Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks

Missoula, MT, United States

Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks

Missoula, MT, United States
SEARCH FILTERS
Time filter
Source Type

Kovach R.P.,U.S. Geological Survey | Muhlfeld C.C.,U.S. Geological Survey | Boyer M.C.,Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks | Lowe W.H.,University of Montana | And 2 more authors.
Proceedings. Biological sciences / The Royal Society | Year: 2015

Hybridization between native and non-native species has serious biological consequences, but our understanding of how dispersal and selection interact to influence invasive hybridization is limited. Here, we document the spread of genetic introgression between a native (Oncorhynchus clarkii) and invasive (Oncorhynchus mykiss) trout, and identify the mechanisms influencing genetic admixture. In two populations inhabiting contrasting environments, non-native admixture increased rapidly from 1984 to 2007 and was driven by surprisingly consistent processes. Individual admixture was related to two phenotypic traits associated with fitness: size at spawning and age of juvenile emigration. Fish with higher non-native admixture were larger and tended to emigrate at a younger age--relationships that are expected to confer fitness advantages to hybrid individuals. However, strong selection against non-native admixture was evident across streams and cohorts (mean selection coefficient against genotypes with non-native alleles (s) = 0.60; s.e. = 0.10). Nevertheless, hybridization was promoted in both streams by the continuous immigration of individuals with high levels of non-native admixture from other hybrid source populations. Thus, antagonistic relationships between dispersal and selection are mediating invasive hybridization between these fish, emphasizing that data on dispersal and natural selection are needed to fully understand the dynamics of introgression between native and non-native species. © 2014 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.


Kovach R.P.,U.S. Geological Survey | Kovach R.P.,University of Montana | Muhlfeld C.C.,U.S. Geological Survey | Boyer M.C.,Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks | And 3 more authors.
Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences | Year: 2015

Hybridization between native and non-native species has serious biological consequences, but our understanding of how dispersal and selection interact to influence invasive hybridization is limited. Here, we document the spread of genetic introgression between a native (Oncorhynchus clarkii) and invasive (Oncorhynchus mykiss) trout, and identify the mechanisms influencing genetic admixture. In two populations inhabiting contrasting environments, non-native admixture increased rapidly from 1984 to 2007 and was driven by surprisingly consistent processes. Individual admixture was related to two phenotypic traits associated with fitness: size at spawning and age of juvenile emigration. Fish with higher non-native admixture were larger and tended to emigrate at a younger age—relationships that are expected to confer fitness advantages to hybrid individuals. However, strong selection against non-native admixture was evident across streams and cohorts (mean selection coefficient against genotypes with non-native alleles (s) ¼ 0.60; s.e. ¼ 0.10). Nevertheless, hybridization was promoted in both streams by the continuous immigration of individuals with high levels of non-native admixture from other hybrid source populations. Thus, antagonistic relationships between dispersal and selection are mediating invasive hybridization between these fish, emphasizing that data on dispersal and natural selection are needed to fully understand the dynamics of introgression between native and non-native species. © 2014 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.


Carim K.J.,U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service | Carim K.J.,University of Montana | Eby L.A.,University of Montana | Barfoot C.A.,Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes | Boyer M.C.,Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks
Conservation Genetics | Year: 2016

Fragmentation and isolation of wildlife populations has reduced genetic diversity worldwide, leaving many populations vulnerable to inbreeding depression and local extinction. Nonetheless, isolation is protecting many native aquatic species from interactions with invasive species, often making reconnection an unrealistic conservation strategy. Isolation management is widely used to protect extant cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii) populations from invasive species. Despite this, few studies have empirically examined how predictor variables including habitat length, population size, time since isolation and habitat quality, relate to levels of genetic diversity in isolated trout populations. We compared allelic richness of cutthroat trout across 14 microsatellite loci in two connected and 12 anthropogenically isolated populations of the Flathead River basin, Montana. Isolated populations in habitat fragments <8 km stream length had reduced genetic diversity, but diversity was not significantly related to any of our predictor variables. To broaden our scope, we analyzed seven geologically isolated populations from the same river basin occupying habitat fragments up to 18 km in length. These populations showed reduced diversity, regardless of fragment size. Furthermore, geologically isolated populations had significantly lower average allelic richness compared to streams recently isolated by anthropogenic activities. These results demonstrate a consistent loss of genetic diversity through time in isolated populations, emphasizing the need to explore strategies to minimize risks of inbreeding depression. Testing conservation theory and subsequent assumptions broadly across taxa is necessary to ensure efficacy of conservation efforts. © 2016 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht


PubMed | USFWS, Wildlife Health Laboratory, Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks, University of Montana and 4 more.
Type: | Journal: Nature communications | Year: 2016

Whole-genome sequencing has provided fundamental insights into infectious disease epidemiology, but has rarely been used for examining transmission dynamics of a bacterial pathogen in wildlife. In the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE), outbreaks of brucellosis have increased in cattle along with rising seroprevalence in elk. Here we use a genomic approach to examine Brucella abortus evolution, cross-species transmission and spatial spread in the GYE. We find that brucellosis was introduced into wildlife in this region at least five times. The diffusion rate varies among Brucella lineages (3 to 8km per year) and over time. We also estimate 12 host transitions from bison to elk, and 5 from elk to bison. Our results support the notion that free-ranging elk are currently a self-sustaining brucellosis reservoir and the source of livestock infections, and that control measures in bison are unlikely to affect the dynamics of unrelated strains circulating in nearby elk populations.


Proctor M.F.,Birchdale Ecological Ltd. | Paetkau D.,Wildlife Genetics International | McLellan B.N.,British Columbia Ministry of forests | Stenhouse G.B.,Foothills Research Institute | And 15 more authors.
Wildlife Monographs | Year: 2012

Population fragmentation compromises population viability, reduces a species ability to respond to climate change, and ultimately may reduce biodiversity. We studied the current state and potential causes of fragmentation in grizzly bears over approximately 1,000,000 km 2 of western Canada, the northern United States (US), and southeast Alaska. We compiled much of our data from projects undertaken with a variety of research objectives including population estimation and trend, landscape fragmentation, habitat selection, vital rates, and response to human development. Our primary analytical techniques stemmed from genetic analysis of 3,134 bears, supplemented with radiotelemetry data from 792 bears. We used 15 locus microsatellite data coupled withmeasures of genetic distance, isolation-by-distance (IBD) analysis, analysis of covariance (ANCOVA), linear multiple regression, multi-factorial correspondence analysis (to identify population divisions or fractures with no a priori assumption of group membership), and population-assignment methods to detect individual migrants between immediately adjacent areas. These data corroborated observations of inter-area movements from our telemetry database. In northern areas, we found a spatial genetic pattern of IBD, although there was evidence of natural fragmentation from the rugged heavily glaciated coast mountains of British Columbia (BC) and the Yukon. These results contrasted with the spatial pattern of fragmentation in more southern parts of their distribution. Near the Canada-US border area, we found extensive fragmentation that corresponded to settled mountain valleys andmajor highways. Genetic distances across developed valleys were elevated relative to those across undeveloped valleys in central and northern BC. In disturbed areas, most inter-area movements detected were made by male bears, with few female migrants identified. North-south movements within mountain ranges (Mts) and across BC Highway 3 were more common than east-west movements across settled mountain valleys separating Mts. Our results suggest that relatively distinct subpopulations exist in this region, including the Cabinet, Selkirk South, and the decadesisolated Yellowstone populations. Current movement rates do not appear sufficient to consider the subpopulations we identify along the Canada-US border as 1 inter-breeding unit. Although we detected enough male movement to mediate gene flow, the current low rate of female movement detected among areas is insufficient to provide a demographic rescue effect between areas in the immediate future (0-15 yr). In Alberta, we found fragmentation corresponded to major east-west highways (Highways 3, 11, 16, and 43) and most inter-area movements were made by males. Gene flow and movement rates between Alberta and BC were highest across the Continental Divide south of Highway 1 and north of Highway 16. In the central region between Highways 1 and 11, we found evidence of natural fragmentation associated with the extensive glaciers and icefields along the Continental Divide. The discontinuities that we identified would form appropriate boundaries formanagement units. We related sex-specific movement rates between adjacent areas to several metrics of human use (highway traffic, settlement, and humancaused mortality) to understand the causes of fragmentation. This analysis used data from 1,508 bears sampled over a 161,500-km 2 area in southeastern BC, western Alberta, northern Idaho, and northern Montana during 1979-2007. This area was bisected by numerous human transportation and settlement corridors of varying intensity and complexity. We used multiple linear regression and ANCOVA to document the responses of female and male bears to disturbance. Males and females both demonstrated reduced movement rates with increasing settlement and traffic. However, females reduced their movement rates dramatically when settlement increased to >20% of the fracture zone. At this same threshold, male movement declined more gradually, in response to increased traffic and further settlement. In highly settled areas (>50%), both sexes had a similar reduction in movements in response to traffic, settlement, and mortality. We documented several small bear populations with male-only immigration, highlighting the importance of investigating sex-specific movements. Without female connectivity, small populations are not viable over the long term. The persistence of this regional female fragmented metapopulation likely will require strategic connectivity management. We therefore recommend enhancing female connectivity among fractured areas by securing linkage-zone habitat appropriate for female dispersal, and ensuring current large source subpopulations remain intact. The fragmentation we documented may also affect other species with similar ecological characteristics: sparse densities, slow reproduction, short male-biased dispersal, and a susceptibility to human-caused mortality and habitat degradation. Therefore, regional inter-jurisdictional efforts to manage broad landscapes for inter-area movement will likely benefit a broad spectrum of species and natural processes, particularly in light of climate change. © 2011 The Wildlife Society.


Morris L.R.,University of Florida | Proffitt K.M.,Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks | Blackburn J.K.,University of Florida
Applied Geography | Year: 2016

Predicting the spatial distribution of animals is an important and widely used tool with applications in wildlife management, conservation, and population health. Wildlife telemetry technology coupled with the availability of spatial data and GIS software have facilitated advancements in species distribution modeling. There are also challenges related to these advancements including the accurate and appropriate implementation of species distribution modeling methodology. Resource Selection Function (RSF) modeling is a commonly used approach for understanding species distributions and habitat usage, and mapping the RSF results can enhance study findings and make them more accessible to researchers and wildlife managers. Currently, there is no consensus in the literature on the most appropriate method for mapping RSF results, methods are frequently not described, and mapping approaches are not always related to accuracy metrics. We conducted a systematic review of the RSF literature to summarize the methods used to map RSF outputs, discuss the relationship between mapping approaches and accuracy metrics, performed a case study on the implications of employing different mapping methods, and provide recommendations as to appropriate mapping techniques for RSF studies. We found extensive variability in methodology for mapping RSF results. Our case study revealed that the most commonly used approaches for mapping RSF results led to notable differences in the visual interpretation of RSF results, and there is a concerning disconnect between accuracy metrics and mapping methods. We make 5 recommendations for researchers mapping the results of RSF studies, which are focused on carefully selecting and describing the method used to map RSF studies, and relating mapping approaches to accuracy metrics. © 2016 Elsevier Ltd


Morris L.R.,University of Florida | Proffitt K.M.,Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks | Asher V.,123 Research Drive | Blackburn J.K.,University of Florida
Journal of Wildlife Management | Year: 2016

Anthrax, caused by the spore-forming bacterium Bacillus anthracis, is a zoonotic disease that affects humans and animals throughout the world. In North America, anthrax outbreaks occur in livestock and wildlife species. Vaccine administration in wildlife is untenable; the most effective form of management is surveillance and decontamination of carcasses. Successful management is critical because untreated carcasses can create infectious zones increasing risk for other susceptible hosts. We studied the bacterium in a re-emerging anthrax zone in southwest Montana. In 2008, a large anthrax epizootic primarily affected a domestic bison (Bison bison) herd and the male segment of a free-ranging elk (Cervus elaphus) herd in southwestern Montana. Following the outbreak, we initiated a telemetry study on elk to evaluate resource selection during the anthrax season to assist with anthrax management. We used a mixed effects generalized linear model (GLM) to estimate resource selection by male elk, and we mapped habitat preferences across the landscape. We overlaid preferred habitats on ecological niche model-based estimates of B. anthracis presence. We observed significant overlap between areas with a high predicted probability of male elk selection and B. anthracis potential. These potentially risky areas of elk and B. anthracis overlap were broadly spread over public and private lands. Future outbreaks in the region are probable, and this analysis identified the spatial extent of the risk area in the region, which can be used to prioritize anthrax surveillance. © 2015 The Wildlife Society.


PubMed | U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Rocky Research, Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks and Hellgate High School
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Journal of fish biology | Year: 2016

This study tested the efficacy of environmental DNA (eDNA) sampling to delineate the distribution of bull trout Salvelinus confluentus in headwater streams in western Montana, U.S.A. Surveys proved fast, reliable and sensitive: 124 samples were collected across five basins by a single crew in c. 8 days. Results were largely consistent with past electrofishing, but, in a basin where S. confluentus were known to be scarce, eDNA samples indicated that S. confluentus were more broadly distributed than previously thought.


News Article | January 4, 2016
Site: phys.org

The region's grizzlies have federal protections, but that could change in coming months, turning control over to the states. The AP obtained a draft agreement detailing the states' plans for the animals. The deal puts no limits on grizzly bear hunting outside a 19,300-square-mile management zone centered on Yellowstone National Park. Inside the zone, which includes wilderness and forest lands near the park, hunters in Wyoming would get a 58 percent share of the harvest, a reflection that it's home to the bulk of the region's bears. Montana would get 34 percent, and Idaho, 8 percent. The management zone has an estimated 717 grizzly bears. There is no estimate of how many live outside the area, although the number is increasing as they expand into new habitat, biologists say. Wildlife advocates say the bear population remains too small to withstand much hunting. That's a particular concern given the large numbers of bears already dying, including during surprise run-ins with hunters and after livestock attacks that prompt officials to trap and kill problem bears. In 2015, at least 59 Yellowstone-area grizzlies were believed to have been killed or trapped and removed by government agencies. That's the most since the animal received protection under the Endangered Species Act in 1975. Despite the deaths, state officials say the grizzly population has recovered from excessive hunting and trapping that exterminated grizzlies across most of the U.S. in the early 1900s. The officials have increased pressure on U.S. Fish and Wildlife Director Dan Ashe in recent months to revoke the animal's threatened status. Directors of the three states' wildlife agencies told Ashe in a Dec. 4 letter that such a step was long overdue. "It is critically important that we capitalize on our tremendous progress and momentum ... by proceeding with a long overdue delisting" of bears from the threatened species list, the directors wrote. It was signed by Idaho Fish and Game Director Virgil Moore; Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Director Jeff Hagener; and Wyoming Game and Fish Director Scott Talbott. Montana wildlife activist Louisa Wilcox says the states' push for hunting ignores the many bears already dying of other causes. "You're not even hunting them, and you have this ongoing pileup of dead bears," Wilcox said. "Adding a hunt will drive down the population. It's exactly the wrong thing to do." Legal hunting of Yellowstone-area grizzlies last occurred in the 1970s. At least 58 bears were killed in Montana and Idaho in the five years leading up to a prohibition on hunting in 1975. Historical harvest figures for Idaho were not available. Any future hunts would be conservative and need approval from wildlife commissioners following a public comment period, said Quentin Kujala, chief of wildlife management for Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks. The size of each harvest would be on a sliding scale, with the intention of keeping the bear population viable and avoiding the need to reinstate federal protections, Kujala said. More hunting would be possible when the population tops 675 bears, and hunting would be largely barred if the number falls below 600. "We're definitely not talking about a large number. We're not talking hundreds or anywhere near that," Wyoming Game and Fish spokesman Renny MacKay said. A decision on whether protections should be lifted is due early this year, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Barring a successful court challenge, it would take approximately a year for such a rule to go into effect. The pending agreement between the states is not required for federal protections to be lifted, state officials said. Explore further: Grizzly bears still need protecting, US court rules


Muhlfeld C.C.,U.S. Geological Survey | Giersch J.J.,U.S. Geological Survey | Marotz B.,Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks
Fisheries Management and Ecology | Year: 2012

Non-native lake trout, Salvelinus namaycush (Walbaum), threaten native salmonid populations in the western United States. Effective management of lake trout requires understanding movements within connected lake and river systems. This study determined the seasonal movements of subadult lake trout in the Flathead River upstream of Flathead Lake, Montana, USA using radio telemetry. The spatiotemporal distribution of lake trout in the river was related to water temperature. Lake trout were detected in the river primarily during autumn, winter and spring, when water temperatures were cool. By contrast, fewer were detected when temperatures were warmest during summer and during high spring flows. Downriver movements to Flathead Lake occurred throughout autumn and winter when water temperature decreased below 5°C, and in late spring as water temperature rose towards 15°C and river discharge declined following spring runoff. Upriver movements occurred primarily in October, which coincided with migrations of prey fishes. These results suggest that lake trout are capable of moving throughout connected river and lake systems (up to 230km) and that warm water temperatures function as an impediment to occupancy of the river during summer. Controlling source populations and maintaining natural water temperatures may be effective management strategies for reducing the spread of non-native lake trout. Published 2011. This article is a U.S. Government work and is in the public domain in the USA.

Loading Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks collaborators
Loading Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks collaborators