticularia miaria) and Pyramid Pigtoe (Plerobema rubrum). The results of these surveys will be presented along with their implications for similar work in neighboring SEAFWA states. Each of these species is recognized as a species of greatest conservation need in Oklahoma and each of these surveys has received funding through the State Wildlife Grants program. This work compliments the efforts by other state wildlife agencies working in partnership through the Southeastern At-risk Species (SEARS) initiative of the SEAFWA Wildlife Diversity Committee.

Tuesday October 23, 2018 8:20am - 8:40am
Grand Bay I

8:20am

SYMPOSIUM-05: Biodiversity Information Serving Our Nation: The Largest and Most Comprehensive Resource for Invasive Species Data from Across the U.S.
AUTHORS: U.S. Geological Survey

ABSTRACT: Biodiversity Information Serving Our Nation (BISON), hosted by USGS, is a unique, web-based Federal mapping resource for species occurrence data in the United States and its Territories. It currently contains more than 381 million records for virtually all species and areas in the US. These include approximately 15 million records for non-native species. Extensive web services allow direct connection of scripts and other applications for automated analyses and use on other websites. Data provider statistics allow tracking of usage to individual data sets. BISON is the primary application of the US Node of the Global Biodiversity Information Facility and has standardized taxonomy provided by the Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS). Numerous capabilities and derivatives of BISON services and data that pertain to invasives will be described.

Tuesday October 23, 2018 8:20am - 8:40am
Grand Bay II

8:20am

Wildlife 2 Track: Changes in Waterfowl Abundance and Species Composition on Louisiana Coastal Wildlife Management Areas and Refuges 2004–2016
AUTHORS: James M. Whitaker, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge; Kevin M. Ringelman, School of Renewable Natural Resources, Louisiana State University AgCenter; Joseph R. Marty, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge; Will M. Selman, Millsaps College, Department of Biology; Jeb T. Linscombe, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries

ABSTRACT: Aerial waterfowl surveys are conducted on major wintering areas to provide regional population indices and determine habitat use of non-breeding waterfowl. Coastal Louisiana supports more than one third of the wintering continental dabbling duck population and up to two thirds of those found in the Mississippi Flyway. Accordingly, considerable effort is allocated to monitoring waterfowl abundance in coastal Louisiana, with trickle-down implications for habitat management. We conducted monthly surveys November–January (2004–2016) on nine state-owned coastal wildlife management areas and refuges. Across all sites and survey years, the most commonly observed species were gadwall (Mareca strepera), green-winged teal (Anas creeca), and mallard (Anas platyrhynchos). Despite increases in breeding population indices to near record highs, their populations were stable region-wide in coastal Louisiana, with minor declines on some heavily-hunted and unmanaged areas. In contrast, northern pintail (Anas acuta) experienced a precipitous decline region-wide, and on four of the nine major wintering areas surveyed. We hypothesize that this decline is related to changes in coastal and agricultural habitats. Diving duck populations tended to be increasing or stable: lesser scaup (Aythya affinis) increased significantly on two areas, and ring-necked ducks (Aythya collaris) increased substantially on one area, perhaps because of increases in water depth. Our results demonstrate the utility of aerial surveys for monitoring waterfowl populations and documenting important trend data for commonly-observed species. We also pose hypotheses about habitat change to help guide future analyses and coastal waterfowl management.

Tuesday October 23, 2018 8:20am - 8:40am
Bon Secour Bay II

8:30am

SEAFWA Technical Committee Chairs
Tuesday October 23, 2018 8:30am - 10:30am
Schooner

8:40am

Fisheries 2 Track: Small Impoundment Management: Using Littoral Zone Habitat to Alter Traditional Fisheries Management Rates
AUTHORS:  Michael Holley, Matthew Marshall – Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division

ABSTRACT:  The management of small impoundments and public fishing lakes by the Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries (ADWFF) historically followed an approach that applied static rates for fish harvest, stocking, fertilization, and other management techniques. Since the 1950’s, fisheries management in ADWFF Public Fishing Lakes (PFLs) relied on rates recommended Dr. Homer Swingle’s research at Auburn University. The rates were based on surface acreage as the determining characteristic that influenced fisheries management. Recently, ADWFF has explored alternative rates to managing small impoundments, based on limnological and morphological characteristics of PFLs. Specifically, management rates for largemouth bass were altered based on summertime “Littoral Habitat”. The exploration of alternative management schemes came after age and growth data suggested that bass crowded PFLs were actually experiencing growth overfishing of largemouth bass. We report on recent management, where summertime “Littoral Habitat”, instead of surface acreage was used to lower stocking rates to improve growth, condition and size structure of largemouth bass. Also, restrictive harvest was implemented to reduce overfishing of largemouth bass during the first year the PFLs were open to the public after renovation. Mean and modal total length, length frequencies, and relative stock density of largemouth bass populations one year, and two years after renovating PFLs were compared between status quo and “Littoral Habitat” management schemes. Our data indicates that fisheries management of small impoundments based on “Littoral Habitat” may be better suited to improve growth and condition of largemouth bass, and improve size structure of largemouth bass after renovation.

Tuesday October 23, 2018 8:40am - 9:00am
Bon Secour Bay I

8:40am

SYMPOSIUM-03: Going with the Flow: Multi-state Taxonomic Investigation and Conservation Assessment of Crayfishes
AUTHORS: Zachary J. Loughman, West Liberty University; Bronwyn W. Williams, North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences

ABSTRACT: Crayfishes play a central role in freshwaters throughout the southeastern U.S.A., yet are among the most imperiled organisms in these ecosystems. Many species face several threats, mitigation of which require a broad scale perspective. Our work focuses on three main goals: (1.) determining the range-wide conservation status of two FWS Region 4 priority taxa, Cambarus williami (TN) and Cambarus spicatus (NC/SC), (2.) performing reconnaissance of burrowing crayfishes for future dedicated projects (NC/SC and TN), and (3.) documenting the crayfish communities in the Duck (TN) and Santee basins (NC/SC) where the above focal taxa occur. The Duck and Santee both harbor additional crayfishes listed in each respective state’s SWAP and several undescribed crayfishes likely endemic to each basin, one of which – Cambarus polypilosus - we recently described. At least 20 crayfish species will benefit from this effort, substantially broadening the project’s overall conservation impact. Focusing on both historic and semi-randomly generated sites, we are using a suite of comprehensive abiotic and biotic characteristics recorded at each locale as covariates for logistic regression models to aid determination of preferred habitat associated with epigean crayfish species encountered in each basin. We aim to ultimately provide conservation planners at the state and federal level with the data to determine if C. spicatus and C. williami should remain on Region 4’s priority taxa list, and establish a multi-agency approach for long-term monitoring and other conservation efforts for both stable and imperiled southeastern crayfish communities.

Tuesday October 23, 2018 8:40am - 9:00am
Grand Bay I

8:40am

SYMPOSIUM-05: Fisheries Management in the Information Age: Lessons Learned and New Opportunities
AUTHORS: Adam Martin, Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources

ABSTRACT: Advances in communication have allowed an unprecedented level of connectivity throughout the developed world. Resource agencies now have the opportunity to interact with the public instantly, but very few are fully utilizing this powerful tool. Traditional forms of communication still have their place in fisheries management, however, if used correctly, digital communication could be the most useful management tool ever used by biologists. Far too often the work of resource agencies is seen as secretive because we do such a poor job of communicating with the public. Proper communication techniques can be used to eliminate conflicts quickly, while furthering the management goals of the agency. Invasive species can be an extremely controversial issue that often makes the public and the agency feel as though they are on opposite sides. We will present examples of how to engage the public on controversial issues such as invasive species in ways that encourage partnership and decrease conflicts. By presenting real world examples, we hope to show that digital communication can be a more powerful management tool than any traditional policy or regulation.

Tuesday October 23, 2018 8:40am - 9:00am
Grand Bay II

8:40am

Wildlife 2 Track: Factors Affecting Waterfowl use of National Wildlife Refuges in the Southeast
AUTHORS: Heath Hagy, Mindy Rice, Adam Smith: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

ABSTRACT: The majority of National Wildlife Refuges (NWR) that are priorities for waterfowl in the Southeast conduct monitoring to help evaluate current management practices and guide future allocation of resources. However, current waterfowl monitoring programs vary in scope, scale, and overall design. Inconsistencies in data collection and methodological documentation make amalgamation at the regional scale difficult and tracking of trends over time at individual NWRs troublesome. However, several NWRs have monitoring data available that can be useful in evaluating factors that influence waterfowl use and designing more robust and coordinated monitoring programs. For example, the Integrated Waterbird Management and Monitoring (IWMM) program can be used as a platform to increase consistency of data collection and management, track important factors that influence use over time, and document effects of management for waterfowl on NWRs. We will use available data from multiple NWRs in the Southeast to evaluate environmental and local-scale management factors affecting waterfowl use. Results will help NWR staff prioritize monitoring efforts and efficiently collect data that is informative for management. Moreover, we will provide examples of efficient and effective monitoring designs for generating overall waterfowl use days and peak abundances using migration curves and a single point-in-time survey. Results from these analyses will be useful in creating large scale (e.g., NWR Complex, Area, or Region), coordinated waterfowl monitoring frameworks to increase cost-efficiency of data collection and overall capacity for science-based waterfowl management on NWRs in the Southeast.

Tuesday October 23, 2018 8:40am - 9:00am
Bon Secour Bay II

8:40am

Marketing, R3 & Communications 2 Track: R3 Successes through Marketing
AUTHORS: Jenifer Wisniewski, Georgia Wildlife Resources Division

ABSTRACT: Georgia shares how they are using targeted communications and digital ads to increase license sales.

Tuesday October 23, 2018 8:40am - 9:20am
Riverboat

8:45am

9:00am

Fisheries 2 Track: Shoreline Rotenone Application to Control Largemouth Bass (Micropterus salmoides) Recruitment in Small Impoundments
AUTHORS:  Tyler Steven Coleman, Matthew J. Catalano, Russell A. Wright – School of Fisheries Aquaculture and Aquatic Sciences, Auburn University; Graves Lovell, Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division

ABSTRACT:  Control of Micropterus salmoides (LMB) recruitment would benefit small impoundment (SI) recreational fisheries by reducing LMB population density, which could improve growth rates, body condition, and size structure. Application of the piscicide rotenone along the shoreline is an approach that has the potential to selectively reduce LMB recruitment in SI’s, but its performance has not yet been thoroughly evaluated. We evaluated the influence of shoreline rotenone treatment on age-0 and age-1 LMB density, growth, and body condition in SI’s and assessed the effect of impoundment size on the efficiency of the approach. During 2017, shoreline rotenone was applied at six SI’s and another six were established as untreated controls. If shoreline rotenone treatments prove effective in reducing LMB recruitment and population densities, then this approach will be a valuable tool for state agencies, private consultants, and landowners managing recreational fishing SI’s.

Tuesday October 23, 2018 9:00am - 9:20am
Bon Secour Bay I

9:00am

Legal Track. Participating in the Wildlife Violator Compact
Craig Jones, Assistant Chief Counsel, South Carolina

Tuesday October 23, 2018 9:00am - 9:20am
Windjammer

9:00am

SYMPOSIUM-03: Range and Status Updates for a Petitioned Endemic Species, the Carolina Pygmy Sunfish (Elassoma boehlkei), in Two States
AUTHORS: Brena Jones, NC Wildlife Resources Commission; Tim Savidge, Three Oaks Engineering

ABSTRACT: Given the extreme limitations on the quantity and availability of conservation funds, it is critical that decision-makers have data that are both as current and as accurate as possible, in order to prioritize where and how investments are made. When dealing with cryptic endemic species, this is often complicated by sparse or scattered datasets. A case in point is the Carolina Pygmy Sunfish (Elassoma boehlkei), one of 374 species under review by the US Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS). These small fish are endemic to blackwater ditches and streams in the Lumber and Santee drainages of North and South Carolina’s Coastal Plain. When petitioned for listing, there were no recent, comprehensive survey data across the species’ range. The NC Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC) conducted targeted surveys at 81 sites in the Waccamaw River sub-basin in NC from 2014-2015. In 2018, Three Oaks Engineering surveyed an additional 70 sites, predominantly in SC. Over half of the detections in NC were previously unrecorded localities, two sites representing new tributary populations. Two more new tributary sites were discovered in the Wateree sub-basin in SC. Local densities are variable, but results suggest the species persists successfully, migrating with flow between connected suitable habitats. Further analysis of recently-collected SC data is ongoing, including expansion of detection/occupancy probability modeling begun in NC. These findings will inform both the federal status review and conservation and management decisions in both states.

Tuesday October 23, 2018 9:00am - 9:20am
Grand Bay I

9:00am

SYMPOSIUM-05: Florida's Nonnative Fish and Wildlife Program: An Overview
AUTHORS: Eric Suarez, Sarah Funck – Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

ABSTRACT: There are more nonnative species occurring in Florida than anywhere else in the world. Many of these species can have a negative impact on Florida’s natural resources, economy, and human health and safety. Not all introduced nonnative species become invasive; however, it is the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Nonnative Fish and Wildlife Program’s (FWC NFWP) responsibility to minimize adverse impact by employing a suite of management strategies including prevention through regulation, risk assessment, early detection rapid response, control and monitoring tools, technical assistance and outreach, and innovative management techniques. Prevention is clearly the key to reducing new introductions and population establishment, thus the FWC NFWP uses public engagement to detect and remove invasive wildlife. For example, since 2012, the FWC NFWP and its partners have removed over 5,000 Argentine black and white tegus from South Florida. One hundred and ninety-seven tegus have been removed by citizen scientists/volunteers. Through coordination and collaboration with partnering agencies and entities, research is also contracted to help improve management techniques. Information on eradication efforts, current management projects, research, and outreach and education will be presented along with future directions moving forward.

Tuesday October 23, 2018 9:00am - 9:20am
Grand Bay II

9:00am

(CANCELLED) Wildlife 2 Track: Evaluating Spatiotemporal Changes in Wintering Harvest Distribution of Midcontinent White-fronted Geese
AUTHORS: Callie B. Moore, Douglas C. Osborne – University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture, Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station

ABSTRACT: Presence of a species in an area during winter is influenced by whether essential requirements for survival are met. Consequently, effective management strategies require a thorough understanding of the resource selection patterns of the species. Since the mid-1900s, widespread environmental changes have occurred throughout mid-continent regions of North America. Herbivorous migratory bird species, particularly geese, have been forced to adapt. The shift of snow goose (Anser caerulescens) populations from historical wintering areas is well documented. However, the ecological response of greater white-fronted geese (Anser albifrons) to these changes remains unknown. We used centrographic statistics, kernel density estimation, and a randomization procedure to test for changes in winter harvest distribution of white-front band recoveries from 1974-2016. Inter-seasonal overlap between UDs was estimated using Bhattacharyya's affinity. Multinomial logit discrete choice models were used to assess resource preferences of white-fronts, and to predict which environmental factors may influence their distribution. Median center for each season revealed the central tendency of recoveries followed a northeasterly path from coastal Texas into the Mississippi Valley. Randomization analysis produced significant differences in the spatial distributions of the 95% and 50% UD isopleths (P =

Tuesday October 23, 2018 9:00am - 9:20am
Bon Secour Bay II

9:15am

9:20am

Fisheries 2 Track: Increasing Largemouth Bass Production Using Destratification: A Case Study
AUTHORS: J. Wesley Neal, Mississippi State University

ABSTRACT: Artificial destratification disrupts density differences associated with stratification, allowing homogenization of the water body in terms of temperature, oxygen, and other physicochemical characteristics. Lake and pond destratification as a management tool has been increasing in recent years, yet data are limited regarding its effects on fish communities. This case study examines the response of a largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides) population to destratification over nearly a decade. Relative biomass (35.8-42.8 kg/ha) and abundance (51-93 fish/ha) of stock-sized (=200 mm TL) largemouth bass were both consistently low prior to installation of the system, but then relative biomass tripled (129.8 kg/ha) and relative abundance quadrupled (334 fish/ha) and remained high for the duration of the study. Concurrently, mean weight of fish and mean relative weight (Wr) declined continuously following population expansion, suggesting that population biomass had overshot carrying capacity. Although lack of replication precludes conclusive assignment of causation, the magnitude of change following years of relative stability suggests that continuous destratification may increase carrying capacity for largemouth bass in eutrophic southern ponds, and that more research on the effects of destratification in small impoundments is warranted. If destratification can double or triple standing biomass while greatly reducing the risks of oxygen-related fish kills, the cost of these systems could be more easily justified by managers of ponds and small lakes.

Tuesday October 23, 2018 9:20am - 9:40am
Bon Secour Bay I

9:20am

SYMPOSIUM-03: Conserving a Southeastern Legacy: Status of the Alligator Snapping Turtle (Macrochelys temminckii) in South Mississippi
AUTHORS: Luke Pearson, Gabrielle Berry, Carl Qualls – Department of Biological Sciences, University of Southern Mississippi

ABSTRACT: The alligator snapping turtle (Macrochelys temminckii) is currently under review by the US Fish and Wildlife Service and other regulatory and management agencies to determine if populations have declined sufficiently to warrant federal listing as a threatened species. Despite having a presumed near statewide distribution, there is a paucity of records for M. temminckii in Mississippi, thus leaving a void of knowledge at the core of this species’ geographic range. Therefore, our goal was to assess the status of M. temminckii throughout the state, beginning in south Mississippi. We systematically trapped 17 locations within the Pascagoula River drainage in 2017, capturing 126 M. temminckii (17 males; 34 females; 75 juveniles) in 878 trap nights, averaging 0.16 turtles per trap night (0 – 0.33 TTN). In river sites, no large males (> 50 cm CL) were captured, and the catch rate of juveniles was higher than in the lakes. Because of this size discrepancy, M. temminckii captured in lakes were larger ( > 4 cm CL and > 4 kg heavier) than those in rivers. The differences in adult capture rates may be caused by inherent habitat and microhabitat differences between the two systems, or increased fishing pressures in rivers. However, the abundance of juveniles at both site types, spanning a range of size classes, is a good sign of recruitment in these populations. Currently, systematic trapping is being conducted in the Pearl River drainage to assess population sizes and distributions in a significantly more altered system.

Tuesday October 23, 2018 9:20am - 9:40am
Grand Bay I

9:20am

SYMPOSIUM-05: Florida’s Aquatic Invasive Plant Management: A Love-Hate Relationship
AUTHORS: Ryan Hamm, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

ABSTRACT: With shallow, nutrient rich waterbodies and subtropical climate Florida has a long history of invasive aquatic plant infestation and management. Invasive floating plants water hyacinth and water lettuce have been present in Florida since at least the 1890’s and hydrilla was first introduced in the early 1950’s. In the aquatic systems where they occur they are a persistent issue, requiring consistent management to reduce impacts to infrastructure and access. These plants are also valued by many recreational anglers and hunters. Bass anglers often focus their effort on areas of hydrilla and floating plants and relate their angling success to a coverage of exotic plants that is very difficult to maintain over time. Many species of ducks consume hydrilla and research has shown it is a preferred food source for the most harvested duck in Florida; the Ring-necked Duck. As such, most Florida duck species will readily use hydrilla habitats in lieu of native ones. Therefore, many duck hunters in Florida want dense topped out hydrilla during waterfowl season and developed advocacy groups that champion that desire.As managers, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) biologists must juggle the concerns of flood control, access and navigation, quality habitat, and desires of a wide range of stakeholders that do not often fit together nicely. To best manage hydrilla, FWC has developed processes where waterbodies are managed on an individual basis depending on the uses and function of that waterbody utilizing input from stakeholders via surveys, public meetings, and planning groups.

Tuesday October 23, 2018 9:20am - 9:40am
Grand Bay II

9:20am

Wildlife 2 Track: Multi-scale Abundance and Distribution Trends of Double-crested Cormorants (Phalacrocorax auritus) in the Mississippi Delta
AUTHORS:  Paul C. Burr, Mississippi State University; Jimmy L. Avery, Mississippi State University Delta Research and Extension Center; Garrett M. Street, Mississippi State University; Bronson K. Strickland, Mississippi State University; Brian S. Dorr, USDA National Wildlife Research Center

ABSTRACT:  Double-crested cormorants are a piscivorous avian species that has an extensive history of human-wildlife conflict with the aquaculture industry of Mississippi due to their depredation of cultured catfish. A large scale monitoring program was implemented by the USDA, NWRC in 1989 to estimate both the abundance and distribution of cormorants at every known roost in the primary catfish producing region of the state, regionally known as the Mississippi Delta. We used this extensive data set to address various hypotheses pertaining to cormorant ecology within the Delta region over time, particularly in relation to aquaculture. We found that although the Midwest breeding population of cormorants has been increasing, the abundance of cormorants wintering in the Delta has been decreasing, closely following the decline of aquaculture acreage. This finding suggests aquaculture is a driving factor of cormorant inhabitation. We also found the phenology of peak cormorant abundance in the Delta has changed, with peak abundance occurring earlier every year. Specifically, peak cormorant abundance in the 1990’s occurred in mid-February, but currently occurs in mid-January. Finally, we modeled roost abundance against various covariates to determine important factors influencing the distribution of cormorants at roosting locations. The amount of aquaculture around a given roost was positively related to cormorant abundance, and average abundance increased from October to January, then steadily declined thereafter. Information gained using this large dataset aids in cormorant damage mitigation, as well as furthering our understanding of cormorant ecology, particularly in relation to foraging behavior at aquaculture facilities.

Tuesday October 23, 2018 9:20am - 9:40am
Bon Secour Bay II

9:20am

Marketing, R3 & Communications 2 Track: How R3 Changes Across Different Social Contexts
AUTHORS: Max Birdsong, Wayde Morse – Auburn University

ABSTRACT: The importance of hunting to the economy and conservation funding has motivated state agencies to increase R3 efforts, however a lack of quantifiable success has inspired the creation of an R3 National plan. The R3 national plan aims to increase the capacity of agencies to build strategic, data-driven R3 campaigns. A key objective of the National Plan is creating R3 programs with targeted outcomes, as opposed to the “shotgun” approach of most traditional R3 campaigns. The goal of our study is to increase understanding of how the R3 process varies across different social contexts, so that state agencies can be more successful in creating these targeted programs. We mailed a questionnaire to 4,000 Alabama WMA license holders asking them a variety of questions regarding their hunting experience in Alabama. The questionnaire measures individuals’ motivations for hunting, their constraints to hunting, facilitators of recruitment, and facilitators of retention. In our analysis we will examine how motivations, constraints, recruitment, and retention differ across demographic groups. This presentation discusses the findings of our analysis, as well as the ways in which an increased understanding of these differences can contribute to R3 success.

Tuesday October 23, 2018 9:20am - 10:00am
Riverboat

9:25am

9:30am

Legal Track. Use of Drones: Overcoming Legal Hurdles
PRESENTER: Kris Graham, Taggart, Rimes & Graham 

Tuesday October 23, 2018 9:30am - 11:20am
Windjammer

9:40am

Fisheries 2 Track: Evaluation of Supplemental Feeding and Threadfin Shad Addition as Pond Enhancements Using Stable Isotope Analysis
AUTHORS:  Keith Henderson, Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division; Russell A. Wright, Dennis R. DeVries, Matthew J. Catalano – School of Fisheries, Aquaculture, and Aquatic Sciences, Auburn University; David C. Glover, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

ABSTRACT:  Pond enhancements such as pelleted feed or threadfin shad addition are used to manage pond fisheries but often are not fully evaluated. We used stable isotope analysis to indicate the contribution of pelleted feed to bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus) reproduction and growth, and ultimately to largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides) growth in the presence and absence of threadfin shad (Dorosoma petenense) via two different approaches: a pond experiment and sampling of established ponds. Bluegill growth and reproductive metrics increased and their nitrogen signature decreased with pelleted feed in the experiment, suggesting feeding at a lower trophic level with increased feed. Largemouth bass nitrogen signature results were similar although not significant. In established ponds, pelleted feed contributed to the carbon isotopic signatures of both bluegill and largemouth bass independent of threadfin shad presence. These results suggest that adding pelleted feed to recreational largemouth bass-bluegill ponds can alter energy flow, possibly through multiple trophic levels.

Tuesday October 23, 2018 9:40am - 10:00am
Bon Secour Bay I

9:40am

SYMPOSIUM-03: Coordinated Surveys for Alligator Snapping Turtles in Louisiana
AUTHORS: John L. Carr, University of Louisiana at Monroe; Michael J. Dreslik, Illinois Natural History Survey; Carey Lynn Perry, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries; Karen Soileau, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Lafayette Ecological Services Office

ABSTRACT: SEAFWA’s Wildlife Diversity Committee works with the Southeast Region of the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) to support Species Status Assessments (SSAs) for species petitioned under the Endangered Species Act. Among these species is the Alligator Snapping Turtle (Macrochelys temminckii), with a scheduled SSA completion date in 2020. Across its range, populations have been impacted primarily by commercial harvesting, and to a lesser degree, factors such as habitat modification, predators, and introduced species. Alligator Snapping Turtle populations are highly susceptible to decline resulting from overutilization due to their life history characteristics (low recruitment, slow growth, long generation time). Commercial harvesting of the Alligator Snapping Turtle is now prohibited across its range; however, there have been few studies to assess the rate of recovery for populations and overall species status during the post-commercial harvesting period. Current survey data collected consistently is needed to document the abundance and size structure of populations and to inform the Service’s SSA. The goal of Louisiana’s Alligator Snapping Turtle surveys is to collect presence, occurrence, and habitat information (natural and anthropogenic) to model the present distribution of the species. Along with coordinated surveys in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, and Tennessee, Louisiana’s efforts will provide contemporary information on the abundance, size, and geographic distribution within multiple river systems in its range by directly surveying previously sampled sites and new sites.

Tuesday October 23, 2018 9:40am - 10:00am
Grand Bay I

9:40am

SYMPOSIUM-05: An Integrated Approach for the Development of a Statewide Management Plan for Invasive Burmese Pythons
AUTHORS: Melissa A. Miller, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

ABSTRACT: The Burmese python (Python bivittatus), a large constrictor snake native to southeast Asia, has established throughout southern Florida, south of Lake Okeechobee, west to Collier County and into the northern Keys. Invasive Burmese pythons prey on Florida’s native wildlife, threatening Florida’s natural resources. Management can be challenging as pythons are large, cryptic, apex predators established in largely inaccessible habitat throughout a mosaic of geopolitical boundaries. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) aims to address these obstacles through initiating the development of a statewide interagency python management plan. This plan will represent the first statewide management plan for invasive pythons, allowing for management goals to be established for the state of Florida. Through a collaborative interagency approach with coordination of management activities and objectives, the interagency python management plan will provide a unified guide for the FWC and agency partners for managing the invasion of Burmese pythons in southern Florida.

Tuesday October 23, 2018 9:40am - 10:00am
Grand Bay II

9:40am

Wildlife 2 Track: Predation Risk of Double-crested Cormorants (Phalacrocorax auritus) on Commercial Catfish Production in the Mississippi Delta
AUTHORS:  Terrel W. Christie, J. Brian Davis – Mississippi State University; Brian S. Dorr; Katie C. Hanson-Dorr – USDA National Wildlife Research Center; Luke A. Roy, Auburn University; Anita Kelly, University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff; Carole Engle, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

ABSTRACT:  Double-crested Cormorants (Phalacrocorax auritus) impact United States commercial aquaculture and are considered the greatest avian predators at catfish (Ictalurus spp.) aquaculture facilities. Cormorants are especially problematic in western Mississippi, the Delta, where catfish production is concentrated providing ideal wintering and foraging areas. Although cormorant/aquaculture dynamics have been studied in the past, recent changes (e.g., decreased overall hectares in production) in aquaculture practices and regulatory policies merit contemporary research. Therefore, we estimated abundance and distribution of cormorants at their night roosts and assessed diet related to catfish consumption. We used aerial point count surveys flown over night roosts from October through April during two winters, 2016-2018. Following each survey three active night roosts were randomly selected for harvesting cormorants for later necropsy and stomach contents assessment. We completed 25 total surveys and counted 357,850 cormorants (corrected for observer bias). Mean number of cormorants detected per survey, pooled over years, was 14,314 (range 2,964 to 25,624). We collected 730 cormorants from 27 different night roosts across years. Throughout the study catfish comprised 46% of the prey biomass detected with shad (Dorosoma spp.) being the other predominate (45%) prey species. Evidence suggests that the distance between a night roost and the nearest catfish aquaculture facility is an important predictor for a bird’s relative amount of catfish consumption. These results will inform wildlife mangers about relationships between cormorant night roost locations in the Delta and disproportionate consumption of catfish, aiding techniques to help ameliorate fish losses on aquaculture facilities.

Tuesday October 23, 2018 9:40am - 10:00am
Bon Secour Bay II

9:55am

10:00am

10:20am

Fisheries 2 Track: Comparing Angler Effort Estimates on Alabama Reservoirs Across a Variety of Creel Survey Methods
AUTHORS:  Robert Eckelbecker, Matthew J. Catalano – School of Fisheries, Aquaculture, and Aquatic Sciences, Auburn University

ABSTRACT:  We compared different creel survey methods at three Alabama reservoirs (Harris, Jordan, and Mitchell) to identify approaches that could improve precision or reduce costs. We were particularly interested in whether time-lapse photos taken at boat ramp parking lots could be used as an index of fishing effort to improve the temporal coverage of sampling at relatively low cost. Angler effort was estimated independently through the use of roving creels, access point creels, aerial census counts, and fixed-location digital camera images of boat ramps. Roving creels followed a stratified random design with equal sampling probability using a count-as-you-go approach. Access creels mimicked Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources standardized creels; occurring on weekends and sampled seven and a half hours before sunset extending thirty minutes after sunset. Aerial census counts were conducted by randomly timed fixed wing aircraft flights. Digital cameras were installed at high-use boat ramps and were elevated to maximize plane of view to cover the majority of parking lot spaces with a single picture taken hourly. Evaluation of the accuracy of angler effort from time-lapse photos will be analyzed based on ramp specific access point creel surveys that occur simultaneously. Total reservoir effort of time-lapse photos of all boat ramps will be compared to the fly over census counts. If the relationships are strong between both the aircraft counts and access point creel surveys to the camera images, then these angler effort estimates from remote cameras could reduce the amount of effort needed for on-site survey samples.

Tuesday October 23, 2018 10:20am - 10:40am
Bon Secour Bay I

10:20am

SYMPOSIUM-05: Wildlife Hosts and Tick Behavior Are Driving Expansion of Borrelia-infected Tick Populations into Southeastern States
AUTHORS: Graham Hickling, Janetta Kelly – University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture

ABSTRACT: Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi (Bb), which in the eastern US is vectored by the black-legged tick Ixodes scapularis. In southeastern states, black-legged ticks are widespread in many wooded habitats but are rarely infected with Bb; consequently, most human cases of Lyme disease originate from the Northeast and Upper Midwest. To explain this geographic pattern, it has been hypothesized that: i) tick abundance is too low in most southern states for Bb cycles to persist; and/or ii) immature black-legged ticks in the Southeast feed primarily on lizards, which are non-reservoir-competent hosts for Bb. The past decade, however, has seen emergence of Bb-infected tick populations in southwestern Virginia, southeastern Kentucky, and most recently eastern Tennessee. These emerging disease foci are closely associated with major river systems that may be acting as corridors for wildlife-mediated spread of northern strains of Bb, and northern genotypes of ticks. Tick genotype is key to assessing Lyme disease risk, because ‘northern’ I. scapularis have behavioral characteristics that increase the likelihood that they will attach to humans and transmit infection. The prospects for Lyme disease becoming more widespread in southern states in coming years will be discussed.

Tuesday October 23, 2018 10:20am - 10:40am
Grand Bay II

10:20am

Wildlife 2 Track: Foraging Ecology and Depredation Impact of Scaup on Commercial Baitfish and Sportfish Farms in Eastern Arkansas
AUTHORS: Stephen A. Clements, Brian Davis – Mississippi State University; Brian S. Dorr, Katie C. Hanson-Dorr – USDA/Wildlife Services/National Wildlife Research Center; Luke A. Roy, Auburn University; Anita M. Kelly, University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff; Carole Engle, Virginia Tech University; Scott C. Barras, USDA/Wildlife Services

ABSTRACT: Research is needed to address the growing concerns of Arkansas’ commercial baitfish and sportfish producers regarding the perceived increase in consumption of fish by lesser scaup (Aythya affinis) and greater scaup (Aythya marila); hereafter, scaup. The goals of our study were to estimate the distribution and abundance of piscivorous waterbirds, including scaup, on bait- and sportfish farms during fall-winters 2016-2017, and compare our contemporary results with unpublished surveys conducted from 2004 to 2005. Additionally, we aimed to estimate the amount of fish consumed by scaup foraging on commercial bait- and sportfish ponds. We surveyed approximately 800 baitfish and sportfish ponds (n = 15 individual farms) in Lonoke and Prairie Counties, Arkansas in winter 2016-2017. Accompanying these surveys, we also collected 294 foraging scaup from ponds. We removed and identified all food items in the gastrointestinal tract above the gizzard and taxonomically sorted, dried, and weighed each sample. All gizzards were examined for presence or absence of fish parts. We detected fish parts in 2% of scaup examined. A generalized linear mixed model fitted to previous and current survey data showed that scaup abundances were significantly higher on golden shiner ponds than ponds containing fathead minnows, goldfish, or sportfish. Our model indicates a significant decrease in scaup abundances during the contemporary surveys, which we attribute to the mild 2016-2017 winter. Our data will be vital in estimating the economic impact of fish loss to scaup foraging in these Arkansas ponds, and reveal potential management strategies to reduce fish predation by scaup.

Tuesday October 23, 2018 10:20am - 10:40am
Bon Secour Bay II

10:20am

Marketing, R3 & Communications 2 Track: Alabama's Adult Mentored Hunting Program
AUTHORS:  Marianne Hudson, Justin Grider – Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division

ABSTRACT:  Alabama shares information on their new effort to mentor first-time hunting adults.

Tuesday October 23, 2018 10:20am - 11:00am
Riverboat

10:20am

10:25am

10:35am

10:40am

Fisheries 2 Track: Economic Value of Recreational Fishing on Walter F. George Reservoir (aka Lake Eufaula), Alabama and Georgia
AUTHORS:  Jeremy Plauger, School of Fisheries Aquaculture and Aquatic Sciences, Auburn University

ABSTRACT:  Completed in 1963, Walter F. George Reservoir (aka Lake Eufaula) is located approximately 137 km between Columbus and Fort Gaines, Georgia. The reservoir supports many sport fisheries and has a national reputation for its Largemouth Bass fishery. Although a very popular reservoir, the annual economic impact from anglers is virtually unknown. An economic creel survey took place January 1 through December 31, 2017 in the area between Walter F. George Dam to the Georgia State Road 39 Bridge, approximately 14375 ha. A stratified, non-uniform probability sampling design was used for this survey to select time of day and section of reservoir to sample. A roving creel survey, instantaneous counts, aerial counts of boats, and follow-up telephone surveys were all conducted to meet the goals of this project. Sampling periods consisted of five consecutive days and two periods were conducted each month. Anglers contacted on the water were asked standard creel survey questions regarding their experience and catch that day, along with second questions about their expenditures. Other detailed questions were asked based on individual expenses during follow up interviews. Data from phone surveys were combined with those from the roving creel survey, instantaneous counts, and aerial surveys, to estimate the complete economic impacts of angling on Lake Eufaula to surrounding communities and both states.

Tuesday October 23, 2018 10:40am - 11:00am
Bon Secour Bay I

10:40am

SYMPOSIUM-05: Field Testing HogStopper® Feeders to Assess Non-Target Wildlife Bait Exposure
AUTHORS: Jeffrey P. Duguay, Maria Davidson, Jim LaCour, Tony Vidrine – Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries

ABSTRACT: The invasive feral hog (Sus scrofa) causes both economic loss and ecological damage. Many different methods have been employed to try and reduce feral hog populations, including shooting, hunting with dogs, trapping, and poisoning. In February 2017 the Texas Department of Agriculture approved the use of Kaput® Feral Hog Bait with the toxicant warfarin, an anticoagulant rodenticide, for use in controlling feral hogs. However, under the threat of lawsuits and public opposition to the use of toxic bait for controlling feral hog populations, Sciemetrics Ltd. Corp withdrew its registration of Kaput® Feral Hog Bait in the state of Texas. We placed 10 HogStopper® feeders (hereafter feeders) in Louisiana black bear (Ursus americanus luteolus) populated areas on private lands in Louisiana. We used both digital and video cameras to determine what species of wildlife were able to gain access to the feeders and if feed was spilled by feral hogs feeding at the feeders. We will discuss the applicability of using HogStopper® feeders with toxicant baits to minimize non-target wildlife bait exposure.

Tuesday October 23, 2018 10:40am - 11:00am
Grand Bay II

10:40am

(CANCELLED) Wildlife 2 Track: Winter Philopatry of Midcontinent Mallards Derived from Hunter Harvested Band Recoveries
AUTHORS: Lindsay G. Carlson, Douglas C. Osborne – University of Arkansas, Division of Agriculture, Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station

ABSTRACT: In contrast to breeding site philopatry, winter philopatry has not been extensively studied in waterfowl. The Mississippi Alluvial Valley is an important wintering area for midcontinent mallards (Anas platyrhynchos), however little is known about rates of philopatry and influencing factors. Wintering philopatry has an important biological effect on the genetic structure of a population and individual survival rates, thus warranting additional research. We obtained 7 decades of banding and encounter records for mallards banded in Arkansas to assess changes in winter distribution, winter homing rates, and winter philopatry for mallards wintering in Arkansas. We find no evidence to support claims of a northerly shifting in winter distribution of Arkansas banded mallards, although timing of migration may have changed. Rates of winter philopatry are appear higher for Arkansas banded mallards relative to mallards banded in other states in the Mississippi Flyway during winter. Lastly, mallards demonstrate large annual variation in homing rates (59% ±10%) from 1955-2017, although factors influencing annual variation are currently untested. Gaining a better understanding of the importance of winter philopatry may help structure management policies, inform decisions on land use changes, and predict how populations may be affected by habitat alterations due to climate change.

Tuesday October 23, 2018 10:40am - 11:00am
Bon Secour Bay II

11:00am

Fisheries 2 Track: Sociodemographic and Economic Characteristics of Black Bass Anglers Participating in Different Tournament Types on Lake Guntersville, Alabama
AUTHORS: Michael J. Maceina, Patrick L. Snellings, Terry R. Hanson – School of Fisheries, Aquaculture, and Aquatic Sciences, Auburn University; Diane Hite, Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology, Auburn University

ABSTRACT: We described sociodemographics and expenditures of black bass (Micropterus spp.) anglers participating in eight different tournament types on Lake Guntersville, Alabama. In 2013, we estimated 9,035 anglers fished in 259 tournaments. Most anglers were middle-upper aged, Caucasian males, with an annual household income of over US$75,000, and who had participated in tournaments for over 15 years. Fishing quality experience (poor to excellent) was positively related to the number of fish weighed-in. Differences in tournament types among anglers were related to travel distance, expenditures, non-Caucasian participants, resident location, number of times fishing on Lake Guntersville, entry fees, and club membership. Anglers spent $4.5 million (average about $500 per tournament for each angler) that generated $208,000 in state and local tax revenue over a one-year period. However, expenditures varied by over an order of magnitude among different tournament types. Discrimination of unique tournament types was an important variable in understanding the complex sociodemographic and economic aspects of competitive black bass tournaments.

Tuesday October 23, 2018 11:00am - 11:20am
Bon Secour Bay I

11:00am

Marketing, R3 & Communications 2 Track: Kentucky Wild: Marketing New Opportunities to Support Wildlife Conservation with the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources
AUTHORS:  Brian Clark, Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources

ABSTRACT:  Kentucky shares information on a new membership program that funds wildlife projects and allows members to have hands-on experience.

Tuesday October 23, 2018 11:00am - 11:20am
Riverboat

11:00am

SYMPOSIUM-05: Cooperative-based Feral Swine Control and Outreach
AUTHORS: Rod Pinkston, JAGER PRO

ABSTRACT: Both the feral swine problem and solution touch a wide range of human demographics. Property damage and disease impact urban, suburban and rural stakeholders. Large-scale control efforts require major collaboration between multiple state agencies, federal entities and private organizations. Navigating such a diverse array of public participants requires a cooperative-based approach and is critical to the success of an Integrated Wild Pig Control™ program. While past outreach campaigns have proven successful, landowners comment that the lack of professional assistance for direct control of feral swine is a limiting factor in their commitment and long-term success. Previous recreational sport hunting efforts and conventional trapping attempts did not decrease feral swine populations or limit their range expansion. An integrated, whole-sounder approach implemented by trained and certified professionals is required to accomplish efficient population control by using all legal means available. Trained people must execute an effective work process using efficient products capable of achieving the stated performance standard. This presentation will explore a current feral swine control pilot project in Georgia to demonstrate an effective multi-agency, multi-landowner “cooperative” approach by implementing a comprehensive Integrated Wild Pig Control™ program across a large tract of land. Project Partners expect the feral swine population reduction to directly benefit water quality and natural resources in the watershed. Landowners and agricultural producers will profit by experiencing significant reductions in both wildlife habitat damage and agricultural crop damage caused by feral swine.

Tuesday October 23, 2018 11:00am - 11:20am
Grand Bay II

11:00am

Wildlife 2 Track: Movement Variation of Overwintering Ring-necked Ducks in the Southern Atlantic Flyway
AUTHORS: Tori Mezebish, Mark McConnell – University of Georgia Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources

ABSTRACT: Ring-necked ducks (Aythya collaris) are one of the most abundant and harvested North American diving ducks; however, few studies have investigated their overwintering movement. Overwintering movement ecology in relation to hunting disturbance and resource abundance could have implications for harvest regulations and wetland management. We quantified changes in daily movement distances of ring-necked ducks in the southern Atlantic Flyway during the 2017-2018 overwintering period. We calculated average daily step lengths for eleven satellite transmitter implanted females using hidden Markov modeling. Daily distance moved throughout the total overwintering period was 5.04 km, CI=4.31-5.77. Daily distance moved was significantly greater during (6.03 km, CI=5.12-6.9) than after hunting season (3.61 km, CI=2.68-4.55). Hunting events may have generated regular escape movements, resulting in greater daily step length during the hunting season. Decreased daily distance moved post-hunting season may have also corresponded to habitat availability changes. Many land managers drain wetlands shortly after waterfowl hunting ends, reducing regional wetland density. If resources at remaining wetlands were abundant enough to prevent extensive resource-seeking behavior, ring-neck movements may have corresponded to shorter distances between limited available wetlands. Moreover, this trend may not be a function of anthropogenic activity, but of migratory preparation. Hens likely decreased the magnitude of exploratory movements post-hunting season to energetically prepare for migration, and utilized minimal wetlands. Our findings demonstrate a behavioral shift in ring-neck movement ecology that may relate to hunting disturbance and resource distribution. Further research should investigate the impacts of each factor to better understand overwintering ring-necked duck ecology.

Tuesday October 23, 2018 11:00am - 11:20am
Bon Secour Bay II

11:00am

Directors Committee Meeting
Tuesday October 23, 2018 11:00am - 12:00pm
Schooner

11:05am

11:20am

(CANCELLED) Fisheries 2 Track: Florida Bass Tournament Permits, Characteristics, and Impacts
AUTHORS: Lee Grove, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission; Ed Camp, University of Florida; Nia Morales, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

ABSTRACT: Black bass are the most targeted fish by freshwater anglers nationwide accounting for 39% of all freshwater fishing effort. According to the 2016 U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife Associated Recreation, freshwater angling generated $1.2 billion dollars in Florida. This high price tag has led managers to evaluate what portion of the revenue comes from bass fishing tournaments. In 1999, FWC biologists used data collected by USFWS survey to generate a $/hr value for bass fishing in Florida. That value has since been used to assign recreational dollar values to fisheries across the state and now to assess the economic impacts of bass tournaments in Florida. Hours of tournament effort were calculated by water body, county, region, and statewide using FWC tournament Permit Me data and then multiplied by the FWC $/hr value and correction variables to account for inflation and days of practice. From the Permit Me data, average winning weight and big bass was calculated by lake, region, and statewide. Average winning weight for bass tournaments is 14.10 lbs and average big bass is 5.81 lbs. Overall, bass fishing tournaments in Florida generate approximately 14% of all freshwater fishing revenue (e.g., $158 million in 2016). Tournament angling is likely underestimated by our methods that assume the same rate of spending per hour by all anglers. Our study highlights the need to better define revenues by angler group to provide the best estimates freshwater angling to local, regional, and state interest groups.

Tuesday October 23, 2018 11:20am - 11:40am
Bon Secour Bay I

11:20am

SYMPOSIUM-05: Effects of Invasive Species on the Sportfish Community of Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley
AUTHORS: Adam Martin, Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources

ABSTRACT: Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley are on the front lines of a battle against Asian carp and other invasives. As the first invaded reservoirs in the Tennessee and Cumberland river systems, an understanding of the impacts of Asian carp and other invasives can provide a good model of what to expect if Asian carp continue to spread into other large reservoirs in the southeast. Long term (30+years) data sets were used to assess the impacts of these invasives based on proposed direct and indirect interaction mechanisms.

Tuesday October 23, 2018 11:20am - 11:40am
Grand Bay II

11:20am

Wildlife 2 Track: Wintering Dynamics of Gadwall in the Tennessee River Valley
AUTHORS: Joshua M. Osborn, William D. Gulsby, Robert A. Gitzen, Gary D. Hepp – School of Forestry and Wildlife Science, Auburn University; Heath M. Hagy, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Hatchie National Wildlife Refuge, Stanton, TN

ABSTRACT: The Tennessee River Valley (TRV) provides habitat for the greatest concentration of non-breeding waterfowl in Alabama, historically supporting >200,000 waterfowl during winter. As a result, waterfowl hunting and conservation have become increasingly important in this region. Gadwall (Mareca strepera) are of particular interest because they are the second most harvested duck in Alabama (~25% of the Alabama waterfowl harvest), and the most frequently harvested duck in the TRV (~40% of the TRV waterfowl harvest). However, little information exists that describes gadwall habitat selection or response to hunting-related disturbance in the TRV, two factors which could significantly influence hunter satisfaction and, ultimately, waterfowl conservation in the region. During November—February 2017—2020 we will investigate gadwall habitat selection tendencies, winter distribution, and response to hunting pressure in the TRV. These data will assist the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and other entities responsible for waterfowl management with identification of priority conservation areas and regulatory frameworks that will aid waterfowl conservation efforts and maintain or increase hunter satisfaction in the region.

Tuesday October 23, 2018 11:20am - 11:40am
Bon Secour Bay II

11:30am

Legal Track. Lunch Break
Tuesday October 23, 2018 11:30am - 1:00pm
Windjammer

11:35am

11:40am

11:40am

Wildlife 2 Track: Integrating Public Mobile Hunting and Fishing Applications with Agency Enforcement: The Missouri Story
AUTHORS: Ritchie Jenkins, Missouri Department of Conservation; Lowell Ballard, Timmons Group

ABSTRACT: The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) includes Wildlife, Fisheries and Protection (enforcement) Divisions. Over the past several years, MDC has worked extremely hard to create effective mobile solutions for both Hunting and Fishing targeted at the public. The MO Hunting application enables Missouri hunters, and trappers to purchase, view, and store annual hunting, fishing, and trapping permits and associated details and “notch” their permit and Telecheck their harvest while offline. MO Fishing offers many similar capabilities.MDC Protection Agents desired to have a mobile solution to support enforcement efforts in the field. To support this, MDC created MO Agent Web and Mobile. These applications allow MDC Agents to scan barcodes from hunters and fisherman, review telecheck and permit history, issue warnings, and establish alerts for short-checks and other suspicious activities. Recently MDC also added Incident Reporting to the suite of tools. This talk will review the entire portfolio of Hunting and mobile enforcement tools for MDC.

Tuesday October 23, 2018 11:40am - 12:00pm
Bon Secour Bay II

12:00pm

Attendee Lunch on Your Own
Tuesday October 23, 2018 12:00pm - 1:00pm
N/A

12:00pm

1:00pm

Legal Track. Wind Farms: Legal Obstacles and Challenges
Jennifer Frazier, General Counsel, Missouri

Tuesday October 23, 2018 1:00pm - 1:30pm
Windjammer

1:00pm

1:00pm

1:00pm

Directors’ Business Meeting
Tuesday October 23, 2018 1:00pm - 5:00pm
Schooner

1:20pm

Fisheries 3 Track: Pickwick Reservoir: A Silver Carp Update
AUTHORS:  Phil D. Ekema, Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division

ABSTRACT:  Silver carp (Hypophthalmichthys molitrix), an invasive variety of Asian carp, are a threat to endemic fish populations as they consume plankton that native fishes depend upon during various stages of their lives. Silver carp have continued to migrate upstream throughout the Mississippi River drainage since their accidental release from aquaculture facilities in the 1970’s. Dams seem to have slowed their advance, but silver carp have successfully traversed their way through the navigational locks of Kentucky Dam on the lower Tennessee River. Unsubstantiated sightings of silver carp by Pickwick Reservoir anglers have increased annually. Recent collections by the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries, and Tennessee Technological University have corroborated the upstream migration of this species to Pickwick Reservoir. These reports and collections document the presence of silver carp in Alabama and the potential invasion of reservoirs upstream.

Tuesday October 23, 2018 1:20pm - 1:40pm
Bon Secour Bay I

1:20pm

SYMPOSIUM-04: Species Distribution Models in Management and Conservation: Opportunities and Challenges
AUTHORS: Healy Hamilton, NatureServe; Regan Smyth, NatureServe

ABSTRACT: Understanding species distributions is one of the most fundamental information needs of management and conservation. Particularly for at-risk species, the use of county boundaries or other coarse-scale range maps can result in unnecessary regulatory burdens and inefficiencies in directing conservation and management efforts. Species distribution modeling, an approach widely used in academic research, combines locality data from verified species observations with environmental predictors, such as climate and land cover, to produce maps of probability of suitable habitat. With modern advances in computational capacity, in aggregated species observation databases, in the availability of high-resolution environmental predictors, and in the quantification of uncertainty, we argue that distribution modeling has matured into a tool that can help refine species distributions and improve science-based and transparent management decisions. Many examples exist where distribution modeling has been successful in guiding field inventory to discover new populations, identifying potential habitat for restoration, and assessing climate change vulnerability, among many other relevant applications. However, distribution models also have some drawbacks. They are not applicable to all taxa, such as very wide ranging species, or species whose distributions are largely controlled by poorly known environmental factors. They are also not straitforward to interpret. We advocate for the advancement of distribution modeling as a component of best available scientific information in state and federal agency species management activities. The development of standards for producing decision-quality models, and guidance and best practices for their interpretation, are essential components of expanding the use of species distribution modeling in management and conservation.

Tuesday October 23, 2018 1:20pm - 1:40pm
Grand Bay I

1:20pm

SYMPOSIUM-05: Implications of Silver Carp Invasion on the Food Web of a Freshwater Mussel Biodiversity Hotspot
AUTHORS: Mark W. Rogers, USGS Tennessee Cooperative Fishery Research Unit; Justin Murdock, Tennessee Technological University; Don Hubbs, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency

ABSTRACT: Planktivorous Silver Carp Hypophthalmichthys molitrix have potential to compete with native filter feeding aquatic fauna. Declines in Gizzard shad Dorosoma cepedianum and Paddlefish Polyodon spathula condition have been described in systems where Silver Carp have established populations. Recent invasions of Silver Carp into the Tennessee River system have created concerns regarding competition with native freshwater mussels and their host fish. We collected mussels, representative host fish for mussel glochidia, and Silver Carp from the Duck River, Tennessee, which is one of the most biodiverse mussel communities in the world. We used stable isotope samples to compare food web overlap of Silver Carp to evaluate how foraging by invasive Silver Carp could potentially disrupt energy flow across the complex life cycle of freshwater mussels. Identifying potential negative impacts of Silver Carp to freshwater mussels is critical to informing Asian carp control needs and conserving native aquatic fauna.

Tuesday October 23, 2018 1:20pm - 1:40pm
Grand Bay II

1:20pm

Wildlife 3 Track: Dispersal of Small Mammals Among Islands of the Delta Island Complex in the Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge - Vian, OK
AUTHORS: J.L. Green , M.J. Shaughnessy Jr. – Northeastern State University

ABSTRACT: We sampled small mammals on island and mainland sites of riverine ecosystems in Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge. We have conducted two sampling periods consisting of ten sampling sessions in 2016 and 2017. Three islands and two mainland sites were sampled using Y-shaped pitfall arrays consisting of 10 pitfalls connected by drift fences. Fifty-two individual small mammals representing two orders were captured. Rodents and shrews were detected at all sites. After adjusting for catch effort, our analyses showed that there were no significant differences in small mammal detections on the islands verses the mainland sites. However, rodents were detected most often at mainland sites while shrews were detected most often at island sites. The traditional view of islands as sink areas for wildlife populations may not be true for shrews. Islands may be performing as sink areas for rodents in riverine ecosystems, but they may be preferred habitats for shrews. Additional fieldwork scheduled for 2018, including habitat analyses, is expected to better highlight preferred habitat, the varying dispersal abilities of small mammals to riverine islands as well as to clarify their functional role for different vertebrate groups in their surrounding ecosystems.

Tuesday October 23, 2018 1:20pm - 1:40pm
Bon Secour Bay II

1:20pm

Marketing, R3 & Communications 2 Track: Impacts of Hunting Clinics with College Students on Hunting Recruitment
AUTHORS: Captain Billy Downer, Hunter Education Coordinator, SC Dept. of Natural Resources and Dr. Shari Rodriguez, Assistant Professor, Human Dimensions in Wildlife, Clemson University

ABSTRACT: South Carolina shares information about a cooperative “field to fork” program between the South Carolina DNR and Clemson University.

Tuesday October 23, 2018 1:20pm - 2:00pm
Riverboat

1:20pm

1:30pm

Legal Track. CWD Update and Associated Legal Challenges
Jennifer Frazier, General Counsel, Missouri

Tuesday October 23, 2018 1:30pm - 1:50pm
Windjammer

1:30pm

1:40pm

Fisheries 3 Track: Reconstructing Paddlefish (Polyodon spathula) Movement in a Southeastern U.S. River System Using Dentary Bone Microchemistry
AUTHORS:  Garret J. Kratina, Dennis R. DeVries, Russell A. Wright – School of Fisheries; Aquaculture, and Aquatic Sciences, Auburn University; Steven J. Rider, Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division

ABSTRACT:  Fish hard-part microchemistry has become a powerful tool for examining natal habitat and movement patterns. To quantify fish habitat use and potential movement in a river system modified by the construction of dams, microelemental analyses were performed on paddlefish dentary bones collected during 2017. Paddlefish were sampled from four populations separated by lock-and-dam structures on the Alabama River. Water samples were obtained from 15 sites throughout the watershed seasonally during 2017-2018 to relate trace element conditions in water to those incorporated into paddlefish dentary bones. Dentary bone and water samples were analyzed for concentrations of Sr, Ba, Mn, Mg, and Ca. Water elemental signatures differed among major tributaries and some river sections, and were reflected in dentary bone age-0, edge, and whole-transect ablation element-to-calcium ratios. Analysis of variance identified significant differences in dentary bone Sr:Ca ratios among river sections. Additionally, linear discriminant function analysis of dentary bone elemental signatures classified paddlefish back to their river section of capture with 59-73% accuracy; errors nearly always assigned paddlefish to an adjacent section. Our results suggest that some population mixing occurs, but that this movement is limited and likely restricted to movement through the locks or over a spillway at the lowermost dam.

Tuesday October 23, 2018 1:40pm - 2:00pm
Bon Secour Bay I

1:40pm

SYMPOSIUM-04: The Development and Delivery of Species Distribution Models to Inform Decision-making
AUTHORS: Catherine S. Jarnevich, Helen R. Sofaer, Ian S. Pearse – U.S. Geological Survey; Regan Lyons Smyth, Stephanie Auer – NatureServe; Gericke L. Cook, USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service; Thomas C. Edwards, Jr. , Gerald F. Guala – U.S. Geological Survey; Timothy G. Howard, New York Natural Heritage Program; Jeffrey T. Morisette, National Invasive Species Council Secretariat; Healy Hamilton, NatureServe

ABSTRACT: Information on where species occur is central to conservation and management decisions, and species distribution models are one tool that can fill in knowledge gaps due to coarse or incomplete knowledge. Species distribution models can be useful in guiding survey efforts, prioritizing locations and actions for conservation and management, and supporting decision-making. The type of decision shapes the best practices for model development and interpretation. We developed a framework that model developers can use to communicate a model’s attributes and its appropriate uses. This framework includes criteria to classify model procedures as problematic, acceptable, or ideal; these classifications can in turn inform model use, where higher quality may be required for certain decisions. We emphasize the importance of tailoring model development and delivery to the species of interest and the intended use, and the advantages of iterative modeling and field validation. We provide an example from a recent implementation of this framework to guide search for invasive plant species in National Parks.

Tuesday October 23, 2018 1:40pm - 2:00pm
Grand Bay I

1:40pm

SYMPOSIUM-05: Asian Carp Research Efforts in Western Kentucky
AUTHORS: Joshua Tompkins, Jessica Morris – Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources; Dr. Tim Spier, Murray State University

ABSTRACT: West Kentucky is home to two of the largest reservoirs east of the Mississippi River, Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley. These reservoirs, along with their tributaries, represent a US$1.2-billion sport fish and recreational boating industry. Asian carp threaten the sport fishery of the lakes and jumping Silver Carp can cause injuries to recreational boaters. Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources is dedicated to removal of these invasive species from our waterways. KDFWR also recognizes that invasive Asian carps is an issue throughout the Mississippi River drainage. Therefore, KDFWR routinely collaborates with multiple agencies, universities, and members of the private sector to combat this issue. KDFWR battles Asian carp in Western Kentucky on many fronts including augmenting commercial harvest of Asian carps, surveying Silver Carp population dynamics, using sonic telemetry to track Silver Carp movement in the reservoirs, and assisting with the testing of a sound deterrent system for blocking passage of Asian carp through Lake Barkley Lock and Dam. Results from these research efforts will be used to inform the commercial fishery to increase Asian carp harvest, determine impacts of Asian carp on sport fish populations, monitor Asian carp population dynamics as commercial fishing pressure increases, and inform managers throughout the country of the potential for using sound as a barrier to Asian carp movement.

Tuesday October 23, 2018 1:40pm - 2:00pm
Grand Bay II

1:40pm

Wildlife 3 Track: High Resolution Dune Geomorphology to Inform Conservation Planning in the Northern Gulf of Mexico
AUTHORS: Wesley Burger, Kristine Evans, Guiming Wang – Mississippi State University College of Forest Resources; Paul Lang, U.S Fish & Wildlife Service; Adam Skarke, Mississippi State University Department of Geosciences

ABSTRACT: Beach dunes are iconic features within coastal environments, and are essential for the maintenance and resilience of the structure and health of coastal ecosystems. However, despite their significance to coastal systems, dynamics of these three-dimensional landscape features are challenging to understand, particularly across large geographic extents. Until recently, limitations in data resolution have prevented comprehensive geospatial characterization of dune geomorphology across the Northern Gulf of Mexico (NGOM) coastline, which has limited conservation planning efforts targeting dune systems. Recent coast-wide QL1 and QL2 LIDAR data and associated 1-meter resolution digital elevation models have now made development of an accurate and complete coastal geomorphon possible. Using publically accessible NOAA, USACE, and USGS-sourced high-resolution DEM and LIDAR point clouds, we developed fine-resolution (sub-meter) dune geomorphons in GRASS GIS which allow for assessment of regional variation in dune structure across the NGOM. This allowed for a NGOM-wide analysis of slope, elevation, and other elements associated with individual dune footprints (e.g. crest location, width, etc.). Dune geomorphons will be used in concert with 1-m resolution imagery-based vegetation characterization to develop models of habitat selection in endangered beach mice populations. Additionally, geospatial characterization of dune features provides opportunities for future assessment of Gulf coast dune dynamics over time to inform conservation planning efforts, including evaluation of anthropogenic influences on the coastline, documentation of the natural evolution of dune structure, and identification of sensitive areas for targeted species and ecosystem management.

Tuesday October 23, 2018 1:40pm - 2:00pm
Bon Secour Bay II

2:00pm

Fisheries 3 Track: Comparison of Angler Pressure Counts by Manned and Unmanned Aircraft on Beaver Tailwater, Arkansas
AUTHORS:  Anthony Fernando, Kristofor Nault – Arkansas Game and Fish Commission; Wilson Short, Arkansas Tech University

ABSTRACT:  The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC) budgeted approximately $250,000 for air operations in fiscal year 2017, 74.2% of which was for aerial observation by manned aircraft. Small unmanned aircraft (sUAS) have lower operating costs than manned aircraft. Cost savings could be experienced were sUAS to replace manned aircraft; however, it is necessary to validate that the data from sUAS are equivalent to data from manned aircraft. The sUAS (DJI Mavic Pro) and manned aircraft were used to conduct angler pressure counts within the four management zones of Beaver Tailwater. These flights commenced simultaneously. Paired counts of bank/wade anglers, boats, boat anglers, and boat occupants were compared using the Wilcoxon paired signed rank test. A significant difference was found between paired counts of boat anglers (v = 55, P 0.05). The sUAS may better discriminate whether a boat occupant was fishing than the manned aircraft. Cost estimates developed using data derived from this study suggest AGFC may save 71-84% on costs related to aerial observation when sUAS can be substituted for manned aircraft.

Tuesday October 23, 2018 2:00pm - 2:20pm
Bon Secour Bay I

2:00pm

Marketing, R3 & Communications 2 Track: Developing a Strategic Plan and Telling Our Story: Missouri’s Journey
AUTHORS: Ritchie Jenkins, Missouri Department of Conservation; Lowell Ballard, Timmons Group

ABSTRACT: The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) is a complex organization that includes multiple divisions covering fisheries, wildlife, forestry, resource science, private land services and protection. Over the past year, MDC has embarked on a new Strategic Planning and Transformation effort. As part of this effort, MDC has been working diligently on defining key agency goals, outcomes and actionable measures. An important component of this effort is to ensure that MDC is well-positioned to “Tell their story” in a compelling way to all stakeholders and that they have actionable data to support their measures. This includes the use of various data reporting and aggregation tools and reporting dashboards. This presentation will focus on select elements of this journey, what it means to measure accomplishments and the use of Business Intelligence / Reporting Dashboards for “Storytelling”.

Tuesday October 23, 2018 2:00pm - 2:20pm
Riverboat

2:00pm

SYMPOSIUM-04: Integration of Comprehensive R, T & E Species Distribution Models into Environmental Review in Virginia
AUTHORS: Rene' Hypes, Virginia Natural Heritage Program; Joe Weber, Virginia Natural Heritage Program

ABSTRACT: The Virginia Natural Heritage Program has been developing SDM for use in environmental review, conservation planning, and rare, threatened and endangered (R, T & E) species inventory. Organizations have used various species and habitat datasets, and relatively coarse estimations of presence/absence of suitable habitat for environmental review, leading to inconsistent reports on potential impacts to R, T & E species. Our SDM remove some of these inconsistencies, streamlining the environmental review process. Our SDM help highlight areas where rare species habitat might occur, that traditional coarse-filter approaches might miss. SDM can also target habitats for protection, remediation, or species relocation. We have developed SDM for all Virginia state and federally listed species (~140 species) and have integrated these tools into data sharing, environmental review protocol and services. We will review benefits and pragmatics of sharing these data and their integration into the review of over 2,200 development projects annually in Virginia via the interactive online Virginia Natural Heritage Data Explorer (www.vanhde.org).

Tuesday October 23, 2018 2:00pm - 2:20pm
Grand Bay I

2:00pm

SYMPOSIUM-05: Invasive Flathead Catfish in Coastal North Carolina: The Balance Between Angler Desires and Conservation Needs
AUTHORS: Ben Ricks, Courtney Buckley – North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission

ABSTRACT: Flathead Catfish Pylodictis olivaris are a non-native, invasive species on the Atlantic Slope. Native species including White Catfish Ameiurus catus, bullhead catfishes Ameiurus sp, and the Carolina Madtom Noturus furiosus (which is federally listed as a species of concern and state listed in North Carolina as threatened) have decreased in abundance since Flathead Catfish have become established in North Carolina’s coastal rivers. Flathead Catfish are competing and preying upon North Carolina’s native fish populations causing conservation concerns. Concurrently, catfish angling, especially trophy catfish angling, has grown in popularity. Catfish angler desires are sometimes in conflict or perceived to conflict with native species conservation strategies. Many catfish anglers have started a CPR (Catch, Photograph, Release) campaign, and have requested a trophy catfish regulation to promote the abundance of larger fish or preserve the available large fish. Despite the desire by certain anglers for protective length limits, the Flathead Catfish populations in coastal North Carolina can be characterized as experiencing low mortality and exploitation. The length and age distributions of Flathead Catfish in North Carolina’s coastal rivers indicate expanded size and age distributions. With no regulatory harvest limits currently in place, Flathead catfish populations are exhibiting fast growth, adequate recruitment, and showing no indication of overfishing. The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC) is revising its Catfish Management Plan to take into consideration angler desires, resource needs, and available biological data. Coastal rivers are surveyed regularly (2-3 years) to maintain data sets useful for describing population changes for native and invasive species.

Tuesday October 23, 2018 2:00pm - 2:20pm
Grand Bay II

2:00pm

Wildlife 3 Track: Educating North Carolina’s Trout Anglers to Help Conserve Eastern Hellbenders
AUTHORS: Lori A. Williams, NC Wildlife Resources Commission; Jacob M. Rash, NC Wildlife Resources Commission; John D. Groves, ret.-NC Zoological Park; Lorie L. Stroup, U.S. Forest Service; Doug Blatny, NC Division of Parks and Recreation

ABSTRACT: Eastern hellbenders (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis alleganiensis) are a protected species of concern in North Carolina. Despite long-term efforts by the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC) and partners to improve understanding of hellbender status in the state, census of all known and potential populations is lacking. The species’ dependence upon clean, cold, well-oxygenated water relegates them to North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Ecoregion, where the State’s trout fisheries share the same habitat requirements. This overlap presented an opportunity for the NCWRC to inform trout anglers about hellbender conservation, while enhancing spatial and temporal distribution data of the salamander. In 2013, an advertisement within the Public Mountain Trout Waters’ portion of the North Carolina Inland Fishing, Hunting and Trapping Regulations Digest initiated direct outreach to trout anglers. This advertisement complemented existing outreach efforts that included informational posters, streamside signage, in-person programming and information tables, popular articles, and documentaries from summer 2007–summer 2017. These combined efforts, particularly the advertisement, have resulted in 207 reports of hellbenders from the public, with 127 from anglers. These data represent observations from 56 streams, with seven reports from waters that lacked previous knowledge of hellbender occurrence. The majority of reports originated from private land sites (n=117) and those within National Forests (n=70), while the encounter method reported most often was incidental observation (n=165). Much work remains relative to hellbender conservation in the State and region, but managers should consider exploring similar resource overlaps as those noted within our example to collect valuable data and promote conservation messages.

Tuesday October 23, 2018 2:00pm - 2:20pm
Bon Secour Bay II

2:00pm

Law Enforcement Track. UAS and Wildlife Law Enforcement
Jason Campbell, Brandon Rose, and Brian Aston, Jamie Jackson

Tuesday October 23, 2018 2:00pm - 2:30pm
Bon Secour Bay III

2:00pm

Legal Track. CWD update and Associated Legal Challenges
Attorney Whit Cox and Cory Gray, Chief of Researchl-Arkansas  

Tuesday October 23, 2018 2:00pm - 2:30pm
Windjammer

2:20pm

Fisheries 3 Track: Implementation of Alabama’s River Assessment and Monitoring Program
AUTHORS:  Jason Dattilo, Steven J. Rider – Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division

ABSTRACT:  Alabama is home to over 132,000 miles of rivers and streams. These flowing waters support the highest fish biodiversity among all States with over 320 fish species. Unfortunately, over 20% of these fish species are considered imperiled. Fifteen major river systems plus the Mobile Delta constitute a large part of these flowing or non-wadeable waters in Alabama where these imperiled fishes reside. A recent study conducted by Auburn University developed sampling protocols for Alabama’s non-wadeable waters to monitor the fish communities in these systems. This study recommended using bank-line boat electrofishing method to assess the fish community. Fall was determined to be the best time to sample. Night electrofishing was more efficient than day in the larger rivers, but similar in the smaller rivers. This is the first statewide standardized sampling program for non-wadeable flowing waters in Alabama. We discuss the initiation and implementation of this new program in Alabama. This program will provide additional data and information to allow the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources to better manage fish communities, imperiled fishes, environmental flows, water quality, and habitat.

Tuesday October 23, 2018 2:20pm - 2:40pm
Bon Secour Bay I

2:20pm

SYMPOSIUM-04: Better Species Mapping, Better Conservation and Management Decisions
AUTHORS: Mona Nazeri, Kristine Evans, Garrett M. Street – Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture, Mississippi State University; Todd Jones-Farrand, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

ABSTRACT: Effective planning for biodiversity conservation requires reliable geospatial information on the present and predicted future distribution of species across space and time. However, knowledge of species distribution for many species, especially rare ones, is generally incomplete due to lack of observation data. With the increasing availability of spatially explicit eco-geographical data at different spatial and temporal scales, species distribution models (SDM) have become a widely-used tool in the field of ecology and conservation. Rare and at-risk species in the Southeastern United States in particular are in critical need of SDM models to support monitoring and conservation management decisions. However, application of SDM for rare species remains a significant challenge due to limited availability of occurrence data, many available environmental variables, and lack of comprehensive understanding of ecological requirements of the species. To address this issue, we are applying a newly developed ensemble modeling technique that incorporates high resolution remotely-sensed environmental variables and occurrence data to create predictive SDMs for a group of at-risk species in the Southeast. Element occurrence data from state natural heritage programs and results of resent survey efforts for one insect and two plants are being used as inputs to develop maps to guide additional survey efforts. Results of the additional surveys will be used as evaluation data for model refinement. Final models can be used to evaluate future scenarios to inform Species Status Assessments by the US Fish & Wildlife Service as a precursor to listing decisions under the Endangered Species Act.

Tuesday October 23, 2018 2:20pm - 2:40pm
Grand Bay I

2:20pm

SYMPOSIUM-05: New Invasion Records of Trematode Parasites Carried by the Freshwater Invasive Snail (Melanoides tuberculata) in Florida
AUTHORS: Lori Tolley-Jordan, Jacksonville State University, Department of Biology, Jacksonville, AL, USA; Jessica Wooten, Piedmont College, Department of Biology, Demorest, GA, USA; Michael Chadwick, King’s College London, Department of Geography, London, UK.

ABSTRACT: Melanoides tuberculata (Red Rimmed Melania) is an aquatic snail of Asian origin that has invaded aquatic systems throughout the world, including Florida, USA. In their native range, these snails are intermediate hosts to at least 40 species of trematode parasites that can cause significant health impacts to wildlife and humans. However, no trematodes have been reported for M. tuberculata populations in Florida. The objective of this study was to establish if trematodes found in M. tuberculata occur in Florida and, if so, identify the worms using a molecular marker,18s rDNA. Snails were collected in September 2015 from a total of 13 sites across the state and eight populations were found to be infected with trematodes. Four of the snail populations were infected with Haplorchis tachui and three populations were infected with Paralecithodendrium longiformes, parasites of Asian origin not reported in the USA prior to this study. In addition, Centrocestus formosanus and Philophthalmus gralli (introduced in 2000 and 1971, respectively) were found in two populations. Results from this study emphasize the critical need for improved monitoring of invasive snails to detect, and possibly prevent, the spread of these invasive pathogens.

Tuesday October 23, 2018 2:20pm - 2:40pm
Grand Bay II

2:30pm

2:30pm

Legal Track. Louisiana’s CWD Response Plan
Dr. Jim Lacour, State Wildlife Vet

Tuesday October 23, 2018 2:30pm - 3:30pm
Windjammer

2:40pm

Fisheries 3 Track: Development of SNP Panels for Population Genetics Analyses of Domestic and Wild White Bass (Morone chrysops)
AUTHORS:  Honggang Zhao, Wilawan Thongda, Eric Peatman – Auburn University; Adam Fuller, Jason Abernethy – USDA-ARS; Harry K. Dupree, Stuttgart National Aquaculture Research Center; Benjamin Beck, USDA-ARS Aquatic Animal Health Research Unit

ABSTRACT:  White bass, striped bass, and their interspecific hybrid are important game fishes, while the hybrid striped bass is additionally an important aquaculture species in the United States. Numerous state, federal, and private hatcheries, therefore, rear these species for stocking as well as food fish growout. While striped bass populations (both wild and domestic) have been extensively evaluated, relatively little effort has been directed toward the study and improvement of white bass. Genetic markers are critical for evaluating population diversity, detecting inbreeding, differentiating unknown individuals by population origin, and, ultimately, selecting for performance traits. In this study, we examined genetic relationships between a domestic white bass line and five wild populations collected from drainages in Arkansas, Texas, and Alabama. A cost-effective genotyping-by-sequencing (GBS) method was carried out for in-depth genetic analysis, generating 13,872 genome-wide SNP loci represented across six populations. Stringent filtering of SNP-calling parameters indicated 426 highly informative SNP loci. Population genetic and structure analyses using these loci revealed moderate genetic differentiation between domestic and wild populations (Fst > 0.086) but six clear population clusters. A final set of 57 SNPs was selected for assay design and validation using 96 additional samples. The developed SNP panels could clearly discriminate between domestic stocks and wild-sourced individuals. This study demonstrated the utility of GBS techniques for SNP discovery and the relatively small number of SNPs needed for inference of population structure in white bass. The SNP resources developed in this study should facilitate breeding, genetic tagging, and conservation of white bass.

Tuesday October 23, 2018 2:40pm - 3:00pm
Bon Secour Bay I

2:40pm

SYMPOSIUM-04: Using Maximum Entropy Modelling and Geographic Information Systems to Assist with Aquatic Species and Habitat Conservation Efforts in North Carolina
AUTHORS: Mark Endries, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

ABSTRACT: To better understand the spatial distribution of freshwater aquatic species in North Carolina, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Asheville Field Office incorporated the tools of geographic information systems and maximum entropy (maxent) modeling to create predictive distribution maps for a wide range of aquatic species. Predictive distribution maps for 289 different freshwater aquatic species were created. The maps were derived by comparing species occurrence information with a suite of stream- and landcover-derived environmental variables. The Bayesian probability postulate of maximum entropy states that, subject to known constraints, the probability distribution which best represents the current state of knowledge is the one with largest entropy. Maxent compares a set of occurrences to a set of environmental variables of the same defined space to estimate a target probability distribution of maximum entropy. The maps identify the predicted probability of suitable habitat conditions, by species, for each stream segment in North Carolina. These maps serve as foundational datasets useful in assisting with conservation efforts of individual species or collectively in regional and statewide prioritizations. The maps and associated data facilitates the communication of aquatic species needs to assist with conservation planning efforts throughout the state and nation. They have been used in many conservation efforts throughout the state, both within the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and with our state agency partners. How the work is being integrated with current conservation planning efforts will be discussed.

Tuesday October 23, 2018 2:40pm - 3:00pm
Grand Bay I

2:40pm

SYMPOSIUM-05: Discussion
Tuesday October 23, 2018 2:40pm - 3:00pm
Grand Bay II

2:45pm

3:00pm

3:00pm

3:20pm

Fisheries 3 Track: Ability of Non-sport Fish Species to Deal with Declining Oxygen Concentrations as Temperatures Rise
AUTHORS:  Lindsay White, Dennis R. DeVries, James Stoeckel – School of Fisheries, Aquaculture, and Aquatic Sciences, Auburn University

ABSTRACT:  The diverse assemblages of fishes in the Southeastern United States are frequently subjected to stress from both temperature and hypoxia due to factors such as climate change, drought, and altered flow regimes below dams. Although responses of fish species of recreational and/or production importance have received some attention, little is known regarding the responses of the myriad non-game and non-commercial species. We hypothesized that habitat specialists and habitat generalists would differ relative to the dissolved oxygen threshold below which they switch from aerobic to anaerobic respiration (critical dissolved oxygen concentration, or DOcrit) as well as in their relative ability to maintain a constant respiration rate as dissolved oxygen declines (regulation index, or RI). Specifically, we predicted that habitat generalist DOcrit would be lower and RI would be higher than for habitat specialists. We used a fiber optic respirometry system (Loligo) to measure respiration rates of seven fish species at temperatures ranging from 18 to 30°C. Data were then used to estimate DOcrit and the RI for each species as temperature increased towards their upper lethal limit. Preliminary results indicate that habitat specialists have higher DOcrit and lower RI values with increasing temperature, suggesting that specialist species are are more sensitive to declining oxygen levels than habitat generalists. These findings will be used to inform decisions and conservation planning concerning management of habitats in which these habitat specialists and habitat generalists occur.

Tuesday October 23, 2018 3:20pm - 3:40pm
Bon Secour Bay I

3:20pm

SYMPOSIUM-04: Using Species Habitat and Population Models Within a Strategic Conservation Framework to Inform Landscape Conservation Design
AUTHORS: Thomas W. Bonnot, School of Natural Resources, University of Missouri, Northeast Climate Science Center; D. Todd Jones-Farrand, Southeast Region USFWS; Frank R. Thompson III, Northern Research Station, U.S. Forest Service

ABSTRACT: Planning for sustainable landscapes is hampered by uncertainty in how species will respond to conservation actions amidst impacts from landscape and climate change, especially when those impacts are also uncertain. Conservation is also made difficult by the complexities of the planning decisions, including tradeoffs among competing species objectives. We are using a decision-support framework that integrates dynamic-landscape population models and Structured Decision Making to help guide resource allocation decisions by states and their conservation partners. This framework enables comparisons among conservation strategies that best sustain regional populations of multiple species under climate change and urbanization. Within the framework landscapes are simulated into the future under various conservation and threat scenarios. Species distribution models are applied to the landscapes to estimate patterns in habitat and demographics over time, which are then integrated into population models that project population responses and estimate risk for each species. We are currently applying this framework to inform landscape conservation design within and across priority landscapes for states in the Gulf Coastal Plain and Ozarks region which covers all or part of 11 southeastern states. Our simulations include comparisons between protecting higher quality lands and enhancing and restoring lower quality lands. We also developed scenarios to evaluate the importance of connectivity among management within landscapes and the relative contribution of private-lands conservation under different assumptions of long-term permanence and habitat quality. Results from these models will inform implementation of State Wildlife Action Plans.

Tuesday October 23, 2018 3:20pm - 3:40pm
Grand Bay I

3:20pm

Wildlife 3 Track: Northern Bobwhite Nest Site Use and Survival on a Landscape Managed with Prescribed Fire in Oklahoma
AUTHORS: J. Matthew Carroll, Forest Resources Department, Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College, Tifton, Georgia; Torre J. Hovick, School of Natural Resource Sciences-Range Program, North Dakota State University, Fargo, North Dakota; Craig A. Davis, Dwayne R. Elmore, Samuel D. Fuhlendorf – Department of Natural Resource Ecology and Management, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, Oklahoma

ABSTRACT: The role of fire as a disturbance mechanism which promotes and maintains northern bobwhite (Colinus virginianus; hereafter bobwhite) habitat is well understood. However, the effects of fire on bobwhite life history periods (e.g., nesting) remains an understudied aspect of bobwhite ecology. This scarcity of information has presented managers with uncertainty regarding bobwhite responses to practices aimed at restoring fire as an ecological process on the landscape, particularly in the western bobwhite distribution. We present findings from a 4 year radio-telemetry study aimed at assessing nest survival on a shinnery oak (Quercus havardii) landscape managed with prescribed fire at the Packsaddle Wildlife Management Area in western Oklahoma, USA. Radio-collared bobwhites (n=1077) were tracked from 2012-2015, and subsequently, 157 nests were monitored. We observed that bobwhites shifted their nest site use from predominately (71%) herbaceous vegetation in >36 month post fire treatments, yet nested predominately (72%) in shrubs in 0-12 months post fire treatments. Bobwhite nest success was high (57-72%) during each year of the study and nest survival estimates were 0.974 and 0.984 for the constant and most plausible nest survival models ranked by AIC, respectively. Importantly, time since fire did not influence nest survival when included as a covariate in nest survival models. These ?ndings demonstrate how bobwhites adjusted nest site use differently among different time since fire treatments yet maintained high nest survival. Furthermore, these results suggest that land managers in shinnery oak communities can use prescribed ?re without negatively influencing bobwhite nest survival rates.

Tuesday October 23, 2018 3:20pm - 3:40pm
Grand Bay I

3:20pm

3:30pm

Legal Track. Overview of Alabama’s CWD Plan
Ryan Corley, Associate Counsel, Alabama  

Tuesday October 23, 2018 3:30pm - 4:00pm
Windjammer

3:40pm

Fisheries 3 Track: River Herring Population Monitoring and Exploratory Occurrence Surveys in the Neuse River Basin, North Carolina
AUTHORS: Courtney Buckley, Ben Ricks – North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission

ABSTRACT: By the spring of 2008, the state fisheries agencies in North Carolina, citing extremely low abundances, had established a statewide harvest moratorium on river herring (Blueback Herring Alosa aestivalis and Alewife Alosa pseudoharengus). Beginning in 2007, annual river herring surveys were conducted by North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC) biologists using boat electrofishing in two tributaries (Village Creek and Core Creek) of the Neuse River. Catch-per-unit effort was used as a measure of relative abundance, and lengths (mm) and weights (g) were recorded to evaluate river herring size structure for each tributary. Population characteristics in these creeks were compared over the 11-year sampling period (2007-2017) with increasing trends in Blueback Herring abundance observed toward the end of the time series. Despite a marked increase in catch per unit effort in 2017 (104.2 fish/h in Village Creek and 55.9 fish/h in Core Creek) that contrasts with the previous ten years of data (ranging between 4.7 to 63.5 fish/h in Village Creek and 2.2 to 21.8 fish/h in Core Creek), relative abundance of river herring remains below target levels that would suggest significant population expansion. Population size structure over the time series consists of relatively small fish (males averaging 246 mm and females averaging 263 mm in length). Exploratory sampling is being conducted in historic river herring spawning areas to provide updated occurrence data in additional Neuse River tributaries. Continuation of annual sampling is imperative to monitor population trends, and to inform management decisions regarding potential river herring harvest.

Tuesday October 23, 2018 3:40pm - 4:00pm
Bon Secour Bay I

3:40pm

SYMPOSIUM-04: Integrating At-risk and Range Restricted Species Models into the SALCC Conservation Blueprint
AUTHORS: Jon Oetting, Florida Natural Areas Inventory at Florida State University; Anne Chazal, Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation - Natural Heritage Program

ABSTRACT: The South Atlantic Landscape Conservation Cooperative’s (SALCC) seeks to improve and expand its regional planning tool, the Conservation Blueprint (Blueprint), so that it directly supports efforts to conserve current and future habitat for at-risk and range restricted species (select rare species) thus allowing users to fine-tune their conservation investments. The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation – Natural Heritage Program and the Florida Natural Areas Inventory at Florida State University, with cooperation from the SALCC and other Regional Partners, developed species distribution models to help incorporate ten rare species into the Blueprint: Ambystoma cingulatum (Frosted Flatwoods Salamander), Echinacea laevigata (Smooth Coneflower), Heterodon simus (Southern Hognose Snake), Lindera melissifolia (Pondberry), Lithobates capito (Gopher Frog), Lythrum curtissii (Curtiss' Loosestrife), Notophthalmus perstriatus (Striped Newt), Phemeranthus piedmontanus (Piedmont Fameflower), Rhus michauxii (Michaux's Sumac), and Schwalbea americana (Chaffseed). Drawing from the model products and other available data sets, we also developed supporting data and information on the conservation and management needs of these species. This presentation will be a brief overview of our methods and final results.

Tuesday October 23, 2018 3:40pm - 4:00pm
Grand Bay I

3:40pm

Wildlife 3 Track: Effects of a Milo Diet, Mineral Supplementation, and Native Seed Use in Pen-raised Northern Bobwhites
AUTHORS: Sarah M. Brown, Steven E. Hayslette – Tennessee Tech University

ABSTRACT: Stocking of pen-raised northern bobwhites (Colinus virginianus) into natural habitat is a common management strategy for the species, as is supplemental feeding of milo/sorghum (Sorghum vulgare) to wild bobwhites. Milo may be deficient in minerals compared to native seeds, however, leading to negative effects on bobwhites eating only milo. Additionally, pen-raised bobwhites may be reluctant to eat native seeds. We studied the effects of a milo diet on pen-raised northern bobwhites during the non-breeding season, and we tested the hypothesis of mineral deficiency in this diet. We also studied use and selection of native seeds by pen-raised northern bobwhites, and we tested the hypothesis that exposure to a cultivated seed (milo) diet improves the willingness of pen-raised bobwhites to eat native seeds. Bobwhites maintained body mass on a milo-only diet. A milo-only diet may be deficient in minerals, however, as the break-even point (milo consumption point at which body mass is stable) was lower for bobwhites on a milo diet supplemented with powdered mineral supplement, and mass gain at a given milo intake was higher for mineral-supplemented birds. Pen-raised bobwhites with no experience with a seed diet ate only small amounts (= 16 cm3) of native seeds over a 48-hr period, even when no other foods were available; bobwhites with experience eating a milo diet ate twice as much. Bobwhites preferred common ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia) over partridge pea (Chamaecrista fasciculata) and Illinois bundleflower (Desmanthus illinoensis). Unwillingness to eat native seeds may limit survival of pen-raised bobwhites stocked into the wild.

Tuesday October 23, 2018 3:40pm - 4:00pm
Bon Secour Bay II

3:50pm

4:00pm

Fisheries 3 Track: Relative Abundance, Habitat Use, and Diet of the Sickle Darter (Percina williamsi)
AUTHORS: Brian Alford, Meredith Harris, Cory Chapman, Kyler Hecke – University of Tennessee-Knoxville

ABSTRACT: During summer 2016-18, we surveyed historic and new sites within the range for the ESA-petitioned Sickle Darter (Percina williamsi). Using snorkeling, backpack electroshocking, and seining techniques, relative abundance was measured as catch per unit effort and density. Snorkeling was determined to be the most effective sampling technique, and relative abundance was greater for the Emory River population for Little River. In Little Rock Creek (tributary to Emory), the dominant two substrates used by individuals were sand then boulder, whereas in Emory River and Little River it was gravel followed by sand. Sickle Darters were observed in low-gradient areas of streams, almost entirely in pool habitats (mean depth was 41-51 cm) with mean current velocities measuring 0.5-0.6 m/s (timed neutrally bouyant object method). Canopy cover of riparian vegetation measured in the stream by a densiometer averaged 82% at Emory River darter locations, 35% at Little River, and 90% at Little Rock Creek. Water quality was considered good at all sites, with total dissolved solids (TDS) less than 63 ppm at all sites. Sickle Darters were almost always found along channel margins containing beds of aquatic vegetation and small woody debris (SWD) for cover. The most common prey from 28 fish were larval Chironomidae (65% occurrence, 48% composition by number) followed by mayfly larvae (54% occurrence, 45% composition by number). Prey use did not differ by body size, but Emory River fish consumed proportionately more chironomids than mayflies (mostly Heptageniidae), whereas the opposite was observed for Little River fish.

Tuesday October 23, 2018 4:00pm - 4:20pm
Bon Secour Bay I

4:00pm

SYMPOSIUM-04: Range-wide Status Modeling to Accelerate Conservation of At-Risk Species in the Longleaf System
AUTHORS: Brian Crawford, Georgia Cooperative Fish & Wildlife Research Unit, Warnell School of Forestry & Natural Resources, University of Georgia; John C. Maerz, Warnell School of Forestry & Natural Resources, University of Georgia; Clinton T. Moore, U.S. Geological Survey, Georgia Cooperative Fish & Wildlife Research Unit, Warnell School of Forestry & Natural Resources, University of Georgia; D. Todd Jones-Farrand, Gulf Coastal Plains & Ozarks Landscape Conservation Cooperative; Mike Harris, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Region 4

ABSTRACT: The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service is commissioned with reviewing the status of more than 300 wildlife species in the Southeast for potential listing under the Endangered Species Act. The longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) ecological system supports many priority at-risk species designated for review, including five species of herpetofauna: the gopher tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus), gopher frog (Lithobates capito), striped newt (Notophthalmus perstriatus), southern hognose snake (Heterodon simus), and Florida pine snake (Pituophis melanoleucus mugitus). With federal, state, and other partners, we are assessing the statuses of these five at-risk species to inform where and how to invest in conservation resources. This work addresses three objectives: 1) strengthen partnerships with species experts and decision-makers and use their input and data to guide species models, 2) develop comprehensive, range-wide models to predict current and future trends in habitat conditions and species statuses under threat and management scenarios, and 3) develop a structured decision-making framework that identifies optimal decisions for species and other socioeconomic objectives. We discuss progress and challenges in developing species distribution and persistence models, including incorporating expert opinion to mitigate data limitations, reduce uncertainty, and validate model estimates. Research products have begun to identify priority areas based on the distribution of species records, suitable habitat, and land protection status at local, state-wide, and range-wide scales. These results will aid regional partners in implementing effective conservation strategies and inform listing decisions of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

Tuesday October 23, 2018 4:00pm - 4:20pm
Grand Bay I

4:00pm

Wildlife 3 Track: Meso-mammal Trapping on Properties Intensively Managed for Northern Bobwhites: The State of the Practice
AUTHORS: David Sisson, Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, University of Georgia and Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy; Clay Sisson, Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy; Bynum Boley, Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, University of Georgia; James Martin, Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, University of Georgia; Theron Terhune, Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy.

ABSTRACT: Nest predator management is commonly practiced on properties intensively managed for northern bobwhites (Colinus virginianus) across the Southeast. Specifically, mammalian predators [e.g., Virginia opossums (Didelphis virginianus), raccoons (Procyon lotor), bobcats (Lynx rufus)] are partially removed under special permit using legal lethal techniques. Recent research supports the efficacy of the practice to increase bobwhite fecundity and subsequently abundance; however, other objectives may preclude the use of trapping such as minimizing costs. We surveyed private properties intensively managed for bobwhites in the Southeast to better understand the range of management practices associated with meso-mammal management, estimate annual per acre cost, and learn the motivating factors for trapping. We received surveys from the manager or owner of 43 properties which represent over 104,453 hectares of managed land ranging from 445 to 11,740 hectares (x ¯ = 2,429 hectares). One hundred percent of properties reported having a trapping program; typically consisting of either live trapping conducted in-house (40%), or a combination of in-house and contractors (51%). Half the respondents trap year-round while the remaining half only trap during the bobwhite breeding season. Trap density averaged 54 traps/thousand hectares and required 20-24 hrs/week to conduct. On average, 1 animal is caught per 7 hectares. Initial costs were $9.60/ha and annual costs were $7.24/ha. Most managers indicated trapping was either a “Very Effective” or “Extremely Effective” (67%) tool for maximizing bobwhite abundance. Our results reveal the cost effectiveness of these programs and will inform decisions regarding implementation of new trapping programs and refinement of existing programs.

Tuesday October 23, 2018 4:00pm - 4:20pm
Bon Secour Bay II

4:00pm

4:10pm

Legal Track. Update on Current Fish and Wildlife Issues
Mike Piccirilli, Chief of Wildlife and Sportfish Restoration Program for Region 4, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Tuesday October 23, 2018 4:10pm - 4:40pm
Windjammer

4:20pm

(CANCELLED) Fisheries 3 Track: Site-Occupancy Estimates for Saltmarsh Topminnows in Northwest Florida
AUTHORS: Chelsea Myles-McBurney, Jason O'Connor, John Knight – Fish and Wildlife Research Institute

ABSTRACT: Saltmarsh Topminnows Fundulus jenkinsi are listed as a species of special concern in Florida and are candidates for federal listing. They occupy brackish tidal marshes along the Gulf Coast from Texas to Florida. Within Florida they only occur along the coast in the extreme northwest portion of the state. The Saltmarsh Topminnow Action Plan was created to guide conservation and research efforts within the state with the goal of improving the status of the species to the point that it could be delisted. Efforts to implement the plan began in August 2014. Our objectives were to (1) Develop a multi-season site occupancy model that incorporates habitat covariates to determine population trends for the Saltmarsh Topminnows, (2) Determine the extent of occurrence of Saltmarsh Topminnows across the Escambia, Perdido and Blackwater Bays. Twenty-eight randomly selected sites were surveyed 7 times between Mar 2016 and Mar 2017 from all available saltmarsh habitat within Perdido, Escambia, and Blackwater Bays. Assuming constant detection and occupancy across sites, there was a 70% probability that a patch of saltmarsh habitat within the sampling habitat was occupied by Saltmarsh Topminnows. The survey method used was estimated to detect Saltmarsh Topminnows at sites of known occupancy on 67% of surveys. The top ranked occupancy model included a quadratic effect of site salinity on occupancy probability. Additional sampling is needed to calculate more precise parameter estimates, which will be used to construct more complex occupancy models.

Tuesday October 23, 2018 4:20pm - 4:40pm
Bon Secour Bay I

4:20pm

SYMPOSIUM-04: The Future of Model-based Decision Making: Seizing Opportunities and Overcoming Barriers
AUTHORS: Todd Jones-Farrand, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; Healy Hamilton, NatureServe; Rua Mordecai, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

ABSTRACT: In this symposium, we’ve demonstrated several examples of species distribution models (SDMs) being used to support various conservation decisions from acquisition to land management to survey design. These examples have come from across the Southeast and have covered a broad array of taxa including fish, plants and insects – SDMs aren’t just for birds anymore. However, these examples are still the exception to the rule. Most conservation decisions are not informed by an explicit model and are therefore less transparent, repeatable and defensible. Likewise, most SDMs are developed without a particular decision context in mind, which limits their utility. In this presentation, we will paint a picture of a world where modeling is integrated into the culture & practice of decision making. Several key components are a necessary part of this vision. First, biologists must be able to recognize decision-quality models and have the capacity to develop them when they don’t exist. Second, decision makers need to understand proper and improper application of SDMs to management and conservation. Finally, biologists and decision makers need to work together so that model outputs are translated into decisions with high degrees of defensibility. The advantages of using SDMs are many, including formalizing our current understanding of species status, guiding status surveys, and predicting likely outcomes of landscape changes or conservation actions. However, we need to seize opportunities and overcome some technical and social barriers if we are to achieve this idyllic vision. Doing so is critical to the success of the conservation enterprise.

Tuesday October 23, 2018 4:20pm - 4:40pm
Grand Bay I

4:20pm

Wildlife 3 Track: Survey of Tennessee Landowners Participating in Conservation Reserve Program Focused on Restoring Native Grasslands and Northern Bobwhite in Tennessee
AUTHORS: Mark J. Gudlin, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency; Adam S. Willcox, University of Tennessee; Kirstin E. Fagan, University of Tennessee; Roger D. Applegate, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency

ABSTRACT: The CRP State Acres For wildlife Enhancement (SAFE) practice in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) in Tennessee is targeted to help restore native habitats to benefit bobwhite quail (Colinus virginianus) and other declining early successional wildlife. A survey of participating landowners was conducted to assess landowner perceptions of and experiences with the practice and perceived wildlife response. The survey response rate was 58% (73 of 126 surveys mailed). Most of the respondents indicated they had received about the right amount of information prior to signing the SAFE contract (over 90%) and technical guidance during implementation. Almost half (46.2%) of respondents experienced no barriers to establishing SAFE vegetation. Strip disking was the approved mid-contract practice most commonly applied to manage the herbaceous vegetation (72.7%) and prescribed fire the least used (16.9%). Respondents most frequently reported that they encountered problems with controlling unwanted tree saplings or other woody vegetation (45 respondents; 80.4%), invading agricultural weeds, and failure of planted shrub seedlings. Respondents most frequently reported increased populations of cottontail rabbits (Sylvilagus floridanus), white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo), bobwhites, and songbirds once SAFE vegetation was established (41.9–66.2% of respondents). Half of the respondents (49.2%) perceived bobwhite covey numbers had increased on their SAFE tract, and only 6.2% perceived a decline. General landowner satisfaction with the practice, level of technical guidance, and perception of bobwhite and other wildlife response warrant continued efforts to improve the practice and increase participation.

Tuesday October 23, 2018 4:20pm - 4:40pm
Bon Secour Bay II

4:30pm

4:40pm

(CANCELLED) Fisheries 3 Track: Demographic Histories of Atlantic Tarpon and Bonefish Based on Coalescent Analyses of Contemporaneous Genetic Polymorphism
AUTHORS: Michael D. Tringali, Elizabeth M. Wallace – Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission

ABSTRACT: The demographic history of a population is a central element for conservation genetic assessment. Severe reductions in abundance, whether in the present or past, can increase inbreeding levels within a population and lead to the loss of genetic variation and fixation of deleterious alleles, which in turn can reduce intrinsic fitness and long-term adaptive potential. Characterizing the demographic status of a population through censusing and other direct approaches can be difficult and time consuming. Moreover, direct approaches do not provide information regarding previous demographic contractions and expansions. A potentially useful alternative derives from molecular analyses, which under certain assumptive circumstances can allow inference on past demography from observed contemporaneous distributions of genetic polymorphism. Rather than census-based information, this method relies on a proportional metric – the genetic effective population size – which may be viewed as the ‘stochastically-adjusted’ number of individuals contributing genes to the next generation. Here, we implement a coalescent method to comparatively test for genetic signals of past demographic changes in heavily fished populations of Atlantic Tarpon (Megalops atlanticus) and bonefish (Abula vulpes), based on microsatellite allelic data. Both taxa have lengthy pelagic larval durations facilitated by a leptocephalus life stage. Whereas the mean PLD for bonefish is approximately twice that of Atlantic tarpon, adult Atlantic tarpon are capable of extensive movement. Thus, the potential influences of genetic connectivity and dispersal on demography are investigated. The analyses represent a diagnostic check on the genetic ‘health’ of these taxa and provide context for interpreting extensive range-wide genetic surveys.

Tuesday October 23, 2018 4:40pm - 5:00pm
Bon Secour Bay I

4:40pm

4:40pm

(CANCELLED) Wildlife 3 Track: Cost and Forage Production of Food Plots, Prescribed Fire, and Roller Chopping for Northern Bobwhite at Babcock-Webb Wildlife Management Area, Florida
AUTHORS: H. Tyler Pittman, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

ABSTRACT: Management of northern bobwhite (Colinus virginianus) commonly focuses on creating cover and food for bobwhite throughout the year. Numerous studies have addressed these management practices and their impacts on bobwhite, but few have assessed the quantity of resources they produce or the associated management cost per unit of production. This study assesses three common bobwhite management practices (prescribed fire, roller chopping, and food plots) on the Cecil M. Webb–Babcock Wildlife Management Area in Charlotte County, Florida. I estimated production of the most common natural bobwhite forage (slough grass [Scleria spp.]) and the most common planted species (sesbania [Sesbania spp.]) in 80 wildlife exclosures located in areas that had been managed with prescribed fire only, in those that had been managed with both prescribed fire and roller chopping, and in food plots. I documented substantially higher production yields (i.e. dry weight of seed) of sesbania in food plots (3,627.3 kg/ha/yr) than other forage species and under different management practices. Slough grass was much more widespread across management practices and the study area than sesbania, which was documented only in food plots. Based on yield estimates, production was more cost-effective for sesbania in food plots than slough grass in roller chopping areas ($0.88/kg and $23.91/kg, respectively). Although production and management costs of sesbania food plots are much lower than those associated with management for slough grass, environmental factors such as flooding, seed degradation, and the small effective spatial extent of food plots may limit any positive benefits for bobwhite populations.

Tuesday October 23, 2018 4:40pm - 5:00pm
Bon Secour Bay II

4:50pm

Legal Track. Business Meeting
Tuesday October 23, 2018 4:50pm - 5:00pm
Windjammer

6:00pm

7:00pm

Awards Banquet
Please join your colleagues to celebrate the recipients of these awards, which will be presented during the banquet by Emcee Ed Carter:

Southeastern Section of The Wildlife Society Awards:
>>Presented by: Michael T. Mengak, PhD, President SE Section, The Wildlife Society
  • Outstanding Wildlife Paper - 2018
  • Best Student Poster Award - 2018
  • SE-TWS Student Chapter of the Year

Southern Division of the American Fisheries Society Awards:
>>Presented by: Craig Bonds, President, SD American Fisheries Society
  • John F. Dequine Best Fisheries Paper
  • Distinguished Service Award
  • Best Student Paper
  • Best Student Poster
  • Best Student Sub Unit

SEAFWA Awards:
  • Special Recognition Award
  • Workforce Diversity & Inclusion Award
  • State Law Enforcement Officers of the Year
  • Col. Bob Brantly SEAFWA Officer of the Year
  • Fisheries Biologists of the Year Award
  • Wildlife Biologists of the Year Award
  • C.W. Watson Award
  • Past President’s Award

Tuesday October 23, 2018 7:00pm - 9:30pm
Bon Secour Bay Ballroom
 
Wednesday, October 24
 

7:00am

Continental Breakfast
Wednesday October 24, 2018 7:00am - 8:30am
2nd Level Foyer

7:00am

7:00am

Speaker Ready Room Open
Wednesday October 24, 2018 7:00am - 12:00pm
Baypointe Suite

8:00am

Fisheries 4 Track: Population Fluctuations in Two Southern Appalachian Rainbow Trout Populations: Magnitude and Potential Causes
AUTHORS:  Todd D. Ewing, James C. Borawa, Jacob C. Rash – North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission; Robert P. Creed, Jr., Appalachian State University

ABSTRACT:  Stream-dwelling salmonid populations may be affected by both density-dependent and density-independent processes. However, the relative importance of density-independent processes on salmonid populations may vary both spatially and temporally. We quantified population fluctuations over a 10-year period in two unexploited rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) populations in western North Carolina and attempted to elucidate the factors that drive these population fluctuations. Rainbow trout populations in Beetree Creek and North Fork Swannanoa River both exhibited high degrees of temporal variability in density. Densities of rainbow trout in both streams exhibited strong, negative correlations with the maximum instantaneous flow occurring during the incubation and emergence periods. There was strong synchrony in fluctuations of both populations which suggests that the high discharge events may have had similar impacts on multiple trout populations within this ecoregion. These results suggest that fluctuations in rainbow trout density in these two streams were determined primarily by density-independent factors.

Wednesday October 24, 2018 8:00am - 8:20am
Bon Secour Bay I

8:00am

8:00am

Wildlife 4 Track: Eastern Gray Squirrel Survival in a Hunted Ecosystem
AUTHORS: Sarah B. Wilson, Stephen S. Ditchkoff, Robert A. Gitzen, Todd D. Steury – School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences, Auburn University

ABSTRACT: Though the eastern gray squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) is a popular game species throughout its range, little is known about environmental factors that may affect its survival. We investigated survival and predation of a hunted population of eastern gray squirrels on Lowndes Wildlife Management Area in central Alabama from July 2015- April 2017. This area experiences flooding conditions starting in November and ending September of the next year, which could influence individual survival. The Kaplan-Meier survival estimate at 365 days for all squirrels was 0.25 (0.14-0.44, 95% CL) which is within the range for previously studied eastern gray squirrel populations (0.20-0.58). There was no significant difference between male (0.13; 0.05-0.36, 95% CL) and female survival (0.37; 0.18-0.75, 95% CL, P = 0.16). Survival was greatest in summer (1.00) and fall (0.65; 0.29-1.0, 95% CL) and least during winter (0.23; 0.11-0.50, 95% CL). We did find squirrels were more likely to die during the flood season and mortality risk increased as flood extent throughout the study area increased. Over 60% of mortalities were due to predation, which is comparable to other Sciurus species. When managing populations of eastern gray squirrels, it is important to consider the effect of environmental factors, such as flooding, on survival.

Wednesday October 24, 2018 8:00am - 8:20am
Bon Secour Bay II

8:00am

8:20am

Fisheries 4 Track: Suitability of Stocked Brown Trout and Rainbow Trout for Trophy Management in Apalachia Reservoir, North Carolina
AUTHORS:  Amanda Bushon, Jacob C. Rash, David Yow, A. Powell Wheeler – North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission

ABSTRACT:  Brown trout (Salmo trutta) and rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) of two sizes, small (254 mm TL) and large (380 mm TL), were stocked in Apalachia Reservoir to determine the best size and species to create a trophy (=600 mm TL), put-grow-and-take fishery. Brown trout and rainbow trout were tagged and stocked in December 2012–2015, collected with annual boat electrofishing and gill-net surveys, and evaluated via a 12-month angler creel survey (2014–2015). Small rainbow trout grew at a faster rate within the first four months, but brown trout, both large and small, reached larger sizes (=500 mm TL). Brown trout were able to reach larger sizes because they persisted in the reservoir longer than rainbow trout. Large brown trout gained an average of 30.8 g/month (SE = 13.5) within four months of stocking while the small brown trout and rainbow trout only gained 8.5 (SE = 1.9) and 15.3 g/month (SE = 1.6), respectively. Large brown trout were highly piscivorous within the first four months after stocking, whereas the smaller trout of both species fed primarily on macroinvertebrates. During the angler creel survey, brown trout were caught and harvested more frequently than rainbow trout; approximately 60% of all trout caught and 76% of all trout harvested were brown trout. Brown trout were more popular with anglers, persisted longer in the reservoir and reached larger sizes than rainbow trout. Considering angler preference and performance of brown trout, we recommend continued stocking of brown trout at both sizes.

Wednesday October 24, 2018 8:20am - 8:40am
Bon Secour Bay I

8:20am

SYMPOSIUM-06: Movement Ecology of Seabirds: Multi-scale and Multi-taxa Approaches to Addressing Conservation Needs in the Gulf of Mexico
AUTHORS: Patrick G.R. Jodice, USGS South Carolina Cooperative Fish & Wildlife Research Unit, Clemson University; Mark Woodrey, Mississippi State University & Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve; Auriel Fournier, Coastal Research and Extension, Mississippi State University

ABSTRACT: The Gulf of Mexico supports a diverse suite of seabirds throughout coastal and pelagic waters during both breeding and nonbreeding phases of the annual cycle. Breeding birds in the northern Gulf consist of nearshore species (e.g., pelicans, terns) that winter throughout the northern Gulf but also migrate to the southern Gulf. Breeding birds in the southern Gulf include both nearshore as well as more pelagic species (e.g., boobies, pelagic terns) that are disperse throughout the Gulf and Caribbean during the nonbreeding season. Further, inland breeding waterbirds (e.g. Black Terns) and seabirds from outside the Gulf region migrate to and through the Gulf. As a guild, however, the distribution, abundance, and habitat use at sea of seabirds in the Gulf have not received a level of research attention that is warranted given their high conservation status and the level of anthropogenic development throughout the coastal and pelagic waters of the Gulf. Here, we review case studies of the application of biotelemetry to seabirds to address conservation needs throughout the Gulf. We purposefully focus on data collected via different technologies that result in data across a range of spatial and temporal scales to demonstrate how these multi-scale efforts can be applied to conservation in the Gulf. As a means to further our understanding of Gulf marine systems, we conclude by proposing a biologging approach focused on multiple taxa of apex predators (e.g., seabirds and predatory fish).

Wednesday October 24, 2018 8:20am - 8:40am
Grand Bay I

8:20am

(CANCELLED) Wildlife 4 Track: Managing Florida’s Human-Bear Conflict: An Overview
AUTHORS: Jordan Green, Bear Management Program, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

ABSTRACT: Human-bear conflicts are primarily caused by bear access to unsecured garbage and other anthropomorphic foods in Florida. Calls to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) are received by regional call centers. Most calls are resolved over the phone, however, calls that require a field response are usually coordinated by biologists who rely heavily on Bear Response Contractors (BRC’s), private individuals who set traps, recover vehicle-killed bears, and do public outreach. The FWC prohibits both intentional and unintentional feeding of bears. To assist with compliance with that rule, the FWC has distributed over $1.5 million since 2007 to local governments, with 52% of funding to those who require people to keep their garbage secure from bears. The FWC established Memorandums of Understanding with several waste service providers, defining their role in providing timely delivery of affordable bear-resistant equipment. The FWC works with bear-resistant can manufacturers to pre-test prototypes of trashcans with both captive and wild bears, providing feedback before the cans are officially tested for certification. The FWC takes proactive efforts to educate the public, including a formal Curriculum Guide as well as informal presentations and exhibits for schools, civic groups, and at local festivals. The FWC trains partner agencies on how to respond to human-bear conflicts, including how to haze bears. The FWC’s website has a wealth of information, including videos and instructions on how to secure attractants. The FWC’s multi-faceted approach will ultimately reduce human-bear conflicts over the long term.

Wednesday October 24, 2018 8:20am - 8:40am
Bon Secour Bay II

8:20am

8:30am

8:30am

8:40am

Fisheries 4 Track: Building Towards the Future: Renovating the Durant State Fish Hatchery
AUTHORS: Lance Klement, Garver; Ken Cunningham, Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation

ABSTRACT: The Durant State Fish Hatchery is the largest state-owned hatchery in Oklahoma. In 2009 the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation (ODWC) developed a master renovation plan for this 200-acre facility in order to identify needed improvements and expand the hatchery's Florida largemouth bass production (currently ~2 million fry annually). The plan identified multiple needs, including a new raw water intake, conveyance piping, reservoir rehabilitation, pond improvements, and a hatchery building and brood ponds. Improvements projects were then prioritized and plans were made to phase them in based on available funding. Phase 1 of the hatchery renovation, completed in 2016 at a cost of $2.3 million, included a new raw water intake pump station with nickel coated intake in order to provide more reliable raw water pumping and prevention of zebra mussle growth on the self cleaning intake. Phase 2, scheduled to be completed in 2019 at a cost of $5 million, is ongoing and includes rehabilitation of the reservoir levees and internal piping and intake improvements, which will allow hatchery staff more flexibility in filling and emptying ponds, as well as providing increased reliability of the water reservoir levees. These and future renovations will allow ODWC to improve and expand its Florida largemouth bass program, to the benefit of Oklahoma's anglers.

Wednesday October 24, 2018 8:40am - 9:00am
Bon Secour Bay I

8:40am

SYMPOSIUM-06: A Tale of Two Timescales: Using Otolith Microchemistry to Improve Our Understanding of Alligator Gar Movement in the Lower Trinity River, Texas
AUTHORS: Daniel J. Daugherty, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department; Kevin L. Pangle, Central Michigan University; David L. Buckmeier, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department; Nathan G. Smith, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

ABSTRACT: Telemetry-based study of Alligator Gar (Atractosteus spatula) movement in the lower Trinity River, Texas, indicated that fish primarily remained within discrete home ranges less than 60 river kilometers (rkm), supporting the potential for local-scale management. However, the temporal scale of inference was limited (22 months), which may inadequately represent fish movements and home range size at the lifetime (i.e., =50 yrs) scale. Therefore, we used otolith microchemistry to examine the long-term movements of Alligator Gar (N = 59; total length range 1,152 to 2,420 mm, age range 4 to 60 yrs) between the lower Trinity River and Trinity-Galveston Bay system. Strontium:calcium (Sr:Ca) concentrations were measured along laser-ablated transects from the otolith core (i.e., time at hatch) to the edge (i.e., time at capture) for fish collected throughout the system, documenting movements between the river (freshwater) and bay (saltwater). We identified two residence contingents among fish in the lower Trinity River that differed in prevalence across the system. Multiple logistic regression indicated that river residence, in which fish remained in the river over their entire lifetimes, was most common at the upstream end of the study reach (63% of fish). In contrast, transience, in which fish moved between the river and bay, was prevalent nearest the river mouth (82% of fish). Although our inferences from the otolith data suggest a somewhat greater degree of homogenization across the system than was captured via telemetry, our results generally suggest localized management of Alligator Gar in the lower Trinity River could be appropriate.

Wednesday October 24, 2018 8:40am - 9:00am
Grand Bay I

8:40am

(CANCELLED) Wildlife 4 Track: Identifying the Next Conflict Wildlife Species: Part II
AUTHORS: Angeline Scotten, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

ABSTRACT: The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has recognized that wildlife conflict is of increasing concern among Floridians. Calls to the FWC regarding questions and apprehension of a multitude of species has increased dramatically over the state in the past decade; so much so that the agency has dedicated staff in each regional office to triage these issues. Historically, the agency had collected data reflecting the amount of complaints regarding species such as alligators and bears; complaints on other species were less well documented until recently. In April 2015, the agency implemented a new tracking system called the Wildlife Incident Management System (WIMS). We are now better able to understand conflict wildlife issues both geographically and species-specific trends. Through data analysis, FWC has identified coyotes as an emerging conflict wildlife species. This presentation will cover the trends with conflict wildlife, specifically coyotes (Canis latrans), that FWC has been documenting since implementing WIMS. Because of Florida’s growing resident and visiting population and the variety of wildlife species that thrive in the state, trends from Florida could reflect future conflict issues in other southeastern states.

Wednesday October 24, 2018 8:40am - 9:00am
Bon Secour Bay II

9:00am

Fisheries 4 Track: Production and Economic Comparison of Single versus Multiple Harvests in a Commercial In-pond Raceway System in West Alabama Targeting Two Market Outlets
AUTHORS:  Luke A. Roy, Terry R. Hanson, Lisa B. Bott, Jesse A. Chappell – School of Fisheries, Aquaculture and Aquatic Sciences, Auburn University

ABSTRACT:  This study evaluates the production and economic feasibility of a fixed floor in-pond raceway system (IPRS) to supply processor and niche live catfish markets while also highlighting production issues that arose by targeting these two markets. While the farmer viewed the niche market opportunity as a success, several production issues occurred that reduced survival, growth, and profitability of hybrid catfish (? Ictalurus punctatus x ? Ictalurus furcatus) raised in the IPRS. A west Alabama catfish producer grew hybrid catfish to market size in four IPRS cells in production cycle-1 (2012-2013) and five cells in production cycle-2 (2013-2015). Management and harvest of IPRS-raised catfish changed from production cycle-1 to production cycle-2 due to higher market prices received from niche-live fish market buyers. The high density of fish in the IPRS cells and the raceway’s small size made it easier to harvest small, frequent quantities of catfish for niche markets. Large ponds traditionally used in the U.S. farm-raised catfish industry would not be able to harvest small quantities of catfish. Processors, being the second market outlet, preferred one single harvest of all fish from the raceways but paid a lower unit price. Production and net returns varied by year and even when the producer was receiving a higher fish price from the niche-live fish market buyer than from the processor, overall net returns were greater from the higher survival-lower priced catfish production system than for the lower survival-higher priced fish combination.

Wednesday October 24, 2018 9:00am - 9:20am
Bon Secour Bay I

9:00am

SYMPOSIUM-06: Using Telemetry to Track Manatee Habitat Use in the Northcentral Gulf of Mexico
AUTHORS: Kayla P. DaCosta, Ruth H. Carmichael – Dauphin Island Sea Lab, University of South Alabama

ABSTRACT: Florida manatees are migratory and disperse long distances, show site fidelity, occupy fragmented habitats, and are experiencing population recovery and range expansion in U.S. waters. To better understand migration and habitat use of manatees in the nGOM, satellite tags were deployed from 2009-present. During that time, 13 unique individuals were tagged for periods of 3-17 consecutive months. Data indicate that manatees using the nGOM are regular, seasonal visitors, rather than accidental strays as previously thought. Tag data have also allowed for the identification of manatee hotspots and migratory pathways throughout the nGOM. In addition to satellite tags, manatees are equipped with two sonics, one inside the satellite tag itself and another located in the tagging belt. Acoustic receivers were deployed at strategic choke points throughout Alabama and Mississippi waterways to collect data from animals that have a disconnected or malfunctioning tag. Use of these receivers has provided additional data to further corroborate results from satellite tags and fill in data gaps created by the loss or malfunction of satellite tags. Use of satellite and acoustic telemetry has provided information on the migration and habitat use of manatees that is important for the conservation and management of the species. In addition to manatee tagging, we will also be providing a brief overview of other active tagging programs based out of the Dauphin Island Sea Lab.

Wednesday October 24, 2018 9:00am - 9:20am
Grand Bay I

9:00am

Wildlife 4 Track: Efficacy of Urine-based Lure for Attracting Wild Pigs
AUTHORS: Nancy Sandoval, Brian L. Williams, Stephen S. Ditchkoff – School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences, Auburn University

ABSTRACT: Population surveys and removal efforts for wild pigs (Sus scrofa) have traditionally used a food-based attractant. However, some situations or locations where these activities may take place may not be conducive to the logistical challenges associated with storing or hauling large quantities of bait. Scent-based lures are lighter and easier to store than baits, and may negate some of these logistical challenges. Our goal was to examine the efficacy of a urine-based lure for attracting wild pigs to and retaining them at camera sites. We compared the initial arrival time and feeding bout length among boars, sounders, and juveniles at sites with a urine lure, whole corn, and a combination of the urine lure and whole corn during June and July 2017 on Lowndes Wildlife Management Area, Alabama. Our results suggest sex/age class and treatment had no significant effect on initial arrival time, but feeding bout length tended to be shorter at sites with urine only. These data suggest that urine-based lures may be appropriate for initial population assessments where quick attraction to a site may be desired, but a food-based attractant is more suitable for retaining wild pigs at sites long enough for removal efforts or detailed population surveys.

Wednesday October 24, 2018 9:00am - 9:20am
Bon Secour Bay II

9:20am

(CANCELLED) Fisheries 4 Track: Trends Analysis of Aquatic Plant Communities and Available Fish and Wildlife Habitat on Orange Lake, Florida
AUTHORS:  Craig Mallison, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

ABSTRACT:  The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission used remote sensing to map aquatic plant communities on Orange Lake, Florida from 2007 to 2016. GIS models were used to quantify available habitat for focal fish and wildlife taxa based on dominant plant communities. Trends analysis revealed changes in dominant vegetation and available habitat over a ten-year period. The most important habitat types based on abundance and habitat value were open water, submerged aquatic vegetation, and floating-leaved deep marsh. Lake-wide coverages of these communities were proportional to total available habitat for largemouth bass, black crappie, ring-necked duck, wood duck, and alligator foraging. For alligator nesting and wading bird roosting, available habitat was driven by coverage of floating marsh and shrub swamp. Project results have been incorporated into lake management plans that aim to provide habitat requirements of important fish and wildlife taxa in the Orange Creek Basin.

Wednesday October 24, 2018 9:20am - 9:40am
Bon Secour Bay I

9:20am

SYMPOSIUM-06: Using Acoustic Telemetry to Refine Essential Fish Habitat for Juvenile Gulf of Mexico Blacktip Sharks
AUTHORS: Jayne M. Gardiner, New College of Florida; Tonya R. Wiley, Havenworth Coastal Conservation; Joel A. Beaver, New College of Florida

ABSTRACT: NMFS is mandated to include Essential Fish Habitat in all Fishery Management Plans, considering all life stages of a species, not just those that are being exploited. The blacktip shark, Carcharhinus limbatus, is the dominant species captured in the directed large coastal shark fishery in the Gulf of Mexico. NMFS has managed this species since 1991, initially as part of the Large Coastal Shark Complex, and individually since 2006. Since that time, attempts have been made at quantifying blacktip shark nursery areas, which represent EFH for neonates and juveniles. However, without clear criteria for defining nurseries, EFH designations have remained broad, currently encompassing the entire US Gulf coastline. Heupel et al. (2007) proposed that nursery areas be defined based not only on the presence of juvenile sharks, but also based on site fidelity and the tendency of animals to use habitats repeatedly across several years. Low tag-recapture rates hamper efforts to define nurseries using conventional tags. Acoustic telemetry has provided important information on individual nurseries, but short battery life and the limited spatial/temporal coverage of receiver arrays have traditionally limited the relevance of this tool at a management scale. Here, we present data on two blacktip shark nurseries on the Gulf coast of Florida as case studies, demonstrating how recent advances in tag technology and the emergence of regional and Gulf-wide cooperative telemetry arrays enable assessments of long-term patterns of natal philopatry and rates of movement between nurseries, behaviors that influence population connectivity and stock structure on a Gulf-wide scale.

Wednesday October 24, 2018 9:20am - 9:40am
Grand Bay I

9:20am

Wildlife 4 Track: Lessons Learned While Establishing an Unmanned Aircraft Program at a State Natural Resource Management Agency
AUTHORS: Anthony Fernando, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission; Trey Reid, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission; Scott Wyatt, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission; Lt. Brian Aston, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission

ABSTRACT: The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC) conducted 56 hours of unmanned aircraft operations between February 2017 and April 2018. Some operations were conducted under the small unmanned aircraft rule (Part 107) established by the Federal Aviation Administration, while some were conducted under the terms of a Certificate of Authorization from the FAA. Different operating divisions of AGFC have used unmanned aircraft to pursue different goals. We describe a training program, operations conducted by the Fisheries, Wildlife, Communications, and Enforcement divisions of AGFC. Additionally, we disclose brief reports on 4 accidents experienced by AGFC unmanned aircraft. Considerations for future training programs are described.

Wednesday October 24, 2018 9:20am - 9:40am
Bon Secour Bay II

9:40am

Fisheries 4 Track: Developing a decision-support tool for evaluating the impacts of management decisions on the Gulf of Mexico red snapper resource
AUTHORS:  Yuying Zhang, Florida International University; Daniel Goethel, Matthew Smith, Juan Agar – Southeast Fisheries Science Center; Laura Picariello, Texas Sea Grant,; Yong Chen, University of Maine; Luiz Barbieri, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission; Chris Verlinde, Florida Sea Grant

ABSTRACT:  Red snapper (Lutjanus campechanus) supports one of the most important fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico (GoM), but the management of this resource has been controversial and contentious. Management strategy evaluation (MSE) has been proved to be a powerful tool in implementing strategic management decisions that have been vetted against a wide range of observation, process, assessment, and management uncertainty. In this project, a decision-support tool is being developed to help managers identify and explore alternate management regulations and associated tradeoffs. A web-based user-friendly interface has been added for end-users to set constraints, and to visualize the outcomes. It is expected that all stakeholders can use the decision-support tool to better understand the causes and consequences of a given regulation or harvest policy. The ultimate goal of this project is to improve our understanding of the GoM red snapper fishery, and optimize utilization of the resource. Although designed for red snapper, the MSE framework developed in this project will be easily adaptable to other GoM reef fish resources, and could be further modified as an ecosystem-based management tool for the entire reef fish complex.

Wednesday October 24, 2018 9:40am - 10:00am
Bon Secour Bay I

9:40am

SYMPOSIUM-06: Developing a regional network of ‘sentinel’ sites: monitored multi-species fish spawning aggregation sites throughout the Gulf of Mexico and the wider Caribbean to evaluate site fidelity, connectivity, and to contribute to regional fisheries
AUTHORS: William D. Heyman, LGL Ecological Research Associates, Inc.; Christopher Biggs, University of Texas at Austin, Department of Marine Science; Shin Kobara, Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System (GCOOS), Texas A&M University; Nick Farmer, NOAA Fisheries, Southeast Regional Office; Arnaud Grüss, School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, University of Washington; Mandy Karnauskas, NOAA Fisheries, Southeast Fisheries Science Center; Sue Lowerre-Barbieri, Fisheries and Aquatic Science Program, School of Forest Resources and Conservation, University of Florida; Brad Erisman, University of Texas at Austin, Department of Marine Science

ABSTRACT: Many species of coastal and reef fishes congregate at specific times and places for reproduction in fish spawning aggregations (FSAs). These sites can attract intensive fishing pressure. Recent research indicates that many sites serve as multi-species FSAs, where tens of species from various families aggregate according to specific seasonal, lunar and diel cycles. Recent studies funded by the NOAA RESTORE Act Science Program illustrated that multi-species FSA sites occur within two distinctive bands in the Gulf of Mexico: one along the coast and another at the shelf edge. Coastal species, including spotted seatrout (Cynoscion nebulosus), red drum (Sciaenops ocellatus) and sheepshead (Archosargus probatocephalus), form FSAs in coastal channel passes and along associated jetties. By contrast, members of the snapper-grouper-jack complex, including mutton snapper (Lutjanus analis), cubera snapper (L. cyanopterus), gag (Mycteroperca microlepis), scamp (M. phenax), black grouper (M. bonaci), and greater amberjack (Seriola dumerili), form multi-species FSAs along the continental shelf edge, associated with abrupt discontinuities in bottom structure. Our intention is to work with stakeholders throughout the Gulf of Mexico and the wider Caribbean to characterize and monitor a network of ‘sentinel’ sites at multi-species FSAs, using a suite of physical and biological monitoring tools. Acoustic telemetry will form a key component of the monitoring program that will also include underwater passive and active acoustics, CTDs, and acoustic Doppler current meters. Monitoring and management of the network of sites will generate data that that will be shared with a regional network of partners and be used to support stock assessments and integrated ecosystem-based fisheries management efforts.

Wednesday October 24, 2018 9:40am - 10:00am
Grand Bay I

9:40am

Wildlife 4 Track: Mapping the South's Forests of the Future
AUTHORS: Rachel E. Greene, Kristine O. Evans, Michael T. Gray – Mississippi State University; David T. Jones-Farrand, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service; William G. Wathen, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency

ABSTRACT: Forests in the Southeastern United States hold substantial environmental, economic, and cultural value. Yet up to 23 million acres of forest may be lost in the next 40 years to pressures from changing land use and climate. Southeastern conservation organizations are interested in implementing programs to retain and protect large areas of forest over the next several decades. However, identifying viable areas to target forest conservation on the landscape remains a challenge. We compiled geospatial elements from existing and prioritized areas for forest protection as well as datasets about threats to forest retention (e.g., urbanization), socioeconomic value (e.g., timber) of forests, and where reforestation efforts might be most successful. We developed a region-wide index of forest retention in the Southeastern landscape and maps for years 2030, 2040, 2050, and 2060. We used gap-analysis to identify areas where future forest protection will support biodiversity benefits. Approximately 36 million acres of forestland are currently protected and classified as Very High on our Forest Retention Index (FRI). An additional 161 million acres (~70% of study area currently forested) are highly prioritized, have a low risk of urbanization, and/or a high socio-economic value, and thus classified as High and Moderate-High on FRI. We classified more than 14 million acres as Very Low due to high urbanization risk and loss to sea level rise. Lands in Very Low include some of the most biodiverse areas of the South. This information is presently being used by forest planners to target specific watersheds for forest conservation efforts.

Wednesday October 24, 2018 9:40am - 10:00am
Bon Secour Bay II

10:00am

Refreshment Break
Wednesday October 24, 2018 10:00am - 10:30am
2nd Level Foyer

10:20am

SYMPOSIUM-06: Gulf of Mexico Migratory Species Conservation Decision Support Tool
AUTHORS: Jorge Brenner, Valerie McNulty – The Nature Conservancy

ABSTRACT: Marine species migrate to fulfill essential needs: to find and follow food, reproduce, or occupy more habitable locations. During their migrations, they also provide benefits to humans. The Gulf of Mexico hosts 70% of highly migratory species. The Gulf of Mexico Migratory Species Conservation Project aims to identify these pathways in the Gulf and critical areas for conservation to protect migratory marine species and improve the health of large marine ecosystems. Since 2016, the Conservancy has led this project to help address the knowledge gap of migratory pathways, threats, and opportunities for their conservation. The accompanying online Migratory Species Decision Support Tool (DST) provides support for planners, resource managers, government officials, and the ocean conservation community to understand marine species blueways, threats and obstacles, and key stopovers or resource concentrations. The DST is built from animal satellite tracking data from over 100 researchers and institutions in the United States, Mexico, and Cuba to assess migratory pathways in the Gulf. The tool includes a visualization platform to highlight information about migratory corridors, movement density, occurrence hotspots, and stopovers, along with marine environmental data, and human- and climate-related threats. Another outcome of this project has been the identification of critical areas for conservation in the Gulf, where anthropogenic threats intersect with areas of heavy migration. These areas were identified using Marxan conservation planning software to incorporate tracking data, human threats, and regulatory boundaries for solutions that are environmentally, socially, and economically sustainable.

Wednesday October 24, 2018 10:20am - 10:40am
Grand Bay I

10:20am

Wildlife 4 Track: Advancing the Role of Environmental DNA (eDNA) in the Conservation of Threatened Species
AUTHORS: Nicole M. Phillips, Katherine E. Schweiss, Ryan N. Lehman – The University of Southern Mississippi, Department of Biological Sciences; J. Marcus Drymon, Mississippi State University, Coastal Research & Extension Center; Gregg R. Poulakis, Fish and Wildlife Research Institute, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Charlotte Harbor Field Laboratory; Jill M. Hendon, The University of Southern Mississippi, Center for Fisheries Research and Development

ABSTRACT: One quarter of elasmobranchs are threatened with extinction according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature and nearly one half are categorized as Data Deficient, meaning there is insufficient data to assess their statuses. Environmental DNA (eDNA) has emerged as a non-invasive approach to fill data gaps on the distribution of elasmobranchs, however, the extent to which these data can be used to guide management decisions for threatened species, which are typically rare, is dependent upon the sensitivity of the methods employed. False negatives occur when a target species is present, but is not detected due to detection limits of the assays or sampling regimes that do not consider habitat use. In eDNA studies, water samples are filtered, DNA extractions performed on the particulate, and primers are developed to amplify DNA in only the target species. To date, most eDNA studies have used quantitative real-time PCR (qRT-PCR) to determine the presence/absence of species in marine systems, where DNA may have low residency time due to the large area, tides, and currents. We compared the detection limits of qRT-PCR and droplet digital PCR (ddPCR) by obtaining positive water samples using the bull shark, Carcharhinus leucas, as a model species. DdPCR was the more sensitive platform, making it the ideal approach for eDNA studies targeting threatened species. We then used ddPCR to investigate the persistence of elasmobranch eDNA in a flow-through mesocosm designed to mimic natural flow regimes, which will facilitate interpretation of elasmobranch eDNA surveys in the Gulf of Mexico.

Wednesday October 24, 2018 10:20am - 10:40am
Bon Secour Bay II

10:40am

Wildlife 4 Track: The Greater Atlanta Pollinator Partnership: A Model for Urban Pollinator Conservation
AUTHORS: Dennis L. Krusac, USDA Forest Service; Jacqueline J. Belwood, Georgia Highlands College

ABSTRACT: Global pollinator populations are in decline for many reasons including habitat loss and overuse of pesticides. The Greater Atlanta Pollinator Partnership (GAPP) was initiated in 2009, in Atlanta, Georgia, because the housing boom of the 1990s and early 2000s resulted in the loss of 22 ha/day of green space and a corresponding increase of 11 ha/day of impervious surfaces in this metropolitan area. Over 20-years, approximately 162,000 ha of pollinator-friendly native green space/tree canopy have been lost with an increase of 81,000 ha of impervious surface. Goals of the GAPP are to encourage restoration, development, and registration of pollinator habitat at an ecologically significant landscape scale. Consequently, our project focuses on a 40-km radius area around downtown Atlanta comprising nearly 500,000 ha of potential pollinator habitat and includes all major public lands and thousands of individual residences. Efforts focus on restoring pollinator-friendly habitat and educating the public through formal and informal programs. Key components of the GAPP include using native species when available, rescuing native plants from construction sites, controlling invasive species, establishing community gardens, citizen science projects, conservation, education, and research. The GAPP website (http://gapp.org/) is critical to our online garden registration and mapping to track garden establishment, assess habitat development trends, provide online educational materials, and provide focus to the effort through a newsletter. Several organizations have expressed interest in using the GAPP as a model for their citizen-based pollinator conservation efforts. Funding for the GAPP is limited, so synergy through partnerships is the key to success.

Wednesday October 24, 2018 10:40am - 11:00am
Bon Secour Bay II

10:40am

SYMPOSIUM-06: The Gulf Acoustic Research Database and Interspecies Animal Tracking Network (GUARDIAN): Building a Secure, Authenticated Visualization Portal for Multi-species Analysis
AUTHORS: Robert Currier, Barbara Kirkpatrick, Chris Simoniello – Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System/Texas A&M University

ABSTRACT: The tagging and tracking of aquatic animals using acoustic telemetry hardware has traditionally been the purview of individual researchers that specialize in single species. Concerns over data privacy and unauthorized use of receiver arrays have prevented the construction of large-scale, multi-species, multi-institution, multi-researcher collaborative acoustic arrays. SBAN was constructed to address the following concerns: guarantee data privacy; establish a sense of community and collaboration; facilitate a regional approach to addressing bigger science problems; provide the ability to monitor aquatic animals over larger spacial scales; integrate detection data with real-time and modeled oceanographic data; provide interoperability with other telemetry networks and to allow for the use of data in outreach and education. This presentation will cover in detail the methodology we used to build SBAN, including Python and Flask, the Leaflet mapping library, database tools and our custom authentication system. We will discuss the importance of regular feedback from the science community and the need for developers to become fully immersed in the day-to-day requirements of the principal investigators. Without subject matter expertise it is impossible for software engineers to develop productive and functional systems. Finally, we will provide a demonstration of SBAN including user authentication, data entry, data visualization and using the oceanographic data overlays to improve understanding of spatial and temporal habitat use.

Wednesday October 24, 2018 10:40am - 11:20am
Grand Bay I

11:00am

Wildlife 4 Track: High Variability in Amphibian Metamorph Leg Length and Relationships to Pond Leaf Litter Input
AUTHORS: Julia E. Earl, Louisiana Tech University

ABSTRACT: Amphibian morphology, including the presence of malformations, can be influenced by environmental factors. Amphibian metamorphs have been found with missing limbs and extra limbs, which can be caused by high parasite loads and synthetic chemicals. Very little work has been devoted to amphibians with more subtle differences in morphology like shorter leg lengths. Previous work shows that intraspecific competition can alter the length of metamorph legs relative to their body size, though the differences among treatments are often small. Here, I show that relative leg length (leg length/body length) can be quite variable, as seen in four different species: Hyla versicolor, Lithobates sylvaticus, Lithobates sphenocephalus, and Anaxyrus americanus under experimental conditions. I measured relative leg length for metamorphs from aquatic mesocosm studies examining the effects of resource type and quality in the form of plant litter input. In most cases, treatments with lower resources (either no plant litter or plant litter with very low nutrient content, such as white pine) resulted in metamorphs with shorter legs relative to body length than treatments with higher resources. This effect of resource level on leg length suggests individual fitness consequences for metamorphs that spent their larval period in lower resource environments, such as closed canopy ponds with low quality leaf litter input. Metamorphs with shorter leg length often have reduced jumping performance, suggesting that metamorphs emerging from ponds with low plant litter or leaves with low nutrients may have reduced dispersal capacity and ability to escape predators.

Wednesday October 24, 2018 11:00am - 11:20am
Bon Secour Bay II

11:20am

SYMPOSIUM-06: Gulf of Mexico animal telemetry needs: Identifying data gaps and setting future priorities
AUTHORS: Caitlin Young, NOAA RESTORE Science Program; Chris Simoniello, Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System (GCOOS); Julie Bosch, NOAA National Center for Environmental Information (NCEI)

ABSTRACT: Animal Telemetry provides a unique opportunity for researchers and managers to gather information on targeted species movement, habitat, nesting/spawning areas and food web use. In the Gulf of Mexico, current and past telemetry activities have provided valuable information for resource managers and decision makers at the State, Federal and local level. However, telemetry studies in the Gulf of Mexico suffer from a lack of coordination between researchers and across state lines. This lack of coordination impedes resource manager’s ability to manage species across state lines and hinders efforts to prioritize locations for future telemetry studies. In this interactive session, symposium organizers will provide a map of the Gulf of Mexico that identifies geographical areas of telemetry research along with what species are currently being tracked. Map data is drawn from past research efforts, available through public archives, as well as current research efforts. Participants will have the opportunity to review this inventory map and add to it. Finally, participants will use the inventory map to identify data gaps for species of concern in the Gulf of Mexico and set priorities for future telemetry data collection efforts.

Wednesday October 24, 2018 11:20am - 12:00pm
Grand Bay I