Clinton, NJ, United States
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Burger J.,Rutgers University | Gochfeld M.,University Institute of Health Sciences | Jenkins C.D.,Endangered and Nongame Species Program | Lesser F.,Ocean County Parks Division
Journal of Wildlife Management | Year: 2010

Understanding how birds respond to the activities of people is an important component of conserving wildlife. We measured responses of nesting black skimmers (Rynchops niger) to an approaching boat in Barnegat Bay, New Jersey, USA, by examining distance to first respond, distance to flush, and time to return to the colony. Our objective was to determine if response distances of skimmers changed as a function of year, reproductive stage, direction of approach (direct or tangential), or number of birds nesting in the colony. Generally, reproductive stage had the greatest effect on all responses, followed by direction of approach, number of adults present at the colony, number of nests, and year, which also explained variation in behavioral responses. The distance at which skimmers first flew when a boat approached decreased from the preegg-laying period to hatching, and then increased slightly later in the season. Time (x ̄ ± SE) for skimmers to return to the nesting colony varied seasonally, with birds taking longer to return during the pre-egg period (9.5 ± 0.6 min) than during hatching (0.7 ± 0.1 min). The decision process for determining set-back distances to protect nesting skimmers should involve selecting 1) behavioral response of highest concern, 2) reproductive stage of highest concern, and 3) an appropriate level of response at which to establish the buffer area. We recommend that managers use a set-back distance of ≥118 m from the perimeter of the colony for black skimmers, which is the 95% percentile of the distance that skimmers first flew in response to approaching boats. Managers can use these data to set buffer distances for skimmers and other colonial birds. © 2010 The Wildlife Society.


Brown J.D.,University of Georgia | Luttrell M.P.,University of Georgia | Berghaus R.D.,University of Georgia | Kistler W.,University of Georgia | And 9 more authors.
Journal of Wildlife Diseases | Year: 2010

Serologic testing to detect antibodies to avian influenza (AI) virus has been an underused tool for the study of these viruses in wild bird populations, which traditionally has relied on virus isolation and reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). In a preliminary study, a recently developed commercial blocking enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (bELISA) had sensitivity and specificity estimates of 82% and 100%, respectively, for detection of antibodies to AI virus in multiple wild bird species after experimental infection. To further evaluate the efficacy of this commercial bELISA and the agar gel immunodiffusion (AGID) test for AI virus antibody detection in wild birds, we tested 2,249 serum samples collected from 62 wild bird species, representing 10 taxonomic orders. Overall, the bELISA detected 25.4% positive samples, whereas the AGID test detected 14.8%. At the species level, the bELISA detected as many or more positive serum samples than the AGID in all 62 avian species. The majority of positive samples, detected by both assays, were from species that use aquatic habitats, with the highest prevalence from species in the orders Anseriformes and Charadriiformes. Conversely, antibodies to AI virus were rarely detected in the terrestrial species. The serologic data yielded by both assays are consistent with the known epidemiology of AI virus in wild birds and published reports of host range based on virus isolation and RT-PCR. The results of this research are also consistent with the aforementioned study, which evaluated the performance of the bELISA and AGID test on experimental samples. Collectively, the data from these two studies indicate that the bELISA is a more sensitive serologic assay than the AGID test for detecting prior exposure to AI virus in wild birds. Based on these results, the bELISA is a reliable species-independent assay with potentially valuable applications for wild bird AI surveillance. © Wildlife Disease Association 2010.


Maxted A.M.,University of Georgia | Maxted A.M.,New York State Department of Health | Page Luttrell M.,University of Georgia | Goekjian V.H.,University of Georgia | And 6 more authors.
Journal of Wildlife Diseases | Year: 2012

To gain insight into avian influenza virus (AIV) transmission, exposure, and maintenance patterns in shorebirds at Delaware Bay during spring migration, we examined temporal AIV prevalence trends in four Charadriiformes species with the use of serial crosssectional data from 2000 through 2008 and generalized linear and additive models. Prevalence of AIV in Ruddy Turnstones (Arenaria interpres morinella) increased after arrival, peaked in mid-late May, and decreased prior to departure. Antibody prevalence also increased over this period; together, these results suggested local infection and recovery prior to departure. Red Knots (Calidris canutus rufa), Sanderlings (Calidris alba), and Laughing Gulls (Leucophaeus atricilla) were rarely infected, but dynamic changes in antibody prevalence differed among species. In Red Knots, declining antibody prevalence over the stopover period suggested AIV exposure prior to arrival at Delaware Bay with limited infection at this site. Antibody prevalence was consistently high in Laughing Gulls and low in Sanderlings. Both viral prevalence and antibody prevalence in Sanderlings varied directly with those in turnstones, suggesting virus spillover to Sanderlings. Results indicate that, although hundreds of thousands of birds concentrate at Delaware Bay during spring, dynamics of AIV infection differ among species, perhaps due to differences in susceptibility, potential for contact with AIV at this site, or prior exposure. Additionally, Ruddy Turnstones possibly act as a local AIV amplifying host rather than a reservoir. © Wildlife Disease Association 2012.


Stallknecht D.E.,University of Georgia | Luttrell M.P.,University of Georgia | Poulson R.,University of Georgia | Goekjian V.,University of Georgia | And 4 more authors.
Journal of Wildlife Diseases | Year: 2012

Although influenza A viruses have been isolated from numerous shorebird species (Family: Scolopacidae) worldwide, our understanding of natural history of these viruses in this diverse group is incomplete. Gaining this information can be complicated by sampling difficulties related to live capture, the need for large sample sizes related to a potentially low prevalence of infection, and the need to maintain flexibility in diagnostic approaches related to varied capabilities and resources. To provide information relevant to improving sampling and testing of shorebirds for influenza A viruses, we retrospectively evaluated a combined data set from Delaware Bay, USA, collected from 2000 to 2009. Our results indicate that prevalence trends and subtype diversity can be effectively determined by either direct sampling of birds or indirect sampling of feces; however, the extent of detected subtype diversity is a function of the number of viruses recovered during that year. Even in cases where a large number of viruses are identified, an underestimate of true subtype diversity is likely. Influenza A virus isolation from Ruddy Turnstones can be enhanced by testing both cloacal and tracheal samples, and matrix real-time PCR can be used as an effective screening tool. Serologic testing to target species of interest also has application to shorebird surveillance. Overall, all of the sampling and diagnostic approaches have utility as applied to shorebird surveillance, but all are associated with inherent biases that need to be considered when comparing results from independent studies. © Wildlife Disease Association 2012.


Feinberg J.A.,Rutgers University | Newman C.E.,Louisiana State University | Watkins-Colwell G.J.,Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History | Schlesinger M.D.,Albany State University | And 4 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2014

We describe a new cryptic species of leopard frog from the New York City metropolitan area and surrounding coastal regions. This species is morphologically similar to two largely parapatric eastern congeners, Rana sphenocephala and R. pipiens. We primarily use bioacoustic and molecular data to characterize the new species, but also examine other lines of evidence. This discovery is unexpected in one of the largest and most densely populated urban parts of the world. It also demonstrates that new vertebrate species can still be found periodically even in well-studied locales rarely associated with undocumented biodiversity. The new species typically occurs in expansive open-canopied wetlands interspersed with upland patches, but centuries of loss and impact to these habitats give some cause for conservation concern. Other concerns include regional extirpations, fragmented extant populations, and a restricted overall geographic distribution. We assign a type locality within New York City and report a narrow and largely coastal lowland distribution from central Connecticut to northern New Jersey (based on genetic data) and south to North Carolina (based on call data). Copyright: © 2014 Varanda et al.


PubMed | Endangered and Nongame Species Program, New Jersey Audubon, Environmental and Occupational Health, Rutgers University and Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Environmental monitoring and assessment | Year: 2017

Stakeholder contributions to conservation projects often occur during the problem formulation stage, yet the role of stakeholders throughout the process is seldom considered. We examine the diversity of state and federal agencies, conservation organizations, other non-governmental organizations, environmental justice communities, consultants, industry, and the general public in the conservation of red knot (Calidris canutus rufa) and black skimmer (Rynchops niger) in New Jersey. We suggest that (1) governmental agencies provide the legal, regulatory, and management framework, but it is often the universities, conservation organizations, consultants, and the public that conduct the research and perform activities that lead to increased research and conservation efforts; (2) departments within agencies may have conflicting mandates, making it difficult to resolve differences in actions; (3) there is often conflict among and within state agencies and conservation organizations about roles and priorities; and (4) the role of the public is critical to ongoing research and conservation efforts. Identification of all the relevant stakeholders is necessary to recognizing competing claims, identifying the threats, deciding how to manage the threats, and enhancing population viability. Conflicts occur even within an agency when one department oversees science and protection of populations and another oversees and fosters an industry (aquaculture or fisheries, or permits for off-road vehicles). Conflicts also occur between resource agencies, industry, and conservation organizations. Recognizing the different stakeholders and their mandates, and encouraging participation in the process, leads to a better understanding of the threats, risks, and possible solutions when conflicts arise. Tracking stakeholder viewpoints and actions can lead to increased involvement and conflict resolution.


PubMed | New Jersey Audubon Society, Endangered and Nongame Species Program, Conserve Wildlife and Rutgers University
Type: | Journal: Environmental research | Year: 2014

There is an abundance of field data on levels of metals for feathers in a variety of birds, but relatively few data for tissues, especially for migrant species from one location. In this paper we examine the levels of arsenic, cadmium, chromium, lead, manganese, mercury and selenium in muscle, liver, brain, fat and breast feathers from migrant semipalmated sandpipers (Calidris pusilla) collected from Delaware Bay, New Jersey. Our primary objectives were to (1) examine variation as a function of tissue, (2) determine the relationship of metal levels among tissues, and (3) determine the selenium:mercury molar ratio in different tissues since selenium is thought to protect against mercury toxicity. We were also interested in whether the large physiological changes that occur while shorebirds are on Delaware Bay (e.g. large weight gains in 2-3 weeks) affected metal levels, especially in the brain. There were significant differences among tissues for all metals. The brain had the lowest levels of arsenic and cadmium, and was tied for the lowest levels of all other metals except lead and selenium. Correlations among metals in tissues were varied, with mercury levels being positively correlated for muscle and brain, and for liver and breast feathers. Weights vary among individuals at the Delaware Bay stopover, as they arrive light, and gain weight prior to migration north. Bird weight and levels of arsenic, cadmium, and selenium in the brain were negatively correlated, while they were positively correlated for lead. There was no positive correlation for mercury in the brain as a function of body weight. The selenium:mercury molar ratio varied significantly among tissues, with brain (ratio of 141) and fat having the highest ratios, and liver and breast feathers having the lowest. In all cases, the ratio was above 21, suggesting the potential for amelioration of mercury toxicity.


PubMed | U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Wildlife Conservation Society, Endangered and Nongame Species Program and Yeshiva University
Type: Journal Article | Journal: PloS one | Year: 2015

The rich diversity of the worlds reptiles is at risk due to significant population declines of broad taxonomic and geographic scope. Significant factors attributed to these declines include habitat loss, pollution, unsustainable collection and infectious disease. To investigate the presence and significance of a potential pathogen on populations of critically endangered bog turtles (Glyptemys muhlenbergii) as well sympatric endangered wood (G. insculpta) and endangered spotted (Clemmys guttata) turtles in the northeastern United States, choanal and cloacal swabs collected from 230 turtles from 19 sites in 5 states were screened for herpesvirus by polymerase chain reaction. We found a high incidence of herpesvirus infection in bog turtles (51.5%; 105/204) and smaller numbers of positive wood (5) and spotted (1) turtles. Sequence and phylogenetic analysis revealed three previously uncharacterized alphaherpesviruses. Glyptemys herpesvirus 1 was the predominant herpesvirus detected and was found exclusively in bog turtles in all states sampled. Glyptemys herpesvirus 2 was found only in wood turtles. Emydid herpesvirus 2 was found in a small number of bog turtles and a single spotted turtle from one state. Based on these findings, Glyptemys herpesvirus 1 appears to be a common infection in the study population, whereas Glyptemys herpesvirus 2 and Emydid herpesvirus 2 were not as frequently detected. Emydid herpesvirus 2 was the only virus detected in more than one species. Herpesviruses are most often associated with subclinical or mild infections in their natural hosts, and no sampled turtles showed overt signs of disease at sampling. However, infection of host-adapted viruses in closely related species can result in significant disease. The pathogenic potential of these viruses, particularly Emydid herpesvirus 2, in sympatric chelonians warrants additional study in order to better understand the relationship of these viruses with their endangered hosts.


PubMed | Albany State University, Louisiana State University, Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History, University of California at Los Angeles and 2 more.
Type: Journal Article | Journal: PloS one | Year: 2014

We describe a new cryptic species of leopard frog from the New York City metropolitan area and surrounding coastal regions. This species is morphologically similar to two largely parapatric eastern congeners, Rana sphenocephala and R. pipiens. We primarily use bioacoustic and molecular data to characterize the new species, but also examine other lines of evidence. This discovery is unexpected in one of the largest and most densely populated urban parts of the world. It also demonstrates that new vertebrate species can still be found periodically even in well-studied locales rarely associated with undocumented biodiversity. The new species typically occurs in expansive open-canopied wetlands interspersed with upland patches, but centuries of loss and impact to these habitats give some cause for conservation concern. Other concerns include regional extirpations, fragmented extant populations, and a restricted overall geographic distribution. We assign a type locality within New York City and report a narrow and largely coastal lowland distribution from central Connecticut to northern New Jersey (based on genetic data) and south to North Carolina (based on call data).


News Article | January 17, 2016
Site: www.techtimes.com

What used to be endangered birds are now soaring high in the skies of New Jersey. Bald eagles were removed from the endangered species list in 2007 and after eight years, they continue to exhibit increasing numbers. The Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey (CWF) documented in its 2015 New Jersey Bald Eagle Project Report the current status of bald eagle nesting pairs, active nests and nests productivity in the state. The report was created in collaboration with CWF biologists, some volunteers and members of the Division of Fish and Wildlife at New Jersey's Department of Environmental Protection. The CWF was able to monitor a total of 191 nest sites during the nesting season. Out of this number, 150 had eggs and thus were considered active. 11 nests were said to be housekeeping, or territorial pairs. For the said season, the observers discovered 13 new eagle pairs, of which nine came from the south, two from central New Jersey and another two in northern New Jersey. The productivity rate for each active and known-outcome nest was 1.33 offsprings. Such percentage can be translated to 199 young eagles produced in 122 nests or 81 percent of the 150 nests monitored. Meanwhile, 19 percent or 28 nests were not able to fledge young. The area where the bald eagles are highly dominant remains to be Delaware Bay, with 40 percent of all nests found in Salem and Cumberland counties. "In addition to our fellow scientists in New Jersey and nearby states, I'd like to thank the wonderful eagle project volunteers who make keeping track of all these nests possible," said CWF eagle biologist Larissa Smith. "The state's eagle population would not be thriving without the efforts of the dedicated eagle volunteers who observe nests, report sightings and help protect critical habitat," the CWF wrote in its report. Although historic data are incomplete, the authors cited one study that said New Jersey had more than 20 pairs of nests in the Delaware Bay. Come the 1970s, the pairs plummeted to only one as a result of the pesticide dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane (DDT). The low numbers persisted until the early 1980s. In 1972, authorities banned the use of DDT. This protocol, together with efforts from the Endangered and Nongame Species Program (ENSP), restored the number of the bald eagles little by little. The nesting pairs increased to 23 by the year 2000, 48 by 2005 and 82 by 2010.

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