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Clinton, NJ, United States

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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.

Ossiboff R.J.,Wildlife Conservation Society | Ossiboff R.J.,Cornell University | Raphael B.L.,Wildlife Conservation Society | Ammazzalorso A.D.,Wildlife Conservation Society | And 7 more authors.

The rich diversity of the world's 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. © 2015, Public Library of Science. All rights reserved. Source

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

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. Source

Coffee L.L.,University of Georgia | Coffee L.L.,Cornell University | Hanson B.A.,University of Georgia | Luttrell M.P.,University of Georgia | And 5 more authors.
Journal of Wildlife Diseases

There are nine serotypes of avian paramyxovirus (APMV), including APMV-1, or Newcastle disease virus. Although free-flying ducks and geese have been extensively monitored for APMV, limited information is available for species in the order Charadriiformes. From 2000 to 2005 we tested cloacal swabs from 9,128 shorebirds and gulls (33 species, five families) captured in 10 states within the USA and in three countries in the Caribbean and South America. Avian paramyxoviruses were isolated from 60 (0.7%) samples by inoculation of embryonating chicken eggs; isolates only included APMV-1 and APMV-2. Two isolates (APMV-2) were made from gulls and 58 isolates (APMV-1 [41 isolates] and APMV-2 [17 isolates]) were made from shorebirds. All of the positive shorebirds were sampled at Delaware Bay (Delaware and New Jersey) and 45 (78%) of these isolates came from Ruddy Turnstones (Arenaria interpres). The APMV-1 infection rate was higher among Ruddy Turnstones compared with other shorebird species and varied by year. Avian paramyxovirus-2 was isolated from two of 394 (0.5%) Ruddy Turnstones at Delaware Bay in 2001. and from 13 of 735 (1.8%) Ruddy Turnstones during 2002. For both APMV-1 and APMV-2, infection rates were higher among Ruddy Turnstones sampled on the south shore of Delaware Bay compared to north shore populations. This spatial variation may be related to local movements of Ruddy Turnstones within this ecosystem. The higher prevalence of APMV in Ruddy Turnstones mirrors results observed for avian influenza viruses in shorebirds and may suggest similar modes of transmission. © Wildlife Disease Association 2010. Source

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

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. Source

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