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Cross Plains, ND, United States

Phillips R.L.,U.S. Department of Agriculture | Ngugi M.K.,U.S. Department of Agriculture | Hendrickson J.,U.S. Department of Agriculture | Smith A.,Ducks Unlimited | West M.,U.S. Department of Agriculture
Environmental Management | Year: 2012

Managers of the nearly 0.5 million ha of public lands in North and South Dakota, USA rely heavily on manual measurements of canopy height in autumn to ensure conservation of grassland structure for wildlife and forage for livestock. However, more comprehensive assessment of vegetation structure could be achieved for mixed-grass prairie by integrating field survey, topographic position (summit, mid and toeslope) and spectral reflectance data. Thus, we examined the variation of mixed-grass prairie structural attributes (canopy leaf area, standing crop mass, canopy height, nitrogen, and water content) and spectral vegetation indices (VIs) with variation in topographic position at the Grand River National Grassland (GRNG), South Dakota. We conducted the study on a 36,000-ha herbaceous area within the GRNG, where randomly selected plots (1 km2 in size) were geolocated and included summit, mid and toeslope positions. We tested for effects of topographic position on measured vegetation attributes and VIs calculated from Landsat TM and Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) data collected in July 2010. Leaf area, standing crop mass, canopy height, nitrogen, and water content were lower at summits than at toeslopes. The simple ratio of Landsat Band 7/Band 1 (SR71) was the VI most highly correlated with canopy standing crop and height at plot and landscape scales. Results suggest field and remote sensing-based grassland assessment techniques could more comprehensively target low structure areas at minimal expense by layering modeled imagery over a landscape stratified into topographic position groups. © 2012 Springer Science+Business Media, LLC (outside the USA).

Brand L.A.,U.S. Geological Survey | Smith L.M.,U.S. Geological Survey | Takekawa J.Y.,U.S. Geological Survey | Athearn N.D.,U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service | And 4 more authors.
Ecological Engineering | Year: 2012

Tidal marsh restoration projects that cover large areas are critical for maintaining target species, yet few large sites have been studied and their restoration trajectories remain uncertain. A tidal marsh restoration project in the northern San Francisco Bay consisting of three breached salt ponds (≥300. ha each; 1175. ha total) is one of the largest on the west coast of North America. These diked sites were subsided and required extensive sedimentation for vegetation colonization, yet it was unclear whether they would accrete sediment and vegetate within a reasonable timeframe. We conducted bathymetric surveys to map substrate elevations using digital elevation models and surveyed colonizing Pacific cordgrass (Spartina foliosa). The average elevation of Pond 3 was 0.96 ± 0.19. m (mean ± SD; meters NAVD88) in 2005. In 2008-2009, average pond elevations were 1.05 ± 0.25. m in Pond 3, 0.81 ± 0.26. m in Pond 4, and 0.84 ± 0.24. m in Pond 5 (means ± SD; meters NAVD88). The largest site (Pond 3; 508. ha) accreted 9.5 ± 0.2. cm (mean ± SD) over 4 years, but accretion varied spatially and ranged from sediment loss in borrow ditches and adjacent to an unplanned, early breach to sediment gains up to 33. cm in more sheltered regions. The mean elevation of colonizing S. foliosa varied by pond (F= 71.20, df= 84, P< 0.0001) and was significantly lower in Ponds 4 and 5 compared with Pond 3 which corresponded with greater tidal muting in those ponds. We estimated 16% of Pond 3, 13% of Pond 4, and 24% of Pond 5 were greater than or equal to the median elevation of S. foliosa. Our results suggest that sedimentation to elevations that enable vegetation colonization is feasible in large sites with sufficient sediment loads although may occur more slowly compared with smaller sites. © 2012.

Kesler D.C.,University of Missouri | Raedeke A.H.,500 E Gans Road | Foggia J.R.,University of Missouri | Beatty W.S.,University of Missouri | And 3 more authors.
Wildlife Society Bulletin | Year: 2014

Satellite telemetry has become a leading method for studying large-scale movements and survival in birds, yet few have addressed potential effects of the larger and heavier tracking equipment on study subjects. We simultaneously evaluated effects of satellite telemetry equipment on captive and wild mallards (Anas platyrhynchos) to assess impacts on behavior, body mass, and movement. We randomly assigned 55 captive ducks to one of 3 treatment groups, including a standard body harness group, a modified harness group, and a control group. Ducks in the control group were not fitted with equipment, whereas individuals in the other 2 groups were fitted with dummy transmitters attached with a Teflon ribbon harness or with a similar harness constructed of nylon cord. At the conclusion of the 14-week captive study, mean body mass of birds in the control group was 40-105g (95% CI) greater than birds with standard harnesses, and 28-99g (95% CI) greater than birds with modified harnesses. Further, results of focal behavior observations indicated ducks with transmitters were less likely to be in water than control birds. We also tested whether movements of wild birds marked with a similar Teflon harness satellite transmitter aligned with population movements reported by on-the-ground observers who indexed local abundances of mid-continent mallards throughout the non-breeding period. Results indicated birds marked with satellite transmitters moved concurrently with the larger unmarked population. Our results have broad implications for field research and suggest that investigators should consider potential for physiological and behavioral effects brought about by tracking equipment. Nonetheless, results from wild ducks indicate satellite telemetry has the potential to provide useful movement data. © 2014 The Wildlife Society.copy; 2014 The Wildlife Society.

Beatty W.S.,University of Missouri | Kesler D.C.,University of Missouri | Webb E.B.,University of Missouri | Naylor L.W.,Arkansas Game and Fish Commission | Humburg D.D.,Ducks Unlimited
PLoS ONE | Year: 2013

The degree to which extrinsic factors influence migration chronology in North American waterfowl has not been quantified, particularly for dabbling ducks. Previous studies have examined waterfowl migration using various methods, however, quantitative approaches to define avian migration chronology over broad spatio-temporal scales are limited, and the implications for using different approaches have not been assessed. We used movement data from 19 female adult mallards (Anas platyrhynchos) equipped with solar-powered global positioning system satellite transmitters to evaluate two individual level approaches for quantifying migration chronology. The first approach defined migration based on individual movements among geopolitical boundaries (state, provincial, international), whereas the second method modeled net displacement as a function of time using nonlinear models. Differences in migration chronologies identified by each of the approaches were examined with analysis of variance. The geopolitical method identified mean autumn migration midpoints at 15 November 2010 and 13 November 2011, whereas the net displacement method identified midpoints at 15 November 2010 and 14 November 2011. The mean midpoints for spring migration were 3 April 2011 and 20 March 2012 using the geopolitical method and 31 March 2011 and 22 March 2012 using the net displacement method. The duration, initiation date, midpoint, and termination date for both autumn and spring migration did not differ between the two individual level approaches. Although we did not detect differences in migration parameters between the different approaches, the net displacement metric offers broad potential to address questions in movement ecology for migrating species. Ultimately, an objective definition of migration chronology will allow researchers to obtain a comprehensive understanding of the extrinsic factors that drive migration at the individual and population levels. As a result, targeted conservation plans can be developed to support planning for habitat management and evaluation of long-term climate effects.

Moore J.A.,Michigan State University | Scribner K.T.,Michigan State University | Mykut C.,Ducks Unlimited | Prince H.H.,Michigan State University
Ibis | Year: 2012

Parentage studies have shown that alternative reproductive strategies are widespread in many avian taxa that were once thought to be monogamous. Recent anthropogenically mediated habitat change may have disrupted ecological factors, such as breeding density, which have given rise to inter- and intraspecific variation in the frequency of extra-pair fertilization (EPF) and intraspecific brood parasitism (IBP). We used genetic analyses to quantify the incidence of alternative reproductive strategies exhibited within clutches of Canada Geese Branta canadensis maxima nesting in high- and low-density situations in and around urban areas in southern Michigan, USA. We tested the hypothesis that high nesting density would increase the frequency of EPF and IBP. There were no significant differences in rates of EPF and IBP clutches (14 and 26% of clutches, respectively) from nests in high-density (21.7% EPF, 21.7% IBP) vs. low-density (5.3% EPF, 31.6% IBP) areas, although high-density sites had a fourfold higher rate of EPF. Rates of EPF and IBP in high-density urban areas in Michigan were comparable to rates observed in other species nesting under different ecological conditions. Levels of relatedness between host and parasitic females were higher than expected by chance, suggesting that related females are more tolerant of one another and that host females could gain inclusive fitness benefits from rearing parasitic offspring. Our study highlights the importance of understanding the different costs and benefits associated with alternative behavioural repertoires that may vary as habitats and associated selection pressures are increasingly modified by human activities. © 2012 The Authors. Ibis © 2012 British Ornithologists' Union.

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