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Jackson, MS, United States

Fisheries and Parks

Jackson, MS, United States
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News Article | May 23, 2017

A fossil tooth of the triceratops or a very close relative has been discovered in the eastern US about 66 to 68 million years ago. Horned ceratopsid dinosaurs, which include triceratops, were only thought to have lived in the west of the US. At this time, the east and west of the country were divided by a large seaway stretching from the Arctic Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico. It was thought to be big enough to stop dinosaurs crossing from one side to the other. But the ceratopsids, at least, did make it across to the east. The tooth, from the lower jaw of the dinosaur, was discovered in the Owl Creek Formation in northern Mississippi. The dinosaur lived in the last days of the Cretaceous Period, which ended 66 million years ago due to an asteroid strike that wiped them out. Don't miss: Ash from large ancient volcano eruption at the edge of Siberia ended up halfway round the world "The discovery is shocking because fossils of ceratopsid horned dinosaurs had never been discovered previously from eastern North America. It's certainly the most unique and important vertebrate fossil discovery I've ever made," said study author George Phillips, palaeontology curator at the Museum of Natural Science at the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks. The find suggests that the seaway dividing the east from the west may have dried up towards the end of the Cretaceous, allowing dinosaurs such as triceratops and Tyrannosaurus rex to travel through. Most popular: Southern hemisphere's biggest wave ever strikes buoy 400 miles from New Zealand coast "I was excited because I knew it was a dinosaur tooth, and dinosaur fossils are rare discoveries east of the Mississippi River," said Phillips, who discovered the fossil. The authors predict that further investigation in the east of the US will reveal more dinosaurs previously thought to be confined to the west. "The fossil is small, only the size of a quarter, but it packs a tonne of information," said Andrew Farke of the Raymond M. Alf Museum of Paleontology at The Webb Schools in Claremont, California, also an author of the study. "The shape of this tooth, with its distinctive split root, is absolutely unique among dinosaurs. We only have the one fossil, but it's more than enough to show that an animal very similar to Triceratops – perhaps even Triceratops itself – made it into eastern North America." The fossil tooth is described in a paper published in the journal PeerJ. You may be interested in:

Lucchesi D.O.,Fish and Parks | Wagner M.D.,Fisheries and Parks | Graeb B.D.S.,South Dakota State University
Journal of Freshwater Ecology | Year: 2017

The introduction of flathead catfish (Pylodictis olivaris) into Lake Mitchell presented a unique opportunity to study the population dynamics of this species in a South Dakota impoundment. We collected flathead catfish using daytime, low-frequency electrofishing during June 2013, 2014, and 2015 and July, August and October of 2014 to examine population characteristics including abundance, recruitment, mortality, growth, condition, and diet. The flathead catfish population in Lake Mitchell was estimated at 1348 individuals (95% CI = 459–1455; density = 4.97/ha) in 2014 and 1197 individuals (95% CI = 931–1461; density = 4.42/ha) in 2015. Individuals from 11 year classes ranging from 1 to 13 years old were present. The population exhibited consistent recruitment, and annual mortality was estimated at 39%. Flathead catfish grew quickly exceeding stock length at age 3 and quality length at age 5; however, growth slowed in 2015. Similarly, condition of substock and stock-quality length fish declined in 2014 and 2015, respectively. The decline in growth and condition coincided with the recruitment of a large 2012 year class and may be an early indicator of intraspecific competition. Diets of Lake Mitchell flathead catfish primarily consisted of crayfish (Orconectes spp.) and fish with flathead catfish shifting to piscivory at approximately 400 mm. The high percentage of centrarchids in flathead catfish diets along with an increase in flathead catfish abundance coinciding with a decrease in bluegill abundance may indicate that flathead catfish are negatively impacting the bluegill population in Lake Mitchell. © 2017 State of South Dakota, Department of Game, Fish and Parks. Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.

Jones P.D.,Mississippi State University | Rude B.,Mississippi State University | Muir J.P.,Texas AgriLife Research Center | Demarais S.,Mississippi State University | And 2 more authors.
Journal of Wildlife Management | Year: 2010

Condensed tannins (CT) can reduce digestibility of forages for white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), potentially confounding estimates of diet quality and nutritional carrying capacity. We collected 143 spring and 142 summer samples of 8 important deer forage species from 22 properties in Mississippi, USA, and tested for CT content using a modified butanol-HCl assay. Three species (partridge pea Chamaecrista fasciculata, southern dewberry Rubus trivialis, and roundleaf greenbrier Smilax rotundifolia) contained CT, ranging from 0.11 to 6.46 dry weight. Summer CT concentration was greater than in spring for 2 species. We ranked soil samples from least to most fertile using 8 chemical characteristics and found a positive correlation between fertility and CT concentration for 1 species and no correlation for 2 species. We tested effects of CT concentration on in vitro dry matter disappearance (IVDMD) and in vitro protein digestibility using samples of partridge pea and roundleaf greenbrier and rumen fluid from 3 free-ranging deer. Average IVDMD was reduced 1.9 for each 1 increase in CT concentration. In vitro protein digestibility was reduced 2.5 for each 1 increase in CT concentration. Assuming that our methods reflect the effects of CT on in vivo digestibility, maximum loss of available crude protein (CP) in our samples was 3.0 g/100 g dry-weight forage, and only 13 of the 112 CT-containing forage samples (12) would have decreased available CP by >1 g/100 g dry-weight forage. Deer consuming equal portions of sampled forages would lose <1 of dietary CP to CT. Comparisons of foraging area quality using crude protein estimates should be unaffected by CT under reasonable restrictions of similar habitat types, soil fertility, and time. Given the ability of deer to forage selectively and the abundance of alternative forages in Mississippi, the potential for CT to substantially affect spring or summer diet quality of deer appears minimal. © The Wildlife Society.

Simek S.L.,Mississippi State University | Belant J.L.,Mississippi State University | Young B.W.,Fisheries and Parks | Shropshire C.,Mississippi Wildlife Federation | Leopold B.D.,Mississippi State University
Ursus | Year: 2012

Historically abundant throughout Mississippi, American black bears (Ursus americanus) have declined due to habitat loss and overharvest. By the early 1900s, the bear population was estimated at <12 individuals, and Mississippi closed black bear hunting in 1932. However, habitat loss continued and by 1980 suitable habitat was estimated at 20% (20,234 km2) of historic levels (101,171 km2) with the decline continuing. Although black bear abundance is currently unknown, a recent increase in occurrence reports and documented reproduction suggests the population may be increasing. There have been 21 reported nuisance complaints since 2006, of which 7 were apiary damage. Additionally, 31 bear mortalities were reported since 1972; 80% were human caused. Government and private organizations have emphasized education on bear ecology and human-bear coexistence, while habitat restoration through land retirement programs (e.g., Conservation Reserve and Wetland Reserve Programs) will improve habitat abundance and suitability for black bears. Black bears are naturally recolonizing Mississippi with current state agency management directed at supporting population reestablishment through habitat conservation and species protection. © 2012 International Association for Bear Research and Management.

Hanberry B.B.,University of Missouri | Edwards S.L.,University of Missouri | Demarais S.,Fisheries and Parks | Jones J.,Fisheries and Parks
Southern Journal of Applied Forestry | Year: 2013

In the southeastern United States, there is a wide range of pine plantation establishment practices, varying by chemical or mechanical site preparation before planting and chemical herbaceous controls after planting. To investigate small mammal responses to a gradient of pine plantation establishment practices, we monitored small mammals for 5 years in pine plantations established with chemical, mechanical, or chemical and mechanical site preparation, followed by chemical herbaceous control after planting, in the Lower Coastal Plain of Mississippi. We captured small mammals at four study sites during February 2002-2006 in each of five different establishment practices. We caught 2,476 individuals of five common species (Blarina carolinensis, Neotoma floridana, Peromyscus spp., Reithrodontomys fulvescens, and Sigmodon hispidus). There were no differences by species or overall abundance among treatments that used a range of stand establishment practices in the Lower Coastal Plain. However, excluding Peromyscus spp., total small mammal abundance was greater in the lesser intensity establishment practices. Although increasing plantation establishment intensity in the southeastern Coastal Plain may not be detrimental to common species that are abundant in young plantations, further research is necessary to support our results. Future research should identify differences in demographics among establishment practices through mark-recapture studies, which can address mechanisms of population dynamics. Copyright © 2013 by the Society of American Foresters.

Strickland B.K.,Mississippi State University | Demarais S.,Mississippi State University | Jones P.D.,Mississippi State University | Dacus C.M.,Fisheries and Parks
Journal of Wildlife Management | Year: 2013

Animal density and stochastic environmental events affect physical development and recruitment of cervids. Biologists who manage cervid populations based on a density-dependent paradigm may need to also consider environmental effects. We analyzed 12- to 25-year time series of 3 harvested white-tailed deer populations in Mississippi to determine the relative influence of harvest and environmental factors on female reproduction and phenotypic quality. Using simple and multiple linear regression, we related body mass of 1.5-, 2.5-, and ≥3.5-year females, and 2.5- and ≥3.5-year percent lactation to variables representing deer harvest, growing season precipitation and temperatures, high-quality agronomic plantings, and flooding events. Response across populations varied greatly, with harvest variables explaining most, some, or no variation in body mass and percent lactation. Biologists should consider the potential influence of environmental factors on phenotypic and reproductive variation when making management decisions. © The Wildlife Society, 2012.

Jones P.D.,Mississippi State University | Strickland B.K.,Mississippi State University | Demarais S.,Mississippi State University | Blaylock A.C.,Fisheries and Parks
Southeastern Naturalist | Year: 2010

Odocoileus virginianus (White-tailed Deer) in Mississippi have been shown to respond morphometrically to soil resource area, but have not been evaluated for reproductive differences. We analyzed data from herd health checks (1978-2007) and fall harvests (1991-2007) to determine if soil resource area influenced reproductive parameters, and if assumed resource quality interacted with age. Ovulation rates approached unity and were similar across all soil resource areas and age classes, but there was some influence of soils and age class on number of corpora lutea. Pregnancy rate differed only between 2 of 8 soil resource areas, and was unaffected by age. Fetal counts increased with age class, and the incidence of twins among 1.5-year-old females was half that of females ≥2.5 years. Lactation rates differed among 1.5-year-olds by soil resource area, and reflected assumed soil quality among ≥3.5-year-olds. Because lactation occurs later in the reproduction cycle than ovulation or pregnancy, it is more indicative than other metrics of reproductive success. However, because lactation is a binary indicator, age-specific recruitment data is needed to determine potential effects of soil resource area on deer population dynamics.

St. James E.A.,Mississippi State University | Schummer M.L.,Mississippi State University | Kaminski R.M.,Mississippi State University | Penny E.J.,Fisheries and Parks | Burger L.W.,Mississippi State University
Journal of Fish and Wildlife Management | Year: 2013

Management of waterfowl habitat and hunting frequency is important to sustain hunting opportunities in Mississippi and elsewhere in North America. Managers have limited scientific information regarding the effect of weekly hunting frequency on waterfowl abundance for use in developing hunting plans for public hunting areas. We divided the hunted portions of three Mississippi Wildlife Management Areas into two treatments to evaluate the effect of hunting 2 versus 4 d/wk on duck abundance. Abundance of all ducks, mallard Anas platyrhynchos, northern shoveler Anas clypeata, and green-winged teal Anas crecca were not detectably different between weekly hunting frequencies. Sanctuary use increased approximately 30% during the first 1.25 h after sunrise regardless of hunting disturbance being present or absent. Our results indicate that duck abundance did not increase with increased rest days at Wildlife Management Areas, suggesting these areas may be hunted 4 d/wk without significantly decreasing duck abundance. Sanctuaries were used daily and may be vital to attract and retain ducks on Wildlife Management Areas.

Marable M.K.,Mississippi State University | Belant J.L.,Mississippi State University | Godwin D.,Fisheries and Parks | Wang G.,Mississippi State University
Behavioural Processes | Year: 2012

Animals in unfamiliar environments may increase exploratory movements, which may result in predation mortalities (the site familiarity hypothesis). Furthermore, increases in resource dispersion may reduce animal foraging time in small patches, and increase movements and home ranges of animals to acquire sufficient resources (the resource dispersion hypothesis). Little is known regarding effects of site familiarity on translocated birds in fragmented landscapes. We translocated 130 eastern wild turkeys (Meleagris gallapovo silvestris) in a sex ratio of one male to 4 females to 2 study sites that differed in forest fragmentation in MS, USA. Turkeys were captured from sites throughout Mississippi during springs 2009 and 2010. We monitored movements of translocated wild turkeys using radio telemetry. Movement distances and home ranges in 2010 did not differ among birds released in different years, inconsistent with the site familiarity hypothesis. However, movement distances and home ranges of translocated turkeys were greater at the more fragmented site than at the less fragmented site, supporting the resource dispersion hypothesis. Moreover, home range sizes were related positively to within-home-range variability in vegetative greenness measured by the normalized difference vegetation index. Effects of resource dispersion may override effects of site familiarity concerning translocated wild turkeys. © 2012 Elsevier B.V.

News Article | March 16, 2016

Texas governor Greg Abbott is given directions before an interview with CNBC on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange July 14, 2015. Abbott said he was told by officials in the southeast part of Texas that thousands of people have been forced from their homes. Parts of the region may not see flood waters begin to recede for days, he said after the tour that included flying over flooded areas by helicopter. "I was struck by the size of it," Abbott told reporters from Orange County, near the Louisiana border. "When you're in the air you can see the massive size of it and how wide the water is. Water (is) just covering everything." Near where Abbott was speaking, Interstate 10, one of the main east-west roadways across the southern part of the United States, has been closed for about two days because of flooding on a section along the Sabine River, which serves as the border between Texas and Louisiana. Abbott said it may take as long as 10 days until the flooded section would be deemed safe for traffic, he said. Flooding over the past week has been blamed for four deaths in Louisiana and one in Oklahoma. In Mississippi, flooding has left more than 600 homes with major damage, emergency officials there said. Authorities in the state continued to search for two brothers reported missing a week ago after they went on a fishing trip on the Mississippi River, they said. On Monday, officers discovered items belonging to one of the men but subsequent helicopter and boat searches have not turned up signs of the fishermen themselves, said Lieutenant Chris Reed of the Mississippi Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks department. “We’re still holding out hope that we can find these guys and bring them to safety, Reed said. In Texas, officials said the flooding has been taking its toll on residents. "Newton County has been devastated," said Judge Truman Dougharty, the top elected official for Newton County, Texas. "The number of homes under water and the people displaced, it's emotional, sir," he said at the news conference with Abbott. "We have a lot of people who need a lot of help."

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