Bureau of Natural Heritage Conservation

Superior, WI, United States

Bureau of Natural Heritage Conservation

Superior, WI, United States
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Hileman E.T.,Northern Illinois University | King R.B.,Northern Illinois University | Adamski J.M.,Seneca Park Zoo | Anton T.G.,Field Museum | And 41 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2017

Elucidating how life history traits vary geographically is important to understanding variation in population dynamics. Because many aspects of ectotherm life history are climate-dependent, geographic variation in climate is expected to have a large impact on population dynamics through effects on annual survival, body size, growth rate, age at first reproduction, size-fecundity relationship, and reproductive frequency. The Eastern Massasauga (Sistrurus catenatus) is a small, imperiled North American rattlesnake with a distribution centered on the Great Lakes region, where lake effects strongly influence local conditions. To address Eastern Massasauga life history data gaps, we compiled data from 47 study sites representing 38 counties across the range. We used multimodel inference and general linear models with geographic coordinates and annual climate normals as explanatory variables to clarify patterns of variation in life history traits. We found strong evidence for geographic variation in six of nine life history variables. Adult female snout-vent length and neonate mass increased with increasing mean annual precipitation. Litter size decreased with increasing mean temperature, and the size-fecundity relationship and growth prior to first hibernation both increased with increasing latitude. The proportion of gravid females also increased with increasing latitude, but this relationship may be the result of geographically varying detection bias. Our results provide insights into ectotherm life history variation and fill critical data gaps, which will inform Eastern Massasauga conservation efforts by improving biological realism for models of population viability and climate change. © This is an open access article, free of all copyright, and may be freely reproduced, distributed, transmitted, modified, built upon, or otherwise used by anyone for any lawful purpose. The work is made available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication.

DuBois R.B.,Bureau of Natural Heritage Conservation | Tennessen K.J.,125 North Oxford Street
Great Lakes Entomologist | Year: 2015

The exhaustive studies of nymphs of Aeshna Fabricius and Rhionaeschna Förster by E. M. Walker (1912-1958) have long guided the taxonomy of these groups and formed the basis for keys still in use today. However, uncertainty about how he measured the length of the labium, including the varied terminology he used over the duration of his career concerning this structure, has led to confusion about application of his taxonomic recommendations. We recalculated ratios of the maximum width/length [W(max)/L] by measuring the illustration dimensions of folded labia and prementums in publications throughout his career and compared these data with the ratios he stated in those publications and with ratios derived from measurements of specimens in our collections. Our results show that from 1912 to 1941, Walker restricted length measurement to the prementum proper (which he called the “mentum of the labium”), exclusive of the ventrally visible portion of the postmental hinge. However, in 1941 he reported ratios from length measurements done two ways, excluding the postmental hinge in his description of the nymph of A. verticalis Hagen, but including the hinge in his description of the nymph of A. septentrionalis Burmeister (Whitehouse 1941). In Walker’s most recent and influential work (1958), he included the postmental hinge in labium length measurements of nine species, but restricted length measurements to the prementum for five others. He was consistent with the use of terms, using both “folded labium” by which he meant the prementum plus the postmental hinge, and “prementum” by which he meant only that structure. However, Walker’s descriptions of the labium in his latest work are buried in long, frequently punctuated sentences that for most species include the terms “folded labium” and “prementum” in the same sentence, so careful reading is required to know which term is intended in the width/length ratio. Width/length ratios we each calculated independently were invariably similar for a given species and were usually similar to Walker’s stated ratio for that species. These similarities affirm our conclusion that while labium measurements must be done with care, they are closely repeatable among workers and will consistently lead to correct determinations in properly designed couplets of dichotomous keys to these genera. We recommend measuring the length of the prementum proper in future studies of these genera when labium ratios are calculated because we found less variability in those cases than when the measurements included the postmental hinge. An approximate conversion between the two methods of calculating W(max)/L ratios can be made as follows: ratio calculated when the length of the prementum excluding the postmental hinge is used x 0.88 is approximately equal to the ratio when the postmental hinge is included for species of Aeshna and Rhionaeschna in North America. © 2015. The Michigan Entomological Society.

Lorch J.M.,University of Wisconsin - Madison | Minnis A.M.,U.S. Department of Agriculture | Meteyer C.U.,U.S. Geological Survey | Redell J.A.,Bureau of Natural Heritage Conservation | And 7 more authors.
Journal of Wildlife Diseases | Year: 2015

Before the discovery of white-nose syndrome (WNS), a fungal disease caused by Pseudogymnoascus destructans, there were no reports of fungal skin infections in bats during hibernation. In 2011, bats with grossly visible fungal skin infections similar in appearance to WNS were reported from multiple sites in Wisconsin, US, a state outside the known range of P. destructans and WNS at that time. Tape impressions or swab samples were collected from affected areas of skin from bats with these fungal infections in 2012 and analyzed by microscopy, culture, or direct DNA amplification and sequencing of the fungal internal transcribed spacer region (ITS). A psychrophilic species of Trichophyton was isolated in culture, detected by direct DNA amplification and sequencing, and observed on tape impressions. Deoxyribonucleic acid indicative of the same fungus was also detected on three of five bat carcasses collected in 2011 and 2012 from Wisconsin, Indiana, and Texas, US. Superficial fungal skin infections caused by Trichophyton sp. were observed in histopathology for all three bats. Sequencing of the ITS of Trichophyton sp., along with its inability to grow at 25 C, indicated that it represented a previously unknown species, described herein as Trichophyton redellii sp. nov. Genetic diversity present within T. redellii suggests it is native to North America but that it had been overlooked before enhanced efforts to study fungi associated with bats in response to the emergence of WNS. © Wildlife Disease Association 2015.

DuBois R.B.,Bureau of Natural Heritage Conservation | Smith W.A.,Bureau of Natural Heritage Conservation
International Journal of Odonatology | Year: 2016

We marked and released 276 F-0 larvae of Ophiogomphus rupinsulensis in the fall of 2008 in a 99-m riffle (marking riffle) of a small, serially discontinuous, northern Wisconsin river (USA). We then recovered marked exuviae via exhaustive collecting on the banks of a 272-m sampling reach in which the marking riffle was located during spring of 2009. We collected 6054 exuviae of O. rupinsulensis along the sampling reach, including 3829 exuviae along the marking riffle (19.3 exuviae m–1). Mark retention was complete and our ability to recover marked exuviae in the field was high (92%). We recovered 38 marked exuviae which provided a minimum estimate of survival (14%) for F-0 larvae from late September to the following June. The density of F-0 larvae in the marking riffle in late September was estimated at 22.6 larvae m–2. Nearly all F-0 larvae made small downstream movements (97% moved < 60 m) at some time during the 36 weeks before emergence, but they did not make substantial longitudinal movements. These results affirmed the premise that locations of found exuviae of O. rupinsulensis along a small river are in close proximity to the habitats where the larvae developed. © 2016 Worldwide Dragonfly Association.

Tweiten M.A.,University of Wisconsin - Madison | Calcote R.R.,University of Minnesota | Lynch E.A.,Luther College at Decorah | Hotchkiss S.C.,University of Wisconsin - Madison | And 2 more authors.
Ecological Applications | Year: 2015

Landscape-scale vulnerability assessment from multiple sources, including paleoecological site histories, can inform climate change adaptation. We used an array of lake sediment pollen and charcoal records to determine how soils and landscape factors influenced the variability of forest composition change over the past 2000 years. The forests in this study are located in northwestern Wisconsin on a sandy glacial outwash plain. Soils and local climate vary across the study area. We used the Natural Resource Conservation Service's Soil Survey Geographic soil database and published fire histories to characterize differences in soils and fire history around each lake site. Individual site histories differed in two metrics of past vegetation dynamics: the extent to which white pine (Pinus strobus) increased during the Little Ice Age (LIA) climate period and the volatility in the rate of change between samples at 50-120 yr intervals. Greater increases of white pine during the LIA occurred on sites with less sandy soils (R2=0.45, P < 0.0163) and on sites with relatively warmer and drier local climate (R2=0.55, P < 0.0056). Volatility in the rate of change between samples was positively associated with LIA fire frequency (R2=0.41, P < 0.0256). Over multi-decadal to centennial timescales, forest compositional change and rate-of-change volatility were associated with higher fire frequency. Over longer (multi-centennial) time frames, forest composition change, especially increased white pine, shifted most in sites with more soil moisture. Our results show that responsiveness of forest composition to climate change was influenced by soils, local climate, and fire. The anticipated climatic changes in the next century will not produce the same community dynamics on the same soil types as in the past, but understanding past dynamics and relationships can help us assess how novel factors and combinations of factors in the future may influence various site types. Our results support climate change adaptation efforts to monitor and conserve the landscape's full range of geophysical features. © 2015 by the Ecological Society of America.

Badje A.F.,Bureau of Natural Heritage Conservation | Brandt T.J.,Bureau of Natural Heritage Conservation | Bergeson T.L.,Bureau of Natural Heritage Conservation | Paloski R.A.,Bureau of Natural Heritage Conservation | And 3 more authors.
Herpetological Conservation and Biology | Year: 2016

Blanchard’s Cricket Frogs (Acris blanchardi) were once considered among the most abundant frog species in southern Wisconsin, USA. Although historically documented in 31 counties, it is currently found in only a handful of these due to substantial population declines in the late 20th Century. Explanations for this dramatic reduction in numbers include environmental pollutants, climate change, and habitat loss. Unfortunately, a poor understanding of the basic ecology and natural history of this species hinders effective conservation. To achieve a more thorough understanding of overwintering ecology at the northern edge of their range, we surveyed 10 sites in southwestern Wisconsin in an effort to describe the hibernacula and pre-hibernation behavior of Blanchard’s Cricket Frogs. We conducted transect and haphazard surveys to determine when most cricket frogs entered hibernacula and the type of hibernacula available (e.g., crayfish burrow, crack in stream banks). Of 385 possible hibernacula assessed, only 20 at four sites were occupied by Blanchard’s Cricket Frogs. Most hibernation occurred in exposed cracks formed by the sloughing of river banks, but we observed partially individual frogs twice within small (1 cm diameter) burrows. Hibernating cricket frogs were never observed in large crayfish burrows, under grass, leaves, or logs, or burrowed in gravel banks, as observed elsewhere in their range. Communal hibernation was observed in 13 of the occupied hibernacula. Mean minimum hibernation depth for cricket frogs was 4.7 cm. Our results suggest that exposed, south-facing river banks are critical habitat, and effective Blanchard’s Cricket Frog conservation in southern Wisconsin should protect such habitat near known populations. © 2016. Andrew F Badje. All Rights Reserved.

Kapfer J.M.,University of Wisconsin - Whitewater | Sloss B.L.,University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point | Schuurman G.W.,Bureau of Natural Heritage Conservation | Paloski R.A.,Bureau of Natural Heritage Conservation | Lorch J.M.,University of Wisconsin - Madison
Journal of Herpetology | Year: 2013

Snakes within the genus Thamnophis (Gartersnakes and Ribbonsnakes) are often found in sympatry throughout their geographic distributions. Past work has indicated that some sympatric species within this genus may hybridize, but research of this nature is limited. We attempted to determine whether hybridization occurs between two Thamnophis species native to the upper midwestern United States: Common Gartersnake (Thamnophis sirtalis) and the Butler's Gartersnake (Thamnophis butleri). We sampled snakes (n = 411) across 26 locations in Wisconsin, including sites where both species coexist and sites where only Common Gartersnakes are found. We conducted genetic analyses on tissue collected from individuals field-identified as Common Gartersnakes or Butler's Gartersnakes. To verify the results of our field-collected data, we analyzed tissues from juvenile snakes (n = 4) suspected to be the offspring of a Common Gartersnake and a Butler's Gartersnake that were housed together in a captive situation. Of the field-collected snakes analyzed, eight snakes were consistent with expected Common × Butler's Gartersnake hybrids. All four of the captive offspring analyzed resolved as putative hybrids, corresponding with our field-collected samples. Butler's Gartersnake is a globally rare species, endemic only to the upper midwestern United States. Studies involving the potential for hybridization between common and uncommon species are useful from a conservation perspective. The low incidence of hybridization we observed would indicate that hybridization between these species is uncommon. Further research investigating rates of hybridization would help assess any potential threat posed by outbreeding between common and rare gartersnakes in this region of the United States. Copyright 2013 Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles.

Hess A.N.,Resource Assessment | Hess R.J.,Bureau of Natural Heritage Conservation | Hess J.L.M.,University of Wisconsin - Oshkosh | Paulan B.,Bureau of Natural Heritage Conservation | Hess J.A.M.,University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point
Journal of Insect Conservation | Year: 2014

The natural influences of American bison have been virtually eliminated from the North American landscape, making it difficult to study native grassland ecosystems. The Sandhill Wildlife Area provides a unique opportunity to study this once-natural phenomenon in an oak savanna landscape. This area is home to the largest known population of the federally endangered Karner blue butterfly. We evaluated lepidopteran and lupine distribution relative to cover types and generated statistical models to predict occupancy and abundance relative to in situ groundcover variables as well as American bison related habitat variables. Overall variance of lepidopteran populations was best explained by increasing nectar and forb cover (29.4 % occurrence explained), while lepidopterans excluding Karner blues were further associated with decreasing cover of shrubs/trees (25.8 % occurrence, 59.8 % abundance explained) and were more likely to occur in areas of disturbance cover type. Karner blue occurrence was best explained (41.6 %) by increasing nectar and forb cover and an increasing number of bison chips (indicative of the recent presence of bison). Karner blue females, specifically, were more likely to be present in areas of wallow cover type and were best explained by increasing nectar plant cover (33.4 % occurrence, 60.1 % abundance explained) and increasing shrub cover. Females were also associated with an increasing number of bison chips, number of wallows and total size of wallows. Karner blue male occupancy were best explained (40.7 %) by increasing nectar cover and increasing number of bison chips. Lupine was significantly less likely to occur in areas of shrubs/trees cover. Lupine was explained (55.7 % occupancy and 88.2 % abundance), by the decreasing cover of shrubs/trees, and by the cover of nectar, forbs, and grass, and total size of wallows. We conclude that the activities caused by bison reduce the overall woody growth and produce improved habitat for nectar plants and especially for disturbance-dependent lupine, and subsequently enhance habitat for lepidopterans. Karner blues were significantly related to bison activities, suggesting that improved management techniques should consider mimicking megaherbivore activities through increased disturbance frequency and increase mineral-soil disturbance. © 2014 Springer International Publishing Switzerland.

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